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Our Staff

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Vanessa Frank

Attorney at Law

Photo credit: Frankie Certain, amcphotography

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, I have been an advocate for social justice since before I entered high school. I aim to serve as a Community Lawyer, with a practice focused on immigration law.  I represent primarily working families who seek to be reunited or to stay together in the United States.  Going into our 10th year, the Law Office of Vanessa Frank seeks to continue to provide both top-notch legal services to our clients and also to serve as a resource for immigrant and human rights advocacy on California’s Central Coast.  We hope to counsel our clients regarding all options available to them, helping people to identify their goals and find new and creative ways to meet those goals.  Our success lies in the overwhelming community support this office has received over the years from our clients, the social justice and human rights community of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties and from the many individuals who have sought to understand our nation’s current laws and policies and how those impact everyone’s daily lives.  ​

 

“Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks”
Gloria Anzaldúa

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Lorella Thomas Hess

Associate Attorney

I am called to this work to help keep families together, to help my country embrace its diversity, and to affirm the interconnectedness of the world. I graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law in 2015 and represent clients seeking to acquire, maintain, or enhance legal status in the United States. 

Before joining the Law Office of Vanessa Frank, I worked at a large full-service immigration firm in Pasadena and at a small Los Angeles firm specializing in difficult asylum cases. I also completed a post-bar fellowship with the Ventura County Public Defender in Veterans Court. As a law student, I served internships with the High Court of Uganda and with a chambers of family law barristers in London.

Maritza Garcia-Lopez

Paralegal

As the daughter of two Mexican parents and the eldest of six, I have always been empowered to have a voice. Like many children of immigrants, I was privileged to receive higher education through the sacrifices of my parents. I was the first in my family to graduate high school as well as college. I graduated from CSU Channel Islands with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Political Science. Recently, I received my Juris Doctorate from Ventura College of Law, and plan to take the California Bar and become an attorney. I have always worked toward the goal of using my strong voice to serve those in need. I am grateful for the sacrifices my parents made and wishes to pay it forward to the many parents and children who want the same opportunities.

Ayleen Sanchez Zendejas

Paralegal

Raised in Oxnard in a large mixed-status family, I grew up very aware of immigration status and the many struggles my mom and her siblings face in this country. Only when I began attending a small private school in Ventura did I realize my family’s difficulties were not universal. I became frustrated at the systems in place and I longed to be able to fix things for my family. 

 

Through the sacrifices and encouragement of my mom, I focused on my education and graduated high school in 2015 with a full scholarship to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating with a BA in Comparative Literature with a focus in Translation, I returned home to Ventura County hoping to helpfully and proactively engage with our community here in Ventura.

 

As one of the first in my family to be born in the US, I recognize the privilege I hold as a college-educated US citizen and I hope to utilize my position to help those who, like many of my own family members, have not been afforded the same rights and privileges I hold.

Jimena Perez

Office Manager 

I was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. at a young age. Growing up, I always tried to separate myself from my immigration status, even though it affected various aspects of my life. Once I got to high school, I became more aware of the inequitable treatment that immigrants received.

I was frustrated with a system that had subconsciously made me so apprehensive. I began volunteering at events that helped the immigrant community, such as Swap Meet Justice, and local citizenship fairs. These forms of advocacy have helped empower me and have helped me reach out to my community.

Jocelyn Cruz

Clerk

Hi! My name is Jocelyn and I am a first-generation student who recently graduated from California State University Channel Islands with a BA in Chicanx Studies. Growing up as the oldest daughter of immigrants and surrounded by a large immigrant population in Oxnard, I became conscious of the harsh realities affecting our undocumented community in Ventura County and the way immigration status intersects and influences many aspects of their day to day lives. This led me to become highly interested in the complexities of immigration law and motivated me to advocate for immigration rights and justice. While my time as a student at CSUCI has come to an end, I strive to continue seeking opportunities to further my education. Whether it be in aspects of immigration law, advocacy, and/or community organization efforts, I hope to get more involved and learn how to be a better ally to serve my community in whatever way I possibly can. 

China Soriano

Executive Assistant of Advocacy Initiatives

China is an active Indigenous organizer, student, friend and evolving youth who is moved by the positive transformation of her community. Through her work, China is committed to the protection of the land and the preservation of ancestral knowledge and healing as well as acknowledging the injustices of the Juvenile Justice System against communities of Color. Over and above her dedication to community and kin, China is a full-time student at the California State University of Channel Islands and aspires to attend Law School to contribute to the liberation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color from colonial systems of oppression.