Notre Dame Alumna JoAnn Chávez Establishes Chávez Family Law Fellowship with Generous Donation

Author: Denise Wager

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Notre Dame Law School is pleased to announce the generous donation from alumna JoAnn Chávez, ’86, ’90, J.D., to establish the Chávez Family Law Fellowship to benefit Hispanic students at Notre Dame Law School.

“I am passionate about seeing members of the Hispanic community achieve the same success as I have,” Chávez said. “The educational opportunities at Notre Dame transformed my life and I want to offer that same opportunity to other Hispanic young people.”

On Sept. 2, 2015, in the midst of a day spent attending meetings and presentations by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Chávez presented the first installment of her $250,000 pledge to Dean Nell Jessup Newton. Justice Sotomayor, with whom Chávez shares a similar upbringing, has been an inspiration to her, she said.

In contemplating her philanthropy, Chávez wanted to make an investment that would have profound and lasting impact. Chávez, along with her husband, Michael J. Laux, are devoted to the University. Laux, Senior Vice President of Financial Services of America, may have achieved his academic success elsewhere but has become loyal son of Our Lady’s University and he shares Chávez’s passion for Notre Dame.

“The Chávez Family Law Fellowship will make a genuine difference in the lives of the students who receive this fellowship and in the Law School itself,” said Dean Nell Jessup Newton. “We are so grateful to JoAnn and her husband for this generous gift which will allow the Law School to provide financial support to attract and maintain quality Hispanic students.”

Chávez grew up with very humble beginnings in Detroit. Inspired by the college plans of a high school classmate, Chávez applied and was admitted to Notre Dame where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Chávez currently serves as Vice President and Chief Tax Officer for DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), a Detroit based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy related businesses and services nationwide.

She has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of tax accounting, controversy, risk management, mergers and acquisition, tax planning strategies, and is currently responsible for overseeing all of DTE Energy’s tax strategy, policy and compliance, including federal, state and local income, sales, use, and property taxes.

Previously, Chávez served as an international tax partner for KPMG LLP with experience serving large multinational clients in their Tampa, Chicago, Mexico City, and Detroit business units.

Chávez has often been recognized for her achievements in advancing the culture of Latino American businesses, and is a frequent speaker in the Hispanic community.

“I have always had a driving passion to support initiatives that help women and people of Hispanic heritage in my community,” Chávez said.

After graduating with a B.A. in Business from the University of Notre Dame in 1986, Chávez earned her J.D. from Notre Dame Law School in 1990.