KIND Staff

Headquarters Team

Wendy Young


Wendy has led KIND since 2009, and brings extensive immigration policy experience to the organization. Prior to KIND, she served as Chief Counsel on Immigration Policy in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. She held prior immigration policy positions with organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Council of La Raza. She has also written numerous articles, reports and cutting-edge op-eds on the plight of unaccompanied children.

Wendy has received a number of awards and honors for her work on immigration rights including: 2017 Williams College Bicentennial Medal Award; 2016 Keepers of the American Dream Honoree by the National Immigration Forum; Women Inspiring Change 2015 Honoree at Harvard Law School’s 2nd Annual International Women’s Day Celebration; Foreign Policy’s Leading Global Thinker of 2014; Nominated as one of two NGO representatives to participate in Seminar XXI Program on U.S. Foreign Policy by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Defense University (2002); Honored by Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center for work on behalf of women and children detainees (2002); Child Advocacy National Certification of Recognition, American Bar Association, in recognition of contributions advancing the welfare of children (2001); Human Rights Award, American Immigration Lawyers Association, in recognition of the work of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children on behalf of women and child asylum seekers (1999).

Wendy earned a joint law degree and master’s degree in international relations from American University in Washington, DC, and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College in Massachusetts.

Matthew J. Kessler-Vaughn

Executive Vice President Operations

Matthew has spent over 20 years in nonprofit management focusing on efficiency and sustainable business models.  He started his career as Director of Administration working with a group of young professionals to build a national organizing organization focused on child and family policy.

Matthew then moved in to the public health sector where he spent nearly 15 years as Vice President of Operations for AIDS United, the largest domestic HIV grant maker in the United States.  In his role he worked to rebuild the organization with a focus on expansion and sustainable growth.  Kessler played a lead role in the 2009 organizational acquisition and subsequent rebranding of a national HIV policy organization thereby expanding the scope and over all mission of the organization.

In addition to his work, Matthew consults for leading national and community based nonprofits in the areas of organizational efficiency models, board management, and strategic growth.  He holds a master’s degree in business administration.

Legal Services Headquarters

Maria Odom

Vice President for Legal Services 

Maria M. Odom is the Vice President for Legal Services at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), where she leads a team of immigration legal experts advancing the representation of unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. In this role, Ms. Odom oversees the management of KIND’s 10 field offices, leading the development and implementation of legal services programming nationwide, including pro bono representation of over 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children per year as well as the provision of innovative legal trainings and technical assistance in immigration law and policy. Her department also delivers comprehensive social services programs to address the special needs of unaccompanied children.

In the near past, Odom served as the DHS Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman in the administration of President Barack Obama. In that role, she worked with community leaders and immigration professionals across the country to improve the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public. As Ombudsman, she reported to and testified before the U.S. Congress regarding systemic issues in our country’s immigration system.

Odom is a nationally recognized legal and policy expert with a wide range of immigration experience in the private, government, and charitable sectors.  She previously led the country’s largest network of charitable legal immigration programs as Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).  For a decade, she practiced immigration law in the southeast, leading a successful private practice in the areas of deportation defense, humanitarian protections, as well as business and family-based immigration.  Early in her career, Odom served at the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant District Counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service and as a judicial law clerk at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

At DHS, Odom led the department’s human trafficking prevention, training, and public education efforts as Chair of the DHS Blue Campaign. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Freedom Network, which works in coalition with service providers and survivor leaders to advance a rights-based approach to address human trafficking in the United States.

Odom is a graduate of The Florida State University College of Criminology and the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. She currently lives in New York City.

Juliann Bildhauer

Senior Director for Legal Training and Technical Assistance

Juliann (Juli) oversees the Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle offices of KIND, and works to develop and implement  universally applicable, yet practical, procedures and policies for a national legal services program representing unaccompanied immigrant children. Prior to joining KIND, she was the Director of Volunteer Advocates for Immigrant Justice (VAIJ). Started in 2003, VAIJ provided pro bono representation to detained immigrants, adults and unaccompanied children, in removal proceedings in the Seattle area. As the Director of VAIJ, Juli launched the program, developed trainings and mentored pro bono attorneys who had volunteered to provide pro bono representation to immigrants before US immigration authorities. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona and Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College.

Laurie Carafone

Senior Director for Legal Services

Laurie Carafone is the Senior Director for Legal Services at Kids in Need of Defense, where she oversees legal services programming across KIND’s offices nationwide.   Laurie has over a decade of experience working with refugee and immigrant children and families, and has led teams in the delivery of legal services within KIND since 2011.  Prior to joining KIND, Laurie represented clients at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was an associate at a boutique litigation law firm.  Laurie has received recognition for her work in human rights law including the Women of Justice award by the Women’s Bar Association; selection as a Rising Star in the Non-Profit sector and a Top Women Attorney Rising Star by Boston Magazine; and appointment as a Boston Bar Association Public Interest Leadership Fellow. Laurie earned her law degree cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was chosen as a Ford Outstanding Woman Law Scholar and a Bergstrom Child Welfare Fellow, and received the Book Award in Public International Law.  She earned her B.A. in literature cum laude from Dartmouth College where she was named a Rufus Choate Scholar and a Dartmouth Partners in Community Service Fellow.  Laurie holds a Masters in Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and authored a paper on the role of faith-based organizations in meeting the needs of women and girl migrants and refugees in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, published by the Center for Migration Studies in 2018.

Jasiel Fernandez

Deputy Director for Social Services

Jasiel is KIND’s Boston-based Deputy Director for Social Services. She brings to this position over 13 years of experience working with and on behalf of vulnerable immigrant communities. Jasiel believes that the immigrant experience brings with it a certain degree of traumatization, especially for children, and she has worked arduously to bridge the service and support gap for this population. Jasiel has extensive experience developing and managing local to regional community-based programs for low-income and immigrant families. Most recently, Jasiel speared-headed KIND’s Boston Field office programming on socioemotional support, building capacity and designing strategies for KIND’s pro bono partners and staff to more effectively serve deeply traumatized, vulnerable Central American unaccompanied minors facing removal proceedings. Jasiel’s counseling experience focuses on immigrant and refugee complex trauma, families with adolescents, and at-risk youth. Her clinical interests include immigrant/refugee trauma, immigrant integration, and the intersectionality of immigrant mental health, faith, and resilience. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, and a master’s in clinical counseling as well as a graduate certificate in Principles of Trauma-Informed Care from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.

Mary Giovagnoli

Senior Counsel for Legal Strategy and Special Programs

Mary Giovagnoli works on a range of KIND program priorities, sharing her deep expertise in asylum and refugee law and migration policy. Mary is the immediate prior Executive Director of Refugee Council USA and previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration. She also spent six years at the American Immigration Council, where she led the Immigration Policy Center (IPC). Prior to IPC, Mary served as Senior Director of Policy for the National Immigration Forum and practiced law as an attorney with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, serving first as a trial attorney and associate general counsel with the INS, and, following the creation of DHS, as an associate chief counsel for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mary has done impactful legislative work and was awarded a Congressional Fellowship from USCIS to serve in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office, where she worked on comprehensive immigration reform and refugee issues. Mary attended Drake University, graduating summa cum laude with a major in speech communication. She received a master’s degree in rhetoric and completed additional graduate coursework in rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin. She then received a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Natalie Giron

Program Assistant 

Natalie Giron supports the Legal Services Department at KIND. She graduated magna cum laude from American University in Washington DC with a degree in Justice and Law and a minor in Public Administration and Policy. Her senior thesis researched how the 2016 election and the failure to pass the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans Act (DAPA) influenced mental health and educational outcomes of undocumented students. After tutoring students through Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program during her undergraduate career, she developed a keen interest in working with youth and heightened her desire to impact K-12 education policy. Previously, Natalie served as a student paralegal in the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice focusing on cases related to telemarketing fraud, food and dietary supplements, and harmful medical devices. In the future, Natalie hopes to earn a Masters in Public Policy focusing on education policy, juvenile justice, and comprehensive immigration reform.

Marisa Howe

Deputy Director for Program Development and Performance Quality

Marisa Howe has worked in immigration law since 2003. She began her legal career as an associate at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, PC, developing a wide-ranging business immigration law practice for over nine years. While at Mintz Levin, she also maintained a robust pro bono practice, including a year-long fellowship with Boston-based PAIR (Political Asylum and Immigration Representation) Project as well as serving on the firm’s pro bono committee and providing asylum case administration and mentorship at the firm for many years. Marisa has also previously served as a Board Member of the PAIR Project. In 2011, Marisa was the recipient of Richard Mintz Pro Bono Award, and in 2012, the PAIR Project honored her with the Pro Bono Mentor of the Year award. From 2012 to 2015, Marisa served as a manager of international services for the global law firm, Ropes & Gray LLP. Marisa is a graduate of NYU School of Law and Dartmouth College.

Priya Konings

Deputy Director for Legal Services

Priya Konings is child welfare attorney who has been working with child protection issues through her legal career. Prior to joining KIND she provided direct representation to abused and neglected children in the Maryland and D.C. foster care systems at the Law Offices of Darlene A. Wakefield, P.A. She also completed internships and has volunteered at organizations such Women Empowered Against Violence, UNHCR, and the Baltimore City Teen Court Program. Ms. Konings has argued before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals numerous times, has written for a variety of legal publications in the area of child welfare law, and received the Bar Association for Montgomery County, Maryland President’s Citation for Outstanding Pro Bono Service in 2012.  She graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2006, where she was a Rose Zetzer Women, Leadership, and Equality Program Fellow and recipient of several public interest grants. Ms. Konings currently resides in Takoma Park with her husband and two cats.

Ainsley McMahon

Program Assistant

Ainsley McMahon is a Program Assistant for the Legal Services Team at KIND. Previously, she worked as a Research and Development Assistant at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies in San Francisco, where she assisted with country conditions research and other projects, as well as fundraising efforts. Ainsley graduated magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut in 2017.

Claire Trickler-McNulty

Deputy Director for Legal Services

bio coming soon

Wendy Miron

Director of Social Services 

Bio coming soon.

Nirupa Narayan

Senior Director for Pro Bono Partnerships

Nirupa Narayan oversees KIND’s national pro bono partnerships with law firms, corporations, law schools, and bar associations. Prior to joining KIND, Ms. Narayan served as Pro Bono Legal Advisor at Justice Without Borders where she partnered with law students and pro bono attorneys to provide access to justice to abused and exploited migrant workers in Singapore.  She also worked as head of the press office at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.  Previously, Ms. Narayan managed the pro bono and immigration programs at the Tahirih Justice Center.  Before her work at Tahirih, Ms. Narayan represented immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking at Boat People SOS and individuals living with HIV at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.  Ms. Narayan holds an LL.M. from American University, Washington College of Law, a J.D. from New York Law School, and a B.A. from Michigan State University.

Scott Shuchart

Senior Director for Legal Strategy 

Scott Shuchart is the Senior Director for Litigation Strategy at KIND, coordinating KIND’s legal training and litigation efforts. Scott has spent his career in civil rights policy and high-stakes litigation. From 2010 to 2018, he was senior advisor to the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, working to make immigration policy more consistent with our constitutional values. He shared the 2019 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for his work informing the public about DHS’s irresponsible and unlawful family separation policies.

Scott taught in the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic from 2008-2010, where he was part of the team that prevailed in Negusie v. Holder and other important Supreme Court victories. Before that, he was a litigator for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. Scott clerked for Hon. Marsha S. Berzon on the Ninth Circuit after graduating from Yale Law School. He was also an elementary school teacher through Teach for America and holds philosophy degrees from Harvard College and the University of Oxford.

Wendy Wylegala

Deputy Director for Legal Technical Assistance

Wendy Wylegala is Deputy Director for Legal Technical Assistance at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).  She designs legal training programs, writes practice guidance, and provides case-specific technical assistance to a legal staff of over 130 in KIND’s ten field offices.  Wendy joined KIND in November 2008 as a pro bono coordinator, working in the Newark, NJ and New York, NY field offices.  In that capacity, she trained and mentored pro bono attorneys, and conducted intake interviews and know-your-rights programs for detained and released unaccompanied children.  Later she served as supervising attorney in the New York field office for four years until assuming her current role in January 2016.  Before joining KIND, Wendy worked at a private law firm for eight years, and represented special immigrant juvenile clients on a pro bono basis.  Before attending law school, she was an Ombudsman at New York City’s Office of the Public Advocate.  She is admitted to practice in New York, and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, and her B.A. from Barnard College.  She is a member of the New York City Chapter of AILA, and of the Immigration and Nationality Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

Special Programs Team 

Christie Turner-Herbas

Deputy Director for Special Programs

As an immigration law expert with over ten years in the field, Christie oversees KIND’s family separation work nationwide, in addition to other special initiatives and projects. Christie previously served as Deputy Director of Legal Services, helping manage KIND’s East Coast field offices. Christie also served as the Managing Attorney for KIND’s Washington, DC and Northern Virginia field offices. Prior to joining KIND, Christie was a Supervising Attorney at Catholic Charities’ Hogar Immigrant Services in Virginia, where her work included deportation defense and family-based immigration matters.

A 2008 honors graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Christie was a Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center and interned at several immigrant rights organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Catholic Charities of Washington, DC, and American Gateways in Austin, Texas. In addition, Christie participated in the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic and Transnational Worker Rights Clinic and served as a Human Rights Scholar with the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Prior to law school, Christie spent three years supporting consumer protection investigations and litigation at the Federal Trade Commission.

Rodolfo Castillo, Jr.

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Rodolfo is a passionate about social justice and advancing the rights of the immigrant community, children, and other vulnerable populations.  He joined KIND Baltimore in 2017 as a Gallogly Family Foundation Public Interest Fellow and transitioned to the Family Separation Team after completing his fellowship.  He is a graduate of American University—Washington College of Law (JD) and Yale University (BA).  While in law school, Rodolfo served as a student attorney for the Immigrant Justice Clinic and spent the majority of his time interning and volunteering at public interest organizations, including Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services, ABA Center on Children and the Law, CAIR Coalition, and South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR).  Prior to law school, Rodolfo worked for five years an elementary school teacher, primarily teaching at Title I schools in Houston and Miami.  Rodolfo grew up in Brownsville, TX and currently resides in Austin, TX with his husband.

Anilu Chadwick

Senior Attorney

Based out of New York, Anilu is a Senior Attorney on the Family Separation response team for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Prior to joining KIND, Anilu served as a Staff Attorney for the ICARE Project at Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS), where she represented unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings, served as a media liaison, and actively participated in CCCS’ administrative response task force, including site coordination for No Ban JFK, developed and provided community KYRs, and participated in rights telethons through the Office of New Americans. Prior to CCCS, Anilu served as a legal fellow for Catholic Charities Archdioceses of Newark where she represented detained torture survivors through the Access to Justice program. Additionally, Anilu served as a legal fellow for the Safe Passage Project, representing unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings. Anilu received her JD from Howard University School of Law and her BA from the University of New Mexico. As an immigrant from Mexico, Anilu continues to invest her professional career in advancing the rights and dignity of all immigrants and asylum-seekers. Her previous experiences include work at KIND, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and as a Student Attorney for her law school’s criminal justice clinic. Currently, Anilu is also the Co-President of the Board of Trustees for First Friends of New Jersey and New York.

