Join us for a fireside chat with Elise Traynum ’86 and Abdi Soltani. Moderated by Leo Martinez, Dean Emeritus & Albert Abramson Professor of Law Emeritus.
Elise K. Traynum is the General Counsel at the ACLU of Northern California. The General Counsel (GC) provides legal services and representation for ACLU-NC on a broad range of work including, but not limited to, 501c3 and 501c4 compliance, employment, contracts, corporate, nonprofit, lobbying, and other laws and regulations. The General Counsel also is responsible for enlisting, directing, and overseeing the work of ACLU-NC outside counsel as it relates to the organization’s own legal needs.
Prior to joining ACLU-NC, Elise served as General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Directors at UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco for 14 years. During her tenure, Elise managed litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court, CLS v. Martinez, which addressed the First Amendment rights of association. She also managed litigation for The City and County of San Francisco v. The University of California et al., regarding whether the City and the County of San Francisco can compel state universities that operate parking lots in San Francisco to collect city parking taxes from users and remit them to San Francisco. The case will be argued before the California Supreme Court in 2019.
Prior to her work at UC Hastings, Elise was a partner at two law firms, Meyers Nave LLP in Oakland and Rutan & Tucker LLP in Orange County, where she served as contract counsel to government agencies, non-profits, and educational institutions.
Elise is a graduate of California State University San Bernardino, and she received her JD from UC Hastings. Elise was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cal State in 2015.
Elise serves as Co-Chair of the Alonzo King Lines Ballet board of directors in San Francisco. She is the mother of two children, Emile and Tiffany.
Abdi Soltani is a nationally-recognized civil rights leader who has dedicated his adult life to social justice and equal treatment for all. His early work as an organizer helped change California from a state that passed some of the most regressive policies in the mid-90’s to a state that is among the most progressive in our nation. As Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California since 2009, Abdi’s fight for civil liberties has been expansive and inclusive of racial, gender, and economic justice. He has deepened ACLU’s partnerships with communities most directly impacted by injustice and disparities. Under his leadership, the ACLU is now present in the Central Valley and at the State Capitol. This expansion has enabled the ACLU to defend and advance the civil liberties of all Californians and to mobilize our communities as a collective voice for fairness and equity. Abdi is a Levi Strauss Foundation Pioneer in Justice Fellow, and he is actively involved in the Iranian-American community. His favorite amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the 14th Amendment.