Leadership Counsel fundamentally shifts the dynamics that have created the stark inequality that impacts California’s low income, rural regions. Based in the San Joaquin and Eastern Coachella Valleys, we work alongside the most impacted communities to advocate for sound policy and eradicate injustice to secure equal access to opportunity regardless of wealth, race, income, and place.

Through community organizing, research, legal representation, and policy advocacy, we impact land use and transportation planning, shift public investment priorities, guide environmental policy, and promote the provision of basic infrastructure and services.

Support community strength and co-powerment.

We pursue the development of healthy and sustainable communities by supporting residents to take ownership of their advocacy ability and by leveraging the strength of other organizations to build strong, lasting, and mutually supportive organizations.

The council ensures the inclusion of and respect for historically excluded communities and co-empowers allies to engage in decision making processes.

The council raises awareness of needs and opportunities for investment in and protection of historically neglected communities and to ensure inclusion of rural, low income communities in key discussions, policies, and programs.

Veronica Garibay and Phoebe Seaton co-founded and co-direct Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, a community-based advocacy organization headquartered in Fresno, California, with offices in Coachella, Bakersfield, Merced and Sacramento. Garibay and Seaton launched Leadership Counsel in 2013 with the goal of using a variety of tactics including organizing, community engagement, local policy advocacy, state policy advocacy and legal advocacy to work in partnership with community leaders to address some of the most intractable barriers to health, well-being and opportunity including discriminatory land-use patterns, exclusion from municipal services including safe drinking water and wastewater service, inadequate and unsafe housing, and outdated and inequitable transportation systems. Since their launch, Garibay and Seaton have overseen the expansion of the organization from a team of four to a team of 35 and have led the organization’s growth into new substantive areas including climate, public finance, clean energy, agriculture and groundwater sustainability.

Garibay and Seaton started working together five years prior to launching Leadership Counsel when they led California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.’s Community Equity Initiative. Garibay was born in Michoacán, Mexico and grew up in Parlier, California. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in public administration at Fresno State while working at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. Seaton grew up in Berkeley, California and earned her bachelor’s degree at University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. at UCLA.