is retired co-founder, General Counsel and Policy Director for the Greenlining Institute based in Berkeley, California. A graduate of Columbia College of Columbia University and Yale Law School, he has been known as an advocate of social justice for over 40 years. He was born in 1936, grew up in Brooklyn NY, and was admitted to the California Bar on January 9, 1962.
Prior to co-founding the Greenlining Institute, he was the founder and chief counsel for America’s first legal service program for rural families, California Rural Legal Assistance, which received numerous national awards as the most outstanding legal service program in the United States. He also was the founder and senior partner in the western United States’ first public interest law firm, Public Advocates. He served under former California Governor Jerry Brown as California's Health Director and Chief Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare and Prisons and was the State Bar representative for the Federal Judicial Selection Committee.
Gnaizda was Statewide Litigation Director for California Rural Legal Assistance, representing with low-income and mistreated farm workers in California's Salinas Valley during the era of Cesar Chavez.
He has been chief counsel in over 100 class action court and administrative cases focusing on minority economic empowerment and civil rights. In 2009, he was recipient of The Loren Miller Legal Services Award. The award is given annually and honors an attorney who has demonstrated long-term commitment to legal services and who has personally done significant work in extending legal services to the poor.
In the Oscar Award-winning documentary film Inside Job (2010) by Charles H. Ferguson about the financial crisis of 2007-2010, Gnaizda "characterizes the Obama administration as 'a Wall Street government,' a take Mr. Ferguson clearly endorses."