Alejandro G. Becerra
Alejandro G. Becerra was born in Jalisco, Mexico and came to the United States when he was 13 years old. He attended Whittier public schools. He was the first in his family to graduate high school. He attended California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) where he was involved with different student organizations that focused on giving back to the community. He graduated cum laude from CSUF with degrees in History and Chicano Studies. He received the Outstanding University Service Award and the Academic Excellence Award. He taught elementary school and taught ESL to adults before he attended UCLA School of Law. There, he was La Raza Law Student Association’s Secretary and an associate editor for the Chicano Latino Law Review. Alejandro was a cofounding student member of the National Latina/o Law Student Association. After earning a J.D. with a Concentration in Critical Race Studies, he taught courses in Chicana/o Studies at CSUF for three years. He has acted as consulting attorney to Mexican Consulates throughout California mostly representing pro bono clients. Before opening his own office, Alejandro gained substantial trial experience working tor two preeminent personal injury firms in the Los Angeles area.
He is the owner of the South Pasadena firm of Law Office Of Alejandro G. Becerra, A Professional Law Corporation, a plaintiff’s personal injury law firm. Coming to this country as an undocumented immigrant, he understands how others have contributed to his success and firmly believes in giving back to the community. He has proudly served on the MABA Board since
2012. He lives in Pasadena with his wife Maria S. Becerra and their two daughters, Aleria and Alessandra.
Denisse O. Gastélum
Denisse O. Gastélum was born in East Los Angeles into an immigrant family from Chihuahua and Sinaloa, México. Having come from humble beginnings, her focus on the advancement of the Latino community comes naturally.
Ms. Gastélum completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Political Science and Education. Ms. Gastélum graduated from Loyola Law School, where she served as a mentor for the Academic Support Program, a debate coach for the Johnnie Cochran Middle School Debate Program, a member of the review team for For People of Color, Inc., and a law clerk for The Cochran Firm and the Law Offices of Felipe Plascencia. Following law school, Ms. Gastélum served as a Public Service Corps Fellow for the Honorable Teresa Sánchez-Gordon. She is a founding member of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association Young Lawyers Committee and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Latina Lawyers Bar Association.
Ms. Gastélum is an Associate Attorney at Casillas & Associates, one of the nation’s leading trial firms dedicated to advocating on behalf of those harmed by civil rights violations and catastrophic injuries.
Oscar Rene Gutierrez
Oscar Rene Gutierrez is the son of Mexican immigrants from Guadalajara and La Barca, Jalisco. After graduating from Loyola High School of Los Angeles in 2002, he attended the University of Southern California (USC) where he graduated in 2006. Oscar then enrolled at Pepperdine University School of Law as a Diversity Scholar. While at Pepperdine, he served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew, United States District Court Judge for the Central District of California. Oscar’s involvement in the Latino legal community began in law school. While at Pepperdine, he served as the MABA Student Vice Chair for Pepperdine and as the President of the Latin American Law Student Association (LALSA).
Oscar currently practices law as a trial attorney with his father, Oscar H. Gutierrez. Their practice focuses exclusively on plaintiff’s personal injury matters. The vast majority of Oscar’s legal work aids the monolingual Spanish-speaking community here in southern California. His goal is to ensure that the rights of Latinos are protected in our judicial system, regardless of their immigration status, finances, or socioeconomic background. He loves trial work and representing his clients.
Oscar is also a part of the Latino Alumni Society of Loyola High School and is the Co-Chair of the Breakfast at the Bar Committee for the Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). He is a proud member of both the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) where he serves as the Consumer Attorneys Lead Liaison for California State Assemblymember Ian Calderon.
This will be Oscar’s fourth year serving on the MABA Board. He was a MABA Trustee in 2014, MABA’s Secretary in 2015, and MABA’s Treasurer in 2016.
Monica Guizar is an Attorney and Shareholder with the union-side law firm of Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld. Ms. Guizar is also a mother, wife, and daughter. She grew up in Pico Rivera - the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. Since obtaining her law degree from Loyola Law School in 1998, she has dedicated the entirety of her legal career to representing workers, unions and immigrants. Her practice areas with the firm include traditional labor, employment and immigration law in both the private and public sector. She regularly litigates labor and employment cases before the state and federal courts, handles labor arbitrations and regularly appears before the National Labor Relations Board and the Public Employee Relations Board. She has extensive experience dealing with issues that impact immigrant workers and organizing immigrant workers. She often provides training to local unions and members. Ms. Guizar also provides legal advice, assists with policy analysis, and administrative advocacy to local unions, labor federations and international unions on immigration reform at the state and federal level as well as on immigration issues in the workplace. Ms. Guizar was previously the Employment Policy Attorney with the National Immigration Law Center and ran a private law practice. She regularly speaks on panels involving immigration issues and the workplace.
