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World Day of Social Justice Requires Reflection from California

February 20th is World Day of Social Justice — observed by the United Nations and people around the world. Since 2009, the UN has encouraged World Day of Social Justice as an opportunity to focus on social justice, draw attention to injustice, and inspire cooperative movements for change.

On this worldwide day of reflection and action, I wonder — how can California, a state with so much wealth, also have so many people experiencing poverty?

For many, California represents endless good weather, boundless natural beauty, and limitless opportunity unmatched by other places on Earth. But peek behind the golden curtain, and you’ll find poverty, homelessness, and other injustices that belie the golden image of the golden state. In a state with so much, it is unconscionable that there are so many Californians unable to share in that wealth.

For me, How?, Why?, and What The @!#$? come to mind.

I am proud that I joined Western Center last summer to be a part of the team that asks not only the questions above, but also works every day to answer them. Since Western Center’s founding in 1967, we’ve worked to ensure access for all Californians to justice, housing, healthcare, and financial and community stability. Our multi-pronged approach to systems change allows us to positively impact the lives of individuals while also creating change that ripples across the state.

Western Center’s litigation team trains and supports legal aid communities to help enforce laws where bad actors would ignore or take advantage. Our advocacy team advances legislation in Sacramento to build a better future for all Californians and stymie efforts that further entrench injustice and exploitation. We don’t do this work alone — we know that robust community partnership and coalitions of support are required to make the change we seek.

I invite you to join us.

You might think the most obvious thing I’m going to ask you for is a donation. And while yes, your financial support of our work is greatly appreciated and provides funding to power our mission, there are other ways I’d love for you to consider joining us as well.

Use your voice. It isn’t just lawyers or policy advocates’ voices that matter – yours does too! I encourage you to contact your elected officials in Sacramento, your county, and your local town to let them know what issues are important to you and what change you’d like to see. Make sure you’re registered to vote and vote every chance you get. Your voice matters.

If you’re not sure who your elected representatives are or how to contact them, you can find that information here. If you are not yet registered to vote, you can do that here.

World Day of Social Justice is a great opportunity to raise a hand and join the community of people and organizations fighting for change. As a donor, as a volunteer, as a social media follower – no matter how you engage, there is a space for you.

Today is a great day to reflect on how social justice resonates with you and to seek out organizations and actions that most speak to you. In addition to Western Center, I have a few suggestions for outstanding organizations you might also engage with:

If you’re reading this blog post, it likely means you are a supporter of Western Center and the work that we do. Thank you, today and every day, for fighting alongside us for social justice.

Meet Western Center’s Newest Staff & Fellow!

We are thrilled to welcome Lorraine López, Kathryn Evans, and Abraham Zavala to Western Center’s staff! We are also excited to have Liv Williams on board with us for the next year as the Social Impact Pro Bono Fellow from the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Lorraine López, Western Center’s newest Senior Attorney, is based in Los Angeles and works on housing and tenants’ rights. Lorraine is a Chicago native and has worked on tenants’ rights issues since 2005. Lorraine was formerly a Supervising Staff Attorney for the Homelessness Prevention Law Project at Public Counsel. Prior to joining Public Counsel, Lorraine was a Supervising Attorney for the Coordinated Attorney Team at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (“NLSLA”), where she led a team of 10+ attorneys practicing a wide range of poverty law areas including housing, consumer rights, public benefits, homelessness prevention, re-entry and family law. Lorraine was previously a Supervising Attorney at Inner City Law Center (“ICLC”) with their Homelessness Prevention Project.

Lorraine began her legal career in 2005 as an Equal Justice Works fellow at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (now LAF) where she provided legal representation, community legal education, and outreach programs for participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. In 2007, she moved to Los Angeles to work for Eviction Defense Network (EDN).

Kathryn Evans is Western Center’s new Associate Director of Individual Giving, based in Los Angeles. Kathryn supports a dynamic donor engagement program that allows individuals to invest in and advance the mission of Western Center. Prior to joining Western Center in 2021, she was a Senior Community Relationship Manager at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Development and Museum Manager at the Santa Monica History Museum, and held various fundraising roles at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from San Jose State University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Southern California.


Abraham Zavala is Western Center’s first Outreach and Advocacy Associate, also based in Los Angeles. Abraham supports Western Center’s advocacy and community outreach initiatives, with an emphasis on anti-hunger and food justice work.

Abraham was born and raised in East Los Angeles, and grew up in an immigrant family where community activism was centered. He received his BA in History from UC Berkeley in 2010, and subsequently worked as a U.S. History teacher in South Central Los Angeles. In 2016, after gaining labor organizing experience with fast food workers fighting for a minimum wage, he joined organizing efforts for a policy campaign with street vendors in the City of Los Angeles to legalize street vending. Most recently, he mobilized tenants who were being evicted and helped the community pass several housing policies in Long Beach.

Liv Williams is the Social Impact Pro Bono Fellow from the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and will be working with us here at Western Center for the next year. Liv graduated from Berkeley Law this year, where she participated in the Policy Advocacy Clinic, working on legislative efforts to eliminate criminal fees. In law school she was also a Student Director for the Workers’ Rights Clinic and a Supervising Editor of the California Law Review.

Prior to law school, Liv completed a year of AmeriCorps and worked for the government in Washington, D.C., and received her undergraduate degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.