Mission & History
Founded in 1969 by Latino law students from Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley, Centro Legal de la Raza is a comprehensive legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of immigrant, low-income and Latino communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy.
By combining quality legal services with know-your-rights education and youth development, we promote access to justice for thousands of individuals and families each year throughout the East Bay region of Northern California.
Bianca has worked at Centro Legal de la Raza since 2008 and was named Executive Director in April of 2009. Bianca holds a law degree from Stanford Law School and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University. In law school, Bianca participated in the education, immigration, and civil rights legal clinics and interned at two Bay Area legal service non-profit agencies, Public Advocates and La Raza Centro Legal. In addition, she served as co-chair of the Stanford Latino Law Students Association. Prior to joining Centro Legal de la Raza, Bianca worked as a corporate associate, first at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and then at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP. Although her practice focused on mergers and acquisitions and venture capital financings, Bianca remained committed to social justice issues. Her pro bono work included obtaining asylum in the United States for a Tibetan monk and advising a non-profit organization that provides micro-enterprise grants to women in Africa. Bianca is a member of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Northern California.
Ana Baires Mira
Ana Baires Mira joined Centro Legal’s housing team in March 2014. Ana emigrated from El Salvador to Oakland when she was six, along with her mother and five siblings. Ana became the first person in her family to graduate from college in 2007, when she obtained a BA in Latin American Studies and Community Studies from UC Santa Cruz. In May 2013, Ana graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law and in December 2013, reached yet another milestone when she was sworn-in as an attorney.
Ana’s passion for public service has led her to volunteer in various capacities, including at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Oakland City Attorney’s Office, the Family Violence Law Center, and most recently, the Office of the San Francisco County District Attorney. In 2006, during her senior year of college she volunteered at Centro Legal for six-months as a Youth Law Academy Program Assistant. While at Centro Legal, Ana saw the necessity for Spanish-speaking Latina lawyers and decided to pursue her dream of going to law school. Ana is thrilled to be working at the organization that inspired her to become a lawyer. Most importantly to Ana, she is happy to be once again working in the community where she grew up.
Public Interest Venture and Edith W. Fine Fellow
Genevieve (Genzie) Bonadies is thrilled to be a member of Centro Legal’s Housing and Employment team as a Public Interest Venture and Edith W. Fine Fellow. Born and raised in Richmond, California, Genzie first became committed to Centro Legal’s mission and legal services program as a Summer Law Clerk in 2012. Upon graduating Harvard Law School, Genzie was impatient to re-commence her work at Centro Legal where she now serves as a staff attorney and develops a legal-partnership with Melrose Middle School. Prior to joining Centro Legal’s staff, Genzie was a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau’s Housing and Employment practices, a Co-Director of the Harvard Immigration Project’s Know Your Rights workshop, and a sixth grade teacher with Teach For America. Genzie also has a M.Ed. from Arizona State University and a B.A. from Harvard University.
Operations and Finance Assistant
Erick assists with all aspects of operations and finance at Centro Legal. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to the U.S. when he was five. Erick studied Philosophy at Ave Maria University in Florida. Previously, he worked for the Tibetan Aid Project in Berkeley as the Event Coordinator. He has also worked closely with networks of DREAMers in Florida and California, including lobbying actions in Washington, DC with United We Dream. He is very happy to be working for an organization that advances the rights of immigrant and low-income communities.
Program Coordinator, Youth Law Academy
Walfre began volunteering in the Youth Law Academy (YLA) in 2012 and he joined the staff in 2013. As the Program Coordinator, Walfre develops and coordinates after-school programming for YLA high school participants. Walfre graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Economy focusing on the economic growth of developing countries. He is an advocate for affordable higher education and currently serves as an alumni associate for the GEAR UP program.
Housing Program Director
Martina graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, during which time she interned at the Bronx Defenders, focusing on the effects of criminal convictions on immigration status. After law school, Martina worked in New York City defending clients in death-penalty-eligible cases as well as assisting clients in immigration-related matters. More recently, Martina worked at a general civil litigation defense firm in California. Prior to entering law school, she worked as a paralegal at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett in New York City, during which time she assisted in a political asylum application and provided assistance to abused women, enabling them to obtain divorces from their spouses.
Esmeralda was born and grew up in Lima, Peru. She was always interested in working with people, especially people who need help. In college, she studied Humanities and Social Sciences and got her degree in Sociology. She was also a volunteer for several years with a Catholic organization in Peru that helps infants and children who are orphans and who are infected with HIV. Being a Peruvian immigrant, Esmeralda has felt proud and happy to work at Centro Legal de la Raza since 2003. Esmeralda believes that this job helps her to better understand and appreciate who she is as a person and what she really wants to do in the United States. She is encouraged to continue her education and continue helping our community. Indeed, from working at Centro Legal de la Raza, she has learned that “in this country we have the freedom to exercise our rights in spite of the fact that many of us may come from a country in which often there is a lack of ability to exercise or enforce your rights.”
Development & Communications Coordinator
Jennifer is thrilled to be part of Centro Legal and working for justice with an amazing group of staff and volunteers. Jennifer has done grassroots fundraising for California Peace Action, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), San Francisco Women Against Rape, and in support of the legal team defending the rights of families impacted by the femicides in Chihuahua, Mexico. As an Americorps volunteer, she led environmental education projects for youth and volunteers in Fruitvale, and at St. Elizabeth Elementary School. She became involved in the immigrant and day labor communities in Oakland while co-teaching ecological landscaping classes to day laborers, and co-organizing a worker owned cooperative for former day laborers.
