WHS grad Sofia Nelson joins Detroit public defender’s office

Sofia ValencSofia Nelsonia Nelson, a 2005 graduate of Wayland High School, is taking a new position as a public defender with the Appellate Defender’s Office in Detroit.

The daughter of Mary Ortiz and Greg Nelson of Wayland Township, she earned her undergraduate degree from Tufts University before earning a juris doctorate. She was one of 65 recipients of a $30,000 foundation scholarship to attend law school.

Afterward, she joined the American Civil Liberties Union as an attorney, a position she will leave in late August.

She and her partner live in the Detroit area.

Nelson told Penasee Globe reporter Charlotte Weick in 2008 that decided on a career in law because she wants to make a positive impact on her community, whether it is through the political sphere, non-profit sector or through grassroots activism.

Her dream has been to “engage in the uplift of that community,” Nelson said. “The reality that one can use our legal system to change the social justice framework of the nation certainly inspires me…”

Nelson has a special appreciation of issues connected to gender identity, racial inequality and the need for social justice. Even as a lesbian, she said she cannot become involved with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender activism without addressing issues of racial equality, Nelson said.

PHOTO: Sofia V. Nelson


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