Sister Petra Chavez

Sister Petra Chavez | Supervisor, County of Sonoma

VIDEO: Sister Petra Chavez

In the 1970's Petra served as principal and helped to organize a grade school and high school for indigenous children in Perú, South America. She trained staff and a principal from the local community. They were all able to obtain teacher certification and continue to work in the school today.

In the early 1980's she participated in the sanctuary movement and helped to form awareness and support groups who raised bond money to release Central American and African refugees from detention in various parts of the U.S. During this decade Petra also worked in migrant camps in Southern Colorado and directed the Migrant Program for the Diocese of Pueblo and for the Colorado Council of Churches. In 1985, she founded an agency to promote the inclusion of Latinos and their cultures in the religious community of Omaha, Nebraska. For two years she served as the Executive Director in-transition, mentoring a woman from Latin America who then ran the organization successfully.

In 1987 Sister Petra was recruited by the Central American community in San Francisco to serve the newly initiated Central American Resource Center, CARECEN. During the era of the civil war in El Salvador, she helped to organize delegations of volunteer attorneys to document human rights abuses against the poor. She also organized delegations of nuns to witness to the situation in El Salvador.

In 1999, with CARECEN firmly on its feet and widely recognized as an important part of the Bay Area community, S. Petra began to see a growing need for a different type of service. She realized that services directed toward the economic and social strengthening of immigrant women were insufficient. At the same time the Bay Area was experiencing a technological explosion. She put the two issues together and founded CAMINOS PATHWAYS LEARNING CENTER.

S. Petra has created all of this while continuing to volunteer on a number of additional projects, including advocating for the Homeless, serving on Boards of Directors, working with a group of Korean immigrants to establish senior living options for elderly Koreans, and, most recently, serving as a founding board member of Clinic By the Bay, a free clinic in San Francisco.

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