Florence Chamberlin

Supervising Attorney – Special Programs

Florence Chamberlin is a Senior Attorney for the KIND Family Separation Team’s San Francisco office. She manages family separation cases originating at the KIND field offices in San Francisco, Seattle and Fresno. Ms. Chamberlin is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Prior to joining KIND, Ms. Chamberlin exclusively practiced immigration law representing corporations and individuals in proceedings before the various administrative offices of the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS, ICE, CBP) and at consular offices around the globe. She has extensive experience with complex family immigration matters as well as removal defense before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Stephanie Gabriela Lopez


Stephanie is a human rights advocate, who is particularly passionate about advancing the rights of immigrants and children in the United States. In her role at KIND, she provides programmatic management and support to KIND’s dedicated family separation team. Stephanie joined this team after serving as a Program Assistant for KIND’s Virginia and Washington, D.C., office. Before coming to KIND, Stephanie spent nearly two years in Ecuador, where she taught English and witnessed the Venezuelan migrant crisis, firsthand. Stephanie moved to Ecuador after earning her Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge, while on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. During her time at Cambridge, she focused her studies on the experiences of immigrants and children in Latin America. Her master’s thesis explored the connection between modern state insecurity in Central America’s Northern Triangle and the region’s Cold War legacy. Stephanie is originally from California, and holds an undergraduate degree in political science and mass communication and journalism from California State University, Fresno.

Gabriel Moreno

Senior Attorney

Prior to joining KIND, Gabriel volunteered his time as a pro bono attorney for the organization representing clients in immigration court and the Circuit Courts of Maryland, as well as helping other KIND pro bono attorneys communicate with their Spanish speaking clients. Gabriel primarily focused his practice of law, apart from immigration, in the areas of landlord-tenant, contracts, administrative, and personal injury law. Gabriel is a 2012 graduate of the Massachusetts School of Law. Born and raised in Texas, Gabriel graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy then from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational and Corporate Communication. At both universities, he was part of several organizations including Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. As a son of immigrant parents and a native Spanish speaker, Gabriel has empathy and a moral duty to help children who face procedural and language barriers once here in the United States. Gabriel is barred in Massachusetts, Maryland and the U.S. District Court District of Maryland.

Finance and Operations

Vibha Bhatia

Vice President of Finance and Operations

Vibha has over 16 years of operations experience in the private and nonprofit sector. Her areas of expertise include financial management, administration, data management, information technology, and human resources. Vibha grew up in Hong Kong and as an immigrant herself is well versed in the US immigration system and its challenges. Vibha has lived in the Washington DC area for 25 years and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of Maryland University College. In her spare time, Vibha likes to take glass classes, play tennis and travel.

Jimmy Battle

Technology Associate

Jimmy has been in the nonprofit sector since 2012, and most recently has worked as a Systems Administrator for Root Capital based in Boston. While there, he worked to implement, support and manage the IT Infrastructure for 140 users spanning 5 continents. He has a life-long passion for technology, and believes firmly in the power of connecting people to the resources they need to succeed. He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in History with a minor in Political Science, and in his spare time enjoys reading, watching movies, and hikes with his wonderful dog Ella.

Nathan Blumhorst

Human Resources Generalist 

Born and raised in Latin America, Nathan is proud to be working at KIND Inc. As the Human Resources Associate, Nathan works with the Senior Director of Human Resources by supporting staff with their benefits, administering the HR software, assisting with payroll, expanding our recruiting reach, and troubleshooting for various issues. Previously, Nathan worked as a teacher.

Jordan Brown

Executive Assistant

Jordan M. Brown recently graduated with honors from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in Political Science on a pre-law track. While attending UMBC, she was inducted into the Phi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society. At their annual undergraduate research conference, she presented research on the motivations behind specific sponsorships of legislation.

Jordan interned at the Maryland General Assembly as a legislative aid where she conducted legislative research, drafted legislative statements, lobbied support on bills, and attended hearings.

She acted as program assistant at The Greater Baltimore Urban League, a nonprofit dedicated to the economic and social mobility of minority communities. Jordan was tasked with the creation of a housing counseling program to increase homeownership and financial literacy in Baltimore City.

Politically involved, she has contributed to Maryland gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns, and was a member of the Young Democrats of Maryland Youth Leadership Board.

In her spare time, she volunteers with the Exelon Corporation in Baltimore assisting with a variety of pro bono efforts including elderly estate planning and filing of refugee and asylee applications. She also enjoys counseling youth at the Baltimore Urban League’s leadership Program and Starbuck’s Spot Mentoring Program, both of which mentor high schoolers with the goal of increasing college attendance and retention. Additionally, she has fun traveling, scuba diving, and listening to music!

In the future she plans to attend law school, and advocate for human rights through pro bono outreach.

Beejay Elefante

Senior Director, Technology Strategies

Beejay Elefante has more than a decade of experience as a strategist, IT systems integrator, and project manager. From his position as a Systems Engineer to his latest role as Senior Director of Technology Strategies, Beejay has anchored his technical expertise with a strong understanding of the relevant context of business operations and strategic goals.

In his previous roles, Beejay managed a team of Developers and Cloud engineers responsible for internal systems as well as client-facing Cloud Services. He also served as a Network Engineer, Systems engineer and then as a Cloud Technology Architect managing Small businesses to complex environments in public and Government domains.

At KIND, he maintains an understanding of cutting-edge business technologies and analyzes opportunities to streamline Technology operations, applying the right combination of automation tools and bringing high quality representation to our clients.

Beejay holds a bachelors in Computational Sciences from Old Dominion University.  In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music,  and running.

Melissa Galarraga

Director of Operations and Facilities

bio coming soon.

Karla Gant

Executive Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Michelle Giezeman

Senior Director of Data Strategy 

Michelle focuses on using data to demonstrate impact of services and promote continuous quality improvement. She previously worked at the software company Social Solutions in Baltimore as a Strategic Consultant for large non-profits and government agencies, helping them streamline their data collection systems and measure outcomes through customized reports. Prior to this she was a Casework Supervisor at the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring, where she led the transition to a new case management software system and improved quality assurance processes in addition to supervising resettlement services for refugees and asylees. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with degrees in Political Science and Public Service.

Erik Hope

Technology Strategies Manager

Erik is the Technology Strategy Manager at KIND where he works to implement the overall strategy for legal services technology projects, primarily focusing on using technology to bridge geographical and communication gaps between clients and attorneys. Prior to joining KIND, Erik held various positions in technology, most recently as a senior consultant at an international managed services provider where he helped medium and large businesses transform from older on-premises networks to modern cloud-based infrastructure. In that role, Erik also provided strategic planning and guidance as well as daily management and support for his clients’ systems. Previously, Erik was a desktop support engineer at the Washington, DC-based public affairs firm The Glover Park Group. Erik has his Bachelor’s of Science degree from DeVry University where he studied network and telecommunications systems management.

Erik lives in the DC area with his wife, son, 3 cats and a dog. When not working Erik enjoys cooking, baking, and travelling.

Julie Koh

Finance Manager

Bio coming soon.

Diane Komenan

Staff Accountant

bio coming soon

Matthew Lafreniere

Facilities and Operations Associate 

Matthew has more than 5 years of experience working directly with youth. He got his start working in summer camps, and eventually served as the Clubhouse Director at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua. In addition to his leadership in the Club’s afterschool program, he also served as the Camp Director for Nashua’s Camp Mariposa program, which targets youth affected by the opioid crisis and provides therapeutic and recreational activities. Following his experience in these roles, he worked at a Maryland-based consulting firm that administered national grants to various non-profit organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National PAL, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, AMBER Alert in Indian Country, and more.

Matthew received his B.A. in History and his A.A.S. in Applied Business Management from the University of New Hampshire.


Ellen Jorgensen

Vice President of Public Outreach and Strategic Development

Ellen’s professional career has included extensive non-profit program development and management, administration and fundraising. Before joining KIND, she served as Director of Grants and Development at the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at Columbia University. Earlier, in her role as Deputy Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, she worked on international research, public education, and advocacy dedicated to promoting the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children, and adolescents.

Her career began with the Peace Corps in Senegal, followed by five years at Lutheran World Relief, rising to the position of Program Director for West Africa. In 2005-6, she was the Team Leader for Save the Children’s Hurricane Katrina humanitarian response, which provided emergency day care, safe spaces, psychosocial, and after school programs in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Ellen received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree in international affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Sarah Del Vecchio

Director of Donor Relations

Sarah Del Vecchio has worked in non-profit fundraising for over three years in the Washington, DC region, specializing in human rights and social justice organizations. She recently served as Senior Development Associate at CASA de Maryland, a Latino and immigrant advocacy-aid organization. Sarah has also worked for Polaris, Free the Slaves, the Brookings Institution, and the Solidarity Center. Sarah holds a master’s degree in ethics, peace, and global affairs from American University and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys volunteering with animal rescue agencies, watching too much HGTV, and reading obscure comic books.

Eleanor Gartner

Senior Individual Giving Manager

Eleanor Gartner has worked in the non-profit sector over the past six-plus years. Prior to joining KIND, Eleanor worked in fundraising at Success Academy Charter Schools. She also has experience consulting various non-profit organizations on fundraising and special event initiatives, and spent time working at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Rubin Museum in New York City.

Eleanor grew up in 5 different countries and received her bachelor’s degree in Art History from Hamilton College.

Evelyn Hickman

Grant Manager

bio coming soon

Policy and Advocacy

Jennifer Podkul

Vice President, Policy and Advocacy

Jennifer Podkul is an international human rights lawyer and expert on child migration in the United States. She has authored articles, handbooks and reports and presents regularly as an expert at various conferences, briefings, and professional trainings. Jennifer provides technical assistance and education to policy makers and testifies before Congress on issues related to migrant children. She co-authored “Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls from Central America” and was a contributing author to “Childhood, Migration, and Human Rights in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices, and Challenges.”  Jennifer has taught child migration at Georgetown Law Center’s Human Rights Institute.  Jennifer began her legal career as an attorney at Ayuda in Washington, D.C. first as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and later as a KIND Fellow. Prior to joining KIND, Jennifer Podkul was a senior program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission where she researched issues facing vulnerable migrants seeking protection in the United States and advocated for improved treatment. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, holds a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College and a J.D. with honors from the Washington College of Law, American University, where she was a Public Interest/Public Service Scholar.

Cindy Liou

State Policy Director

Cindy Liou first joined KIND in 2016 as the Deputy Director of Legal Services. Prior to KIND, she was the Director of the Human Trafficking Project at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, where she also co-counseled several civil litigation cases on behalf of human trafficking survivors, and provided direct legal representation for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, child abuse and exploitation, and hate crimes. She has also provided consulting and training on topics ranging from domestic violence lethality, strategies on addressing and messaging anti-violence issues with immigrant communities, language access, to the collaboration of legal services, social services, and law enforcement in cross-disciplinary teams. Cindy is also the author of several articles and manuals, and has provided extensive updates to the Human Trafficking Task Force e-Guide developed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). She is the recipient of the 2013 San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking Modern Day Abolitionist Award for Policy and Advocacy and the 2018 Paul and Sheila Wellstone Award from the Freedom Network to Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons (USA). She also handled a variety of pro bono cases as an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC. Cindy is a graduate from Stanford Law School and the University of Washington.

Cory Shindel

Deputy Director of Policy

At KIND, Cory engages in outreach and advocacy to support the fair and appropriate treatment of unaccompanied children in the U.S. immigration system. Prior to coming to KIND, Cory worked as a researcher for a labor arbitrator. She has worked previously as the Manager of Federal Policy for the U.S. Green Building Council, and has interned and held positions at several nonprofit organizations. Cory has a B.A. in Journalism, Spanish, and International Studies from Penn State University, and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, where she was an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Fellow. After law school, Cory served as a law clerk to a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York.


Brenda Bowser Soder

Vice President for Communications

A public affairs professional with more than two decades of experience in designing political and nonprofit strategic communications campaigns, Brenda Bowser Soder is KIND’s Vice President for Communications.

Prior to joining KIND, Ms. Bowser Soder was the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. In that role, she directed the EAC’s communications team and led the organization’s media relations, digital media, event planning, video production and design activities.

Previously, Ms. Bowser Soder was Vice President of Communications at Human Rights First, where she directed the nonprofit’s robust communications department in work to establish the United States as a global leader in the protection of human rights. Among her campaigns were efforts to end torture, protect refugees, support human rights defenders, fight discrimination and end human trafficking.

Earlier in her career, Bowser Soder was Director of Communications at Alliance for Justice, where she led the nonprofit’s communications work, including a successful national and state-level campaign to ensure justice for those harmed by dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. She served as a producer for the organization’s 2008 short documentary film on that topic, “Access Denied: The Fight for Corporate Accountability.” Before that role, Ms. Bowser Soder was Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), where she authored a media training handbook and frequently delivered death penalty-related communications training to elected officials, law professors, attorneys, advocates, victims’ family members, and death row exonerees from across the nation.

Ms. Bowser Soder formerly served as Senator Olympia J. Snowe’s (R-Maine) Deputy Press Secretary, held a public relations fellowship at The Widmeyer Baker Group (Now Widmeyer Communications) in Washington, DC, and spent time as a newspaper reporter in central Pennsylvania. She holds a B.A. from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Megan McKenna

Senior Director of Communications and Community Engagement          

Megan has been writing about and advocating on humanitarian issues for nearly two decades. In addition to managing and implementing KIND’s communications, she led KIND’s advocacy in Congress and among federal agencies for more than five years, including in the appropriations process.  She is a co-author of a memoir about the life of a refugee from Darfur who risked his life to translate for journalists and nongovernmental organizations. The Translator was published in 2008 by Random House in eight languages.  Previously, Megan was a senior coordinator for media and communications at the Women’s Refugee Commission, where she led and managed a variety of communications activities, and conducted advocacy at the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, and federal agencies. Megan has also worked with Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and the Robin Hood Foundation. She started her career with CNN International in London.

Megan has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a BA from the University of Michigan. Megan likes to run marathons.

Alejandra Paz

Communications Project Coordinator 

Alejandra has been with KIND working as a consultant on communications and KIND’s “Voices That Matter Most” project since 2015.  In 2018, she was brought on as KIND’s Communications Project Coordinator where she manages KIND’s story gathering and sharing, organizes storytelling workshops, works directly with participants to help them tell their story and share it in a variety of mediums to reach the widest audience, and identifies mentors and community partners, among other communications duties. Alejandra holds a master’s degree in Public Relations from the University of the Arts London and a bachelor’s degree in Global Communications from The American University of Paris.

Alexandra Pender

Senior Communications Manager

Alex has been with KIND working on immigrant and refugee issues since 2010 and began working in non-profit communications and advocacy in 2012.  Alex is currently KIND’s Senior Communications Manager where she specializes in digital communications and social media outreach.  Alex holds a master’s degree in Political Communications from American University and a bachelor’s degree in American History from Union College.

