Editor’s Note: To celebrate Women’s History Month, South Kern Sol is highlighting notable women in Kern County who are working to create positive change in their community.
Ambar Tovar knew at a young age she was called to help farm workers. It all started when she tutored migrant farm-worker children while she attended Ridgeview High. It was then when she learned about the farm worker movement and the disparities they face.
Now Tovar is the directing attorney for the United Farm Worker Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides resources and services — such as credible immigration legal advice — and acts as hubs for educational outreach and organizing. The UFW Foundation serves about 90,000 immigrants annually, according to the organization’s website.
“Moving here to Bakersfield, I feel like that’s what inspired me to do something,” said Tovar, who is originally from Los Angeles. “To get involved in some way and help alleviate that or to contribute to the solution for (farm worker disparities).”
While Tovar attend the University of California, Los Angeles for her undergrad, she worked for the Cesar Chavez Foundation in LA. Shortly after graduating, Tovar began law school at Western State University College of Law in 2012.
“I didn’t always know I wanted to become a lawyer, but I always knew I wanted to do something to help the community,” Tovar said. “Through my work at the UFW Foundation, that solidified (my decision) to become a lawyer.”
While attending law school, Tovar didn’t know may attorneys that were woman of color, but that didn’t discourage her from going after what she wanted.
“As women we tend to limit ourselves. We limit our reach because maybe we think that it’s not possible or we’re not capable,” she said. “That it’s not something that we should do.”
“I need to remind myself that I am a powerful woman — I am an empowered woman of color and that the biggest obstacle to accomplishing my goal is going to be me — me not believing in myself,” Tovar said.
Tovar lived by that motto and finished law school.
She eventually made her way back to Bakersfield to practice immigration law. She chose to practice immigration law because at that time she felt there were few attorneys providing services to immigrants. She strives to bring equity and equality for folks in whatever area that may be.
“I love what I do, and I love the people I work with and people that I serve,” she said. “It’s a challenging practice, especially the times now.”
Tovar learned her hard-working and independent skills from her mother, who raised Tovar and her brother by herself. It’s reasons like this why her mother is her inspiration.
“I was lucky in the sense that my mom was very supportive.”
As Tovar continues in her career, she hopes to bring removal defense services to more offices and hopes to bring more attorneys to the Central Valley.
“A goal for myself is to be a better attorney and a better resource for the community,” she said. “I want to be able to make things different for this community. I want to be able to contribute to systemic change around this country and this area.”