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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.

Michelle Carballo

Paralegal 

Born in a multicultural home, my Argentine mother and Mexican father continuously exposed me to diverse nationalities and cultures. Exposure to this has allowed me to gain a desire to assist others of diverse backgrounds in need. I have recently graduated from California State University Northridge with a BA in Chicana/o Studies. Soon, I will be attending graduate school where I hope to conduct research on the effects of mixed-status homes on children and adolescents.

 

I am currently a board member with the organization CLUE VC (Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and an ambassador for OSS (Oxnard Student Success). Since working with Vanessa, it has continued to motivate me to advocate and vocalize the issues within our society that many do not have the privilege of voicing; resisting gentrification, and the oppression of our migrant community.

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.

Jimena Perez

Clerk

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.

Michael Paz

Clerk

My childhood summers were typically spent with grandparents and great grandparents—individuals who immigrated to this country in the 1960s. I distinctly remember asking my family members questions, curious to learn more about how and why they emigrated from their home countries, Mexico and Costa Rica.
 
At the height of the 2016 presidential election, I saw this topic of conversation transition to the national level—and I was bothered, by what I was hearing and seeing. This sentiment has persisted, especially as I learned of how immigrants and refugees are treated not only in the US but also across the world, namely the EU.
 
My goal is to give these individuals a voice and have our leaders recognize the humanity in these individuals, through working in law or politics. I am currently on my gap year; in the fall of 2021 I will be attending Yale University, where I will be majoring in Political Science with a concentration in American Government.