Camila Chavez '98

Camila
  • Statement: Building a network of community leaders for social change
  • Profession: Co-founder and executive director, Dolores Huerta Foundation
  • Major: Child development
  • Graduation: Class of 1998

How can you create effective social change in your community? Camila Chavez is the woman to ask. Her organization, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, operates in agricultural communities in California’s Central Valley, developing grassroots leaders to pursue social justice through systemic and structural transformation. These leaders conduct campaigns, engage with elected officials, and build coalitions.

“We have established a base of over 20,000 voters committed to progressive initiatives such as fair taxes, job creation, and funding public services,” Camila says. “I am proud of creating an organization dedicated to empowering working people to advocate for community improvements.”

Camila was raised within the farmworkers’ movement. Her mother, Dolores Huerta, and uncle, Cesar Chavez, co-founded the United Farm Workers, America’s best-known union for agricultural workers. As a teenager, Camila participated in a 343-mile march from Delano to Sacramento to bring attention to farmworkers’ rights.

While a student at Mills, she worked on the statewide campaign to protect affirmative action. “I also joined with other women of color and white allies at Mills to address issues of racial inequity on our campus,” she says. “We educated other students, met with Mills administrators, and created public awareness. These experiences helped me build the confidence to speak up. I am pleased to see that Mills has a much more diverse and inclusive campus now.”

With a goal of becoming a pediatrician, Camila studied child development with an emphasis on child life in hospitals. “I had amazing internships at Children’s Hospital in Oakland and UCSF Medical Center. After graduation I worked in the public health field for five years before establishing the Dolores Huerta Foundation with my mother.”

“My major continues to be useful as I raise my own children and advocate for education reform,” she says. “My Mills experience also serves me in a broader way: it helped me develop a global view in addressing local issues.”