Latina/o Community Awards honor friends, alumni

March 04, 2014

The three people honored by the Latina/o Law Student Association this year are powerful advocates and friends of the Latino community, whether they're fighting for a diverse curriculum in Arizona schools, helping families at risk of deportation, or volunteering time and expertise at a Spanish-English Legal Clinic.

Seattle University School of Law, along with LLSA, will host the Latina/o Community Awards Reception March 13 at 5:30 p.m. in Sullivan Hall. Award recipients are Malou Chavez '10, Emily Gonzalez '10, and Professor Robert Chang.

Malou ChavezMalou Chavez '10 will receive the La Justicia Award. She is a staff attorney with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, where she directly represents people in family-based visa petitions and defends them in removal proceedings. She first joined NWIRP as a legal intern during law school.  

As a student at Seattle University School of Law, Chavez was an ARC Scholar, served on the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, and was active in the Student Bar Association as diversity representative and then president. She devoted much of her time to opening dialogue on race and gender in the field of law and was instrumental in establishing the School of Law's Racial Justice Leadership Institute and Lawyering in a Diverse World Series.

Upon graduation, she worked as an Immigrant Justice Fellow at NWIRP where she assisted survivors of violence in rural eastern Washington in obtaining immigration relief. Chavez is a former member of the board of directors of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Emily GonzalezEmily Rose Gonzalez '10, receiving the Spirit of Service Award, was raised in the lower Yakima Valley amongst her large Mexican-American family.  Her upbringing and exposure to different cultures is what fuels her commitment to serving others -- especially the Latino community. She currently practices civil litigation defense work at Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch.

As the immediate past president of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, Gonzalez helps formulate group's position on legislative and legal issues, participates on the Judicial Evaluation Committee, and provides pro bono assistance to members of the Latino community at the Schroeter Goldmark & Bender/LBAW Spanish-English Legal Clinic.

While at Seattle University, she served as the president of the Latina/o Law Student Association and as a board member and editor for the Seattle Journal for Social Justice.  Her article on the "aging-out" of Special Immigrant Juveniles was selected and published in the journal.  

Robert ChangProfessor Robert S. Chang, executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, will receive the Latina/o Amicus Award. He is the author of "Disoriented: Asian Americans, Law and the Nation-State" and more than 50 articles, essays, and chapters published in leading law reviews and books on Critical Race Theory, LatCrit Theory, and Asian American Legal Studies.

He is currently serving as co-counsel representing high school students in Arizona who have challenged the constitutionality of an Arizona statute that ended the Mexican American Studies Program in the Tucson Unified School District. That case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Students from his Civil Rights Amicus and Advocacy Clinic the past several years have assisted on this case.

Chang has received numerous recognitions for his scholarship and service. He was the 2009 co-recipient of the Clyde Ferguson Award, given by the Minority Groups Section of the Association of American Law Schools, which is "granted to an outstanding law teacher who in the course of his or her career has achieved excellence in the areas of public service, teaching and scholarship." Most recently, he was the co-recipient of the 2014 Charles A. Goldmark Distinguished Service Award from the Legal Foundation of Washington for his leadership role with a statewide task force on race and the criminal justice system.