10 Remarkable O.C. Women

Elizabeth G. Macias

Superior Role Model

Macias was born in Los Angeles to teenage parents, factory workers, one with a third-grade IMG_5358education, the other having made it to sixth grade. Later, her father was a gardener, which meant Saturdays were spent walking from house to house, dropping off his business card. She was poor, English was her second language, and even though she was the firstborn, everything was secondhand. In elementary school Macias asked her parents to get her a suit for career day, and they asked, Why a suit? What do you see yourself doing in the future? “I said that I wanted to be the school receptionist. Ours was so kind, and she looked so professional. She also looked like someone I could be related to. She was a woman of color, so she was a role model.” Macias was resolute as a student, determined to graduate from college—a family first. She followed this with law school, and after years as a public defender, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her a Superior Court judge in 2012. Her parents attended her enrobing, “And yes, a lot of tears were shed!” If Macias’ career-day story illustrates how critical role models are, then her appointment underscores the dearth of them: She was only the third Latina appointed to the bench in California. “And this is not lost on me,” says Macias, 44. “I speak and volunteer whenever I can, because kids need to know that we exist. It’s valuable work—I love it—and it’s attainable.”