Chávez-Peterson is an integral member of San Diego’s civil rights community, with nearly two decades of visionary leadership, organizing and advocacy experience in California’s second-most populous county and southern borderlands. She joined the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (“ACLU SDIC”) as organizing director in 2012, and became the affiliate’s executive director in 2013. She was instrumental in creating the ACLU SDIC’s integrated advocacy campaign to advance priority issues such as criminal justice reform, police accountability and immigrant rights. Under her leadership, ACLU SDIC staff size has more than doubled to forty dedicated professionals who work with, and within diverse communities to build power together. Further, the affiliate expanded its presence in the Imperial Valley, establishing an Imperial County office in January 2018.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Chávez-Peterson was executive director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, a collaborative network of faith, community, education, business and labor partners she co-founded to advance social justice. She currently serves on the boards of Partners For Progress and Engage San Diego; and most recently, helped to launch the San Diego Rapid Response Network.
In her annual Salute to Women Leaders, California Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. named Chávez-Peterson the 79th District’s Woman of the Year for 2017, saying “Norma demonstrates the kind of strong, passionate, visionary and effective leadership we need so desperately right now to protect the rights of our most vulnerable residents.”
Norma Chávez-Peterson attended San Diego State University where she earned a BA in Political Science and Chicano/a Studies. She is married and lives with her family in Chula Vista.