Norma Chávez-Peterson is an integral member of San Diego’s civil rights community, with more than two decades of visionary leadership, organizing and advocacy experience.
She has served as executive director of the ACLU San Diego & Imperial Counties (“ACLU-SDIC”) since 2013, joining the affiliate as organizing director in 2012. One of three California-based ACLU affiliates, ACLU-SDIC is a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second-most populous county and southern borderlands. She is the first Mexican- American woman to helm an ACLU affiliate.
Chávez-Peterson was instrumental in creating ACLU-SDIC’s integrated advocacy approach to advance priority issues such as education equity, police accountability and immigrants’ rights. Under her leadership, the affiliate’s staff size has more than doubled to forty dedicated professionals who work with and within diverse communities to build power together. In January 2018, ACLU-SDIC expanded its presence in the Imperial Valley, for the first time establishing an office in Imperial County.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Chávez-Peterson was executive director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, an organization of faith, community, education, business and labor partners she co- founded to advance progressive social change in marginalized neighborhoods. In November 2017, she co-founded the San Diego Rapid Response Network (“SDRRN”) a coalition of organizations and volunteers working to support local immigrants affected by family separation, detention and deportation. By November 2018, SDRRN was California’s de facto first responder to the humanitarian needs of thousands of legal asylum-seeking migrants transitioning through San Diego to their intended destinations.
Born in La Piedad, Michoacan, Mexico, Chávez-Peterson grew up in California as an undocumented immigrant in a working-class, single-parent household. From her first efforts as a teenager organizing Chicana/o and Native American youth to her trailblazing work today, her professional life has been dedicated to the well-being of marginalized people and the communities to which they belong.
Chávez-Peterson’s professional and lived experience afford her a deep understanding of the interrelated struggles for economic and social justice. Her core values – that social equity is a human right and meaningful, lasting change comes through collective action – inform her fierce determination to eradicate all barriers to a more just, inclusive and caring society.
Norma Chávez-Peterson holds a BA in Political Science and Chicano/a Studies from San Diego State University. She currently serves on the advisory boards of Partners For Progress and Engage San Diego and on the San Diego Rapid Response Network steering committee. She is married and lives with her family in Chula Vista, CA.
Learn more at www.aclusandiego.org