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HISPANIC BAR ASSOCIATION

ORANGE COUNTY


2024 Officers & Directors


Shelly Aronson
President

Shelly Aronson has been practicing criminal defense law in Orange County for the past 35 years, 27 of which were with the Orange County Public Defender as a Senior Trial Attorney.

Ms. Aronson’s practice involves misdemeanor and felony cases in the criminal justice system. Ms. Aronson specializes in substance abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, and other issues related to criminal behavior.

Ms. Aronson devotes much of her time to pro bono and lo bono work representing the indigent and minorities, spending time helping clients with rehabilitation and achieving 2nd chances in life. Ms. Aronson also volunteers hundreds of hours every year as a Temporary Judge in Orange County in the traffic, small claims, and collaborative courts.

After a lifelong career in government and community service in the Hispanic community, Ms. Aronson is proud to continue her work with the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. She looks forward to working with the Board again this year on educational and social issues, issues of inequality, and helping students obtain scholarships and better education. Shelly will continue working to enhance the quality of life for the Hispanic community.




Frank Chirino
President Elect 

Frank Chirino is a founding partner and the lead trial attorney at Ayala Chirino LLP, specializing in the area of catastrophic personal injury.

Having spent more than a decade on the defense side, litigating cases on behalf of major insurance companies, he possesses a comprehensive understanding of injury litigation, which he proudly employs to achieve the best possible results for his clients.

Frank has resolved countless cases through settlement negotiations, mediation and trial. As an advocate for injured parties, it is his honor to work tirelessly to ensure that his clients receive fair treatment and just compensation.

Frank is active in several local organizations, including the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, the Consumer Attorneys of California, and the OC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he is a member of Business Networking International’s first all Spanish-speaking chapter – Lideres Sin Limites.

He is an avid martial artist, with almost 35 years of experience, and has black belts in three separate disciplines.




Laura Hassan,
Vice President

Laura Hassan has been practicing law since 2017 and focuses on business litigation and family law.

Ms. Hassan completed her undergraduate studies at California State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Spanish studies. Ms. Hassan received her legal education from Whittier Law School, where she was a member of the Trial Advocacy Honors Board and served as Vice President of the Hispanic American Law Student Association. Ms. Hassan earned her Juris Doctor in 2016.

Ms. Hassan is admitted to practice before the California Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Ms. Hassan has participated in various litigations since 2017. She has also dedicated her time to pro bono programs, assisted with immigrant and refugee children, and worked to combat slum housing. Ms. Hassan is a member of the Orange County Bar Association, Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, California Lawyers Association, and the Orange County Women’s Lawyers Association. 



Patricia Santamaria,
CFO

Ms. Patricia Santamaria is an associate attorney with Yanez & Associates. She grew up in Orange County, California where she attended the California State University at Fullerton, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development.

During her undergraduate studies, Ms. Santamaria worked for non-profit organizations providing a wide range of services to under-privileged men and women, at-risk youth, foster youth, veterans and survivors of domestic violence, and drug & alcohol recovery from various ages and diverse backgrounds.

Patricia Santamaria understands the importance of giving back and helping others. This desire for helping others combined with her personal experiences is what steered her towards a career in law.

Her practice focuses solely on Family Law matters. She comprehends the difficult and emotional process involved with family law matters and represents clients through the process with dignity and compassion.

She is a recipient of the Wally Davis Scholarship offered by the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. Ms. Santamaria is a member of the Orange County Bar Association, Family Law section and Orange County Hispanic Bar Association.


Catherine Navarro,

Secretary


Ms. Navarro was born and raised in Orange County, California and is currently a Partner at Fontes Law Group, PC.

She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in June of 2011 and earned her Bachelor Degrees in Chicana/Chicano Studies and Global & International Studies with an emphasis in Latin America.

In May of 2016, Ms. Navarro graduated Magna Cum Laude and received her Juris Doctor Degree from Whittier Law School.

In June of 2017, Ms. Navarro was admitted to practice law in the State of California and the Central District of California.

Ms. Navarro represents immigrants and their families before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and before the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Immigration Court.

Ms. Navarro also represents families in Family Law Court and Probate Court. In 2020, Ms. Navarro started doing pro bono work for Laura’s House.





