In a Rae Dorough Speaker Series presentation that will be livestreamed next Thursday, Oct. 29, a former senior advisor in the Clinton White House will discuss social and economic inequalities and how to remedy them.

Speaker will be Maria Echaveste, president and CEO of the Opportunity Institute in Berkeley and former deputy chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

Echaveste will explain how the interrelationship of social and economic mobility, educational opportunity, health care and immigration affect the Latino and Black communities.

The Opportunity Institute is working with policy makers and educators in California, Illinois, Mississippi and New York, she said in an interview last week.

The Institute makes use of alliances and expertise both inside and outside a state’s educational system, she noted.

“Each (state) presents different challenges. Education is so decentralized, with interlocking bureaucracies, lots of great ideas — but integrating them at scale is the biggest challenge.”

She admires the “many wonderful leaders” in the state’s educational programs, but finds the fragmentation of the school system “frustrating.”

California has “a thousand school districts (and) almost slavish devotion to local control,” she said.

“Even with good people with good values, all they can do in California is set guidance, and it’s up to each school district to figure out if we’re learning or figure out how to negotiate with unions on protocols for opening schools.”

As part of her talk, Echaveste will interweave her remarkable life journey from childhood, growing up in a farmworker family in Fresno and Ventura counties, to Stanford University, UC Berkeley Law School and the Clinton White House as Deputy Chief of Staff.

She received a B.A. in anthropology from Stanford University in 1976, and a J.D. from UC Berkeley in 1980.

She has been affiliated with Berkeley since 2004, lecturing at the School of Law and in undergraduate classes on immigration and education. She has been employed as a Senior Fellow at Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies since 2008, and has worked with the Berkeley Food Institute on transforming the U.S. food system.

She serves on the board of directors of UCSF-Benioff Oakland Children’s Hospital; Cadiz, Inc. (a publicly held natural resources company); Mi Familia Vota, and Level Playing Field Institute.

The talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, October 29. Registration is required. Sign up at