She also staffed and contributed to the UFCW’s report: Raids on Workers, Destroying Our Rights: A comprehensive Analysis and Investigation of ICE Raids and Their Ramifications, A report by the National Commission On ICE Misconduct and Violations of 4th Amendment Rights (2009). She is a Co-Author with NELP on a Toolkit: California’s New Immigrant Worker Protections Against Employer Retaliation, By Eunice Hyunhye Cho and Monica Guizar (May 2014).
She has served on the board of directors of: Working Hands Legal Clinic in Chicago, IL; the Latina Lawyers Bar Association (LLBA) – is a Past President of LLBA; the National Lawyers Guild –LA chapter; the Mexican American Bar Association; and the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. She has volunteered with the L.A. Raids Response Network and continues to serve on the reconvened Network. Presently she serves on the Board of Directors of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee and on the California State Bar’s Labor and Employment Section’s Executive Committee. Ms. Guizar received her undergraduate degrees in Spanish Literature and Criminology, Law and Society from U.C. Irvine in 1995.
Ana Graciela Nájera Mendoza
Ana Graciela Nájera Mendoza is an Associate at Alexander, Krakow, and Glick LLP, a plaintiff-side employment law firm, where she advocates for employee justice. Ana is dedicated to representing clients in the pursuit of their constitutional and statutory rights. A native Spanish speaker, she has worked with clients from diverse backgrounds. She has represented employees across a broad spectrum of industries in vindicating their labor and employment claims, including restaurant workers, police officers, hotel workers, professors, factory workers, and human resources executives. She has also worked on impact litigation involving voting rights, First Amendment issues, education policy, and immigrants’ rights.
Ana is a 2014 graduate of UCLA School of Law, where she was enrolled in the Critical Race Studies (CRS) specialization. During law school, Ana volunteered with A New Way of Life and clerked with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the ACLU of Southern California, and UNITE HERE Local 11. Ana was a 2010 UCLA Law Fellow and gave back to the program by serving as a Law Fellows Mentor during law school. She also served as a Co-Chair of the La Raza Latino Law Students Association. Ana was the recipient of scholarships from the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Mexican American Bar Foundation, and Latina Lawyers Bar Association and she was selected as the 2014 MALDEF Hernandez-Stern Scholarship recipient.
Ana is honored to continue serving MABA as 2017 Treasurer and as the Chair of the MABA Student Outreach Program. The Student Outreach Program is designed to coordinate visits by MABA members to local schools and community-based organizations so our members can share their personal, academic, and professional stories with young people and inspire the next generation of diverse lawyers.
Sandra C. Muñoz
Sandra C. Muñoz is the owner of the Law Offices of Sandra C. Muñoz. Sandra’s law office is dedicated to representing workers whose civil rights have been violated. For over 19 years, Sandra has worked on countless cases involving employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Sandra also has extensive experience in cases involving police abuse. Sandra graduated from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles in 1997 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Chicano/a Studies from UCLA. Sandra is also a graduate of Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and a former student of renowned math teacher Jaime Escalante. At Loyola, Sandra was a member of the team that competed and won the 1996 Hispanic National Bar Association Moot Court. She was also President of La Raza Law Students Association and named the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student of the Year in 1997.
At the outset of her career, Sandra was an Associate Attorney at Hadsell & Stormer (now Hadsell, Stormer, & Renick), a prominent civil rights law firm. There, Sandra represented numerous clients in employment cases. Sandra was then an Associate Attorney at Moreno, Becerra, & Casillas, a renowned Latino civil rights and catastrophic injury law firm. There, Sandra worked on numerous cases brought by victims of the LAPD Rampart Scandal, as well as other police abuse cases. In 2011, Sandra opened the Law Offices of Sandra C. Muñoz where she continues to pursue her long-life commitment to representing workers.
Sandra has successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit and the California Court of Appeal. She has also been featured in the Daily Journal, participated on various continuing education panels, and taught legal courses for Dowling College. In 2002, Ms. Muñoz served a the President of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association. Sandra has also worked as the Managing
Editor of the State Bar’s California Labor and Employment Law Review. In 2004 and 2005, Sandra was named Southern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers. In 2011, Sandra was
nominated for Attorney of the Year by the National Latina Business Woman Association. Since 2012, Sandra has been a member of the Central District of California Merit Selection Panel.
