Georgia Pestana Becomes First Latina to Head New York City Law Department

Georgia Pestana BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office.

Last Wednesday, a new barrier was broken in the professional history of Latinas in the U.S. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during his weekly briefing that he had appointed Georgia Pestana as head of the New York City Law Department, according to the NY Daily News.

The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Pestana will be the first Latina to hold the top post.

“The Law Department is at the forefront of New York City’s fights for fairness and justice, and Georgia Pestana has the experience and vision needed to win those battles,” Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Georgia is an outstanding legal thinker and a compassionate leader, and I look forward to working with her to build a recovery for all of us.”

Pestana’s election is undoubtedly a historic one.

Although she would be the 80th female Corporation Counsel in New York City history, Pestana will be the first woman and the first Latina to head the city’s Law Department.

The Law Department pursues justice and fairness on behalf of city government and city residents as a whole, de Blasio’s office explained.

“I am deeply honored to be nominated to be the City’s 80th Corporation Counsel. When I started at the Law Department right out of law school, I never dreamed that I’d be sitting in this seat more than 33 years later. In every role, there was more to learn, new challenges to take on, and problems to solve,” said Georgia Pestana. “That experience and perspective is why I know that, despite being a little bit in awe, I am up to this role. And it’s why I will make other women and Latinas in this City proud.”

Georgia Pestana joined the Law Department’s General Litigation Division directly after graduating from NYU School of Law. 

After a brief stint as a deputy general counsel at one of the City’s agencies, she returned to the Law Department as managing attorney of the General Litigation Division. She was subsequently promoted to deputy chief in 1996. 

In 2002, Pestana was appointed head of the newly created Labor Law Division of the Legal Department, which handles all litigation arising from the City’s role as an employer of more than 300,000 workers. 

In 2013, she was promoted to Executive Deputy Corporation Counsel for Employment Litigation and Policy, where she oversaw the General Litigation, Administrative Law, and Labor and Employment Law divisions. Since 2015, she has held the position of First Deputy Counsel of the Corporation.