The University of San Diego – University Ministry
Newman Center Catholic Community at the University of California San Diego
Carmen Chavez was born and raised in San Diego. Her commitment to serving the community started as a teenager through the example of her mother and other family members. She graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. degree in Political Science. During college, she served in various leadership roles. After college, she attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, CA and is a California licensed attorney. For the last 18 years, Carmen has worked at Casa Cornelia Law Center initially as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, then Staff Attorney/Program Director/Associate Director, and currently serves as the Executive Director overseeing a staff of 28 and a volunteer base of over 300. Casa Cornelia is a non-profit law firm in San Diego providing quality pro bono legal representation to victims of human and civil violations eligible for humanitarian protection under the law. As a Staff Attorney and then Associate Director, she provided direct representation and mentored volunteers who handled Asylum, VAWA, U Visa, T Visa, SIJS and other immigration cases affirmatively and defensively (Immigration Court and Board of Immigration Appeals), and has argued successfully before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Carmen has served on task forces, committees, working groups and has given presentations and trainings to the legal community, social workers, law enforcement, students, community groups, faith community, parents and clients.
Casa Cornelia Law Center (CCLC), a sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, is a public interest law firm providing quality pro bono (free) legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. CCLC has a primary commitment to indigent persons within the immigrant community in Southern California, who are eligible for humanitarian protection under current immigration and refugee law. Additionally, CCLC seeks to educate others regarding the impact of immigration law and policy on the community and the public good. Casa Cornelia is able to accomplish its mission with the support of volunteers, such as attorneys from the private bar, student interns, interpreters and translators. In 2017, the Organization responded to 2,441 persons in need such as asylum seekers, unaccompanied children and victims of crime.