Today we’d like to introduce you to Alfred Fraijo Jr.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Alfred. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My mom immigrated from Mexico with her single mother who was searching for a better future for her young child. I grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles and went to Roosevelt High School, working 7 hours a day every weekend. I was always very driven in school and served as student body president and on the youth advisory council for the Eastside’s City Council district and was a member of a community revitalization project called L.A. Neighborhood Initiative. Thanks to a combination of scholarships, loans and a job at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, I was able to make my way through Harvard.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I had to grow up fast. I was the first in my family to finish high school. My freshman year at Harvard, I lost my dad and it was up to me to find a way to make things better for my family back in Boyle Heights. Growing up there, I saw the effects of gang violence on my community, even seeing a boy my age lie dead on the ground outside my house. I have always felt driven to create a better environment for my family and my community. It has informed every choice I have made in my life.
At Harvard, I held leadership positions in Raza – the Chicano student group – and in the LGBTQ students’ association. After graduation, I returned to Boyle Heights, attending Loyola Marymount Law School. I love art and I love to paint. It’s something I still do, along with collecting art by Latinx artists. But in order to change my family’s and my neighborhood’s destiny, I knew I had to paint on a different canvas.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Real Estate, Land Use and Natural Resources practice group, Sheppard Mullin story. Tell us more about the business.
Sheppard Mullin has offered me a major opportunity as a partner in our Real Estate, Land Use, and Natural Resources practice to positively impact my environment. As a Team Leader of the firm’s Latin America Practice Group, I get to provide specialized legal representation to Hispanic/Latino-owned companies and companies focused on the U.S. Latino market.
My position has also enabled me to expand housing options for folks back in Boyle Heights and neighborhoods like it, by influencing the development of urban revitalization projects that support affordable housing projects and mixed-income housing developments, green energy facilities, and campuses for educational institutions and universities. Thanks to my work with the Friends of the Hollywood Central Park I am helping launch the development of a mile-long public park over the 101 freeway.
I’ve also been able to help find a permanent home for Self-Help Graphics and Arts, a Chicanx art collective that’s been in Boyle Heights since 1973.
The non-profit I founded, LURN (Leadership for Urban Renewal Network, Inc.), which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, recently won the fight to legalize LA street food vendors, which is a major victory for small, immigrant-owned business.
Around the same time, I founded Honor PAC to launch the careers of progressive LGBTQ Latinx candidates, including State Senator Ricardo Lara, who is currently the Democratic nominee for California Insurance Commissioner.
As an homage to my abuela, I have for a long time been on the board of Farmworker Justice, which provides legal aid to immigrant farm workers.
And my partner and I established CityLabs, co-working spaces in Boyle Heights that help foster entrepreneurship and creativity and house a bilingual LGBTQ center that offers youth and senior services, family counseling, immigration support and legal services for transgender people.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I leave very little to chance. I’m a workaholic who scrupulously obsesses over every little detail. I’ve always been like that. Even when I was a kid, I didn’t understand how people could go to sleep if they hadn’t adequately completed their work.
But I have been extremely fortunate to have a family that believes in me, to find mentors who supported and inspired me, to get into amazing schools that changed the course of my destiny, to be able to collect art that uplifts my soul, and to make friends who remind me to laugh, dance, and have fun. But the greatest fortune of my life has been finding my partner and becoming a father — they provide the balance in my life and remind me what I’m doing it all for. Their love is everything.
- Website: https://www.sheppardmullin.com/afraijo
- Phone: 213.617.5567 (LA) / 415.774.2940 (SF)
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alfredfraijo/
Angelino Rudy Espinoza