Programs in Central America

Lisa Frydman

Vice President, Regional Policy and Initiatives

Lisa serves as KIND’s Vice President of Regional Policy and Initiatives. Lisa was a co-editor and contributing author of Childhood, Migration, and Human Rights in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices, and Challenges, a study on children affected by migration in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States, written in collaboration with organizations from each country and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Previously, she was Managing Attorney at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). Throughout her eight years at CGRS, Lisa worked to advance law and policy for immigrant women, children, and asylum seekers through impact litigation, national policy advocacy, and extensive training and mentoring of attorneys. Prior to CGRS, Lisa practiced child immigration and child welfare law at Legal Services for Children. She began her legal career as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center representing immigrant children before the Immigration Court and Board of Immigration Appeals. Lisa has trained and mentored attorneys across the country and has presented to federal judges, immigration judges, and asylum officers. She is a 2002 graduate of Berkeley Law, Order of the Coif, and a 1996 graduate of the University of Maryland, magna cum laude.

Rachel Dotson

Senior Director, Gender and Migration Initiatives

Rachel has over six years of experience in direct service, education, and advocacy work with children and families, and has served in program and operations management roles within a range of nonprofit organizations. Much of this work has focused on gender violence prevention and support for survivors, as well as on advocacy and support services for immigrants and refugees. Since 2010, Rachel has been engaged in ongoing research in Guatemala and southern Mexico, and has completed projects examining state social programs in the Guatemalan Highlands, urban violence and public transportation in Guatemala City, and community-based responses to gender violence in rural Chiapas. She has an M.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of North Carolina, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Indiana University, and a B.A. in history from Indiana University.

Ursula Guzman

Case Manager

I was born and raised in El Salvador. Graduated as a lawyer in my country, specializing in criminal justice. Since I began my studies, I became involved in working with communities, which became my motivation and passion, focusing mainly on defending the human rights of the most vulnerable populations in my country. For the past nine years, I have worked with the immigrant community in this country helping them improve their parenting skills and helping them adapt to this country. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading and handcrafts.

Laura Just

Senior Protection Officer

Laura serves as KIND’s Senior Protection Officer, focusing on family reunification and international protection of children and separated families in Central America and Mexico. Laura has had the opportunity to assist thousands of refugees and migrants from Africa, Latin American and the Middle East through her work with international and U.S. NGOs and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and has spent significant time providing direct services to individuals and families in the field. During her time at UNHCR, Laura managed the Protection Transfer Arrangement in El Salvador, a pilot program facilitating the emergency resettlement of high-risk cases that has since expanded to Guatemala and Honduras, and led the Mediterranean inter-agency emergency response efforts in Egypt during the Syrian refugee crisis. Prior to joining UNHCR, Laura worked in strategic litigation with Asylum Access Ecuador, assisting cases with protection claims before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. After returning to the United States in 2017, Laura was one of the first attorneys to join the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, providing legal representation to refugees and migrants detained at the Stewart and Irwin County Detention Centers in South Georgia. Laura joined KIND in 2018 and worked as a Staff Attorney in the Baltimore and Atlanta field offices before joining the Regional Policy & Initiatives team. Laura is a graduate of Georgetown Law and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and lives with her husband and their very good dog.

Emily Kephart

Senior Coordinator, Reintegration Programs

Emily comes to KIND with 10 years of experience in child welfare and community engagement. Prior to joining KIND, Emily managed Foster Care Case Management at the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations and Community Organizing & Development at the Norris Square Civic Assoc., two Latino community-based organizations in Philadelphia. Emily has worked on community outreach and engagement campaigns around neighborhood development, gun violence, voter turn-out, and economic development. To her work at KIND she brings skills in program management, continuous Spanish-English interpretation, and trauma-informed child and family practice. Emily holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Temple University, concentrating in Community and Social Policy. In graduate school, she interned with the American Friends Service Committee, advocating for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. She has studied, worked, and traveled throughout Central and South America. On the weekends, Emily loves to bike and cook.

Field Team

Atlanta Office

Christina Iturralde Thomas

Managing Attorney

Christina is the Managing Attorney at the recently launched Atlanta Field Office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). KIND’s staff and its pro bono attorney partners at law firms, corporations, and law schools nationwide represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings. KIND’s mission is to ensure that no child stands in court alone. Prior to joining KIND, Christina worked at the Latin American Association as a Staff Attorney representing unaccompanied minors. She also worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project and LatinoJustice PRLDEF (formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund), defending the rights of immigrants in the United States through impact litigation. Christina is a graduate of University of California, Hastings College of Law and has a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Florida.  She is admitted to practice law in Georgia and New York.

Roy Alejandro

Social Services Coordinator

Roy has an extensive experience working with children and families. Roy worked for almost eight years for the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, where his work positions included; Medicaid and food stamps case manager, Investigations case manager and Foster Care case manager.  It was here where he developed his knowledge about case management and how to coordinate services for children as well as their parents. He then worked for the Georgia Migrant Education program for three years, where he traveled throughout most of north Georgia counties to coordinate educational services for migrant children with different school districts and providers.  Roy obtained his Bachelors in social work from Dalton State College where he also served as the president of the social work club, then obtained his Master’s degree from Valdosta State University.

Kathrine Beno-Valencia


Kathrine is an experienced immigration paralegal, having worked for a private immigration attorney for seven years prior to joining KIND. She is dedicated to serving the immigrant community and has been involved in the immigrant rights community for over ten years. Kathrine has served on the Steering Committees for Georgia Detention Watch and Detention Watch Network. Kathrine helped to start El Refugio, a first-of-its-kind hospitality house outside of the Stewart Detention Center, and is on the Board of Directors of El Refugio. Kathrine graduated from Gonzaga University with a Bachelor of Arts, Honors degree in International Studies. While at Gonzaga, Kathrine studied in El Salvador through the Casa de Solidaridad program, which was a formative experience that led to her life’s calling. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and son.

Alexandra De La Rosa

Temporary Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Fatemeh Mehrabi

Staff Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Stephanie Robinson

Staff Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Maria M. Rodriguez

Equal Justice Works justice AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

Maria is excited to be the Equal Justice Works justice AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at KIND – Atlanta. Maria is a human rights advocate with a particular passion for immigrants’ rights. Her greatest achievement in the area of immigration is her successful representation of a political asylum applicant through the University of Connecticut Asylum and Human Rights Clinic. Maria earned her law degree and Certificate in Human Rights from the University of Connecticut School of Law where she was a University of Connecticut Scholar and an ABA Legal Opportunity Scholar. She was a member of the Connecticut Journal of International Law and a New York City Bar Association Student Ambassador. During law school Maria interned with Milagros Immigration in Hartford, CT, the Office of Pro Se Litigation for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, and Mariscal Abogados in Spain. Prior to law school, Maria volunteered as a translator for immigrant farm workers, assisted immigrants prepare for the U.S. naturalization test, and advocated for tenant rights in the immigrant community in Queens, NY. Maria attended St. John’s University in New York where she holds a B.A. in sociology with a minor in philosophy.

Baltimore Office

Elisabeth Centeno Lopez

Managing Attorney 

Elisabeth Centeno Lopez is a civil litigator with a long-standing commitment to advancing the rights of immigrants, refugees, and children.

As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Elisabeth worked as a Spanish-language interpreter and research assistant with Stanford Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and interned with Public Counsel’s Children’s Rights Project and Adoption Project. Prior to law school, Elisabeth worked for Human Rights First (HRF) in New York City as a John Gardner Public Service Fellow, supporting HRF’s Asylum Representation Program and Never Torture campaign.

While attending Yale Law School, Elisabeth served as a student director and intern with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization’s Immigration Legal Services Clinic and Domestic Violence Clinic, representing clients in asylum, VAWA, and family law matters. After graduating, she continued serving the immigrant community as a firm-sponsored staff attorney/fellow with the Immigration Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services.

Prior to becoming Managing Attorney of KIND’s Baltimore Office, Elisabeth was a litigation associate for several years at Ropes & Gray LLP and clerked for The Honorable Stephanie A. Gallagher of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. She is admitted to practice law in California and the District of Columbia.

Sarah Choi

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Sarah Choi is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Illinois College of Law. She started her legal practice as in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company in the Chicago area, providing legal counsel in the areas of ethics, compliance, and securities. Sarah returned to Maryland in 2015 and volunteered with KIND’s Baltimore office.  Shortly after, she joined another nonprofit organization practicing immigration law, focusing on family and humanitarian work.  Sarah is dedicated to advocating for the rights of immigrants, including volunteering with the Dulles Justice Coalition at Dulles Airport in the wake of the Muslim travel ban in early 2017.  She joined KIND in 2018 and is fluent in Korean.

Lili Eskinazi


Prior to joining KIND, Lili worked in a variety of community-based organizations dedicated to social and economic justice throughout the Americas.  As part of her B.A. in International Development Studies and Women’s Studies at McGill University (2009), Lili focused her Honors Thesis on the labor conditions of Mexican women migrant workers in Quebec, traveling to Mexico to obtain workers’ testimonies.  Following graduation, Lili worked at a community soup kitchen in Montreal for two and a half years before relocating to Latin America, where she conducted human rights accompaniment in Colombia and then worked as a Project Officer for cooperative development NGO The Working World in Nicaragua.  Over the past seven years, Lili has written articles and produced audio documentaries on a variety of social justice issues in Latin America (National Film Board of Canada, Alternatives International Journal, Free Speech Radio News).  Lili is originally from Columbia, Maryland and is excited to be back in her home state, connecting immigrant and refugee children with legal representation as they navigate the U.S. immigration system.

Leslie Espino

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Leslie Espino is the daughter of two Guatemalan immigrants. She has two older sisters, and was born and raised in Nebraska. Leslie is a first-generation college graduate and received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is a Goodrich Scholar and a member of Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc. Prior to attending law school, Leslie interned at the U.S. Committee of Refugee and Immigrants, where she called upon unaccompanied minors to share their stories in order to find them pro bono counsel.  She also spent time as a Bilingual Paralegal at Legal Aid of Nebraska where she assisted callers, located throughout the state, with civil legal matters and screened immigrants calling the Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline for legal assistance with their respective immigration matters. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law where she was actively involved in the Latinx Law Student Association as the Vice President and Immigration Law Society as the President. While in law school, she interned at Ayuda in Washington, D.C., Justice for Our Neighbors, in Omaha, Nebraska, (now Immigrant Legal Center) and at the Immigration Court in Omaha, Nebraska.  In her free time she likes to hang out with her two nephews and two nieces, travel, and read. Leslie is barred to practice law in Maryland.

Cielo Fortin-Camacho

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Cielo Fortin-Camacho is proud immigrant with a firm commitment to serving vulnerable populations.  Prior to joining KIND, Cielo volunteered and worked with Catholic Charities Fort Worth and the Law Office of Veronica Garza serving vulnerable immigrant populations throughout north and central Texas. Cielo has written for numerous publications, including various chapters for the most frequently cited money laundering and anti-terrorism treatise. Additionally, Cielo’s articles and comprehensive research on diversity within the legal profession has served as training material at state bar conferences. Cielo graduated from Texas A&M School of Law in 2017, where she was chosen to represent the law school as a Scribe inductee with The American Society of Legal Writers, served as the president of the Immigration Law Initiative and International Law Society, and was the recipient of several public interest grants. Cielo is also a graduate of Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, and Dalian University of Foreign Languages in Dalian, China. In her spare time, Cielo currently serves as the vice-president of Benny’s Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit she co-founded to promote literacy among Latino children and children from low income families generally. Cielo speaks French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and English.

Monica Gutierrez


Monica is a native of Watertown, South Dakota and a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she studied Government, International Affairs, Spanish, and Anthropology. While at Augie, she was politically and civically active, getting involved in everything from a US Senate campaign to running a varieties show. Additionally, she spent part of her junior year working at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. and Knoxville, Tennessee.

After graduation, she immediately started working at the  major South Dakota law firm Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, where she assisted the attorneys in the Trusts & Estates division. She held this position until she decided to move to Baltimore and begin a new adventure with KIND.

When she isn’t working, you can find her walking her mini goldendoodle Atticus or doing YOGA. Most recently, she has started training for a half marathon in the fall.

Ilana Kramer

Direct Representation Attorney

Ilana is a zealous advocate with an acute sense of justice.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude, from the University of Maryland at College Park, double majoring in Philosophy and English Literature and minoring in Spanish.  Ilana received her juris doctorate from NYU School of Law, and then practiced commercial and securities litigation for several years in national law firms in Manhattan.  As a former associate at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, Ilana changed practice areas in 2014 to immigration law for the purpose of pursuing her true passion:  defending those who cannot defend themselves. Outside of practicing law, Ilana enjoys her tween son, her cat, Cuddles, and eating ice cream.

Victoria Lenes

Staff Attorney

Victoria has been providing direct legal representation to immigrants in the Maryland area since 2013. Prior to her position with KIND, she was a staff attorney with Catholic Charities of Baltimore, where she gained extensive experience representing victims of domestic violence and the general immigrant population. She is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she was a Student Attorney with the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. Victoria holds an undergraduate degree in Spanish from Georgetown University and Certificates of Translation in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. She is grateful for the ability to serve Maryland’s immigrants.

Michael Lynch

Social Services Coordinator

Prior to coming to KIND, Michael worked as a family services coordinator for children and families at the Federal poverty level.  Michael is a licensed social worker, and has extensive experience in working with immigrants in the area, including coordinating post-release services and home-based case management in-home case management for unaccompanied youth released from ORR detention.  Michael has also worked as a home study social worker for an ORR national partner, and coordinated the safe release and family reunification of numerous unaccompanied Central American youth with their parents and guardians.  Michael has over 8 years of experience in providing direct services and program coordination for immigrant families in and around the Baltimore region.  Before moving to Baltimore, Michael spent 2 years living in Guatemala as a community development volunteer with the Peace Corps.  Michael lives in Baltimore with his wife and 2 children.  He is a die-hard Orioles fan.

Jorge Miranda


Jorge was born in Ensenada, Mexico, and grew up along the United States-Mexico border. After six years at San Diego City College, he transferred to University of California San Diego, where he majored in Latin American Studies. Following graduation from UCSD, Jorge was a case manager at the Montgomery County Maryland Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Program for five years. Jorge enjoys collecting vinyl records,  playing soccer, and riding his bicycle.

Alejandra Morisi

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

Alejandra Morisi is the Senior Direct Representation Attorney with the KIND Baltimore office. For the past four years, she has been providing direct legal representation services to unaccompanied children and their families in the Maryland area. She has been actively involved in advocacy and education regarding unaccompanied children and their immigration relief. Alejandra has been a panelist and guest speaker at the Judicial College of Maryland; our local radio station, WYPR; and University of Maryland-Baltimore County among others. Prior to her position with KIND, she was a solo practitioner and a staff attorney with Catholic Charities of Baltimore. She is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law and holds an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Florida State University. Alejandra is a native Spanish speaker and a first generation immigrant from Chile.