Jeannette Garcia
Immediate Past President 

Jeannette Garcia is a family law attorney. After six years of working for various prestigious family law firms, in 2021, Ms. Garcia opened her own family law practice in Orange County, the Law Office of Jeannette Garcia, APC. Ms. Garcia is a first-generation Latina and proud daughter of immigrant parents. She was born and raised in Orange County where she graduated top of her high school class at Santa Ana High School (Once a Saint, Always a Saint!).

She attended the University of California, Irvine ("UCI") on a full scholarship and received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, Law and Society and Psychology and Social Behavior. While pursuing her Bachelor’s degree, she interned with the Juvenile Defenders, where she established a passion for law. 

Ms. Garcia received her Juris Doctorate from Western State College of Law ("Western State") in 2015, graduating Cum Laude. While at Western State, she received a merit-based full-tuition scholarship for two years and earned a Criminal Law Certificate. Additionally, she was part of the Law Review, Mock Trial Team, and she was President of the Latino Student Bar Association.

She was admitted to the California State Bar in 2015. Ms. Garcia has worked in the family law field for over 10 years. Prior to opening her own practice, Ms. Garcia litigated family law cases at large and prestigious family law firms in Orange County, where she gained valuable experience in complex financial cases, including high net- worth matters, business valuations, and tracing, among others.  

Ms. Garcia has been a member of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association since 2013, where she has served on the executive board and board of directors in various capacities. 

Ms. Garcia is married and has two daughters- a five- and two-year old. When not working or administering her law practice, she spends her time with her family. 



Adrian Canzoneri,
Director

Adrian is a seasoned and diverse business litigator with the law firm Theodora Oringher. Adrian handles all types of business and commercial litigation matters, including labor and employment litigation matters, for a wide-ranging base of clients.

Adrian has represented clients ranging in size from the largest financial institutions in the country, to local small businesses and individuals. No matter the size, Adrian is passionate about his practice and zealously strives to obtain successful results for his clients.

Born and raised in Los Angeles County, Adrian obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University, with a minor in Business Administration. He then obtained his juris doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 2009. Adrian is admitted to practice in the state of California, as well as being admitted to practice before all Federal Courts in California, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Adrian is excited to serve as a Director on the 2022 Board of the OCHBA. In addition to being involved in the OCHBA, Adrian is also an active member of the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association, the Mexican American Bar Association, and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. 



Jennifer Corona, 
Director

Jenny was born and raised in Orange County and is an a family law attorney in Irvine California.

She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012, and obtained her masters from Johns Hopkins in 2016.

In 2020 Jenny graduated from Western State College of Law where she was president of her school's Latino Bar Association. Prior to being admitted as an attorney in 2021, Jenny was a bilingual educator in South Texas.

Jenny is a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and loves to give back to the community, especially the one that that gave her so much. 



Christopher Hernandez, Director

Chris grew up locally in Boyle Heights. Chris is an Alumni of UC Irvine, Cal. Western, and the Trial Lawyers College.

He practices personal injury, criminal, and family law.

In addition, Chris shares an office with Llyod Freeburg in Fullerton and also has an office at the Riverside Bar Building. Chris is also an Adjunct Professor. Chris resides with his beautiful wife. 

 


Maria Elena Parada,
Director

Maria Elena Parada was born in California and raised part of her life in Guadalajara, Mexico. She describes herself as a Tapatia at heart.

Ms. Parada graduated from the California State University, Fullerton and earned her Bachelor's Degree in Molecular Biology. She received her legal education from Whittier Law School, where she earned a Certificate in International Law.

Ms. Parada was part of Whittier Law School's Law Review Journal, a member of the Trial Advocacy team, and served on the Student Body Association as a 3L representative.

Ms. Parada has been practicing law since 2018. She is an associate at Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP. Her practice focuses on civil litigation with an emphasis in insurance defense and personal injury matters involving automobile accidents and as well as premises liability. Her fluency in Spanish has allowed her to connect with clients to provide effective representation.


