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Remembering Volunteer Pat Mattos

Date: August 11, 2021
Type: Profile
Issues: Asylum

The Advocates for Human Rights celebrates the life of longtime volunteer attorney, mentor, and asylum advocate Pat Mattos.

Pat Mattos exemplified zealous advocacy for people fleeing persecution. Compassionate with her clients, she was a fearless advocate. Her innovative and insightful understanding of asylum law put her at the vanguard of the practice.

Pat's impact stretches far beyond those clients she represented. Pat helped The Advocates launch the pro bono asylum project in the 1980, training volunteers at the first Asylum Conference in 1986. She appeared at many later trainings and served as a consulting attorney on dozens of cases over a span of three decades. Her skill helped guide volunteers with no asylum experience to frame legal arguments and work with asylum seekers.

Board Member Loan Huynh worked as a legal fellow for The Advocates in the late 1990s. "I met Pat because she was one of our most active volunteers when I was the Advocates and the heart and soul of our corps of consulting attorneys. She was my invaluable mentor at The Advocates."

Kate Jastram, director of The Advocates' asylum project in the 1980s and now at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, remembers how giving Pat was of her time and knowledge. "She was the mentor everyone would like to have. Deeply versed in the law, strategically savvy, generous with her time, and absolutely committed to the cause of helping refugees and teaching other lawyers to help refugees. She was inspirational!"

Deputy Director Jennifer Prestholdt, who directed The Advocates' asylum project beginning in 1996, remembers Pat as a fierce advocate who was always generous with her time and expertise. "She never said no when asked to be a consulting attorney or a speaker at the annual Asylum Conference. Pat's willingness to go the extra mile as a volunteer was particularly important to the asylum project during my first years at The Advocates. Remember, up until the late 90s, it was an entirely pro bono project, so our staff and volunteer attorneys really relied on the expertise of the consulting attorneys."

"Pat sparked with passion," remembers Deputy Director Michele Garnett McKenzie. "Her wit was as sharp as her advocacy, and we will miss her."

Photo: Pat Mattos presenting alongside IJ Robert Vinikoor at the 1996 asylum conference.