Meet Alcario and Carmen Castellano, a Friend of Public Advocates couple since the 1990’s. Learn how they got involved and what fuels their ongoing support.
Interview – Alcario and Carmen Castellano
Debi: How did you first get involved with Public Advocates
Carmen: Our daughter, Carmela, graduated Yale law school in 1991. She was hired by Public Advocates and this was her first major job. She was passionate about the work and was nurtured by seasoned professionals. Alcario and I were so proud of how her teamwork was making a difference, particularly in education equity for underserved children throughout California, that we began making donations to the organization.
Debi: How do you, as a family, decide what organizations you will support annually? What is your process for considering organizations to give to?
Carmen: In 2001 my husband and I launched the Castellano Family Foundation. We decided to focus our financial support to organizations doing great work that benefited Santa Clara County communities. However, we were very supportive of the cases Public Advocates was undertaking at the time – particularly Williams v. California (a case subsequently settled by Public Advocates and others in 2004 that requires California to enforce students’ rights to qualified teachers, sufficient textbooks and clean, safe school facilities). Additionally, our personal relationships with many of the attorneys and board members developed over the years inspired us to make an exception and give personally. One requirement we do have for giving is that the board of the nonprofit have Latino representation.
Debi: What is it about Public Advocate’s work and mission that inspires your continued support?
Alcario: I first learned through my daughter Carmela how the cases Public Advocates undertakes make a difference in the lives of everyday people. Once, our family was out to dinner and a young policeman came over to our table because he knew my daughter through a Public Advocates employment discrimination case brought by African American police officers. He commented about how great the attorney team was to work with and how important the victory was to him and his peers. We continue give because we want Public Advocates to continue making a difference.
Carmen: Public Advocates’ co-founder Bob Gnaizda and Managing Attorney John Affeldt have also had such a profound impact on the woman my daughter has become. I’ve grown to admire the work these men have lead over the years.
Debi: Can you share one of your most memorable Public Advocates experiences?
Alcario: Civil rights activist Raul Yzaguirre, a past president of the National Council of La Raza who served for 30 years, was the keynote speaker at a Public Advocates annual dinner. It was exciting and an honor to meet him since I had admired his work for years.
Debi: Anything else you’d like to share?
Carmen: We are so proud of Carmela and what she has grown to be because of her experiences through her work with Public Advocates. Appreciating all those who take an interest in your children is powerful.