SYMPOSIUM SPEAKER BIOS
Say the name Erin Brockovich and you think, strong, tough and stubborn. Erin is all that and definitely more. She is a modern-day “David” who loves a good brawl with today’s “Goliaths”. She thrives on being the voice for those who don’t know how to yell. She is a rebel. She is a fighter. She is a mother. She is a woman. She is you and me.
It’s been over 15 years since Julia Roberts starred in the Oscar-winning tour de force, Erin Brockovich. The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Since then, Erin hasn’t been resting on her laurels…she continues to fight hard and win big!
This gutsy broad doesn’t apologize for who she is. She has always loved going head to head with the big boys and was never intimated by their bravado. She learned how to come out on top from her tight-knit mid-western family in Lawrence, Kansas. Erin was the youngest child of an industrial engineer father and journalist mother. Her parents always believed that she could do anything she set her mind to if she learned to focus her amazing energy.
After a few years roaming around at various colleges, Erin decided that she wanted to be a California girl. She first landed a job as a management trainee for K-Mart, but when that didn’t make her swagger, she decided to study electrical engineering. But that wasn’t enough for the Kansas beauty. On a fluke, she entered the Miss Pacific Coast beauty pageant, and, not surprisingly, won the title. When she realized that beauty pageants weren’t her thing, Erin, her husband, and her two children settled in Reno, Nevada. After divorcing, the single mother became a secretary at a brokerage firm where she met and married her second husband. But that marriage was short lived, and the now mother of three was solo again.
Up until this point, Erin was the average divorced single mother trying to make a living, until she crossed paths with lawyer, Ed Masry, and this meeting changed the course of both of their lives.
After being seriously injured in a traffic accident in Reno, Erin moved back to California’s San Fernando Valley and hired Masry & Vititoe to represent her. They won a small settlement, but she still needed work, so she got a job at the law firm as a file clerk. It was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct action lawsuit in US history.
Erin’s exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin’s unwavering tenacity that PG&E had now been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the ground water. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spearheaded by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents.
The story and eventual film made “Erin Brockovich” a household name. Over time, Erin realized that she could use her notoriety to spread positive messages of personal empowerment and to encourage others to stand up and make a difference.