Sandra also received the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award in 2016 for her work representing warehouse workers in a wage and hour class action against Wal-Mart and other
defendants. Also in 2016, Sandra received the LLBA Mary V. Orozco Abriendo Caminos Award.
In addition to her legal career, Sandra is also a writer who earned an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Sandra co-authored the play “Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Piñata Woman and Other Superhero Girls Like Me” with Luis Alfaro, Marisela Norte, and Alma Cervantes. “Black Butterfly” was nominated for an Ovation Award in
2000 for Best Writing of a World Premiere and was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Gladdys J. Uribe
Gladdys J. Uribe is the Principal and lead attorney with the Law Offices of Gladdys J. Uribe, an immigration law practice with offices in Los Angeles and in Gladdys’ hometown of Buellton, California. Gladdys grew up witnessing injustices committed against the immigrant community, which inspired her dedication to using the law as a tool for social justice.
Gladdys holds a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, with concentrations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law & Policy Programs, and a B.A. in Sociology from Occidental College. During her time at UCLA and Occidental, Gladdys was involved in a variety of student organizations, including serving as Co-Chair for MEChA and the UCLA La Raza Law Student Association, as a board member for the UCLA Chicano-Latino Law Review, and interning with the Learning Rights Project and Catholic Legal Immigration Network advocating for children with learning disabilities and conducting “know your rights” presentations for immigrants in detention. Prior to attending law school, Gladdys worked for People Helping People, a local non-profit in the Santa Ynez Valley, during the day and taught English as a Second Language to adults in the evening.
Gladdys is currently the Co-Vice President of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association and sits on the Dunn School Board of Trustees. She previously served on the boards of the UCLA School of Law Marco Firebaugh Dream Fund, the Mexican American Bar Association, and the Latina Lawyers Bar Association. She has been featured as a legal commentator on MundoFOX 22 and Univision.
Gladdys is the proud daughter of immigrant parents from Jalisco and Baja California, Mexico, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband Ismael and their daughter Shaila.
James Blancarte, Jr.
James Blancarte, Jr. was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he obtained a B.A. in Psychology. In 2013, he obtained his J.D. from the Southwestern School of Law. At Southwestern, James was a board member and active leader with the Latino Law Students Association (LLSA). During law school, James interned with the High Tech Crime Unit of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and volunteered for the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai’i. He is one of four children and was raised by two professional, hard working parents, Cynthia, an elementary school teacher, and James, Sr., a long-time MABA member and two time past MABA President. He practiced law with James, Sr. in areas which include, Sports and Entertainment Law, Business Transactions and Criminal Defense. James, Sr. has since been elected as a Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner and James, Jr. has since taken over the law practice. James, Jr. previously served on the MABA Board of Trustees in 2015 and he looks forward to his service as a member of the MABA Board of Trustees in 2017.
Daniela Saspe was born in San Diego by immigrant parents from Queretaro and Durango, Mexico. Ms. Saspe graduated in 2005, magna cum laude, from Loyola Marymount University with a B.B.A. in business management. She was inducted into Loyola’s academic honors society, Beta Gamma Sigma. Ms. Saspe obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School in 2014. During her final year at Loyola Law School, Ms. Saspe clerked full-time at a highly selective plaintiffs’ firm, Girardi & Keese. Her rewarding experience in representing victims of injustice gave her the skill set and training to litigate against some of the largest and well-funded companies in America.
Ms. Saspe’s practice is now focused on representing consumers and employees in class action litigation. Her continued devotion to the community is demonstrated in her active involvement as a MOSTe mentor. As a first generation college graduate in her family, Ms. Saspe understands the obstacles presented to minorities in pursuit of a higher education. As a MOSTe mentor, Ms. Saspe motivates underprivileged girls to attend and succeed in college. Ms. Saspe aspires to continually pursue her goal in aiding disenfranchised members of the community in both her personal and professional life.
Heriberto Veliz is a recent graduate of Loyola Law School. Heriberto is from Sylmar, CA and completed his undergraduate studies at Cal State Northridge, where he majored in Finance.
During his time at Loyola Law School, Heriberto served as President of the La Raza de Loyola. Heriberto also worked as a clinical student for the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, where he represented victims of crimes who sought lawful status to the United States. Heriberto also worked as a legal intern for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in the Office of Immigrant Affairs, and as a law clerk for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Heriberto is currently an Associate at Perez & Caballero, a personal injury and civil rights plaintiff’s trial law firm.