Manohar Sukumar,
Director

Manohar is the Supervising Attorney for the Health Law Unit at Public Law Center (PLC). Before PLC, he served as Staff Attorney in the Health Consumer Action Center of Legal Aid Society of Orange County. There, Manohar led a Blue Shield Foundation grant project to make policy recommendations to the Orange County Health Care Agency regarding implementation of their Low Income Health Project through California's Bridge to Reform, in the leadup to Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. At PLC, Manohar runs a major medical-legal partnership assisting HIV-positive clients, engages in legislative advocacy, and provides consumer advocacy for indigent clients facing challenges with health care benefits. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from UCLA, a Master of Public Health in Community Health Education from Cal State Long Beach, and a law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School.



Angela Chavez,
Director

When I was 6 years old, my dad was fired from his job for being Mexican and speaking Spanish at work. The local church would bring groceries to my family while my dad went through a lawsuit with one of the biggest banks in Los Angeles. My parents, both immigrants from Mexico, no longer allowed my siblings and I to speak Spanish. They wanted us to assimilate to the "American" culture. I remember the change and pain my family went through, and asking my dad who were the people that helped him. These people were his lawyers. From that point, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer so I could be the voice for people like my dad and specifically the Latino community. Becoming a lawyer was always my dream.

Many believed that my dream would never be a reality. At 17 years old, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given 4 months to live. I had also found out that I was pregnant. The first to know was my mom. I told her, "Mom, I am poor. I don't have money to bring a child into this world". My mom, a very conservative catholic, said to me, "Mija, how could you kill a life when your dad is just dying to live." The decision was made, I was to be a teen parent. When I told my dad "I am pregnant", it was the first time I had ever seen him cry. Not even when the doctors gave him a death sentence did my dad shed a tear. But, this time...he did. My dad said to me, "Mija, now you will never be a lawyer." And apart of me believed it.

As I sat on the side on my parent's bed, quiet, and in shame. I knew I had disappointed them. In my heart, I swore to myself I would not be another statistic. I would become a lawyer and be a voice for my Latino community. And it was not easy. As a single teen mother, I faced a lot of closed doors but creativity taught me to find a window to enter. The word "impossible" has shown up in my life more often than not, but I would like to believe I am one of those people that squint really hard and see the word "possible". Because sometimes your climb will be a mountain, not a hill. But, with perseverance and determination, I know possibilities exist. 

I received a scholarship to attend Chapman Fowler School of Law in Orange County, where I competed on their mock trial team. 

Currently, I am a trial attorney and run my own law office which caters predominately to the Latino community. I now look back to the 6 year old me who dreamt of becoming a lawyer. I wish I could tell her, "Latinas are lawyers, they exist". I am currently writing a children's law book, based on a Latina female, which educates children on various areas of the law. If ignorance of the law is not a defense, I want to use whatever tools possible to help vulnerable communities. I would like law to be more inclusive than exclusive. If only 4% of attorney's are Latinos, what can I do to raise that percentage?

I hope, through my actions and my voice, to be a change in my community and raise that percentage. I am the first in my family to have attended law school. I know firsthand the struggles of learning to pat yourself on the back. I wish to inspire, encourage, and teach other Latinos that "possible" sometimes comes in the form of "impossible", you just have to squint hard to see it. 



Violeta Schultz,
Director

Violeta Schultz is a transactional attorney for the Community Organizations Legal Assistance Project at the Public Law Center.  She received her Law Degree from the University of Guadalajara, and her International Business and Economics Law Master’s Degree (LLM) from the University of Southern California (USC).  At USC she was the LLM representative for the Women’s Law Association, a member of the Business Society, and the Latinx Chicanx Center for Advocacy and Student Affairs (La CASA).  

Before joining Public Law Center, Violeta worked at the Orange County Superior Court for the Self-Help Center for over eight years. During her time at the Court, Violeta’s professional Spanish quickly earned her a critical role in the monolingual Spanish-speaking community.  After the Court, Violeta was a trial attorney for two years in the private sector.

She believes that everyone deserves equal access to knowledge and justice regardless of their language, race, and economic means.  The second oldest sibling of six, her favorite pastime is traveling to Guadalajara to spend time with her family.