Daniela Powers

Program Assistant

Daniela is a Program Assistant for the Legal Services Team at KIND’s Baltimore office. As the daughter of a Colombian family and a first-generation college graduate, she feels a special connection to the immigrant and refugee community of the U.S., and is dedicated to being a sincere advocate for this community. Graduating from Shepherd University in 2018, Daniela earned her B.A. in Global Studies upon completing her undergraduate capstone on the topic of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. She has experience working with local undocumented families and individuals in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia through her volunteer work with Catholic Charities during her college years, assisting local immigrants by directing them to the resources they required. She plans to further her education and obtain her Master’s degree in Latin American Studies in the future and is excited to serve immigrant children and child refugees through KIND.

Hina Rodriguez

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Hina is a graduate of The George Washington University and of St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, Florida.  While in law school, she was a Student Representative in the Immigration Clinic, representing indigent clients in front of the Executive Office of Immigration Review.  Previously, Hina worked for the MCASA’s Sexual Assault Legal Institute representing survivors of sexual assault throughout the state of Maryland.  Most recently, she was a Staff Attorney at Ayuda’s Washington, D.C. office representing unaccompanied minors in immigration law matters.

Diana Saavedra

Direct Representation Attorney 

Diana Saavedra grew up in Juarez, Mexico and migrated to the United States at the age of 9. She is a first generation college graduate and received her Bachelor’s and Masters of Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University. While in graduate school she interned at the Southwest Asylum and Migration Institute, and Catholic Charities- Diocese of Las Cruces. She graduated from Howard University School of Law in May 2018. During law school, she was the president of the Latinx association La Alianza, Vice President of the Immigration Law Society, and an active member of the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C. As her role in the Immigration Law Society at Howard, she organized and lead an alternative spring break trip to Dilley, Texas to provide legal assistance to arriving immigrants. She was also the recipient of a scholarship from the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C. in 2017. As an immigrant herself, she has a personal commitment to public interest and more specifically to give back to the immigrant community. Ms. Saavedra now resides in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two step-daughters.

Carly Sessions

Senior Attorney

Carly Sessions is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School, where she was a Student Attorney at the GW Immigration Clinic and an Executive Board Member of the GW Immigration Law Association. Prior to joining KIND, she was a solo practitioner who’s practice focused on asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases. Prior to attending law school she obtained a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, and worked as a high school teacher. Her experience working with undocumented high school students inspired her to pursue a career that would afford immigrant children greater opportunities, hope for the future, and the ability to work to reach their dreams. She is a life-long student of Portuguese and Spanish, and she is barred in Maryland.

Boston Office

Alexandra Peredo Carroll

Managing Attorney 

Alexandra is the Senior Pro Bono Attorney in KIND’s Boston Office.  Prior to joining KIND, Alex ran a solo immigration practice.  A 2006 graduate of Suffolk University Law School, Alex has been practicing immigration law almost exclusively since 2009.  From 2009-2011 she worked as an associate at an immigration firm in San Juan, Puerto Rico, handling mostly removal defense and family-based cases while managing the litigation side of the firm.  Alex opened her office in Boston in 2011 and her practice slowly evolved to focus on the representation of children in removal proceedings.  Prior to her career in immigration law, Alex was a staff attorney at Massachusetts Advocates for Children representing parents of children with special education needs.  Alex is an active member of AILA and the Boston Bar Association.

Elizabeth Ahmadi

Senior Attorney

bio coming soon.

Ashley Barkoudah

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

bio coming soon.

Stephanie Bonilla

Equal Justice Works Fellow

Stephanie is the Equal Justice Works Attorney Fellow at KIND. Stephanie grew up in Honduras and moved to the United States at the age of 18 in order to pursue a college education at Bentley University. There, Stephanie became interested in international affairs and global issues, deciding to pursue a Global Studies major. During this time, Stephanie volunteered at REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, working with families that were victims of domestic violence.  After graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelors of Arts from Bentley University, Stephanie worked various jobs that connected her to immigrants and youth. Stephanie worked as a case manager for families struggling with homelessness at Old Colony YMCA in Brockton and as a youth worker for youth that were high-risk, court involved, or in the foster care system at More Than Words in Waltham.

Stephanie graduated from Boston University School of Law in May 2017, after which she began her career at KIND.  During her time in law school, Stephanie took courses and participated in activities that focused on immigration. She participated in the International Human Rights Clinic, an experience that took her to Mexico to visit immigrant shelters and other organizations advocating for the protection and rights of immigrants. In the clinic, Stephanie also helped draft a report on the disappearance of migrants in Mexico. Stephanie is funded to work for the next two years in a Coordinated Care Collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) serving unaccompanied youth who are receiving health care through CHA.  Through the collaboration, health care providers can refer youth they recognize face immigration obstacles and KIND can work with CHA to ensure that its clients are receiving care that meets the needs of the trauma they have experienced.

Paola Gentile-Goldental

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Prior to joining KIND, Paola was a Staff Attorney at Northeast Justice Center, where she provided legal representation to non-citizen survivors of domestic violence. Previously, Paola worked for four years as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow and a Staff Attorney for KIND, where she provided legal representation to minors in immigration removal proceedings. Before moving to the United States, Paola worked for a law firm in Argentina as an insurance defense litigation attorney. Paola is a graduate of the LL.M. program at Northeastern University School of Law and earned her first law degree from the University of Buenos Aires School of Law in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Carla Guerrero

Program Assistant 

Carla Guerrero serves as the Program Assistant in KIND’s Boston Office. She graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with honors where she obtained a BA in Criminal Justice: Crime Control & Prevention and a minor in human services. Prior to working with KIND, Carla was part of the Special Victims Bureau at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. While obtaining her degree, Carla worked with the youth at Good Shepherd’s Services as a Group Leader and Assistant Site Coordinator.

Celia McLane

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney – Part-time 

Celia McLane is an attorney who received her bachelor of arts from Princeton University and her juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.  She served as a federal judicial law clerk in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. As a young associate at Goodwin Procter, Celia represented her first asylum client, an experience which solidified her commitment to representing immigrants and refugees.  She has continued to practice in the field of immigrant rights for fifteen years.

Karen Mejia

Social Services Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

Jessica Mols

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Prior to joining KIND, Jessica was a senior associate at Cooley LLP, specializing in employment law and commercial litigation.  While at Cooley, Jessica was an active member of its pro bono committee and a 2011 Cooley Pro Bono Achievement Award recipient.  She has represented low-income clients in child custody, child support, and

tax matters and assisted in appealing an immigrant’s Convention Against Torture claim to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Jessica has been volunteering as a pro bono attorney for KIND since 2011 and is so excited to share this amazing experience with other attorneys as a Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney.  Jessica is a graduate of Scripps College and American University, Washington College of Law.

Adam Pease


bio coming soon.

Houston Office

Claire Doutre

Managing Attorney

Claire Doutre has been working with children in removal proceeding throughout her legal career. Claire has been with KIND’s Houston office since November 2015 and the managing attorney of that office since 2017. Prior to working for KIND, Claire represented detained and released unaccompanied children with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Claire also worked for a private immigration law firm, where she primarily represented immigrants in family petition cases. Claire is on Children Immigration Law Academy’s advisory committee and she is also an active member of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. Claire received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from New York University. After graduating, Claire worked for Legal Aid Society’s mental health court program in Queens and Brooklyn, New York. She then graduated from Pace Law School with a focus on International Law. During law school, Claire worked with refugees with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as an International Human Rights Fellow. Claire is licensed to practice law in Texas and is fluent in French and Spanish.

Juan Alvarado

Paralegal – Detained Program

Bio coming soon.

Leslie Campos


Leslie was born and raised in Houston, Texas to Salvadorean, immigrant parents. Her passion to explore Latin American politics, culture and migration began very early on. Prior to joining the KIND-Houston office, Leslie studied at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Government in May 2017. During her undergraduate career, she had the opportunity to study and conduct research in both Costa Rica and Chile, where she focused on cultural identity and social politics. She interned with the Catholic Charities St. Francis Cabrini Center in Houston in 2016, where she specifically worked with DACA applicants and recipients. After graduating from Hamilton in 2017, she moved back to Houston and briefly worked as a paralegal at a private law firm, where she gained experience in cases with unaccompanied minors applying for asylum and/or SIJS. Leslie joined the KIND-Houston office in February 2018, where she passionately continues to work with children seeking immigration relief.

Melissa Davila

Social Services Coordinator 

bio coming soon

Martin Gallardo

Program Assistant – Detained Program

Martin is originally from Mexico and has reside in Texas since 1999. Prior to joining KIND, Martin worked with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston as an SRS Specialist assisting adult clients through the reunification process with minor’s under ORR care in the Houston area. Martin is also the proud owner of Gohan, a husky/lab mix therapy dog!

Rosalba Gallardo


Rosalba is originally from Mexico City.  She has been residing in Houston since 1999. She received her Bachelors in Science in Marketing from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Prior to joining KIND, Rosalba worked with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston conducting Know Your Rights presentations and intakes to detained and released unaccompanied children in the Houston area.

Stephanie Galy

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Cristina Garcia


Cristina is Peruvian-American and was raised in McAllen Texas, a town located on the US-Mexico border. She graduated from Baylor University with a bachelors degree in International Studies. She then pursed a master’s degree at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where she focused primarily on security studies. She also studied development in Latin America, Latin American- U.S. relations, and immigration policies.

Nancy Garcia


bio coming soon

Rossana Guerra


Rossana grew up in a small town on the US-Mexico border where crossing an international border every day to go to school was normal. She graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management with minors in International Studies and History. While an undergraduate, Rossana was an intern at Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre in Dublin working in several programs dedicated to achieving full human rights for Travellers and Roma in Ireland. After graduating, she moved to New York City to complete a master’s degree in International Affairs with concentrations in Security and Conflict and Governance and Rights. During her studies, Rossana was accepted to the International Field Program where she was given the opportunity to work in a nonprofit in Turkey assisting with research and reports on the socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions of the Kurdish people who have been forcibly displaced due to the armed conflict in the area. She is happy to return to her home state of Texas working for KIND in an issue that is very important to her.

Salma Hasan

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Prior to working at KIND, Salma worked as the Yale Leonard and Irene Merker Rosenberg Public Interest Fellow/Staff Attorney at Tahirih Justice Center. At Tahirih, Salma represented women and children fleeing extreme forms of violence, providing both direct and pro bono mentoring immigration legal services. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Houston Law Center, where she worked in the Immigration and Civil Practice Clinics. She interned at Lone Star legal Aid and Montgomery County Women’s Center, working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Salma graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Rhetoric & Writing and Government. She is licensed to practice law in Texas.

Maira Herrera

Social Services Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

Julio Irizarry

Temporary Staff Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Hillary Larsen

Supervising Attorney – Detained Program

Hillary graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Geography. Shortly thereafter, she pursued her law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. During law school she interned with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and the Northwest Justice Project. Hillary began her immigration legal career representing adults in family petitions, bonds, and removal defense. She was later hired by Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston to represent unaccompanied immigrant children in removal proceedings. Hillary worked with children who feared return to their country due to violence, children that had suffered trauma, and child trafficking victims. She has experience representing clients before the immigration court, USCIS, consular officials, and law enforcement agencies. Hillary is licensed to practice law in Texas and is fluent in Spanish.

Lauren Leal

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Lauren Leal was born and raised in Port Lavaca, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 and her Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2015. While studying law she worked as a student attorney and research assistant for the St. Mary’s Center For Legal and Social Justice’s Civil Justice Clinic where she represented low-income clients in various areas of the law with a focus on Social Security Disability cases. Upon Graduating, Lauren began her legal career working at Heard and Smith LLP a Social Security Disability firm helping those in need receive the benefits they are entitled to by going before an Administrative Law Judge. After that time, Lauren took a position at Catholic Charities San Antonio – Caritas Legal Services where she worked under a grant to provide legal services to victims of domestic violence seeking protective orders and expanded her experience in State court working on various civil suits. Lauren is passionate in helping the marginalized and oppressed seek justice. Lauren is licensed to practice law in Texas.

Yvonne Licht

Direct Representation Attorney

Yvonne was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Her parents, from Puerto Rico and Poland, raised her in Puerto Rico until she moved to the United States in 2011. She has 23 years of experience as an attorney in different fields of law. While in Puerto Rico, she led a successful private practice for about 10 years, in the areas of Family, Business and Labor Law. At the top of her career, before leaving Puerto Rico, she served as a Judge in Labor Law related proceedings. Yvonne started to practice Immigration Law as a Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston by representing unaccompanied children facing removal proceedings, while detained in shelters, under the Foster Care Program and those who were released in Houston. At Catholic Charities, she also worked for the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) by conducting legal orientations at the Houston Immigration Court for children and sponsors that were facing removal proceedings without an attorney. Prior to working at KIND, Yvonne worked as an attorney in private practice, representing children and adult clients before Family Court, Houston Immigration Court and USCIS’ office. There, she focused on removal defense representing clients pursuing several forms of immigration relief. Yvonne’s passion, as an attorney, is to fight for justice and fairness on behalf of her clients. She is licensed to practice law in the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, The Texas State Bar, The United States District Court for the Judicial District of Puerto Rico and The United States Court of Appeals for The First Circuit. On her free time, Yvonne enjoys to spend time with her family, go biking and listen to music.

Maria Fernanda Loza

Staff Attorney – Detained Program

Bio coming soon.

Gerard Lynch

Direct Representation Attorney

Gerard is a native and citizen of Texas who received his Bachelor in Arts in Latin American Studies and his Juris Doctor from the University of Texas – Austin. While in law school, he acted as a student attorney in the Immigration Clinic and the Transnational Worker’s Rights Clinic. Prior to joining KIND, Gerard Lynch worked with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston providing representation to detained and released unaccompanied children.

Monica Myint

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Johanly Nazario

Direct Representation Attorney

bio coming soon

Kathia Rodriguez – Neufeld

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

bio coming soon

Natalia Palomino

Program Assistant

Natalia is a first-gen Chicana from Northern California and thanks to her persistent parents, she is bilingual in Spanish. Before joining KIND’s Houston office, she resided in WA State and graduated from The Evergreen State College with an emphasis in Cultural Studies. She has several years of experience working in the violence prevention field, as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. As a teacher and coordinator of an English Language Learner’s program in WA State, she decided once in Texas, she’d return to working with the immigrant community. She’s very happy to have landed at KIND’s Houston office!

Carmen Portillo

Direct Representation Attorney

Carmen is a native Houstonian and first generation Latino American. From a very young age, her mother instilled in her the importance of obtaining an education, so she set her eyes on achieving the highest level education she could possibly obtain. Carmen graduated from Houston Baptist University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry-Molecular Biology and Chemistry. After graduating, she worked as a data collector for the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. During her time at UT Health, she realized that there was a great need for legal representation in the Latino community, so she decided to attend law school.  Carmen graduated magna cum laude from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. During law school, she participated in Mock Trial and served as a board member in the Hispanic Law Student Association. She also interned for the Innocence Project, TMSL Criminal Law Clinic and clerked for a local immigration firm in Houston.