Rigoberto J. Arrechiga was born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico to parents who struggled in their native land. Their desire for a better life brought them to this country without the requisite documentation. Mr. Arrechiga was undocumented most of his childhood and lived under the constant fear that he might be picked up by the “green” vans. He was raised in the Eastside community of Boyle Heights, where generations of immigrants just like him have and continue to settle in their journey towards the American Dream.
Mr. Arrechiga attended San Antonio de Padua, a small parochial school located in Boyle Heights, not to far from the concrete banks of the Los Angeles River and in the shadow of downtown’s high rises. He graduated from Cantwell Preparatory High School in Montebello, where he cleaned classrooms before and after school to help offset the cost of tuition.
Mr. Arrechiga was the first in his family to attend college. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History with a Minor in Latin American Studies from Arizona State University in 1995 and his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in 1998.
Mr. Arrechiga has had the privilege of representing thousands of clients in all aspects of their criminal cases as a deputy public defender for the County of Los Angeles. He joined the office in 2001. He currently represents minors as a resource attorney at the Eastlake Juvenile Courthouse where he advocates on behalf of clients with Special Education, Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, Epilepsy and competency issues.
Prior to his employment as a deputy public defender, Mr. Arrechiga thought History and Language Arts to middle school students at Stevenson, Hollenback and Nimitz Middle Schools. He also taught Citizenship at Belmont Adult School to immigrants from Central America.
Marisa Hernández-Stern is a staff attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County where she directs its Workers' Rights Clinics and represents clients in employment and consumer litigation. Ms. Hernández-Stern graduated from Brown University in 2005 and the UCLA School of Law in 2010 with concentrations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy. After graduating, Ms. Hernández-Stern worked as a bilingual civil rights analyst at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Voting Section. Ms. Hernández-Stern then clerked for the Honorable Harry Pregerson, United States Circuit Judge for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Before joining Neighborhood Legal Services, Ms. Hernández-Stern worked as a litigation associate at the civil rights law firms of Traber & Voorhees and Hadsell Stormer & Renick.
Ms. Hernández-Stern currently serves as the chair of MABA's Federal Judicial Externship Program. She is also the co-chair of the Brown University Latino Alumni Council-Los Angeles chapter, a member of the California Employment Lawyers Association, and the Latina Lawyers Bar Association. In February 2014 and 2015, Ms. Hernández-Stern acted as an NGO legal observer representative for the Pacific Council to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to view pre-trial proceedings of detainee Abd al Rahim al Nashiri
Susana E. Juarez
Susana E. Juarez is the fifth of seven children of immigrant parents from Mexico. She is the first in her family to attend college, and went to California State University, Los Angeles where she graduated cum laude with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Economics; all while working a full-time job to finance her undergraduate education.
Ms. Juarez was encouraged by her undergraduate professor Marc Dollinger to pursue her dream of going to law school and becoming an advocate to protect the most vulnerable members of society. Susana received her J.D. from Loyola Law School where she participated as a board member for La Raza de Loyola, the Criminal Law Society and was an active participant in the Women’s Law Society. At Loyola, Ms. Juarez was selected to participate in the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy as a legal advocate on behalf of children & youth charged with criminal offenses. It was at this time that Ms. Juarez became committed to protecting the rights of the accused who were prosecuted in criminal court. Upon graduating from law school, Ms. Juarez became an attorney with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office and in 2013 she joined the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office where she continues to advocate on behalf of indigent clients as a felony trial attorney.
Ms. Juarez is committed to uplifting and empowering the Latino community in a cooperative and inclusive way. She is looking forward to her membership on the MABA Board and in serving the Latino community.
Humberto Guizar has been a lawyer for 28 years. He is a principal partner in the civil rights law firm of Guizar, Henderson & Carrazco. The firm is located in Montebello and Tustin, CA. He specializes primarily in civil rights litigation and represents consumers in catastrophic personal injury cases. Humberto has previously served as an elected Executive Board Trustee of the Mexican American Bar Association and for 12 years. In 2000 he was profiled in the Daily Journal for his role in obtaining one of the first 7 figure verdicts against CRASH officers from the L.A.P.D. The front page story was entitled From "Gang member to Attorney". He was also the lead counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Ceballos v. Garcetti. I
Over the years Humberto has successfully prosecuted significant and challenging civil rights cases resulting in repeated multiple 7 Figure settlements and verdicts for his clients'. In 2012, he was one of the top 5 nominees considered for the CAALA Trial lawyer of the year after winning a very difficult civil rights trial.
Humberto is the only known attorney anywhere that provides expert court testimony in the Southern California criminal courts as a "gang expert". He was retained as the expert for high profile class action civil rights case, Christian Rodriguez, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., which was settled for 30 million dollars.
