The University of Southern California announced this week that Effie Turnbull Sanders, who has more than two decades of experience advancing the rights of underserved Los Angeles communities, will join the school next month to head up its economic and civic engagement programs.

As vice president of Civic Engagement and Economic Partnerships, Turnbull Sanders will work with local communities to expand job opportunities and social equity.

Samuel Garrison, interim senior vice president of USC University Relations, said Turnbull Sanders “is a passionate and dedicated advocate for economic, environmental and social change.’’

“We are excited to have Effie join our University Relations team as we continue to work together to further define and advance our evolving programs and initiatives,’’ Garrison said in an email to the university community.

Turnbull Sanders most recently served as executive director of the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone, also known as SLATE-Z, promoting neighborhood revitalization, educational excellence and economic empowerment in collaboration with 71 nonprofit, government agency and private-sector partners, according to USC.

Turnbull Sanders was SLATE-Z’s inaugural executive director and helped build the organization from an emerging startup to a “thriving collective impact model that is leading collaborative efforts in the region,’’ according to the university.

Prior to joining SLATE-Z, Turnbull Sanders practiced law, specializing in land use, transactional law and general litigation. Her career has included serving as an assistant general counsel to the Los Angeles Unified School District and counsel to public and private organizations and municipalities, including the city of Los Angeles.

Turnbull Sanders is currently a governor’s appointee and environmental justice commissioner for the California Coastal Commission. She was also a presidential appointee with the United States Commission on Civil Rights, as special assistant to California Associate Justice Cruz Reynoso.

Turnbull Sanders has been a board member and adviser to the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. She received her Bachelor of Arts and her law degree from UCLA and is a graduate of the USC Ross Minority Program in Real Estate.

Under Turnbull Sanders’ leadership, the existing Office of Civic Engagement will evolve to become the Office of Civic Engagement & Economic Partnerships, according to Garrison, who said the new name “embodies USC’s commitment not only to civic stewardship but also to the university’s unique role in advancing economic opportunity and equity in our communities.’’ Turnbull Sanders’ work will include strengthening small business and nonprofit accelerator programs, the Good Neighbors Campaign and the USC Housing Law Clinic.

Turnbull Sanders will also help build new partnerships with economic development organizations, small businesses, nonprofits and the public sector to revitalize and reimagine the local economy; and support advancing the university’s environmental sustainability efforts and initiatives that strengthen the region’s civic infrastructure, according to USC.