María Blanco is executive director of the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center, which operates out of UC Davis School of Law to provide immigration-related legal services for undocumented students at the six University of California campuses without law schools: UC Merced, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC Riverside. Launched in November 2014, the center is a pilot project of the University of California Office of the President and works in collaboration with the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic.
A graduate of UC Berkeley, Blanco has more than 20 years’ experience as a litigator and advocate for immigrant rights, women’s rights, and social justice. She most recently served as vice president of civic engagement at the California Community Foundation and led its immigrant integration initiatives. Blanco has also served as executive director of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law, as executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, as an equal rights advocates attorney, as associate director and associate professor at Golden Gate University School of Law, and as national senior counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She is a member of the Public Policy Institute of California Board of Directors and the California Citizens’ Redistricting Commission.
Dr. Grant L. Azdell currently serves as the vicepesident for student affairs and dean of students, and is a professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. As the senior student affairs officer, he serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet. He also previously served on the President’s Cabinet at Lynchburg College as associate vice president of student development and dean of religious life. Dr. Azdell has provided almost twenty years of leadership in the areas of assessment, strategic planning, budgeting, retention, fundraising and higher education law. He has also managed multi-million-dollar budgets for several organizations, including two terms as treasurer for Region III of NASPA.
Dr. Azdell received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Virginia, his M.Div. from Vanderbilt University and his B.A. in religious studies and political science from Lynchburg College. Dr. Azdell has published three books on behavioral assessment teams, Title IX training and campus liability/risk management. He has also published several articles, spoken at national meetings, provided consultant services and led webinars on a variety of topics related to higher education. He has served both public and private institutions in Tennessee, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. With a background in emergency management, Dr. Azdell is frequently called upon as a subject expert in crisis management and emergency planning. He currently teaches classes in emergency management, leadership, education and pre-hospital emergency care and started EMT programs at two of the schools that he has served. Dr. Azdell seeks to exemplify for students the importance of service and community engagement by serving on the boards of the following community organizations: Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, Ashland Police Department Chief’s Advisory Board, Ashland Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Lynchburg Life Saving Crew.