The Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association’s (PBCHBA) mission is to assist and support the Hispanic community in South Florida through volunteer programs, as well as to stand behind Hispanics seeking a position in the judiciary in Palm Beach County. The PBCHBA also works to provide information to individuals who may be intimidated by the rules of the Small Claims, County and Circuit Courts due to language barriers and limited access to legal resources. We understand the Spanish-speaking population’s struggles and seek to provide assistance to those in need.
Wondering how you can help the immigrant families affected by the Mississippi Raids? Here is how!
If you are a Spanish-speaking immigration attorney and can help with screenings for bonds/motions to reopen at the Adams Co. Detention Facility in Natchez (either in person or remotely by phone), please email Amelia McGowan. Please indicate whether you are available for in-person or remote screenings, and please include your time availability.
We now have our fixed legal clinic schedule, beginning tomorrow at Sacred Heart Church in Canton, MS. To view the schedule and sign up for a shift (or shifts), please visit this page or contact Amelia McGowan for future dates.
Donate to our DREAMer Fund
HBA will award a charitable gift to DACA/TPS renewals for students needing to renew their work permits under the above listed humanitarian programs. If you would like to make a contribution to the the Dreamers Fund, click here. If you know a student who could qualify please have them contact the HBA here.
2020 Board Positions Now Open!
Member Spotlight: September 2019
Connie Peña is the founder and lead attorney of Peña Law Office, P.A. representing clients in the areas of family law and immigration throughout the Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. Beginning her career as a public servant, Connie Peña has transitioned to representing clients start new chapters in their lives, understanding that every client is unique with different needs, backgrounds, and goals. Connie Peña has personally experienced the immigration system and understands what parents and children go through in divorce, in trying financial times, and in bringing together blended families. She understands these changes and experiences cause a series of emotions, like anxiousness, fear, and excitement for the future. Connie Peña is dedicated to fight for your right to lead the life you deserve, and has the knowledge and experience to maneuver the legal system to accomplish your goals.
As to her professional background, Connie Peña obtained a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Criminology and French and a minor in Portuguese from the University of Miami. She earned her Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude. While in law school, Connie Peña interned at the Office of the State Attorney for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit of Florida. She began her legal career as an Assistant Public Defender, where her proficiency in numerous languages lead her to assist many non-U.S. Citizen clients. The collateral consequences of criminal convictions, as explained in her published research article "Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel: Broaden the Scope, Decriminalize, and Ensure Indigents a Fair Chance in Court and in Life" motivated Connie Peña to look deeper into her clients lives. She decided to transition to the private sector and focus on families and children, assisting them in family law, domestic violence, and family-based immigration with the hope of helping people build better lives to give them a chance to succeed in the future. In the community, Connie Peña has served as President of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. She has also mentored law students and new attorneys, and volunteered in numerous events and workshops for low-income individuals.
In Memoriam - Judge Meenu Sasser
Nov. 5, 1970 - Jul. 6, 2019
Victoria Mesa-Estrada, President
The Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association was honored to receive the mentorship and unconditional support of Judge Meenu Sasser for so many years. We had the opportunity to honor her last year as the recipient of the 2018 Justice Labarga Leadership Award in recognition for her commitment to promote diversity on the bench, professionalism, and mentorship to those in our legal community.
I will always remember Judge Sasser for her kindness as she personally touched my life with warm words of encouragement and support in my year as President of the HBA and as a minority attorney. Her smile was contagious and her presence always made everyone feel happy and confident. Judge Sasser understood the struggles of many of our members who were immigrants just like her, and she openly advocated for more diversity and inclusion of minorities in the fifteenth judicial circuit. Without any doubt, her legacy will remain with us forever.
We extend our most sincere condolences to her family and to the entire 15th judicial circuit. May she rest in peace.
Adriana Lopez, Immediate Past President (2018)
Judge Sasser embodied everything you wanted in a lawyer and a Judge. She has left a huge hole in our hearts and in our profession as she was also an amazing mentor to so many.
