Gladys La Torre
Gladys La Torre is Deputy Director of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (LACLJ), where she oversees day-to-day operations, administration, finance and policy. For nearly 20 years at LACLJ, she has held leadership positions, including Director of Legal Services and Managing Attorney. In her current role, Gladys supports the Executive Director in implementing LACLJ’s strategic priorities and provides oversight and counsel to senior leadership in enhancing and monitoring systems, policies and practices related to service delivery.
Gladys has a long-standing commitment to serving underprivileged immigrant survivors of domestic violence living in the Los Angeles community. She began her career as a legal advocate supporting attorneys in their work and educating the monolingual Spanish communities of Los Angeles on their rights as domestic violence survivors. As an attorney at LACLJ, Gladys continued serving domestic violence survivors by representing them in family law matters and retraining orders. She also worked closely with court personnel, including Judicial Officers and Court Administrators to develop and enhance LACLJ partnership projects with the Los Angeles Superior Court. In 2008, she partnered with the Los Angeles Superior Court to develop an educational component to their Case Flow Management System, a process developed to help self-represented litigants complete their pending family law case. Gladys received her J.D from Western State University, College of Law and her B.S in Business and Finance from California State University, Los Angeles.
Director of Legal Services
Carmen E. McDonald is the Director of Legal Services at LACLJ and oversees the legal programs, including family law, immigration and criminal justice advocacy. She was previously Supervising Attorney of the LACLJ Family Law Team and the pro bono project. She has over 15 years of experience serving immigrants and survivors. Prior to working at LACLJ, Carmen was an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County where she represented survivors of domestic violence in family law and immigration matters, and worked in the Shriver Access to Justice Project assisting tenants with unlawful detainers. Carmen also previously worked at Break the Cycle where she represented teen survivors of domestic violence in family law matters. Prior to becoming an attorney, Carmen interned at the YWCA of San Diego County assisting survivors of domestic violence in family law matters and at the Gay and Lesbian Center of San Diego County assisting clients living with HIV/AIDS with accessing benefits. Carmen has served as a Trustee on the San Fernando Valley Bar Association board. Carmen graduated from California Western School of Law, where she was a Myra Bradwell scholarship recipient. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minored in Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida. Carmen is fluent in Spanish.
Director of Development
Director of Evaluation, Policy and Practice
Diane oversees all evaluation and data-related functions and manages the Community Care Advocacy Program. Prior to joining LACLJ, Diane was an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) where she coordinated the Domestic Abuse Self Help (DASH) project, operating four court-based domestic violence restraining order clinics assisting thousands of domestic violence litigants each year. As a part of this work, she designed, implemented and presented on an extensive evaluation of DASH services, which included focus groups, court file review, personal interviews and surveys. In addition to coordinating the DASH project, Diane represented survivors of domestic violence at the Valley CARES Family Justice Center. After receiving her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Diane moved to California and worked as a staff member on state and federal political campaigns. She received her J.D. from University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Prior to working in the public interest field, Diane was a research attorney in a Los Angeles Superior Court civil trial court for several years before working in a boutique litigation firm focusing on employment and real estate trial and appellate litigation. Diane is also a yoga teacher and a UC-certified Master Food Preserver.
Michelle represents undocumented youth and survivors of interpersonal violence in immigration matters and supervises staff in the Immigration program. Michelle received her B.A. from Cornell University in English and Women’s Studies and her J.D. and M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA. While at UCLA School of Law, Michelle completed the Epstein Public Interest Program in Law and Policy and graduated with a concentration in Critical Race Studies. Before attending law school, she taught 9th and 12th grade English at Locke High School in Watts. In her previous work as a Staff Attorney at the Immigration Center for Women and Children, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Neighborhood Legal Services, and the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Michelle represented hundreds of low income, undocumented survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other violent crimes in their immigration matters. Michelle is also Adjunct Faculty at the USC Price School of Public Policy where she teaches an undergraduate course on immigration policy and at the USC School of Social Work where she teaches a graduate course on domestic violence. Michelle speaks Spanish.