Crystal de Aenlle-Fernandez, Director


I am currently Assistant General Counsel at Epson America, Inc. where I am in charge of the Latin American Legal Department. I was born and raised in Orange County and went to UC Berkeley as an undergraduate and University of Wisconsin for law school. I have worked in the area of corporate law for over 20 years and started my legal career at Mayer Brown (Chicago) and Latham & Watkins (Orange County). I am enthusiastic about the idea of working with the talented members of HBA to serve and address issues of underrepresentation of Latinos in the legal field, particularly in private practice and in corporations with in-house legal departments. I believe HBA can promote awareness and dialogue with law firms and in-house counsel encouraging and supporting their requests for diversity from their external law firms. I hope to contribute to the efforts of HBA to serve as a career resource and support network for students interested in law school and young lawyers to encourage and support Latino lawyers. Over the years I have served through pro bono programs as a mentor to prospective and current law students and assisted immigrants in need of representation, an area which I hope HBA will continue to support.




Melissa Padilla,
Director


I am a trial attorney within the Orange County Public Defender Office. I have tried complex DUI cases, domestic violence, and a variety of misdemeanors and felonies. I have written, argued, and won several motions. I worked 18 months in Juvenile Delinquency where I handled both misdemeanors and felonies. I am passionate about helping my clients. I also serve as a mock trial coach for JSerra High school and volunteer annually for CRF-OC as an attorney scorer.

I have served the County of Orange as an employee for 23 years. Prior to becoming a Deputy Public Defender, I served fourteen years as John Wayne Airport's Insurance Manager and six years as the Procurement Manager for OC Public Defender.

In May 2018, I graduated from Western State College of Law with Magna Cum Laude honors and successfully passed the July 2018 California Bar Exam. During my four years in law school, I was a member of the Honors Moot Court Team, served as the 2016-17 Symposium Editor of Law Review, and won a National Negotiation Competition. I also graduated Magna Cum Laude from Cal State Fullerton where I majored in Political Science with a minor in Chicano Studies. I am passionate about giving back to my community and being a voice for those who don't have one. I am also a mother of two amazing teenagers and love to spend my free time on the soccer fields cheering them on.

I am licensed to practice law in the State of California and the Central District of California.

Alejandro Ruiz,
Director

Alex Ruiz is a partner with the law firm of Payne & Fears LLP where he serves as the Co-Chair of the firm’s Employment Law Group and a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee. 

Alex represents several of the firm’s clients in employment and business litigation matters, with a focus on all aspects of employment litigation, including wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, whistleblower status, family and medical leave, and wage-and-hour class actions. In addition, Alex handles various types of business litigation cases involving executive agreements and separations, non-compete agreements, trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and contract disputes.

Being fluent in Spanish, he has represented numerous clients in cross-border matters and frequently is called upon to liaise with Spanish-speaking clients, translate legal documents, and make Spanish language presentations to Spanish-speaking workforces.

Alex has been involved in the Orange County legal community for many years, and is a long-standing member of the Orange County Bar Association, the OCHBA, and the Orange County chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers where he currently serves on its Board of Governors.

Alex received his JD from Loyola Law School and his BA from Harvard University.  He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and three young children.

Elizabeth Alamillo,

Director

Elizabeth Alamillo, Esq. is the sole attorney at Alamillo Law A Professional Law Corp. She has been an attorney for the last 15 years, practicing federal immigration law, with a focus on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status ("SIJS") cases. Her work on SIJS cases has not only led her to expand her practice to include state probate law, including taking on guardianship and conservatorship cases, but also into Estate Planning. She regularly appears before the Orange County Superior Courts. She is also an active member of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association ("LLBA"), the National Lawyers Guild, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA"). 

To all members of the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County, I am delighted to be given the opportunity to serve as a Board of Director of this wonderful organization. I am committed to upholding and furthering the mission statement of the HBA of OC. I look forward to working with fellow Board members, being involved in the committees, and organizing events that will promote the Hispanic legal community within Orange County and beyond. 



Miguel Alvarez,

Director


I was born and raised in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. I moved to the US at age 17, and through hard work and determination, I became a licensed attorney in 2017.

My journey in the field of law began in 2011, working at a law firm where I started as a file clerk. Today, I am proud to have my own firm that focuses in helping those injured on the job. It has been an incredible journey, one that has not only shaped my professional career but has also reinforced my commitment to helping others.

I am deeply passionate about making a difference in the lives of those in the Latinx community, who often face significant challenges when it comes to their rights and access to legal support. Many are unaware that there are lawyers who speak their language, who understand their unique concerns, and who are here to advocate for their rights.

