Margarita Chavez B.S. ’94, J.D. ’97 Makes a Financial Gift and Donates Her Time on the Law Advisory Board

Margarita Chavez B.S. ’94, J.D. ’97, and Mark Tatro at home with their rescue rockstars, Coco & Q.

Several months ago, Margarita Chavez B.S. ’94, J.D. ’97 received a call from a Santa Clara University undergrad through the SCU Call Center. The call came at a time when Margarita and her husband, Mark Tatro, were looking for the right vehicle to give back in a way that would have a meaningful, positive impact in other people’s lives. Recognizing that SCU made an investment in Margarita that had a powerful and lasting impact, Mark and Margarita decided to make an investment in SCU, through a generous gift to the Santa Clara Law Faculty and Staff Scholarship Fund.

Margarita’s family emigrated from the Philippines to San Francisco right after its People’s Revolution. It was the end of a 25-year dictatorship and “the country was a mess,” she says. Because her great-grandfather was from Bowling Green, Kentucky, the family was able to get residency and ultimately citizenship in the U.S. She was a senior in high school when they moved. “I had no clue how I could ever to go to college, much less law school. I worked full-time after graduating from high school and took a couple of years off between my sophomore and junior years of college to help pay the bills. Frankly, I did not look that great on paper. SCU nonetheless gave me a chance as an undergraduate and Santa Clara Law invested in me. My husband, Mark, and I believe that, if we provide our support, it will enable SCU to give another hopeful immigrant like me the chance at making a difference for themselves and their community.”

Margarita is currently managing director at AbbVie Ventures in Chicago. She began working at Abbott Pharmaceuticals in 2004, as senior counsel. She was then asked by Abbott’s head of business development to join their Business Development and Acquisitions group in Chicago. After several years in that role, she was then given the opportunity to join the newly formed Abbott Biotech Ventures in 2010. She has been in the venture group since, although now as part of AbbVie. Before joining Abbott, Margarita practiced as a corporate and securities lawyer in Silicon Valley with Brobeck Phleger & Harrison.

Margarita says she enjoys being part of a small venture team within a Fortune 100 biopharma company, investing in biotechs with “novel science and the potential to deliver transformational therapies to patients with cancer, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative diseases.”

She treasures the relationships she made at Santa Clara Law. “I met these three awesome women who have become my dearest friends, Madeleine Randal, Susan (Smith) Masetti, and Megan Comport, all from the Law School class of 1997,” she says. She also greatly enjoyed working on the Small Business Consulting Group with the East San Jose Law Center (now the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center). “We got initial funding and started working with a couple of family-owned small businesses. It gave me the chance to work with people who probably had it even harder than I did and who were trying to make a better life for themselves. It also made me realize that I liked the creativity that you get to exercise more on the business side.”

In addition, she is a member of the newly restructured Law Advisory Board. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Dean Kloppenberg and other Advisory Board members towards enabling the next generation of Santa Clara Law grads to not just be capable lawyers but be compassionate partners for their clients,” she says. “I am also hoping I get the chance to work with some of the students.”