Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Leadership Development Director Marvin Andrade

Marvin Andrade joined the APALC family four months ago as our Leadership Development Director.   

Tell us a little about yourself.

My family and I immigrated to this country as refugees from El Salvador in the early 1980s. We lived as undocumented immigrants for many years until 1987 when we adjusted our status through the 1986 Amnesty.  I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and was the first person in my entire family to graduate high school and then college.  I attended USC with the help of scholarships and a full-time job, obtaining degrees in Political Science and International Studies.

How did you get involved with the type of work you do now?

It started in college while studying political economy and becoming intrigued about the root causes that brought my family and I to the U.S.  Wanting to learn more led me to intern at CARECEN (Central American Resource Center) where I ended organizing families experiencing similar conditions as those my family and I had faced when first arrived.  It soon became clear that immigration policy and advocacy was my calling.  Working on reforming our immigration laws and policies became a passion; convinced that advocacy combined with community organizing is an effective way to create change.

I ended up working 12 years at CARECEN, the last four as its Executive Director.

What brought you to work for APALC?

A desire to focus more on program and work closer with families and the community. I had partnered and worked with APALC for many years.  APALC and CARECEN are similar in many ways as hybrid organizations focusing on direct service, litigation, policy and advocacy, immigration and citizenship, education, and community engagement.

What is your position with APALC and can you explain the programs you regulate?

I serve as the Director of Leadership Development, overseeing three programs with the leadership development strategy area: YPLD (Youth and Parent Leadership Development), LDIR (Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations), and PON (Parent Organization Network).

Why are these programs important to you and why should they be important to the community?

These programs are an effective way of working collaboratively with individuals, families, and groups on issues affecting our well-being.  Parent engagement, youth leadership, coalition building, leadership development, etc. are ways of organizing our community to create positive change.  I truly believe these programs are the heart of the organization because they provide a direct link to our constituency and the opportunity to work with them on an array of issues over long periods of time.   I also would add that providing people who have been affected by injustice with the skills to serve as self-advocates is the best way to arm then to defend themselves. These programs instill an invaluable sense of empowerment to our families.

What are your current projects?

Providing families with information on a variety of issues, including multiethnic relations, health, education, and more.  An important message we share is that these issues affect us all and we that in order to create systemic change we must battle together. 

Are you involved with any other organizations outside APALC?

I am still involved with CARECEN.  I must say that it holds a special place in my heart.  I also serve on the board for NALACC (National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities), and immigrant rights organization at the national level.

I read in another interview that you mention something about the digital divide-can you talk about that?

This is a project I worked on as a Zero Divide Fellow, a three-year program by the California Community Technology Foundation (now Zero Divide). I worked on report together with a group of other fellows focusing on limited access in communities of color.  We wanted the State Legislature to used the report to enact legislation providing more resources to low-income communities and promoting more access.

What do you love most about working for APALC?

Definitely the people; it is very inspiring to work alongside such committed and passionate colleagues working together advancing civil rights and equal opportunity for everyone regardless of color, racial makeup, ethnic background, orientation, etc. APALC is a great place to be.

For Legal Help

Advancing Justice - LA’s hotlines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: family, immigration, consumer, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights.

English: 888.349.9695
需要協助嗎: 800.520.2356
हिंदी 855.971.2552


도움이 필요하십니까?: 800.867.3640
Tagalog: 855.300.2552
ต้องการความช่วยเหลือ: 800.914.9583
Cần sự giúp đỡ: 800.267.7395


Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.