Deborah Lowe Martinez, J. D. is the Director of the Berkeley Hope Scholars program (formerly the Cal Independent Scholars Network). She received her B.A. from University of California, Berkeley and earned a J.D. from the University of San Francisco. Prior to accepting the position as Director of Berkeley Hope Scholars, Deborah practiced law as a Child Welfare attorney, representing both children and parents in juvenile dependency proceedings. Her professional experience also includes juvenile defense work, counsel for children in high conflict divorce cases and as court appointed guardian ad litem to child victims in adult criminal proceedings. She is an active member of the California State Bar, the National Association of Counsel for Children and serves on the Advisory Board for AdvoKids, a non-profit organization dedicated to the ensuring the rights of foster youth.
Zefora Ortiz is a former foster youth from San Diego County. A recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she received her B.A. in Chicano Studies. Since freshman year, Zefora was a member of Berkeley Hope Scholars (BHS) and currently serves as the Program Assistant for BHS. As a student, Zefora was also a Tier II intern with California Youth Connection (CYC), a youth led organization that develops leaders who empower each other and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative and policy change. She is committed to improving educational outcomes for other youth.