Diana Cortes is officially Philadelphia’s new City Solicitor
The former head of the city’s litigation group was appointed Acting City Solicitor on Nov. 17, 2020. She is the first Latina to hold the position.
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In every professional sector, many Latino Americans find themselves lost in a sea of white colleagues, and they’re often faced with a slew of daily micro-aggressions and discrimination.
As Latinx professionals climb the ladder to more prestigious positions, they begin to even out the playing field in their respective industries and make space for more people to follow in their footsteps.
For Diana Cortes, the first Latina woman to be appointed as Philadelphia’s City Solicitor, this narrative rings true. Cortes was chosen as one of the 40 honorees at AL DÍA’s inaugural 40 Under Forty celebration in August 2020.
Presenting our #40UnderForty Honoree Diana Cortes from the City of Philadelphia Law Department.— AL DÍA Live (@ALDIALive) July 8, 2020
Event registration: https://t.co/9VybZQL7B8
Read more about Diana here: https://t.co/i0fq6T5jfK@ALDIANews #Philadelphia #40UnderForty #Newsmedia #ALDIALIVE" pic.twitter.com/R5Nejjaesf
In an interview with Al Día prior to the celebration, Cortes described her experience with being outnumbered as a Latina throughout her career.
“This experience has made me strive to improve inclusivity wherever I work. True inclusivity will happen when society values it to the same level as profitability, status, and compensation,” Cortes said.
For four years, the position was held by Marcel S. Pratt, the youngest City Solicitor for Philadelphia. On Tuesday Nov. 17, 2020, he announced that he will be stepping down and returning to his roots in private practice as the Managing Partner of the Philadelphia office of Ballard Spahr.
Cortes then took his spot as Acting City Solicitor.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, Cortes was officially confirmed as the new City Solicitor.
Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez, the first Latina to be a part of the City Council, posted a congratulatory tweet in honor of the barriers that will soon be broken as a result of Cortes’s new role.
Today was a good day for Latinas, Acting City Solicitor Diana Cortes received initial confirmation vote as the first Latina City Solicitor, as the first Latina in Council, I welcome her and look forward to the many others following our footsteps or paving their own way! pic.twitter.com/L74T4mPPQn— Maria Quinones-Sanchez (@MariaQSanchez) February 11, 2021
“I welcome her and look forward to the many others following our footsteps or paving their own way!” she wrote.
Cortes is no stranger to being the first Latina to hold high positions in Philadelphia’s law department.
She was the first Latina to hold the chairmanship of its Litigation Group. In that time, she told AL DÍA that holding the position and constantly advocating for the expansion of representation in the city’s ranks was her proudest accomplishment.
Now, she’ll be able to continue that work in her new responsibilities as the city’s chief legal officer, shepherding the legal representation of the agencies and officials that make up the city government.
As Mayor Jim Kenny announced Pratt’s departure, he made sure to thank him for his service, citing legal achievements, like the successful defense of the beverage tax in 2018 and its current defense of the 2020 election process.
Pratt and Cortes collaborated to lead Philadelphia’s recent push to sue the Commonwealth for inflicting damage on Black and Brown communities in its efforts to pass stricter gun control laws.
“I have equal confidence in Diana’s ability to advise us as the City’s top lawyer,” Kenny said in a press release. He added that her leadership of the litigation group made her the “obvious choice to succeed Marcel.”
Pratt also had complimentary words for his successor, calling her his closest advisor, and “one of the best lawyers with whom I’ve ever worked.”
As Cortes steps into her new role as City Solicitor, overseeing the 330-employee operation, the Latino American community of Philadelphia can breathe a little easier, knowing that they too, may take a seat at the table in distinguished positions.