José R. Padilla began his 44-year career with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) Inc. after receiving a law degree from U.C. Berkeley, and undergraduate from Stanford. Before retiring, José served (38 years) as the State Director of the CRLA, advocating for farm workers and rural communities by creating community-based programs to uplift marginalized groups, including Indigenous communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and dairy workers. His work has been instrumental in creating programs such as a low-income credit union, a bilingual radio station (Radio Sin Fronteras), and many efforts that have addressed the educational, economic, and political needs of those navigating immigration. His experience also includes serving as the Vice-Chair of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, as well as on the National Legal Aid & Defender Association Board of Directors, where he served as Board Chair in 2008.