As a member of the Board of Directors, I hope to work to create a more inclusive and just legal landscape for our community. Together, we can ensure that the Latinx community in Orange County not only knows that there are lawyers who speak their language but also that they have an unwavering ally in their pursuit of justice.

I am ready and eager to dedicate my time, energy, and expertise to further the mission of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. Together, we can make a difference, and I am excited to be a part of this journey. Thank you for your consideration and trust in me.

Gardenia Montero,

Director

Gardenia Montero is a civil litigation associate at Schell Nuelle, LLP. Ms. Montero's practice focuses on assisting small business owners to larger corporations with all their business and employment needs. Additionally, Ms. Montero has held several in-house counsel roles for several businesses and non-profits in Southern California. Ms. Montero's passion for helping small business owners came from seeing her Mexican immigrant parents start a family business in the City of Santa Ana and needing to navigate the complex legal system

Griselda Rodriguez,

Director

Ms. Rodriguez received her B.S. from California State University,

Northridge and earned her J.D. from Glendale University College of Law.

She is a first-generation attorney and brings a wealth of knowledge and

experience in employment law, working in this field for over 16 years;

becoming an attorney in 2015 while working full-time and attending an

evening law school program.

Ms. Rodriguez is known for her strong work ethic, her passion to fight for

the rights of her clients, and the compassionate ways in explaining the entire

process to her clients. Ms. Rodriguez is licensed to practice in all California

courts, local federal courts, and the United States Supreme Court.


Camilo Romero,

Director

Next year we will celebrate our 50th birthday. A half century since trailblazers among us first got together at La Chiquita restaurant in Santa Ana and founded the "Mexican American Lawyers Club". Their goals were to build community, mentor students, and prepare lawyers for judicial positions in service of "la comunidad" in Orange County.

Today, that bold club is now our OCHBA.

Those goals remain as we continue to amplify the Latin@ voice in the law. That legacy endures as we continue to advocate for a more just and equitable Orange County. I look forward to advancing those goals and preserving that legacy as a board member of the OCHBA.

Thank you to whomever nominated me. I accept the nomination in honor of my mentor and our poderosa, Judge Frances Muñoz, a founding member of our organization and a fine example of a fierce advocate, a fair judge, and a family-first role model.

Judge Muñoz and her brother Greg first introduced me to OCHBA after I graduated from law school. In collaboration with Judge Rick Aguirre and Jeannette García, I have deepened my appreciation of the OCHBA.

My advocacy as a lawyer, educator, and organizer brings me to this opportunity to serve alongside you. I teach at Santa Ana College in the Legal Studies Department. I co-direct a healing justice organization named "ReGeneración Colombia" focused on addressing intergenerational trauma through creative story-telling. I serve on the board of directors of the Orange County Justice Fund to ensure the due process of our immigrant community.

My priorities as a board member will be, first, to support the efforts of current leadership and, second, to help imagine the expansion of our impact. Specifically, I would prioritize our connection with pre-law, law students, and recent graduates to ensure they feel the OCHBA is a home for them, professionally and personally.

This leadership development is important to empower the next generation of trailblazers for the next half century to come.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Past Presidents

Michael J. Silvas

Hon. Frederick P. Aguirre

Hon. Gregory Muñoz

Wallace R. Davis
Jess Araujo
Albert Mercado
Frank J. Valdez
Hon. Salvador Sarmiento
David A. Valles
Diane Nordby Valdez
Gilbert Maturino
Hon. Maurice Sanchez

Richard Armendariz

Alfredo M. Amezcua


Arturo M. Cisneros
Ruben A. Smith
George W. Abbes
Albert Mercado
Rebecca Jurado
Joseph L. Chairez
Cory Aguirre
Darren O. Aitken
Claudia Alvarez
John J. Isaza
Jamie Duarte

Fabio Cabezas

Federico Sayre
José Urcis

Lisa D. Ramirez
Lorena C. Peñaloza
Norma García Guillén
Monica E. Lukoshek
Carlos X. Colorado
Genoveva Meza Talbott
José González
Mayte Santacruz
Diana Lopez
Rafael G. Nendel Flores
Lyo Figueroa

Eric Dominguez

Darrell White

Yolanda Torres

Bettina Yanez
Sasha Tymkowicz


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