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Meet the Diversity and Belonging Team

Chalak Richards - Dean of Students, Diversity, and Belonging 

Chalak Richards headshot taken outdoors

Chalak Richards is a justice advocate. She earned her J.D. at Pepperdine University School of Law in 2012 and B.A. from Spelman College. Dean Richards currently serves as Dean of Students, Diversity and Belonging. She was recently appointed to the State Bar of California's Council on Access and Fairness and the Ms. JD Board of Directors. She is dedicated to bringing diversity, equity, inclusion and a true sense of ownership and belonging to the law. She previously served as Assistant Dean of Career Development, Executive Director of the Parris Institute for Professional Excellence, and inaugural Assistant Dean of Student Life, Diversity and Belonging. 

Before working at Pepperdine Law, Dean Richards worked as an immigration attorney for several years. She was named in 2016 and 2017 as a “Top 100 Lawyer in Las Vegas” for her outstanding work and has won numerous Advocacy and Trial awards.

While a law student, Dean Richards was an award-winning member of the Trial Advocacy and Moot Court teams, Western Regional Chair of the National Black Law Students Association, and participated in many volunteer activities in the community. Prior to law school, Dean Richards worked with Urban Promise, a non-profit organization supporting the academic and spiritual development of five to ten year-old children and mentoring teenagers in high-risk communities.  

Phone: 310.506.4623

  Read the Dean's Message 

A message from Chalak, Richards, Dean of Students, Diversity, and Belonging,

We live in a world permeated by difference and diversity. There is not one type of flower; nor one flavor of food. No where is that difference, that diversity, more seen than through humanity. Society is made up of people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, religions, and viewpoints. Recognizing and honoring those differences - the things that give this world nuance and interest - is necessary, not just for the enjoyment of life, but also for the equal administration of justice.

There are great implications in the legal profession when it does not reflect the variety found in society, and even more when it does not embrace that variety. For too long, the law has been exclusionary. Pepperdine Caruso Law seeks to change that. Our goal is simple: the creation of a community that does more than allow people into a place that was not made for them like a guest, but instead that makes all people know it is their home - a place they belong.

Informed by our faith-based values and belief that God intentionally included diversity in all of creation, we believe that each person's voice, convictions, and experiences enhance our community and that richness enhances how we administer justice and work in the law. We believe that embracing diversity, including people of all backgrounds and identities, and enhancing the voices of our vast student body develops greater opportunities for service, helps our students find their purpose, and creates better leaders.

So how do we do this? How do we create a space that is truly inclusive of all? We will begin by addressing it in our pipeline work, in our administration of legal education, and in the profession and practice. You can learn more about our goals in each of these areas by reading our Strategic Plan for Diversity and Belonging.

Throughout the diversity webpage, you will find initiatives, events, and curricula aimed at enhancing this place of belonging. We are reaching out to communities, holding rigorous conversations, enacting events, and working with the broader legal community to achieve our goals.

Most of all, we see these things as adding to the professionalism and trust in the legal profession. By expanding our communities and making the law a home for all people, we will be only enhancing our abilities to fairly and equally administer justice. We know our students and alumni will represent clients better because of their richer and more nuanced discussions and perspectives on their business dealings and opportunities. They will be able to consider cultural roles and how those will impact their choices and contracts. They will go through litigation more fairly, negotiate more readily, and represent this noble profession more ethically.

There is great work to be done, and I am so proud to be part of Pepperdine Caruso Law as we move forward.


Chalak Richards

Dean of Students, Diversity, and Belonging


Ateshia T. Naccari - Assistant Director of Diversity and Belonging 

Ateshia Naccari Headshot

Ateshia T. Naccari senses a strong call to bring unity, build peace and be a voice for the oppressed.  Through her work as a consensus builder, she strives to guide her efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging according to Micah 6:8;  “...act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” She earned her Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine’s Straus Institute and is currently pursuing her Masters in Legal Studies at Pepperdine. 

Ateshia’s global perspective and love for people was cultivated when she earned a B.A. in Biblical and Missionary studies at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary. Her appreciation for cultural humility and awareness further evolved while she worked as an English teacher in Sardinia, Italy for over 10 years.

Ateshia previously worked in an advising capacity at The Center for Professional Education for the University of Texas at Austin, where she  assisted in offering education to non-traditional students and ensuring the accessibility of all programs and courses to a wide-range of individuals. She served as Chair of the unit’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and was a vital part of the strategies implemented to create and encourage a sense of belonging.  

Along with her role at the law school, Ateshia finds purpose and fulfillment as a wife to her husband, Michelangelo and a mother to her two sons and daughter.

Phone: 310.506.7548