ERIKA GALLO, WOMAN OF THE YEAR for 45th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
"We and our surroundings are the environment"
Left to right) Eric Bauman, chair of the Democratic Los Angeles County Central Committee; 45th Assembly District Man of the Year Eric Garcetti, a Los Angeles City Councilmember; Erika Gallo, Caltrans; and Evelyn Metoyer-Williams, chair of special events for the Democratic Committee.
Erika Gallo, a Caltrans Associate Environmental Planner (Generalist) in the Division of Environmental Planning, was named “Woman of the Year for the 45th State Assembly District,” on June 25th in Hollywood, representing Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg’s District.
Gallo is passionate about turning the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles into a thriving community. As a board member of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, Gallo said her goal is to transform her neighborhood from a place with mostly low-wage earners and sporadic violence into a safe, prosperous haven.
“It is starting to change slowly,” she said. “I don’t want my community to be left behind, so we’re progressively bringing back community pride. We have a walking club now where people get out together and feel safe on the streets.”
And as for the freeways, her full-time career with Caltrans began in 2001, under the supervision of Paul Caron, Mountain Area Projects/Biological Services. Before that, Gallo joined Caltrans’ Summer Youth Employment Program in 1998 and has remained since.
“My role is to follow a project through, to review a project when it is first introduced to make a preliminary determination of what environmental impacts a project brings. An Environmental Clearance is generated when the project description is complete as its scope changes several times during its creation,” says Gallo. “Once a Generalist requests and collects Specialists’ studies and makes a determination, an Environmental Document is issued, without which, a Caltrans project cannot proceed.”
Environmental Planners are responsible for Caltrans’ compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Gallo is responsible for seeing that routine maintenance activities, such as clearing of drains and channels in the South and East Regions, are in compliance with regulations.
“The environment doesn’t only include plants and animals; it includes historic structures, archeological marvels, people and the economy. We and our surroundings are the environment. Generalists and Specialists, those who are biologists, architects and cultural historians, work together as an interdisciplinary team,” she says.
Gallo’s personal interest in politics began at age 14, with organizing graffiti cleanups in her Lincoln Heights neighborhood and volunteering for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
The first in her family to attend and graduate from college, Gallo said her interests in volunteering and in politics stems from college, where she learned to be a leader and focus on goals. Gallo earned two Bachelor of Arts in sociology and social science, and completed a minor in Spanish from Mount St. Mary’s College. She also holds a Master of Arts in Public Administration from CSU at Los Angeles.
Gallo was recently elected to fill one of seven vacant seats on the Central Committee of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. “I want to continue my community service.”