Discussion with Chief Justice for Puerto Rico

A talk between Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, Maite D. Oronoz-Rodriguez and Carmen Yulín Cruz will be held at Mount Holyoke College.

A discussion between Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, Maite D. Oronoz-Rodriguez and Carmen Yulín Cruz, former mayor of San Juan, will be held at Mount Holyoke College. Cruz is the current Harriet L. Weissman and Paul M. Weissman Distinguished Fellow in Leadership at the Weissman Center for Leadership.

The event will be held online on Tuesday, November 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. It is free and open to the public. Spanish translation will be provided. 

The panel discussion is part of a series of “Our Voices, Our Platforms” town halls held by the Weissman Center for Leadership at Mount Holyoke College. The events explore how people can use their voices to make meaningful change and how people can discover and create the platforms necessary to achieve that transformative change.

Oronoz-Rodriguez was the first openly LGBTQ female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico when she was sworn in on February 22, 2016 and, as such, the first in United States history. She is the third woman to preside over the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico and the youngest person to do so. She previously served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico from 2014-2016.

As Chief Justice, Oronoz-Rodríguez’s work has centered on the pillars of access to justice — which includes the incorporation of technology and education — adjudicative and administrative efficiency, accountability, transparency and judicial independence. During the last five years, she has modernized the Puerto Rican judicial system by implementing technological initiatives such as electronic filing for all civil cases at the trial level, as well as the expansion of the use of videoconferencing systems to hear civil and criminal cases throughout Puerto Rico, among other projects.

She has also focused her efforts on addressing gender equality and eradicating gender-based violence through the expansion of specialized courts, judicial training, education and community engagement, among other initiatives. She presides over the Access to Justice Commission and Committee on Gender and Equality and has been a member of the Permanent Commission on Gender and Access to Justice of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit since 2018. In 2021, she was awarded the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Medal of Honor which recognizes “inspiring women jurists who fight to defend and strengthen the rule of law and to consolidate society’s advances in gender equity.” 

Cruz, also a champion of gender equality and justice, was born in Puerto Rico, and received degrees from Boston University and Carnegie Mellon University and worked in the continental U.S. for years. She returned to Puerto Rico in 1992, working as an adviser to a previous San Juan mayor, and was elected to the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico in 2008. 

She ran for mayor of San Juan in 2012 against Jorge Santini, a 12-year incumbent who called her “esa señora,” or “that woman.” Cruz won the election and was re-elected in 2016. Cruz came to international prominence after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, both for her impassioned pleas for help after the storm and for her stinging critiques of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as the White House and the United States federal government more broadly. She is an international figure of women’s bravery, leadership and action. 

To register for the talk, visit Mount Holyoke College’s events webpage