Santa Clara University School of Law Professor Cynthia Mertens was named one of Silicon Valley’s top 100 “Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. The special edition was published on Friday, March 19.
Mertens was honored for her decades of contribution to law groups, legal education, and social-justice causes such as Child Advocates and Catholic Charities. The four-woman selection committee chose the group from more than 300 nominees for their “significant, noteworthy” efforts to “improve their industries as well as their communities,” as publisher James MacGregor described it.
Mertens is on the advisory board of Child Advocates of Santa Clara County, which is a group that oversees volunteers who mentor and advocate for children in the dependency care legal system. She was on the group’s board of directors from 1990 to 1996 and served as the organization's first president. She is also a member of Catholic Charities’ board of directors and was its president in the 1990s. She was one of the first women officers of the Santa Clara County Bar Association and is a member of the Law Foundation Board and many others.
Despite her vast experience in the classroom and community, Mertens said her proudest accomplishment has been in leading four immersion trips for SCU law students to El Salvador. She called the trips “the best educational experience I have provided students in my 30-plus years of teaching law school. In fact, it is the best professional experience I have had in my career as a lawyer.”
Mertens said the immersions epitomize the University’s focus on competence, conscience, and compassion. “Without a doubt, the experience changed the life of every student who participated, benefiting the university, the legal profession and the broader community,” she added.
In the March 19 article, she cited her biggest challenge in the workplace as “getting more than 40 law professors to agree on anything.” Another personal accomplishment: completing her first spring triathlon two years ago, coming in third in her age group.
There will be a dinner on April 8 at the Fairmont Hotel to celebrate Mertens and her fellow honorees. Information on the dinner can be obtained by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 408-299-1832.