Meet Elba

Elba Rose Galvan is a candidate for Judge in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan. With over 25 years of service as an attorney, she has the compassion, the legal knowledge, the experience, and the integrity the position demands. Since 2017, She has worked as a Surrogate’s Court Referee, a court appointed attorney who hears and helps determine cases, serving with reform-minded and progressive Surrogate Judges Margarita Lopez Torres and Rosemarie Montalbano. Her first-hand experience in this field makes her uniquely qualified to hit the ground running. The New York Daily News has endorsed her for Manhattan Surrogate stating; "She has served with distinction for years as a referee," in particular working with former Surrogate Judge Margarita Lopez Torres, "a heroine in fighting political influence and running a court free of corruption and cronyism." Elba understands the care, research, and scholarship required to write judicial decisions that stand up to review and provide clear guidance for future litigants. The New York County Independent Judicial Screening Panel reported Elba Galvan as "most highly qualified" for the position of Manhattan Surrogate's Court Judge. The New York City Bar Association also approved her as Manhattan Surrogate.

Prior to her service as Surrogate Referee, Elba Rose Galvan was a law clerk to both United States District Court Judge Analisa Torres and to New York Civil Court Judge Laura Johnson. After receiving her BA from Cornell University and JD from Howard University School of Law, Elba Galvan worked as a litigator and appellate attorney at two private firms. Ms. Galvan also served as Special Counsel to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (currently known as Latino Justice PRLDEF) and managed a solo law practice.

Ms. Galvan was President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and is the proud recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Advocacy Flor de Maga Award. She also has been Deputy Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and has served a two term presidency of the National Lawyers Guild, New York City Chapter. A member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the City of New York and the Cornell University President’s Council for Cornell Women, Ms. Galvan is a frequent lecturer on educational and Continuing Legal Education panels, and has participated extensively in internship and mentoring programs. She's pictured here with some members of her large family.

Elba Rose Galvan is the second of five children born to immigrant parents. She and her husband have resided in Washington Heights for almost two decades, where they have raised their three sons: a college junior and aspiring oceanographer; an incoming college freshman studying environmental sustainability; and a high school junior who plays the trombone at Manhattan’s Special Music School. In warm weather months, look for her and members of her family at the William B. Washington Memorial Park on 126th Street where they are volunteers.

Role of a Surrogate

In New York, the Surrogate is the "probate judge," the judge who determines the validity of wills and other issues relating to someone's estate (property, assets, lawsuits, etc.) after they have died. Surrogate’s Court also presides over guardianships, adoptions, kinship hearings, and related matters. The issues raised in Surrogate’s Court seldom have easy solutions, and always require knowledge of the law, a strong sense of fairness, and compassion.

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  • Coalition for a District Alternative
  • Village Independent Democrats
  • Daily News

“Elba Galvan is a thoughtful, insightful and compassionate jurist. Her keen understanding of probate law is earned from a wealth of hands-on experience. That, and her ability to see all sides of an issue make her exceptionally well-equipped and supremely qualified to serve as Manhattan’s next Surrogate’s Court Judge. I’m confident she’ll excellently serve borough residents.”
Retired Surrogate Judge Margarita Lopez Torres