For Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General of the state of Nevada and 1990 Gonzaga Law graduate, pursuing justice is more than just an ideal; it is a day-to-day goal. With a passion for public service from a young age and a lifelong dedication to helping fight for the voiceless, Masto took office in 2007.
Tell us about yourself
I am a proud native Nevadan. I grew up with strong family values and learned to appreciate the benefits of civic involvement from my parents. I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from University of Nevada, Reno in 1986 with a major in Finance. I then went on to law school at Gonzaga. I graduated Cum Laude in 1990. I am happily married to my husband Paul. I enjoy being outdoors, hiking, jogging and spending time with my loved ones.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I get to represent the great State of Nevada. I have a wonderful team of colleagues comprised of attorneys, investigators, and legal secretaries (to name a few) in my office who are just as passionate about law and justice as I am. We also partner with community organizations to advocate for change in policy to protect at-risk populations such as seniors, children, and women.
What is the most challenging aspect of your profession?
One of the most challenging aspects of being Nevada’s Attorney General is stopping the revolving door of fraud scammers who like to prey on vulnerable victims. The housing crisis devastated my state. My heart goes out to those people who lost their homes and/or were subjected to foreclosure scams. My office has worked tirelessly to prosecute those responsible for these crimes and hold them accountable for their actions.
Why did you choose to attend law school?
At a young age I discovered the ability to make a difference in the community by seeing my father, a Clark County Commissioner, take action. He instilled in me a passion for public service. I also learned that I needed to be better prepared to advocate for underrepresented or vulnerable populations and defend them from criminals. It was heartbreaking to see my grandparents become targets of fraud. Elder protection became my first priority as Attorney General, and I worked with legislative partners to strengthen laws against elder abuse in Nevada.
How has your Gonzaga education influenced your career?
A Gonzaga education provided me with the tools necessary to fight for the voiceless. My education has enabled me to build bridges in the community and bring awareness to the issues facing Nevada.
What else are you passionate about?
I am particularly passionate about combatting human trafficking. In the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature, I worked diligently with many community partners to pass Assembly Bill 67, which took effect on July 1, 2013. This law defined sex trafficking as a crime and for the first time we were able to prosecute sex traffickers for their egregious actions. Furthermore, the law equips law enforcement with needed tools to prosecute perpetrators and creates harsher penalties for them. My office is participating in a statewide awareness campaign to educate the community about human trafficking and how to prevent children and adults from becoming victims of sex trafficking.