Angelica Rodriguez

Program Assistant – Detained Program

bio coming soon

Carolina Rodriguez

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

Carolina was born in Lima, Peru and raised in McAllen, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from Baylor University and her law degree from Creighton University School of Law. After graduation, she began her career in San Francisco, California representing adult clients in front of the San Francisco Immigration Court and USCIS office. She focused on removal defense representing clients in family petitions, U visas, asylum and withholding of removal, cancellation of removal, bond hearings, and other forms of immigration relief. In 2014, Carolina moved back to Texas to represent unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. Prior to joining KIND, she represented both detained and released unaccompanied children as a Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Carolina is licensed to practice law in Texas and Iowa and is fluent in Spanish.

Stephanie Romero

Paralegal – Detained Program

Bio coming soon.

Gloria Ubaldo

Interim Supervising Attorney

bio coming soon.

Los Angeles Office

Veronica Jeffers

Managing Attorney

Veronica is a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Law School. As a law student, she was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and interned at Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services, representing low income clients in landlord-tenant, family and immigration matters. Veronica, a former law clerk to Judge Eden E. Hifo (ret), 5th Cir. in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been practicing in the field of Immigration and Nationality Law exclusively since 1989.  Now based in Los Angeles, she has worked for law firms in Tokyo, Japan, as well as in Phoenix, Chicago and L.A.  She has been a member of the adjunct faculty at Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles since 2001, teaching classes on immigration law; and, is a co-author of “Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies”, an immigration law text book used by law schools across the country. Before joining KIND, Veronica was a volunteer attorney for the organization.

Maria Cobian Alvarado


Maria graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of San Diego in 2001. Maria was then hired by the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), where she assisted the Women’s Economic Justice Project and local living wage campaigns involving broad based coalitions including labor, community based organizations, interfaith leaders, and public officials. Maria also volunteered as the campaign manager for the first Latina to be elected to the Port Hueneme City Council. As a result of her volunteer election campaign work, Maria was recruited as the District Office Caseworker for Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA 23rd) where she not only worked to resolve concerns from the district’s constituents but also assisted with some district representative responsibilities. Maria’s caseload involved primarily the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2005, Maria joined the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman as a paralegal. She assisted with family and employment based cases, including applications for Naturalization, Naturalization of Members of the Military, Freedom of Information Requests from multiple agencies, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and pro-bono cases. Maria continued her studies at California State University Long Beach and graduated with a Master of Public Administration in Urban Affairs in 2010. In addition, she also obtained a certificate in Employer-Employee Relations and Personnel Management. Maria is a member of several professional affiliations including: The Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, The Phi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society, Future Leaders of America Alumni Association, and the Ventura County Leadership Academy Alumni.

Erica Ascencio

Direct Representation Attorney

Erica Ascencio is a member of the State Bar of California and currently serves as a Direct Representation Attorney at Kids in Need of Defense. Prior to joining KIND, Erica was a Staff Attorney in the Children’s Representation Project at Immigrant Defenders Law Center, where she represented in unaccompanied minors. Erica received her J.D. from Loyola Law School with a double concentration in Immigrant Advocacy and Public Interest Law and her B.A. from University of California, Irvine. While in law school, Erica was a Clinical Student in the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, where she represented survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She has also interned at Public Counsel in the Homelessness Prevention Project and at National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Erica is excited to provide pro-bono direct representation services to the immigrant community.

Vanessa Contreras

Program Assistant

Vanessa Contreras is a Program Assistant at the KIND Los Angeles office. Vanessa graduated from California State University Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science: Public Administration. Before working at KIND, Vanessa was an intern at Inland Empire Utilities Agency where she assisted the Water Use Efficiency Rebate Programs in performing inspections, collecting data,and creating early reports.

Alexander Cooper

Direct Representation Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Stephanie Delgado

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

Stephanie is the proud daughter of hardworking Mexican immigrants, and a native of Los Angeles.  She graduated cum laude from Harvard College with a B.A. in Government, focusing her honor’s thesis on the relationship between the Mexican government and Mexican immigrants in the U.S.  While at Harvard, Stephanie was on the board of Harvard College Act on a DREAM, and interned at the National Immigration Law Center.  Upon graduation, Stephanie was awarded the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellowship to work at an NGO in Mexico City.  Stephanie then received her J.D. from Cornell Law School, where she was an Acquisitions Editor for Cornell Law Journal of Law and Public Policy, and participated in the Labor Law and LGBTQ Rights Clinics.  While in law school, Stephanie interned for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California Immigrant Rights Project and externed full time for the Honorable Susan Oki Mollway in the District of Hawaii.  After graduation, Stephanie clerked for the Honorable Michael Wilner in the Central District of California.  Stephanie went on to work at a labor law firm, and at Immigrant Defenders Law Center.  Stephanie is now a Direct Representation Attorney at KIND where she represents unaccompanied immigrant children in removal proceedings.  When she is not advocating on her clients’ behalf, you can catch her playing soccer in one of several competitive women’s soccer leagues or hanging out with her rescued bull terrier, Chapulín.

Iris Franco

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Iris, is a member of the State Bar of California and a graduate of University of California, Irvine and Western State College of Law, Fullerton.  During law school, Iris had the opportunity to participate in the Western State Immigration Clinic and helped serve socioeconomically underprivileged clients with various applications including U-Visas, DACAs, Adjustment of Status, Affirmative Asylum and a SIJS petition. As part of the Advanced Immigration Clinic, Iris also participated in the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) through Public Counsel and Public Law Center at the James A. Musiak Facility and helped screen detainees for possible immigration relief. At graduation, Iris was also one of two inaugural recipients of the Western State College of Law Immigration Certificate. Iris’ passion for immigration law stems from her family’s immigration history and her understanding on how obtaining legal status can positively change a person’s trajectory in life. In 2014, during her last semester of law school, Iris volunteered at KIND and became passionate about helping unaccompanied minors.  After law school,  Iris continued to volunteer at KIND while also working at a private immigration law office concentrating on family based immigration matters,  U-visas, DACAs,  Adjustment of Status petitions, I-601A Waivers and Naturalization. Iris’ dedication to KIND resulted in her becoming part of the KIND Los Angeles team in early 2015. Iris is excited and looks forward to helping contribute to their great work.

Michael Hagerty

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Michael is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he received his J.D. cum laude in 2013. As a law student, Michael first became interested in immigration as a summer research assistant for Notre Dame professor Paolo G. Carozza and the Notre Dame Program on Law and Human Development. The results of his research on law and human migration through the Arizona Borderlands were published by the University of Notre Dame in 2012. He subsequently worked as an extern with the National Immigrant Justice Center, based in Chicago, where he gained valuable experience in refugee law, asylum, U-Visas, and adjustment of status. He worked for two semesters as an intern with the University of Notre Dame Clinical Law Center, where he was a member of the Economic Justice Clinic representing victims of predatory lending, foreclosure, and unfair debt collection in South Bend, Indiana.

Michael returned to his native Los Angeles to begin his legal career as a Thomas L. Shaffer Fellow with Public Counsel Law Center. His work as a fellow centered on assisting undocumented children in immigration court and before USCIS. As such, Michael assisted countless young people in applying for immigration relief via DACA and SIJS.  Upon completion of his fellowship he remained at Public Counsel as a Staff Attorney until coming to KIND in April 2016. Since becoming a member of the California Bar in December 2013 he has focused his practice on the representation of children in immigration matters. He has extensive experience representing immigrant children in Immigration, Probate, Family, and Juvenile Delinquency Courts all across California. His current practice centers on the representation of Unaccompanied Alien Children.

Marabi Madrigal

Data Manager

Marabi graduated from Boston University with a degree in International Relations and Spanish Language and Literature. Early in her undergraduate career, she worked as a translator for Boston University School of Law’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, where she assisted in the adjudication of immigration cases of children and other members of vulnerable populations. This ignited in her a passion for the protection of immigrant rights and led her to work as a tutor with the Intergenerational Literacy Program in Chelsea, MA. There, she assisted adults seeking to obtain high-school equivalency certification and improve their English language acquisition. This experience in English education allowed her to intern at Fundación ACOBE in Madrid, Spain, where she gave supplementary English lessons to children, most of whom had recently emigrated from Bolivia to Spain. At Fundación ACOBE she also provided guidance to clients regarding social services available to immigrants in the Community of Madrid in order to assist them on their path toward social integration. Working with KIND has reaffirmed her commitment and desire to work to support the empowerment of vulnerable populations and she is excited to continue working for the protection of immigrant children with the rest of KIND’s dedicated staff.

Jossiel Moreira

Staff Attorney

Jossiel Moreira is a cum laude graduate of Chapman University in Orange, CA where he majored in Legal Studies. He received his J.D. (magna cum laude) from Western State College of Law (WSCL) in Fullerton, CA.  At WSCL, Jossiel participated in the WSCL Immigration Clinic and Advanced Immigration Clinic, where he developed his passion for helping indigent immigrant clients in need of legal assistance. At the clinic, Jossiel helped clients prepare U-Visas, Asylum applications, and for bond hearings. After graduation, Jossiel volunteered at the Public Law Center, conducting intake interviews with immigrants detained in the Santa Ana City Jail and helping clients with their immigration cases. Jossiel later moved to South Texas to work as a Child Advocate for unaccompanied immigrant children.  As a Child Advocate, Jossiel represented the best interests of children with exceptionally vulnerable backgrounds, advocating for them in removal proceedings, preparing applications for legal relief and working with children who had been detained reunite with their families. Jossiel joined KIND in 2015 as one of the first Direct Representation Attorneys with the organization. He now holds the position of Staff Attorney, leading the Los Angeles Justice Fund program at KIND’s Los Angeles office. Jossiel continues to advocate on behalf of immigrant children in need and to mentor volunteer attorneys interested in giving back to those in the community.

Sofi Koivula


Sofi Koivula is a native of Finland, fluent in Swedish, Finnish, English, Spanish and French. She has been committed to working with refugee communities throughout her career. After graduating from the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, with a minor in Latin American studies, Sofi completed an international program in Human Rights and International Law in French at the Universite de Louvain la Neuve in Belgium. Sofi is also a founding board member of Vilda Forlag, a Finnish-Swedish publishing network, and a cofounder of Xenos, a volunteer organization that works with welcoming and integrating refugees into Finnish society. In the U.S., Sofi was a member of the Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service’s steering committee for the Housing and Protection Community of Practice (HaPCoP). After volunteering as an interpreter for KIND, Sofi joined the organization as a Program Assistant. She now holds the position of Paralegal, accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to appear before the Department of Homeland Securities. Recently, Sofi completed the LAPD Community Police Academy program. This program provides community members with an inside look at the Police department and its operations; the goal of this program is to encourage lasting partnerships between the Department and members of the community, designed to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods. Sofi completed this program with the Rampart Division, where many KIND clients and their families are located.

Shino Komine

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Shino Komine holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law where she received her J.D. degree in 2001. Originally a litigation attorney, Shino has over 10 years of experience in immigration law. Immediately prior to joining Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Shino worked at Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in Los Angeles, California, where she represented unaccompanied minors and other individuals in removal proceedings and in filing of various reliefs and applications including asylum, TPS, DACA, U-Visa, NACARA, family petitions, naturalization, 601A waivers, adjustment of status, and consular processing, among others. Shino also worked as an associate at a private immigration firm for eight years. Prior to dedicating her career to immigration law, Shino worked as a litigation attorney at Arnold & Porter. During her time in private practice, Shino actively engaged in pro bono practice and represented indigent clients in removal proceedings. At KIND, Shino works with pro bono attorneys representing unaccompanied minors from Central America in Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status matters before the state and immigration courts. Shino speaks Japanese and Spanish and is a mother of two teenage boys.

Amy Woo Lee

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Amy Woo Lee has been a public interest attorney for more than 10 years. Prior to joining Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), she was a Senior Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, where she represented survivors of domestic violence in family and immigration law cases. Amy was also a Staff Attorney and Fellow at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice.  Amy has degrees in Psychology and Spanish from UCLA and her law degree from Loyola Law School.  At KIND, she works with pro bono attorneys representing unaccompanied minors from Central America in Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status matters before the state and immigration courts. Amy speaks Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

Christina Ontiveros

Staff Attorney

bio coming soon

Gabriel Orea

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

bio coming soon

Christopher Peterson

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Christopher Peterson is a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, who began his lawyering life as a staff attorney at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) located in Los Angeles. At CARECEN, he dedicated himself to representing unaccompanied minors in both the affirmative and removal settings, specializing in humanitarian forms of relief. Additionally, as part of CARECEN’s Deportation Defense Unit, he took on adult cases and has volunteered serving migrants in transit at the San Ysidro-Tijuana border. Prior to joining CARECEN, Christopher dedicated his law school career to advocating for the immigrant community. Christopher was an active participant in Loyola’s Immigrant Justice Clinic, and while a student, represented a variety of clients seeking relief that ranged from naturalization to survivor-based visas; traveled to El Paso, Texas to represent migrants in removal proceedings; and engaged in local advocacy efforts with the Urban Peace Institute, where he explored ways to mitigate the immigration consequences caused by the indiscriminate use of gang databases. Christopher’s passion to serve the immigrant community arose from his experience growing up in the diverse community of Los Angeles. In his free time, he enjoys soccer and poetry.

Andrea Pinango

UCI Law Fellow 

bio coming soon

Alejandra Quintero

Social Services Coordinator

bio coming soon

Xavier Rosas

Senior Staff Attorney

Xavier Rosas was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA to two immigrant parents from Mexico. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in Anthropology and received his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law graduating with honors. In over ten years of private practice before joining KIND he represented immigrants from many countries and in Removal Proceedings in several states including California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Illinois and Michigan. Xavier’s practice has included advising on immigration consequences of criminal pleas, post-conviction, asylum, family based immigration, SIJS, DACA, and transgender name changes to State Habeas Corpus petitions for incarcerated women who retaliated against their batterers. He has been published in three different matters at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Board of Immigration Appeals and has experience in over a dozen District Court filings and close to a hundred Petitions for Review. Xavier also served in an advisory position in drafting several California State laws that protect vulnerable children and help the immigrant community. He is currently admitted in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Central District of California and Eastern District of California. He helps raise awareness for homeless youth in Boyle Heights and collects Skateboards when he is not chasing after his toddler. Xavier’s work focuses on Direct Representation of Unaccompanied Children full-time and Special Projects part-time.

Carlos Suarez


bio coming soon

Melissa Topete

Program Assistant

bio coming soon

Kari White

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Kari comes to KIND from The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland where she acted as Supervising Attorney of the Intake & Volunteer Lawyers Program since 2012.  There she recruited, trained, and mentored volunteer attorneys and managed various pro bono projects for the organization.  Kari started at Legal Aid in 2009 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, managing a project for the holistic representation of immigrant survivors of violence and representing clients in both family law and immigration matters.  She obtained her law degree from Case Western Reserve University, where she graduated Cum Laude and acted as the Executive Articles Editor of the Law Review.  During her second year of law school, she clerked at the Cleveland Immigration Court.  Kari received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and obtained a Masters in Human Rights from the University of Manchester.

