Ann Ravel

Supporter Spotlight: Ann Ravel

Nature or nurture? The question has vexed sociologists for a long time. Are human beings born a particular way or do they develop specific traits given their environment?

In some cases, it can be both.

Ann Ravel originally began volunteering with what became Next Door Solutions almost five decades ago. She joined the board when the organization was still known as the Woman’s Alliance (WOMA) and has continued to provide invaluable legal advice.

Ms. Ravel was born in New York City but grew up in Latin America, where her meteorologist father met her Brazilian mother. After marrying in Peru, the pair settled in Chile. The family returned stateside, first to Arizona, and then to the Bay Area where Ravel attended Willow Glen High School and later the University of California, Berkeley, for her bachelor’s degree. The path led to the University of California Hastings College of the Law, for her Juris doctorate.

She promptly began to practice law but after working many pro-bono cases, she realized she could be contributing it in different ways, and soon moved to the County of Santa Clara. Her passion for justice-both social and legal-was cemented by an early experience representing farmworkers in the Salinas Valley. In the 1970s, she caught the eye of Ms. Sandra Fox, who suggested Ravel join the board of WOMA as one of its first members. The opportunity spoke loudly to her ethos; since high school, she “had worked to equalize how people treated women” by correcting the disparities in our society.

“There is no question this emanates from my parents”, she notes. “My father consistently would say to me the most important thing for you to do is to make a difference in the world and in the community”, stamping an indelible mark in Ravel’s formative years, which she spent supporting the civil rights and human rights movement.

Her background in law proved to be critical in helping women navigate the legal maze of options to escape from abusive relationships and rebuild their lives after such horrors. “I was grateful to be able to help those women, and their children, who were in other circumstances, unable to escape violence and situations outside of their making. Bea Robinson (NDS founder) told me I really made a difference in helping her to succeed. I feel grateful and gratified having worked with NDS.

More recently, Ravel has focused on protecting the rights of women who, due to spousal abuse, may be at risk of losing their children’s custody due to the vagaries of the legal system, an all-too-common scenario she regards as “patently unfair. In many ways, nothing has changed, but I am going to help”. She is emboldened by seeing the evolution of NDS, and how the staff has “made such a huge difference between what WOMA did, essentially run a shelter, to now have so much involvement in the lives of both the women and their children, both legally and in any other manner. It is really impressive.”

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Ann Ravel congratulates Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence with its 50th Anniversary.
Ann was a board member of WOMA in 1988.

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