On April 26, 2003 Humberto was honored by the La Raza Alumni Association at California State University, Northridge with a lifetime achievement award.
Humberto is one of the founders of Brothers For Justice, a Consumer Attorneys Motorcycle Club. Established in 2014, and he acts as the Vice President of the Club.
A film project is currently in production that is based on Humberto's life story. The project will generally show Humberto's real life struggles as a former gang member and the legal and factual challenges Humberto has encountered as a lawyer in police shooting cases Humberto has handled during his career. This project is entitled Brothers of Justice and can be found in the IMDB national and international film website. Humberto will be involved in the project as a producer, consultant and actor
Michael Carrillo was born in Pasadena, CA and grew up in the city of South Pasadena. He went to college at Purdue University, West Lafayette (Go Boilermakers!) and while there, he helped co-found the Latino Cultural Center at Purdue University. Also while at Purdue, Michael co-founded a Latino fraternity, Delta Pi Rho Fraternity, Inc. which now has two chapters. He currently is a partner at the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP where he works with his father, Luis Carrillo. Michael and his father represent children who have been sexually abused in their schools. Recently, Michael worked on the Miramonte litigation against the LA Unified School District as well as other high-profile sex abuse cases against school districts
Chloressa “Chloe” Neblina
Chloressa “Chloe” Neblina is MABA’s Student Trustee and acts as a liaison between the MABA Attorney network as well as the Southern California law schools. She was born in Los Angeles, CA and graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2010 with a double major in Comparative Literature and Italian Studies. During college, she worked as a mentor and college counselor for high school students. After college, she worked for a personal injury firm, where she gained valuable experience and a desire to attend law school. She currently attends Loyola Law School as a second year evening student, while working as a paralegal for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). At KIND she helps the direct representation attorneys with their cases, representing unaccompanied minors in need of immigration relief. At Loyola, she is Co-Chair of the Immigration Law Society and Social Chair for La Raza. Her strong commitment to her community and her passion to provide a voice to children, has also led her to volunteer at Casa Libre, a shelter and academy for unaccompanied minor boys, where she encourages them to pursue their education and assists with the needs of the shelter. She hopes to one day become an immigration attorney to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community. She is honored to serve as a Student Trustee and hopes to encourage more Latino students to attend law school and increase our representation in the legal field.
Leonard Torrealba was born and raised in Venezuela. At the age of 17, he moved to Los Angeles. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University in Washington D.C. Mr. Torrealba has been a trial lawyer for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for 30 years. He has been assigned to various trial and management positions including the Public Integrity, Healthcare Fraud, Major Narcotics and Consumer Protection divisions. Mr. Torrealba is firmly committed to public service and community advocacy. He has served multiple terms as the President of the Latino Prosecutors Association and is currently the President of the Latino Prosecutors Foundation and a Mexican American Bar Foundation trustee. He is a leader in the field of immigrant consumer protection and an advocate of crime prevention and mentoring programs. He is married to longtime MABA member Judge Shelly Torrealba and is honored to be part of the MABA family.
R. Ivan Hernandez
R. Ivan Hernandez has worked as a Deputy Public Defender for the County of Los Angeles for the past three years and is currently specializing in juvenile law out of the Eastlake Juvenile Center. Prior to that, he practiced labor and employment law, with a focus on wage-and-hour class actions for about two years. Having graduated from Dartmouth College in 2003 and Harvard Law School in 2009, he returned home to Los Angeles. Ivan currently lives in Glassel Park with his wife and their two daughters.
Maria Dolores Torres
Maria Dolores Torres was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a young child with her immediate family. She was raised in the community of Echo Park in Los Angeles, California. As an undergraduate at California State University, Northridge, she majored in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. During her undergraduate studies she was mentored by professors in the Chicano/a Studies Department, was part of La Raza Graduation and Scholarship Committee, in addition to being employed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Assistance Program. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in June 2006 and was invited to attend the Honors Convocation as a Cum Laude graduating student. Subsequently she became part of the MABA family as the Executive Administrator in 2006. In May of 2011 Ms. Torres obtained an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, cum laude. During the course of her enrollment in the Clinical Program she became involved in the Child and Adolescent Assessment Clinic where she provided diagnostic psychometric assessments and evaluations of children referred for suspected Learning Disability/Dyslexia, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and their associated learning and behavioral issues. Apart from her work at MABA, Ms. Torres is involved in other nonprofits where she volunteers her time to provide free resources for the community.