Jesse M. Newmark
Jesse is incredibly happy to be back at Centro Legal. Jesse first worked at Centro as a Skadden Fellow and Interim Legal Services Director, from 2007 to 2009. As a Centro Legal attorney, Jesse practiced in the areas of housing, immigration, and employment law. Jesse also taught an introductory law class and ran a site-based legal clinic at Melrose Leadership Academy, a public junior high school in East Oakland. Since graduating from Harvard Law School in 2006, Jesse has completed federal trial and appellate court clerkships on the Ninth Circuit, for Judges Dean D. Pregerson and Richard A. Paez. Jesse also worked as a Neighborhood Law Attorney for the City of Oakland, bringing lawsuits on behalf of tenants living in substandard housing and immigrant victims of fraud. Prior to law school, Jesse worked as a teacher, social worker, and factory worker in Oakland, Fremont, and his hometown of Tucson, Arizona.
Immigration Staff Attorney
Barbara Pinto joined Centro Legal in October 2013 as an Immigration Staff Attorney. Prior to joining Centro Legal, Barbara was the Ralph S. Abascal Fellow at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, where her work focused on providing advocacy, outreach, and legal assistance to immigrants and immigration practitioners about the DACA program. Growing up as an immigrant in San Francisco, she enjoys working with and understands the struggles of the immigrant community. She graduated from UC Hastings, College of the Law and during law school interned at various organizations in the Bay Area, including the Refugee & Human Rights Clinic, S.F. Human Rights Commission, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP.
Derek is an attorney working with Centro Legal’s housing practice. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, where he worked with the East Bay Community Law Center and the International Human Rights Clinic. Prior to joining Centro Legal, Derek served as a fellow with Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program in Washington, D.C., and completed a clerkship with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sayra was a volunteer intern at Centro Legal before joining the staff. Sayra is a graduate of California State University East Bay where she obtained a BA in Sociology. Sayra is the first person in her family to graduate from college and is hoping to continue her education and obtain a MSW. As a child of immigrant parents, Sayra feels honored to be part of an organization that provides legal services to immigrant and low-income families.
Program Director, Youth Law Academy
Juan oversees and coordinates all aspects of the Youth Law Academy, which now has 39 high school and 25 college student participants. His previous experience includes working as a counselor at Castlemont High School in Oakland and the Assistant Director of Enrollment Development at Cal State East Bay. Juan received a Masters in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State in May 2010 and a BA in Ethnic Studies from UC Riverside in 2001.
Alan has broad legal and management experience spanning over 20 years, as a partner in a law firm, federal government attorney, and company executive responsible for legal and regulatory affairs. He formerly served as Legal Advisor to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. Alan joined Centro in 2006 as an attorney volunteer and started our consumer protection clinic. In 2008 he became Of Counsel to Centro while continuing to run the consumer protection clinic. Alan earned his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, and his undergraduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a recipient of the Legal Aid Association of California 2007 Award of Merit for his work in consumer protection.
Immigration Program Director
Eleni joined Centro Legal in October 2013 as the Immigration Program Director. Prior to joining Centro Legal, Eleni was the Supervising Attorney for the Detention Project at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) in Chicago, IL from 2009-2012 where she worked with staff, volunteers and pro bono attorneys to provide monthly legal rights presentations to individuals in immigration custody and represent individuals in immigration detention before Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Immigration Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals, district courts and Courts of Appeal. Eleni worked to address systematic detention conditions issues through advocacy and litigation. Eleni has conducted local and national trainings for immigration and criminal defense attorneys on topics including the immigration consequences of criminal offenses for non-citizens, advanced issues in representing detained individuals and representation of individuals with mental health issues. She was an intern and then staff attorney with NIJC from 2004 to 2009. Eleni currently co-chairs the Northern California AILA Pro Bono Committee.
Board of Directors
Alexis Amezcua, Morrison & Foerster
Simao Avila, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Angel Casarez, Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez
Paul Chavez, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
Arnoldo Garcia, United for Success Academy
Sonia Gonzales, California Bar Foundation
Frank Martin, Standard Pacific Capital, LLC
Albert Moreno, Levi Strauss & Co.
Rosanna M. Neagle, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc.
Maria Sager, Boxer & Gerson, LLP
Stephen Taylor, Taylor & Company Law Offices, LLP
Youth Law Academy Advisory Board
Jose Arredondo, Educator
Hon. Jacob Blea III
Hon. Cecilia Castellanos
Lucia Corral Peña, Corral & Associates
Hon. Leo Dorado
Frank Fernandez, Kazan Law
Felix Galaviz, Hispanic Business, Education & Training, Inc.
Noel Gallo, Oakland City Council District 5
Romeo Garcia, Peralta Colleges Foundation
Arturo Gonzalez, Morrison & Foerster
Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Imelda Lopez, Youth Law Academy Graduate
Leo P. Martinez, UC Hastings College of Law
Beatriz Mejia, Cooley LLP
Hon. Cruz Reynoso
Hon. Frank Roesch
David Silver, College Track
Rodrigo Sandoval, Youth Law Academy Graduate
Delia Trevino, District Attorney Office of Alameda County
Hon. Carlos Ynostroza
Maya Ynostroza, District Attorney Office of Alameda County