Marlene Sallo was appointed Staff Director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights by President Barack Obama on June 4, 2013. Before her appointment, she was Special Assistant to Martin R. Castro, the Chairman of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights. She came to the Commission from the National Council of La Raza where she was a Juvenile Justice Policy Fellow advocating for the reform of juvenile justice systems. Prior to relocating to the Washington, D.C. area, she worked for the Children's Law Center at the University of South Carolina School of Law training attorneys and child protection employees on federal legislation pertaining to child welfare and special education.
Staff Director Sallo holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Florida State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Manhattanville College. In May of 2013, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Manhattanville College for her work advocating for the rights of disenfranchised and vulnerable children.
Staff Director Sallo spent much of her early career in Florida working to advance the condition, legal status, and wellbeing of children and families. She has been a guest lecturer, author and presenter on issues such as the school to prison pipeline, immigration and special education needs of children in foster care, and the effective and equitable delivery of youth services. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Sallo was a coordinator with the Florida Foster Care Review Project and also a special education teacher, developing curricula and individualized education plans for students. As a lawyer, she worked with the Florida Department of Children and Families managing a large caseload of child abuse and neglect cases. In private practice, she managed a large caseload of civil, immigration, child welfare and family law cases as one of the few Spanish-speaking attorneys in the judicial circuit.
An active member of the American Bar Association's (ABA) Litigation Committee, Staff Director Sallo is currently an appointed working group member of the ABA Children's Rights Litigation Subcommittee. She also serves as the subcommittee's website editor and was named one of the Outstanding Subcommittee Chairs for the ABA Litigation Section for 2009-2010. She is a past member of the Florida Bar's Standing Committee for the Legal Needs of Children and has served as a Commissioner on the ABA Commission for Youth at Risk since 2010.