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Camila Chavez creates foundation and leads community engagement

23ABC News celebrates Women's History Month
Posted at 5:31 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 09:46:08-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Leadership absolutely runs in Camila Chavez’s family, so it’s no wonder she created a foundation and actively engages with the community.

"I learned firsthand about the power of organizing," said Camila.

She is the daughter of Dolores Huerta and niece of Cesar Chavez - two people well known for their activism in the Farmworker's Movement.

Camila created the Dolores Huerta Foundation in 2003. The foundation encourages community organization and civic engagement.

“When people come together, [they] have to be the ones to make a change in their community," said Camila.

She said they focus on teaching people how to be engaged no matter their age or immigration status, and they encourage people to call on community leaders.

“Unless they hear directly from constituents, they may not know what issues are directly affecting them," said Camila.

She said some of the foundation’s biggest accomplishments include redistricting campaigns and a 2014 lawsuit that led to changes in the Kern High School District’s discipline policies.

“[I'm] extremely proud that when we started on that journey, [they] had expelled 2,500 students in 2009 and 2010. Ten years later in 2019, they had only expelled 20," said Camila.

The schools also committed to hiring more teachers of color and providing resources for students. Camila said she wants her work in the community to inspire other women and little girls.

“To be a recognized leader, to me, is very important," she said. "I do have a five-year-old daughter so I want her to recognize that she can be whatever she wants and that it’s also important for her to assume leadership.”

Camila said every woman should believe they have the power to accomplish anything, no matter what others may say.

“Make your voice heard even when you have not been invited to do so," she said.

To learn more or volunteer, you can visit the Dolores Huerta Foundation website here.