Hon. Jenny Rivera was born of Puerto-Rican parentage in December 1960 in New York, NY. In 1982, she graduated with her undergraduate degree from Princeton University. She pursued her law degree at New York University School of Law where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, an articles editor of the Annual Survey of American Law, and a co-chair for the Latino Law Students Association. She graduated in 1985 with her Juris Doctorate. In 1986, she clerked at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuits Pro Se Law Clerks Office. In 1987, she became a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society Homeless Family Rights Project in Manhattan. She later joined the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) renamed “Latino Justice” as associate counsel. In 1992, she served as an Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Division for Human Rights. In 1993, she received her LL.M from Colombia University School of Law where she concentrated on Constitutional and Feminist Theory.
After completing her LL.M she clerked for then-U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the Southern District of New York. In 1994, she began her teaching career as an Associate Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. She later joined the faculty at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. During her tenure she authored several law articles on a range of substantive areas. She also founded and served as the Director of the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE). In 2002, she served on the New York City Commission on Human Rights. She also served as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights by then New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, from 2007 to 2008.
In 2009, she was honored with the Presidential Advocacy Award from the Hispanic National Bar Association. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Diversity Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Bar Association. She was also the recipient of the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. On January 15, 2013, she was nominated as an Associate Judge to the New York State Court of Appeals.