Elizabeth Lopez, Esq. is the Founder and Executive Director of the Southern California Immigration Project (SCIP). Established in 2015, SCIP is a nonprofit organization that represents predominately African asylum seekers from the detention facilities in Imperial and San Diego counties in Southern California. SCIP also works to educate psychological health care providers about the mental and physical consequences of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and provides psychological support services to FGM/C survivors.
Elizabeth has nearly thirty years experience as an attorney and lobbyist. She spent over a decade running her own firm in Orange County representing plaintiffs in employment law cases before spending several years lobbying for social justice issues in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. While in D.C., she worked on the immigration bill and became aware of the tremendous need for immigration attorneys. This led her to return to Southern California where she spent seven years as an immigration attorney on the U.S./Mexico border with the nonprofit Casa Cornelia Law Center (CCLC) in San Diego. During her tenure at CCLC she represented hundreds of asylum seekers from over eighty countries throughout Africa and beyond.
In addition to running SCIP, Elizabeth serves on the board of directors of Survivors of Torture International (SOTI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for survivors of politically motivated torture and their families who live in San Diego County.X
Vakili has been a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties since September 2014. Prior to that he spent four years as an attorney in the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California. Prior to coming to the ACLU, he was the director of the political asylum program at Casa Cornelia Law Center in San Diego. For his work in the field of immigrants’ rights, Vakili has received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award in 2017 and a National Lawyer’s Guild’s Daniel Levy Award in 2008. He graduated from Tufts University in 1997 and the University of San Diego School of Law in 2006, where he received a Wiley Manuel award for pro bono service.X
Ms. Lake is a staff attorney at Children's Legal Services of San Diego and represents foster children in Dependency proceedings. She has been representing foster children for 8 years and has earned an additional specialty certification as a Child Welfare Law Specialist, recognized nationally and by the California State Bar.
Prior to her employment at CLS, Ms. Lake was employed at Casa Cornelia Law Center and held various positions over her 4.5 years there. She most enjoyed her time as Director of the Unaccompanied Minor Program, representing and directing pro bono volunteer attorneys in representing detained minors in Immigration Court.
Ms. Lake has many volunteer activities including her participation as a Barrister in the Welsh Inn of Court. Ms. Lake is also a Commissioner on the City of Chula Vista Human Relations Commission working to make Chula Vista a Welcoming City. Ms. Lake volunteers her time at the Chula Vista Learning Community Center and with La Fiesta Danzantes.
Ms. Lake graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2005. Ms. Lake also attended Catawba College in Salisbury, NC and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English and History. Ms. Lake grew up in Vermont and enjoys returning home when she canX
Donna Hauck Peterson - B.A. Business Administration, Accounting from Cal State University Fullerton, 1982; Certificate in Human Resources Management, Cal Poly Pomona, 2008
35+years in the public sector in various financial and management capacities with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.X
With your help, SCIP can continue to represent asylum seekers who are unable to afford legal representation. SCIP is also dedicated to conducting community outreach and partnering with psychological health care providers to support survivors of FGM.