Newark Office

Carrey Wong

Managing Attorney

Carrey Wong is the Managing Attorney for KIND’s Newark NJ office. Prior to joining KIND in September 2016, she was the Assistant Director of Client Services at the New York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC) where she oversaw NYAWC’s legal department, anti-human trafficking program, sexual violence program, as well as the agency’s work in outreach, workforce development and language access.  Carrey also worked as NYAWC’s Legal Services Manager, primarily focused on providing immigration legal representation and legal referrals for the Center’s clients.

After law school, Carrey was a Staff Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) for seven years.  She started her work there in family law and immigration law, representing low income clients who were mostly monolingual domestic violence survivors.  She was also  selected as co-chair of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Domestic Violence Task Force, a collaboration of legal, political, social services, law enforcement, and shelter organizations.  While Carrey was with NLSLA, she also worked at their courthouse Self-Help Legal Access Center in Pasadena, and created the first Mandarin divorce workshop series.

Carrey’s legal professional experience began with clerkships at the Asian Law Caucus, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Los Angeles Superior Court for Judge Teresa Sanchez-Gordon.  She received her J.D. from UC Hastings in 2005, graduating in the top third of her class with a concentration in civil litigation and a Public Interest Law Certificate from the Public Interest Clearinghouse.  She is admitted to practice law in California and New York.  Carrey is fluent is Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese.

Kyle Bienvenu

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Kyle is dedicated to helping some of the most blameless members of society achieve a measure of safety and stability here in the United States. Since joining KIND in January 2017, Kyle has won asylum for several young clients, and has developed significant expertise practicing at the Newark Asylum Office, as well as the Newark Immigration Court and family courts throughout New Jersey, both as a direct representative and in a mentoring role to pro bono attorneys. Prior to KIND, Kyle worked as a corporate contract attorney in New York City for a variety of law firms, including Cleary, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Paul Weiss. Before that, he worked at an investment company, and taught a survey course of American law at a community college. Kyle learned Spanish in Madrid – he received an advanced certification in Spanish language and culture from Universidad Nebrija there after college – and he enjoys using his Spanish every day. Kyle earned his BA, cum laude, in English literature from Louisiana State University in 2003, and his JD from Tulane University in 2008. He is admitted to practice law in the state of New York.

Amelia Biramian

Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellow

Amelia is an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Microsoft and Reed Smith LLP, and will provide direct representation to children in immigration proceedings. During her fellowship term, Amelia will also conduct outreach targeting the unique healthcare and social service needs of immigrant children. Prior to joining KIND, Amelia served as a judicial law clerk in the New Jersey Superior Court – Family Part. Amelia graduated from Rutgers Law School in 2018 where she was an Immigrant Justice Fellow, worked in the Immigrant Justice Clinic, and interned at HIAS Pennsylvania, Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. Before law school, Amelia studied social work and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a health clinic in Washington, DC. Amelia is admitted to practice law in New Jersey.

Gilda Holguin

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Gilda began her legal career as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow with KIND in 2015, representing unaccompanied minor children before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the United States Citizenship and Immigration service. She is thrilled and honored to continue KIND’s work to make sure children have legal representation in immigration proceedings as a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney in the Newark office. Prior to her work with KIND, Gilda participated in the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law’s Immigration Justice Clinic, where she advocated for her client in his removal proceedings before the Immigration Court. Gilda also interned at the Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project and the New York Immigration Court during law school.  Gilda received her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in June 2015 and her B.A. in psychology from Rutgers University in May 2012. She is licensed to practice law in the states of New Jersey and New York and is fluent in Spanish.

Stephen Guzman


Stephen Guzman served as KIND’s Program Assistant for two years before transitioning to Paralegal. As a Program Assistant, Stephen conducted “Know Your Rights” presentations and intake interviews for children referred to KIND in New Jersey, including families that were separated at the border. He also assisted the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorneys in working with KIND’s network of pro bono attorneys. In his current role as a Paralegal, Stephen will work directly with KIND’s attorneys – both in-house and pro bono – in the duration of their cases.  Prior to joining KIND, Stephen was a part of the Lives in Translation program, an undergraduate interpreting and translating program in affiliation with Rutgers Law. He has also interned at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and Senator Cory Booker’s office, all located in Newark. Stephen also served as an intern at KIND during his undergraduate studies.  Stephen received his B.A. in political science from Rutgers University – Newark in May 2017. He is fluent in Spanish.

Vanessa Lucas

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Vanessa Lucas joined the KIND Newark office in 2016 having previously worked with KIND as a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney in the New York office.  She is a former Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law.  Vanessa supervised the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s and Children and Family Justice Center’s Immigration practice focusing on legal representation for women, children and adolescents seeking refuge in the U.S. Prior to her tenure at Northwestern, she worked as a Staff Attorney at the Association of the Bar of the City of NY, coordinating pro bono services for the Cancer Advocacy and Elder Law Programs.  She began her legal career as a Litigation Associate at Proskauer in New York.  Vanessa also served as Vice President of the Advisory Board of Directors of the Young Center for Immigrant and Refugee Children in Chicago.  She received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.  She is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  She is admitted to practice law in New York and Illinois.

Magdiel Solis

Program Assistant

Magdiel Solis joined KIND in August 2019 as a Program Assistant. Prior to joining KIND, Magdiel worked as a Managing Director for Cresthaven Academy Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides access to higher education to low-income family children. He is a certified Spanish interpreter who has worked in front of various tribunals in New Jersey. Magdiel received his B.A. in Linguistics from Rutgers University – New Brunswick in May 2018. He is fluent in three languages and is also is a Public Notary.

Emily Niemel

Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellow 

Emily Niemel joins KIND’s Newark office as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow. During her undergraduate career, Emily augmented her interest in immigration law by studying, traveling, and volunteering in Latin America where she witnessed firsthand the desperate situations that often force immigrants to flee their home countries. Because of these experiences, she developed a profound commitment to helping immigrants obtain legal status in the U.S. and ensuring their fair treatment under the law. Through working with the American Bar Association’s ProBAR Children’s Project in Harlingen, TX, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Seattle, WA, and Catholic Charities Immigration Service in Cleveland, OH, Emily gained extensive experience representing unaccompanied minors, asylum-seekers, victims of crimes, and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She obtained her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 2018 and received the Jacob Hecht Pro Bono Graduating Student of the Year Award for completing over 1,000 hours of pro bono legal services to immigrants. Emily earned a B.A. in both History and Spanish from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2015.

Yohana Valdez Toff

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Yohana joined KIND as a Direct Representation Attorney /Microsoft Fellow after initially volunteering with the organization. Due to her expertise, she was promoted to a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney in August 2018 to use her skills and experience to guide pro bono attorneys working with KIND’s Newark office.  In the past, Yohana’s advocacy on behalf of vulnerable communities has led her to work with such organizations as the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project in Boston, Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland CA, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Los Angeles (CHIRLA). Yohana has also worked on various projects where she developed legal strategies for addressing unsafe work environments for immigrant industrial workers; supported policy advocacy by recording stories of immigrants adversely impacted by the “Secure Communities” program; and fought wage theft through education and legal remedies. Prior to working at KIND, Yohana consulted for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice on statewide provision of services for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other administrative relief. Yohana received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, M.A. in Francophone Studies from UCLA, and B.A. in French from the University of Kentucky. She is fluent in Spanish and French.

Lizbeth Veliz

Social Services Coordinator 

Lizbeth is a licensed professional counselor in New Jersey with a Masters in Marriage and Family therapy.  With almost 10 years in the social service field, Lizbeth has always worked with youth and their families by other providing case management services to help underserved families in crisis as well as managing and providing trauma-informed therapeutic services to youth in residential facilities.  Lizbeth was born in Peru but raised most of her life in New Jersey.  Lizbeth understands there are many challenges that migrant families may face when entering a new country such as not knowing the language, and not knowing where to look for services, and the adjustment to a new culture.  Lizbeth is eager to assist KIND families in finding resources in their community to obtain the necessary and appropriate services they may need.

New York City Office

Elisa Gahng

Managing Attorney

Elisa Gahng is the Managing Attorney at KIND’s New York office.  Prior to joining KIND in July 2017, Ms. Gahng served as the Assistant General Counsel at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), where she oversaw much of the office’s federal immigration law and policy docket, with an emphasis on increasing access to justice to particularly vulnerable immigrant populations in New York City including refugees, asylees, DACA-holders, individuals with Temporary Protected Status, and immigrant victims of crime.  Prior to MOIA, Ms. Gahng served as a Staff Attorney at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, where she represented individuals before the immigration court and USCIS.  Her previous experience includes work at the Women’s Refugee Commission, the International Organization of Migration, and the U.S. Department of Justice Headquarters Immigration Court.  Ms. Gahng received her JD from Georgetown University Law Center and her BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Andrea Acosta


Andrea Acosta is a paralegal at KIND’s New York field office. Prior to joining KIND, worked in the Children’s Legal Program at Americans for Immigrants Justice in Miami, FL. There, she worked with detained minors in permanent and emergency shelters. Andrea became interested in working with unaccompanied minors after interning at the Organization of American States, where she was able to attend conferences that dealt directly with these issues. She graduated from Florida International University in Miami, FL in 2014 with a BA in International Relations and a minor in French. Andrea was born in Venezuela but immigrated to the US at the age of twelve, so she understands the difficulties of moving to a new country.

Erika Arce-Romero

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Erika previously joined KIND as the Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow and is now Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney. Erika’s interest in advocating for immigrants’ rights began when she learned that her mother came to the United States from El Salvador alone as a teenager with the hopes of finding a better life for herself and her future children. Erika previously volunteered for The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Right, where she frequently visited immigrant juveniles at detention centers and then later interned at Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. At CAIR, Erika advocated for detained immigrants in removal proceedings. Erika also participated in Georgetown University Law School’s asylum clinic, where she represented her client in removal proceedings before immigration court. Erika is excited to be part of the KIND New York team, where she represents children who seek refuge in the United States. Erika received her JD and Graduate Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University Law Center and her BA from Concord University, West Virginia.

Joseant Cardoso-Rojo

Senior Attorney 

Josie Cardoso-Rojo is an immigration attorney who has focused on all aspects of removal/deportation defense with an emphasis on asylum law. Prior to joining KIND, she was a staff attorney at Human Rights First, where she mentored over 200 cases involving asylum, adjustment of status, TPS, cancellation of removal, and SIJS. Before Human Rights First, she was a solo practicing attorney focusing on removal defense, as well as family-based and employment-based immigration. She graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2014, and is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Josie currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her four yorkies.

Andrea Camacho

Temporary Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Emmanuel Charles

Temporary Paralegal

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Lynda Cruz

Paralegal –

Bio coming soon.

Clare Deck

Paralegal – Detained Program

Clare was born and raised in Oakland, California. She attended Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, where she studied English and International Studies. For her senior thesis, she examined the responses of the United States’ government to large scale influxes of immigrants seeking protection within its borders. After graduation, she moved to Austin, Texas for two years and worked at Posada Esperanza of Casa Marianella, a homeless shelter dedicated to providing a safe space and supportive services to immigrant women and children. Upon moving back to New York City, Clare worked as a Legal Assistant at Her Justice, an organization offering free legal services to low income women in the areas of family, matrimonial, and immigration law. Clare is excited to be at KIND as a Paralegal in the Detained Program to continue to expand her knowledge of the immigration system so she can better serve as an advocate for immigrants.

Katherine DiCaprio


Bio coming soon.

Ana Puente Flores


Bio coming soon.

Melissa Forrero

Social Services Coordinator

At the age of 9 years old, Melissa, along with her mother and younger brother, relocated to the United States from their native country, Colombia. Although young, Melissa recognized how much easier and useful it would have been for her, and her family, to transition into the US if the appropriate resources and services had been available. Fueled by this experience, Melissa has been actively involved in numerous projects serving vulnerable populations. At The College of New Jersey, she taught English to undocumented immigrants and provided them with tools and resources on how to improve their life style, and volunteered with a group of autistic adults and at a state prison. Immediately after graduation, Melissa became a corps member for Teach for America and taught Spanish for 2 years in Detroit, Michigan. This impactful experience, undoubtedly, confirmed her passion and commitment towards empowering marginalized populations. After Teach for America, Melissa received her master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis. Melissa could not be more thrilled to be working with KIND as a social service coordinator, and is looking forward to helping her team grow in order to provide clients with opportunities, and long-lasting positive changes.

Mikaela Harris

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Victoria Hernandez-Tufino


Bio coming soon.

Sara Joshi

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Sara Anoushirvani Joshi is the Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at KIND’s New York office. Prior to joining KIND in January 2019, Sara practiced as a Staff Attorney in the Immigration Protection Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). At NYLAG, Sara represented clients in a variety of immigration matters including asylum, removal defense litigation, family-based petitions, adjustment of status, temporary protected status, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions, U visa petitions, and naturalization. Prior to NYLAG, Sara practiced as an attorney at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett LLP. Sara is a graduate of Pace Law School, cum laude, and the University of Oregon. Sara also completed an LL.M., with Merit (Honors), and earned a Certificate in Public International Law and Human Rights, from University College London. Sara is an active member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is admitted to practice in New York.

Norma Juarez

Program Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

Maia Kirch

Part-time Paralegal

Having emigrated from Argentina as a child, Maia knows many of the difficulties that come with adapting to a new cultural and legal environment at a young age. Her experience led her to become an avid activist for the overall assistance of immigrants, especially minors. Prior to KIND, Maia pursued this passion by becoming the Refugee Tutoring Coordinator at the East Central Illinois’ Refugee Center, where she would spend a year implementing an educational plan to support the academic success of 32 refugee children. She additionally took over the Parenting and Child Services Intern position at Courage Connection’s Domestic Violence Shelter, where she gained experience working with children who had lived through traumatic events. Most recently, Maia interned for the Colombia Program at the Washington Office for Latin America, an opportunity that greatly expanded her knowledge on Latin American issues. Maia graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies.

Nina McKenna


Nina McKenna is a paralegal at KIND’s New York field office. Prior to joining KIND, Nina interned with UNHCR in Washington D.C. There, she operated UNHCR’s Detention Hotline and provided information about the U.S. asylum process to detained asylum seekers all over the country. Nina also worked briefly as a Legal Assistant at Tribune Media Company in Chicago, IL. She graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 2017 with a BA in Political Science and International Development. She discovered her love for working with kids during a summer internship with UNICEF in Tunis, Tunisia where she worked with the Tunisian Ministry of Education to implement a Life Skills program in Tunisian public schools. Nina grew up in Chicago, IL with a French mother and Irish father, and she still remembers attending their naturalization ceremony when she was just 6 years old. She hopes to pursue a law degree in the future.

Gabriela Mendez

Staff Attorney – Detained

Bio coming soon.