Curtis Alva, Board Member
I had known her for almost 20 years. As a fellow attorney at the Gunster firm, as a Judge for Palm Beach County, as a driving force for improving the law, the bench and the bar, and as a friend. We were just talking about scheduling a lunch with an old Gunster friend of ours, Fabienne Fahnestock, who now is also a Judge. I guess I’ll leave that date open, now. Last year, the Hispanic Bar Association of Palm Beach County awarded Judge Sasser our Justice Labarga award and we recorded a short video of tributes to her. I watched it this morning, again. How fitting it was then, to speak of her greatness as a person, and how poignant it is now, less than a year later, to watch those testimonials through eyes dimmed by tears. Few of today’s leaders care about excellence, fewer still about decency, almost none care about both, none except my friend, Meenu.
Christa McCann, Past President (2016)
Judge Meenu Sasser was an incredible judge who was respected and loved by anyone who had the privilege of being in her courtroom. She treated each person with respect no matter what side of the issue they were on, was prepared and efficient, gave you her full attention, and always tried to reach the right and fair decision. She was everything a great judge should be.
And she was a great person on top of it. As a past President of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association, I remember her reaching out to me on multiple occasions to see how she could support our cause and be a mentor to our members. She was not Hispanic, but she was always looking for ways to promote up-and-coming lawyers, especially those who may not be receiving support or guidance elsewhere.
Message from the President
I am honored to serve as this year’s President of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association and am very excited about all the projects we plan to pursue this year!
This year’s theme is: “Paying it forward” and will be focused on supporting programs, organizations and individuals around our community for their growth, success, and leadership development. Whether you decide to volunteer at a legal clinic or Court self-help center assisting the Hispanic community with their legal issues, or mentoring a minority student or law graduate, or donating funds to help Dreamers renew their work permits or receive scholarships, you will be
doing an extraordinary deed for our community! As you can see, there are infinite possibilities to pay it forward and we hope we can count on you! I encourage everyone to actively participate this year in any way you can and share with us how you are committing to paying it forward!
We will also continue promoting some great events and activities this year, starting with our free monthly luncheons (generally the first Monday or Tuesday of every month in the judicial dining room on the first floor of the main courthouse), with speakers who will inspire our members about the many ways we can assist our community or how we can be better advocates and legal professionals. There will also be opportunities for our members to attend CLE courses, connect with other local attorneys and the Hispanic community at our networking events, including a diversity and inclusion summit in partnership with our friends at FAWL and F. Cunningham Bar Association in March, and our annual pig roast in April in conjunction with our friends from the Guild of Catholic Lawyers and our Hispanic heritage celebration in September. As we continue with tradition, we will host the Ninth Annual Chief Justice Labarga Luncheon in August and will honor two extraordinary members of our legal community. Finally, we will continue to expand our member benefits —including a monthly e-newsletter, which will provide updates on upcoming events and volunteer opportunities as well as news relevant to the Hispanic community and its attorneys, and a newly redesigned website to be published very soon (courtesy of our annual sponsor Nucleus Marketing Agency) which will allow our members to stay involved and gain the most out of our Association.
I encourage all of you to get involved with our Association and its committees this year, and I look forward to getting to know each of you in person at one of our events. I am committed to all your successes and truly hope we can provide you with the tools you need to succeed in your career. Lastly, I want to recognize our annual supporters and family. First, to our annual sponsors: Visual Evidence, US Legal Support, Nucleus Marketing Agency, Searcy Denney, Lytal Reiter, Scott Smith Personal Injury, Northwestern Mutual, and Delray Beach Surgery Center- thank you so much for believing in the HBA and allowing us to operate every year! To my HBA family, thank you for entrusting me this year to lead this amazing organization, and to my husband Luis, thank you for supporting me and encouraging me to join and actively participate with the HBA, and for allowing me to pursue my goals and dreams every day in support of the Hispanic and immigrant communities!
If you have any questions about our Association, membership, upcoming events, or how to get involved, or have suggestions on how we can do things better, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to serving all of you. Gracias por su apoyo!
2019 President, Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association