Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund Names New Executive Director

Adriana Abizadeh
Adriana Abizadeh

Adriana Abizadeh found her calling in graduate school in Philadelphia while working on public policy issues.

“I became passionate about serving low-income people who are treated as second-class citizens, who are under-served, under-heard, and not given a voice,” she said.

A graduate of Rutgers University and Drexel University, Abizadeh spent the past five years working for the Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society in Camden, working to promote home ownership in Camden through homeowner education, housing development, and community organizing.

She has volunteered at Joseph’s House in Camden, a homeless shelter that health and social services. She has also worked with Project FIAT in Las Delicias, El Salvador, volunteering with a team to build a home, a school, and water infrastructure in an underdeveloped area on the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador.

Abizadeh was being groomed to become an executive director when she heard about an opening at the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is based in Trenton and serves the Mercer County community.

She was hired last month to replace Maria Juega, who stepped down after leading the group for 12 years.

“As the recent results of the presidential election show, our work is more important than ever now, advocating for immigration reform,” she said. “We are ramping up education efforts to inform people of their rights in the event that the campaign rhetoric about immigrants becomes reality. We are also creating safety plans for families. Some families have mixed immigration statuses.”

Like the rest of the country, the group does not know what will happen yet, but is continuing to advocate for immigration reform and preparing to mobilize in the event that Trump seeks to deport millions of immigrants.

“We’re partnering with larger organizations to make our voices heard,” she said. “Regardless of what happens, whether outcomes are on the negative side or whether there is positive immigration reform, we will be super busy as we work to serve so many people.”