Cinderelle Mensah


Cinderelle Mensah is a paralegal at KIND’s New York office.  She has always loved working with immigrant and minority populations. Prior to joining KIND, she provided legal information and legal orientation to immigrants and unaccompanied minors through the New York State Immigration Hotline and Catholic Charities Community Service’s Immigration department. She has also completed paralegal internships with African Services Committee and Her Justice, two organizations that provide access to vulnerable African and Hispanic populations. The latter has allowed her to understand the struggles minority women who face domestic violence encounter in a country they know little of- and who in return knows little about them. The former has given her the opportunity to inform, guide and service vulnerable members of the African population seeking asylum in the United States. She graduated from John Jay Criminal Justice with a Bachelors Degree in Justice Studies and a minor in Paralegal Studies. She currently resides in East Elmhurst, NY and has a roommate for a cat. Ms. Mensah hopes she can become an attorney one day to participate in the emancipation of children and women rights in West Africa.

Kylie Mignat


Kylie Mignat is a paralegal at KIND’s New York field office. She attended the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where she concentrated on Latin American history, politics, and immigration. During her senior year, Kylie worked with a professor to draft expert witness reports for Central American asylum seekers and conducted research which examined the effects of media framing of undocumented immigrants on public support for American immigration policies. Kylie graduated with a BS in International Studies as well as BAs in German Cultural Studies and Hispanic Studies in 2018. Prior to joining KIND in January 2019, Kylie worked as a Bilingual Paralegal Advocate at My Sisters’ Place in White Plains, where she assisted survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking in immigration and family law matters. In addition to her position at KIND, Kylie is currently pursuing an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, where she intends to focus her research on Guatemalan immigrants.

Emily Norman

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Emily Norman is a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at KIND where she advises pro bono attorneys seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Asylum, and other forms of relief for their child clients. Previously, Emily worked for the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI), a nonprofit organization in Mexico City providing legal services to deported and returned migrant women and their children. At IMUMI, Emily represented clients applying for U Visas and VAWA petitions. She also assisted with transnational custody cases due to family separation after deportation. Before becoming an attorney, Emily taught middle school history in the Bronx. Emily is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University and the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. She is a member of the Massachusetts bar and is fluent in Spanish.

Zaida Rivera

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Zaida C. Rivera is the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney for KIND’s New York office and was previously the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, Microsoft Liaison at KIND’s Seattle office. She recruits and mentors attorneys and volunteers to represent unaccompanied children in immigration proceedings. Zaida previously served as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Attorney for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Seattle Office. Zaida was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of three. Besides practicing law and coordinating legal clinics, she is passionate about inspiring youth to pursue a higher education. Zaida currently serves on the Latino/a Bar Association of Washington board as the Director of Legal Clinics. She has been working with KIND since December of 2016.

Janna Royer

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Janna Royer is a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at KIND ‘s New York office. Prior to joining KIND in October 2019, Janna was a Staff Attorney for the Immigrant Child and Family Rights Project at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. At the Young Center, Janna served as a child advocate for detained migrant children in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Prior to the Young Center, Janna conducted research in human trafficking while pursuing her LL.M. Janna is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law, where she obtained her Juris Doctor and her LL.M in International Legal Studies with specializations in International Human Rights Law  and Gender & International Law.

Pradine Saint-Fort

Hunton Andrews Kurth Fellow

As the Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP Fellow, Pradine divides her time between clients from KIND’s New York Office and the Legal Aid Society in New York City. Her practice focuses exclusively on pro bono immigration matters, which sometimes includes a family court practice. Pradine also provides in-house support to law firm associates with pro bono cases of their own, or who are interested in working on discrete parts of cases.

Prior to joining the firm, Pradine served as an agency attorney for the New York City Police Department, where she rewrote the Department’s U certification policy to drastically minimize the backlog of requests and increase efficiency of decision-making.  The policy also includes a formal process to appeal denials—one of the first in the country. Previously, Pradine served as a senior program associate for the Vera Institute of Justice where she co-authored two national guides on policing in communities that have been historically marginalized by police or segments of society.  Pradine lives in Brooklyn and enjoys travelling and poetry.

Martin Salas

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Martin was first exposed to immigration law during law school as part of his 2L summer internship for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of the Chief Counsel, in San Diego, California. After passing the bar, he pursued a fellowship for a non-profit legal service in New York City that provides representation for low-income immigrant children as well as training and seminars for attorneys fulfilling their pro bono and CLE requirements. Among many forms of relief, Martin is proficient in asylum, VAWA and SIJS self-petitions, employment-based petitions (Hs, Ls, Os, and TN), cancellation of removal, stay of removal, requests for prosecutorial discretion and parole, as well as adjustment of status (green card) applications. He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University in 2009 and graduated from Fordham University School of Law in 2013. Martin is originally from Los Angeles and currently resides in Brooklyn.

Anupama Selvam

Staff Attorney – Detained

Anupama is a passionate human rights advocate focusing her work on and prevention of gender-based violence and vulnerable immigrant communities. Prior to coming to KIND, Ms. Selvam worked as Staff Attorney at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, where she served as child advocate for detained immigrant children in the New York City area. During her law school tenure, she worked as a student attorney for her school’s International Human Rights Law Clinic where she represented clients in removal proceedings. Prior to law school, Ms. Selvam provided legal research for Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, a rape crisis center based in Johannesburg, South Africa and legal advocacy for survivors of sexual violence at Resilience (formerly Rape Victim Advocates), Chicago’s largest rape crisis center. Her previous experience includes work at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law on civil cases seeking restitution for victims of the Holocaust, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and the National Immigration Women’s Advocacy Project. Currently, Ms. Selvam serves as co-Chair of the Immigration Law Committee for the Women’s Bar Association of New York. Ms. Selvam holds a JD from American University Washington College of Law, an MA from the American University School of International Service, and BSc from Georgetown University.

Gregory Smith

Interim Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Gregory Smith is an experienced civil litigation attorney who has provided pro bono representation throughout his career to asylum clients from the Middle East, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. He recently served as visiting clinical professor at Cardozo Law School’s human rights clinic, where he co-taught a seminar on human rights and refugee law and practice and supervised student teams in their representation of the clinic’s asylum clients.

Adrienne Yasunaga

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Adrienne Yasunaga is an experienced immigration practitioner and a former law clerk to a United States Magistrate Judge. She has over ten years of federal experience, including positions as an asylum officer and trial attorney with the Department of Homeland Security. Ms. Yasunaga served as a term and then career law clerk to the Honorable Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 2008, where she successfully represented an asylee as a member of the Safe Harbor Clinic. Ms. Yasunaga is licensed to practice law in New York.

San Francisco and Fresno Office 

Katie Annand

Managing Attorney

Katie Annand is the Managing Attorney for the San Francisco Field Office, and she also runs KIND’s satellite Fresno office.  She joined KIND in February 2016 to open both the San Francisco and Fresno offices.  Prior to joining KIND, Katie ran a successful solo practice specializing in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a form of legal relief for undocumented children abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents.  Katie served over one hundred children in her solo practice.  Katie also worked as a volunteer and staff attorney with the Immigration Center for Women and Children, where she represented clients seeking SIJS and U Nonimmigrant Status, and as an associate with Reed Smith, LLP in the commercial litigation and financial services groups.  Katie is a graduate of University of California, Hastings College of Law, and of Wesleyan University, where she majored in anthropology and received a certificate in international relations.  Katie is licensed to practice in the state of California.

Alvaro Abrego-Salazar

Direct Representation Attorney

Alvaro is a former California ChangeLawyers Legal Fellow and a Direct Representation Attorney in KIND’s Fresno office. As a Direct Representation Attorney, Alvaro provides pro bono legal representation to unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children, many of whom have been victims of persecution and violence in their home country. Alvaro first discovered his passion for social justice work while pursuing his Bachelor of the Arts at the University of North Florida. There, he worked with the University’s LGBT Resource Center to ensure the equal treatment of LGBT persons on campus and within the Jacksonville community. That passion then led Alvaro, during his law school career, to intern with various non-profit organizations such as ACCESS, Inc., the California Innocence Project, and the Casa Cornelia Law Center, providing legal services to victims of domestic violence, wrongfully convicted individuals, and victims of human and civil rights violations. After law school, Alvaro worked in the private sector as an immigration attorney, representing individuals in family-based immigration, removal defense, and post-conviction relief matters. He has been inducted into the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, the Political Science Honors Society, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, and the Pro Bono Honors Society, and is a two-time recipient of the Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services. Alvaro is admitted in the State of California and is fluent in Spanish.

Ana Moraga Archila

Senior Attorney

Ana Moraga Archila brings direct services, teaching and entrepreneurial experience to her position at KIND. Prior to KIND, Ana was at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project where she provided legal representation to unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings and detained adults found mentally incompetent to stand trial. In addition, Ana led group and individual trainings for detainees at Adelanto Detention Center for the Legal Orientation Program.

Ana’s interest in the law was awakened through her experience as co-founder of the organization MuJER- Mujeres por la Justicia, Educación y el Reconocimiento (Women for Justice Education and Awareness). Ana served as MuJER’s Executive Director for five years. She developed spaces of personal and political empowerment with Central American women sex workers and advocated for policies to end violence against women in Guatemala.

Ana’s work with MuJER was recognized by the White House in 2012; she was honored as a Champion of Change for her contributions in the development of the Americas. Ana has led workshops and spoken worldwide on non-violence against women, sex work, sexual health and reproductive rights, and women’s rights.

Ana joins KIND as a member of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative. Ana’s work is driven by her experience as an immigrant in the US and sustained by the love of her partner and family, in addition to her practice in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. Ana received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar.

Carol Bisharat

Direct Representation Attorney

Carol Bisharat is KIND’s Direct Representation Attorney for unaccompanied minors in San Francisco.  She brings a breadth of experience to her job, having worked as a deputy public defender and later as a solo practitioner focused on juvenile defense, immigration and appellate work.  What began as the focus of a master’s thesis at the University of Alcala de Henares, Spain, — the plight of unaccompanied migrant children– led her to serve on a delegation to Guatemala in 2014 investigating the condition of children, and subsequently to work at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and now KIND as part of a San Francisco grant to provide access to counsel for unaccompanied children and their families.   Carol practices in a variety of venues, primarily pursuing asylum and SIJS for her clients.  She also provides pro bono mentorship for KIND’s   San Francisco cases.  Carol is fluent in Spanish and loves to travel.

Karina Castro

Program Assistant

Karina Castro serves as a Program Assistant in KIND’s San Francisco office. She conducts intakes for children referred to KIND in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley of California. She also assists the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorneys working with KIND’s network of pro bono attorneys. Karina Castro is a Los Angeles-born scholar and educator. As the child of Central American immigrants, she was inspired at an early age by her parents’ struggles and triumphs. As an academic and advocate her interests include health care, education, the US-Mexico border and US foreign policy, issues she has been fortunate to study in San Salvador, El Salvador and Córdoba, Argentina. During her master’s program she studied in Mexico City, Mexico where she volunteered at a migrant shelter. She also participated in a course on refugee management service in Rome, Italy. Her master’s program research was based in Tijuana, Mexico and focused on how service providers responded to the Haitian refugee crisis. Karina holds degrees in Latin American and International Studies and a Masters in Migration Studies from the University of San Francisco, as well as a paralegal certificate from West Los Angeles College.

Byron Cordoba

Program Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Florencia Reyes Donohue


Florencia was born and raised in El Salvador. Prior to joining KIND, Florencia worked in a private immigration law firm in San Francisco providing assistance in cases that focused on asylum, U Visa, VAWA, DACA, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, provisional waiver applications, naturalization and family-based visas.

Florencia received a law degree in El Salvador from Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas. Florencia moved to the United States and obtained a Master of Comparative Law at California Western School of Law. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Florencia worked at the International Rescue Committee in San Diego and was a BIA accredited representative.

Cynthia Henning

Direct Representation Attorney

Cynthia Henning received her J.D. in 2013 from Georgetown University Law Center along with a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies from the Institute for the Study of International Migration at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.  Before joining KIND, Cynthia clerked for the Honorable Hiram E. Puig-Lugo, Presiding Judge of the D.C. Superior Court Family Division.  She also did pro bono work for the D.C. office of Catholic Charities, Immigration Legal Services, and the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project.  During law school, she interned with the D.C. Central American Resource Center in 2011 and the Guatemala Office for International Justice Mission in 2012.  Cynthia is fluent in Spanish.

America Hernandez

Social Services Coordinator 

America Hernandez is an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico who has spent the majority of her life in the Central Valley of California. She is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As an undocumented student with limited opportunities, she worked hard to pursue her dreams of going to college. She graduated early from high school at the age of 16 and attended Fresno State from 2000 to 2003. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Chicano and Latin American Studies and has a Minor in English and another in Spanish.

America has always been passionate about immigrant rights and social justice issues that affect minorities. She actively worked on the A.B. 540 campaign in 2001 in California that allowed for undocumented students to be able to pay in-state tuition in California, and has also been a public advocate for the Dream Act since 2004. America frequently shares her story with the media, and also with locally and nationally elected officials such as Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris in hopes of elevating support for the Dream Act and general Immigration Reform. She has also been presented with certificates of recognition by the offices of Council Members Esmeralda Soria and Oliver Baines, Congressman Jim Costa, California Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula and Senator Kamala Harris for her work in the community and her advocacy around DACA and Dreamer issues.

Presently, America works with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) as a Social Services Coordinator to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant children in the Central Valley are able to access essential services and resources, and advocating for them when needed. America is also a giving member of the Central Valley Latino Giving Circle Network, which is a philanthropist group that invests in Latino-led organizations that serve the Central Valley. She has also collaborated with other Dreamer Leaders of the Central Valley on creating opportunities for undocumented youth to be involved in the civic process, despite not being able to vote, by helping to educate and empower eligible voters.

Katherine Krassilnikoff

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Katherine Krassilnikoff is the Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at the San Francisco office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Katherine joined KIND in April 2016. Prior to joining KIND, Katherine worked as an immigration attorney providing direct representation at a Bay Area non-profit organization. Katherine’s caseload included asylum, U Visa, VAWA, DACA, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, humanitarian parole, provisional waivers, naturalization, consular processing and family-based visas. Katherine received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law where she earned a Social Justice and Public Interest Certificate. Katherine is licensed to practice in the state of California.

Elizabeth Lincoln

Equal Justice Works Fellow – Fresno

Elizabeth was born and raised in San Diego, California. She is fluent in Spanish and has been working with unaccompanied children since 2014. Elizabeth studied International Relations and Latin American Studies at Tufts University. During college, she spent a semester studying abroad in Arica, Chile. Upon graduation, Elizabeth moved to Washington, DC where she interned at the Washington Office on Latin America, and then worked as a Program Assistant in KIND’s Washington, DC office. She was very inspired by the attorneys at KIND, which led her to pursue a law degree at UC Hastings. While in law school, Elizabeth worked as a clinical student at Legal Services for Children, where she assisted in representation of unaccompanied minors in detention. She also traveled twice to Texas to volunteer with RAICES at the family detention center in Karnes. At Hastings, she served as an editor on the Constitutional Law Quarterly, and published an article on the Flores Settlement Agreement and unaccompanied children. She graduated from Hastings cum laude in Spring 2018. Elizabeth is thrilled to return to KIND as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Fresno office.

