34,000 strong

Vanessa Frank

Honorary Alumni

Featured photo for Vanessa Frank

Vanessa Frank has dedicated her career to serving immigrants with compassion and dignity. Growing up in Los Angeles, she saw first-hand her parents’ commitment to social justice; they taught her the importance of using her voice to affect change. Frank also was shaped by the stories of her immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents, instilling in her a deep appreciation of her Mexican heritage on her mother’s side and her Eastern European Jewish heritage on her father’s side. These influences guided Frank toward early activism as a teen in L.A, which sparked a passion for social justice and ultimately inspired her path toward immigration law.

“Decades of advocacy and community organizing have taught me the importance of reaching out to others, of connecting and being physically together,” said Frank. “Through those connections—often with people whose paths you might not otherwise cross—you can find common ground and a common cause.”

From Law School to Immigration Advocacy

Frank earned her undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Stanford University and her law degree from Stanford Law School. Since then, she has spent two decades practicing immigration law, spearheading advocacy work, offering pro-bono legal services to immigrants and advising migrant-serving organizations in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In 2009, Frank founded an immigration-focused law practice in Oxnard, representing clients before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Immigration Court.

Her work moves beyond federal agencies and courtrooms—into the community. By collecting and sharing the stories of immigrant teachers, lawyers, business-owners and others, Frank aims to re-frame the narrative, working tirelessly to represent immigrants as they truly are. She also teaches at local universities, challenging students to think critically about how policy impacts society.

Building Connections with the Next Generation

As an adjunct professor at Cal Lutheran, Frank’s thought-provoking courses on ethics and religion—studied through the lens of immigration—have inspired students to think deeply about some of society’s most pressing questions. Engaging with young people at CLU reminds Frank of her own activism as a teen, and she relishes the opportunity to broaden perspectives among her students.

 “Teaching at Cal Lutheran gives me the opportunity to work with young people and be part of the academic community’s discourse around immigration, human rights and social justice.”

Frank also is a Lecturer in Law at the Ventura campus of the Colleges of Law, where she teaches an introductory course on immigration law, shaping the next generation of aspiring lawyers.

Frank is the recipient of the 2021 Ben E. Nordman Public Service Award, bestowed by the Ventura County Bar Association for public service, leadership, dedication and a tangible impact on the community. She also was named Ventura County Woman of the Year in 2020 by the California State Legislative Delegation, for “work done for the county and beyond in advocating and representing our immigrant community.”