Matthew Yanez: Valencia, CA

Matthew Yanez was born and raised in Los Angeles, California where he earned his degree in Political Science at California State University - Northridge in 2019. Civic engagement and community outreach became the cornerstone of Matthew’s undergraduate experience during his time campaigning for Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez of Los Angeles’ 7th District and as a teacher’s assistant. Matthew’s desire to uplift underserved communities was further developed during his time working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit dedicated to advancing people of color into federal government organizations.

While in Washington DC, Matthew worked with his local representative to bring to light the issues that face minorities and all people of color. He was primarily tasked with supplying support to the district’s DC office by attending legislative briefings and hearings in order to report back to the congressman. These experiences showed Matthew how policy is made and granted him the opportunity to bring important issues to the representative’s attention.

A goal Matthew has set is to pursue a career in law to one day bridge the gap between communities of color, the disability community and accurate representation in government. Matthew now works as a law clerk at an established law firm in Los Angeles. He works with attorneys on a daily basis to further understand the fundamentals of the legal practice. His experience as a law clerk has granted him the opportunity to gain a head start on law school, and he hopes this will lead him to further success in the future.

Matthew believes his involvement with the Coelho Center will offer him guidance in developing his role within the legal sector. As a member of the Coelho Center’s Inaugural Fellowship class, he is eager to work with like-minded individuals to improve the livelihood of all disenfranchised communities. “I believe my time working with LMU will mark the culmination of my community involvement aspirations. With the experience I’ve gained working with the disability community, the legal sector, and communities of color, I will have built a strong foundation of knowledge that caters to the communities I most want to help as an attorney.” 

Matthew Yanez shared the following about his experience:

One take away from this fellowship is that the Coelho Center is dedicated to giving individuals with disabilities a much needed voice. This is achieved by meeting with leaders in the Disability Rights Movement who can educate us on our rights. We are also given the opportunity to present our ideas to national representatives and learn how to challenge those in power to do more for our community. Lastly, through collaborating with our cohort members we gain the confidence to use our voices to not only advocate for ourselves, but for all those in our local communities as well.