Carol Sani

Direct Representation Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Esmeralda Santos

Direct Representation Attorney

Esmeralda Santos is a direct representation attorney who has been working with children and immigrants through her legal career. Prior to joining KIND, Ms. Santos worked for Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach where she represented unaccompanied youth and families in removal proceedings. Ms. Santos also worked for the Law Offices of Jessica Bobadilla. During law school, Ms. Santos completed internships and has volunteered at organizations such Equal Rights Advocates, California Rural Legal Assistance, and the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center.  Ms. Santos is graduate of California State University, Fresno, where she majored in Philosophy and Chicano and Latin American Studies. In May 2013, she received her Juris Doctorate with a concentration on Social Justice Lawyering from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Ms. Santos currently resides in Fresno.

Andrea Swenson

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Andrea Swenson is a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at the San Francisco Office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Prior to joining KIND, Andrea worked as an Immigration Attorney for Catholic Charities in Oakland representing unaccompanied children seeking asylum and special immigrant juvenile status. Andrea also worked as a Staff Attorney with the International Institute of the Bay Area where she represented clients in a variety of matters relating to family immigration, citizenship, and humanitarian visas. Andrea is a graduate of Boston College Law School and the University of Washington. She is a member of the California bar and she speaks Spanish.

Alejandra Tovar


Alejandra Tovar is the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents.  She was raised in Mexico and attended the University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo, Faculty of Law).  After becoming a lawyer, she worked for the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in one of the Regional Offices, and, later, for a law firm.  Then, Alejandra took a position with the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento, California.  She led the Department of Civil Registry and Visas, Powers of Attorney, and Acquisition of Mexican Citizenship.  She also worked with the Protection Department, where she assisted with cases involving victims of crimes and human trafficking (VAWA and U and T visas), restitution for minors under the Hague Convention, and Mexican nationals benefitting from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In 2013, Alejandra joined the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF) as an Immigrant and ACA Fellow.  In 2014 she was promoted to the Assistant Director of the Sustainable Rural Communities Project (SRCP).  She was also a fully accredited BIA representative, and she was the coordinator of the monthly free DACA and Naturalization workshops for low income farm working families.  In addition, through CRLAF, Alejandra provided assistance to unaccompanied minors in the Central Valley. Prior to leaving CRLAF, Alejandra was named the Co-Director of SRCP. Alejandra received her B.A. in International Law.

Seattle Office

Janet Gwilym

Managing Attorney

Janet Gwilym serves as the Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Programs with KIND’s Seattle office. She moved into this position in October 2016 after serving for over three years as Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney and KIND Attorney Liaison with Microsoft, where she recruited, trained, coordinated, mentored, and co-counseled with Microsoft employees to provide pro bono representation to KIND’s clients. Before attending law school, Janet worked for fifteen years as a paralegal and program coordinator with immigration law firms and immigrant rights organizations where her caseload included asylum, VAWA, U Visas, humanitarian parole, naturalization, and family cases. She also lived in a small city in Southern China for two years, teaching English at a university to students and professors. Throughout her career, Janet has served on numerous boards and committees for immigrant and refugee rights organizations, programs serving survivors of domestic violence, and the public schools in Seattle. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Washington’s School of Law, where she discovered her passion for working in the intersection of immigration and juvenile law and especially with unaccompanied children.

Kelsey Armstrong-Hann

Staff Attorney – Detained Programs

Kelsey is a Staff Attorney at KIND’s Seattle office where she provides direct representation to detained youth in Washington. Kelsey received her J.D. from University of Washington School of Law. During law school, she interned with the Northwest Justice Project Farmworker Justice program, participated in the International Human Rights Clinic, and worked for a private immigration attorney. Prior to law school, Kelsey worked as a Caseworker with the International Rescue Committee where she provided direct services to newly resettled refugees and later as a Senior Caseworker with the Resettlement Support Center in Kenya where she conducted interviews and processed cases for refugees referred to the U.S. refugee admissions program.

Jesse Bica


Bio coming soon.

Haiyun Damon-Feng

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Haiyun received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.S. and B.A. from Purdue University, where she graduated at the top of her class in both degree programs. In law school, Haiyun was a Student Director of the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, where she represented individuals seeking asylum in the U.S., and of the Education Adequacy Project, where she worked on educational rights litigation. Haiyun continued to advocate for immigrants and children through her pro bono matters while she was an associate with the firms Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. At KIND, Haiyun splits her time between providing direct representation to unaccompanied children in their immigration proceedings and working with pro bono attorneys on such matters. Haiyun is admitted to practice law in California and New York, and she speaks Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Sarah Sarfaty Epstein

Social Services Coordinator 

Sarah joined Kids in Need of Defense in May of 2018 after previously working as a Bilingual Community Advocate for youth and young adult survivors of human trafficking in King County. In that role, Sarah was providing intensive, trauma-informed case management to clients, many of whom were unaccompanied children from Latin America. In 2015, Sarah graduated from Boston University and went on to work as an intern at the legal clinic of Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) in Mexico City. Upon moving to Seattle, Sarah worked at El Centro de la Raza in their educational programming. As the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant, Sarah holds motivation for immigration justice close to her heart.

Taylor Faranda

Staff Attorney

bio coming soon.

Rebekah Fletcher

Supervising Attorney

bio coming soon.

Elizabeth Rueda Herrera

Program Coordinator

Elizabeth joined Kids in Need of Defense as the Program Coordinator for the Seattle office in October of 2017. At KIND, Elizabeth works with detained youth in federal government custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, where she conducts “Know Your Rights” presentations and provides legal screenings and attorney support to unaccompanied children in shelters across Washington State.

Prior to working for KIND, Elizabeth worked as a Legal Assistant and Spanish interpreter for Open Door Legal Services, a legal clinic and department of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, where she assisted primarily homeless and low-income individuals in meeting their various legal needs. Elizabeth developed her interest in immigration justice in the summer of 2015, after working as a Paralegal for a firm in Oregon, representing adults in family, criminal and immigration matters, including family petitions, bonds, and removal defense.

Elizabeth graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 2015, where she received bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Theology. Elizabeth identifies as indigenous Mixteco and originates from Oaxaca, Mexico. The daughter of two immigrant parents, Elizabeth holds immigration advocacy very close to her heart, because she knows firsthand how much it meant for her and her family to have legal support when she was growing up, and how much it continues to make a difference in their lives.

Miriam Korngold

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney – Microsoft Fellow

Miriam represents unaccompanied children facing the U.S. immigration system. Her practice mainly includes asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, T visa, and U visa cases. She provides direct representation and also mentors and supervises pro bono legal teams at Microsoft, KIND’s co-founder.

Before joining KIND, Miriam owned and managed her own immigration law firm, Korngold Law, where she practiced family-based, employment-based, and humanitarian immigration law and provided pro bono legal representation to clients through the Washington Immigrant Defense Network (WIDEN) and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP). She began her legal career as a tax lawyer at Garvey Schubert Barer (now Foster Garvey); her transition into immigration law started with a pro bono asylum case at that firm. She earned her J.D. and LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Washington School of Law.

Miriam comes from a family of immigrants; her mother and all four grandparents entered the U.S. as refugees after fleeing persecution in their home countries. Her family’s history ignites her passion for immigrant rights.

Claire Looney


Bio coming soon.

Holly Miranda


Holly joined Kids in Need of Defense in January of 2017. Previously Holly served as case manager and paralegal for various immigration legal service providers in Texas and Kentucky. Holly studied social work and Spanish at the University of Kentucky.

Charity Ramsey

Staff Attorney

Charity Ramsey (or Caridad, as she is known to her clients) is a graduate of Regent University School of Law where she was awarded a World Changer Scholarship due to her commitment to social justice.  During law school she worked for a private immigration firm and interned for Jubilee Campaign where she helped secure asylum for a victim of female genital mutilation.  After graduating, she worked as a Fellow for Shared Hope International researching states’ human trafficking laws.  Since becoming an attorney she has worked primarily with low income and Hispanic populations through volunteer work with local non-profit and legal aid organizations.  Charity studied abroad in France and East Africa while completing her undergraduate degree at Evangel University.  She spent most of her childhood as an immigrant in Latin America, primarily Argentina.  The cross-cultural and language skills she developed through this experience have been invaluable in her work with unaccompanied children at KIND.

Zulma Salinas

Program Assistant 

Bio coming soon.

Melody Young

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Melody joined KIND in January of 2016 and serves as the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney for KIND’s Seattle office.  She works to connect released and detained unaccompanied minors with pro bono attorneys for legal representation. She also provides mentorship to pro bono attorneys in their legal cases with KIND.  Melody graduated from the University of Washington School of Law with a J.D. and an LL.M. in Sustainable International Development.  She was awarded the Jack McDonald Merit Award at the UW School of Law, recognizing her commitment to public service.  During law school, Melody co-founded the Immigrant Application Assistance Project (“App Help”) with Erin Apte in partnership with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.  The student-led pro bono project connected pro se detainees with volunteer legal assistance.  She continues her work in immigrant advocacy with unaccompanied minors and assists them in accessing justice and navigating cross-systems.

Washington, DC and Northern Virginia Office

Andrea Mangones

Managing Attorney 

Prior to joining KIND in September 2016 as a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, Andrea spent six years as a Litigation and Trial Associate at Latham & Watkins, LLP where she maintained an active pro bono immigration practice representing detained and non-detained clients in affirmative applications and petitions, removal proceedings, and appeals before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Immigration Courts, and the Board of Immigration Appeals.  While at Latham, Andrea served as Pro Bono Liaison to the Tahirih Justice Center where she was a full-time volunteer Immigration and Public Policy Attorney from 2009-2010.  Andrea received her J.D., summa cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law and her master’s degree in International Policy from the School of International Service in 2009.  In law school, Andrea worked as a Research Associate for the Public International Law and Policy Group and interned with Women for Women International. Prior to law school, Andrea worked at the District of Columbia’s Office of Administrative Hearings.  She holds a B.A. in International Relations from Duke University.

Laura Bluher


Prior to joining KIND, Laura was a freelance photographer and a regular volunteer with CAIR Coalition’s Detained Adult Program at Farmville Immigrant Detention Facility. She is currently a Wolcott Foundation Fellow at George Washington University, where she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in International Affairs. Focusing on Central America’s Northern Triangle region and Mexico, she specializes in migration, human security, and gender policy. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography and Imaging at New York University and minored in Latin American Studies. After completing her undergraduate studies, Laura was the Digital Media Coordinator at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU from 2012-2016. Laura is also a devoted teacher and loves working with children; she taught English at a border school in the Dominican Republic, and in New York, she taught free photography courses to NYC high school students at International Center of Photography and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After completing her Master’s program, Laura hopes to pursue a law degree to continue advocating for immigrants’ and children’s rights.

Claudia Melara Chase

Direct Representation Attorney

Prior to her current role, Claudia worked in private law firms and corporations focusing her career in real estate law and litigation.  She volunteered her time to local legal aid organizations, assisting primarily with DACA and citizenship applications.  As a direct representation attorney with KIND, Claudia dedicates her full attention to directly representing children in immigration proceedings.  Claudia earned her Juris Doctor in 2011 from the University of Maryland School of Law and earned her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Marymount University.  During law school, Claudia worked as a congressional legal fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives, where she was awarded a Certificate of Congressional Recognition.  Claudia speaks English and Spanish and is licensed to practice law in Virginia, D.C., and New Jersey. She resides in Fairfax, VA with her three children and husband.

Sarah Katz

Temporary Staff Attorney 

Bio coming soon.

Michelle Kerr


Bio coming soon.

Rebecca Niburg

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Becca spent over a decade in federal service with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security working on and adjudicating many different immigration cases and forms for relief.  In her federal role, she became a subject matter expert in human trafficking, U visas, asylum, and employment-based immigration.  She has advocated on behalf of immigrants on the County, state, and federal government levels and presented regarding human trafficking, immigration, and other topics to faith and community groups throughout Maryland.

She is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis School of Law where she also earned a Master’s in European Studies in addition to her JD and of the University of North Carolina where she majored in international studies and minored in the Russian language.  She clerked with the Hon. Ellen Hollander at the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (now with the U.S. District Court for Maryland) following law school.

Teresa Lee

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Teresa’s personal experience growing up in a heavily immigrant community surrounded by families with mixed immigration statuses motivated her to pursue a legal career advocating for society’s most vulnerable, particularly those children who cannot advocate for themselves. She now works with unaccompanied children who have been victims of severe forms of violence, including intra-family violence, community violence, sexual violence, and trafficking. Teresa is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law (WCL). At WCL, Teresa was a student attorney with the Women and the Law Clinic, where she was awarded the highest grade certification for her work with indigent clients. While in law school, she also interned with Ayuda, where she assisted in a number of unaccompanied children’s cases, KIND, where she conducted numerous intakes with unaccompanied children, and Catholic Charities’ Hogar Immigrant Services, where she was introduced to a wide variety of immigration cases. Prior to law school, Teresa graduated with honors from George Mason University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology – with a concentration in Childhood and Youth – and a minor in Spanish.

Jessalyn Schwartz

Staff Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Sofia Lorenzo

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

Sofia Lorenzo became an attorney with KIND in January 2016.  Prior to joining KIND, she worked as an immigration attorney with Northern Virginia Family Service in Falls Church, Virginia, and as a Washington College of Law-J.D. Distinguished Fellow with Ayuda in Washington, D.C.  Sofia received her J.D. in 2014 from the American University, Washington College of Law.  She received the Dean’s Award for Professional Responsibility for her work as a student attorney with the Immigrant Justice Clinic. As a law student, Sofia interned with Ayuda, the Legal Aid Justice Center, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. She received her B.A. in Latin American Studies from George Mason University in 2011.

Ingrid Rosales Zavala

Social Services Coordinator

Ingrid graduated from the University of Virginia (UVA) where she double majored in Philosophy and Foreign Affairs with an specialization in Latin America. She has been working with the migrant population in the Northern Virginia area for the last six years. She started an internship at Immigrants First where she assisted immigration attorneys with a variety of cases. Later, she joined Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington-Hogar Immigrant Services where she started as their legal assistant and end up managing their naturalization and citizenship program. While there she received her Board of Immigration Appeals partial accreditation and most of her knowledge of immigration law. Throughout her career, Ingrid has worked with different aspects of federal and state law. Ingrid is originally from Lima, Peru and is excited to continue her work with the immigrant community at KIND.

Marlena Rubenstein

Program Assistant 

Marlena Rubenstein recently graduated with honors from American University in Washington, DC with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Psychology and a minor in Spanish Language. Her senior capstone project focused on improving the educational opportunities for high school students in DC’s least advantaged Wards. She has a well-established devotion to helping improve the lives of underprivileged children, with extra-curricular and work experience focusing in educational equality for girls and children of low-income families. Previously, Marlena worked in several countries throughout Central and Latin America teaching students K-12 in both English and Spanish classes. Dividing her time between KIND’s DC and Northern Virginia field offices, Marlena is excited for the opportunity to work with and learn from the communities in the DC Metro Area. She is fluent in Spanish.

Sandra Zegarra

Direct Representation Attorney

Bio coming soon


Leadership     Partners