Graciela Olivarez

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Graciela Gil Olivarez (May 9, 1928 – September 19, 1987) was a lawyer who advocated for civil rights and for the poor.

In 1970, Olivarez became the first woman and the first Latina to graduate from the Notre Dame Law School.[1] She was offered a scholarship to the school while she was serving as director of the Arizona branch of the federal Office of Economic Opportunity, despite the fact that she lacked a high school diploma.[2] The Notre Dame Hispanic Law Students Association presents an award in her name annually.[3]

Olivarez served as the chair of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and was one of the first two women on its board.[4]

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her the director of the Community Services Administration. She thus became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Carter administration.[5][6]


  1. ^ Garcia-Johnson, Ronie-Richele (1993). "Graciela Olivárez". Notable Hispanic American Women (1st ed.). Detroit: Gale Research. pp. 300–301. ISBN 978-0-8103-7578-9. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "The Graciela Olivarez Award". Notre Dame Hispanic Law Students Association. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Honored Latinas". The National Women's History Project. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ "Graciela Gil Olivarez (b. 1928, d. 1987)". Arizona Women's Heritage Trail. Retrieved December 16, 2013.