KIND Staff

Headquarters Team

Wendy Young

President

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

Maria Odom

Vice President for Legal Services 

Maria M. Odom recently 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, Odom 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.

Odom is a graduate of The Florida State University College of Criminology and the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. She currently supports the nonprofit sector through strategic consulting services in the areas of management and program, resource, and organizational development.

Juliann Bildhauer

Co-Director of Legal Services

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

Co-Director of Legal Services

Prior to KIND, Laurie represented asylum seekers at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2008, Laurie was selected as a fellow in the Boston Bar Association Public Interest Leadership Program, and in 2009 she received the Women of Justice award from the Women’s Bar Association. Laurie was named by Boston Magazine as the Rising Star in the Non-Profit sector in 2010 and 2013, and as a Top Women Attorney Rising Star in 2014. . 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. She earned her B.A. in literature, cum laude, from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School.

Elizabeth Badger

Senior Attorney

Elizabeth Badger has worked in immigration law for the last 10 years, predominantly in legal services focused on representing non-citizen children, asylum-seekers, victims of domestic violence and other crimes, and persons in prolonged immigration detention. She has received the National Immigration Project’s Daniel Levy Award for her work representing victims of immigration raids while at the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project, which awarded her in 2013 with its Pro Bono Mentor of the Year Award. From 2010-2013, Elizabeth taught in the Boston University School of Law’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. She has also worked extensively with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) and other members of the Massachusetts immigration community on amicus briefs and other law reform projects.

Beejay Elefante

Legal Services Technology Project Director

Bio coming soon.

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.

Priya Konings

Deputy Director of 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

bio coming soon

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.

Nirupa Narayan

Director of 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.

Cindy Liou

Deputy Director of Legal Services

Prior to joining KIND, Cindy consulted in human trafficking and domestic violence lethality issues, and was the Director of the Human Trafficking Project at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach from 2009-2014, where she practiced law and provided trainings in the areas of victims’ rights, human trafficking, domestic violence, immigration law, and family law. Cindy has also written articles and manuals, and co-counseled several civil litigation cases on behalf of human trafficking survivors, and was previously a Co-Chair of the Policy Committee of the Freedom Network to Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons (USA). She is the winner of the 2013 San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking Modern Day Abolitionist Award for Policy and Advocacy. A former associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Cindy is also a graduate of Stanford Law School and the University of Washington, where she earned her double degree in Political Science and Business Administration and a minor in Human Rights.

Stephanie Gabriela Lopez

Paralegal

Bio coming soon

Dennis Tidrington

Technology Solutions Associate – Legal Services 

Bio coming soon

Christie Turner-Herbas

Deputy Director of Legal Services

Christie was recently the Supervising Attorney for Pro Bono Programs at KIND for the Washington,DC and Virginia field office.  Previously Christie was the Supervising Attorney at Catholic Charities’ Hogar Immigrant Services in Falls Church, Virginia, where she worked for almost four years on a broad variety of family-based immigration and deportation defense matters. A 2008 honors graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Christie also spent a year as 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 working at the Federal Trade Commission on consumer protection issues. Christie holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Tufts University.

Wendy Wylegala

Deputy Director for Legal Technical Assistance

Wendy began representing unaccompanied children in immigration and family law matters on a pro bono basis as an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York, where she worked from 2000 to 2008. For her work with child clients seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, she has twice received a Pro Bono Publico Award from The Legal Aid Society of New York in 2007 and 2008. She was an intern at the International Rescue Committee in the summer of 1998 and again during 2007, and her article on asylee access to public assistance appeared in Interpreter Releases in 1999. Previously she was an Ombudsman at the Office of the New York City Public Advocate. While in law school, she was an exchange student at the University of Cape Town’s law school, and holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and an A.B. from Barnard College.

Finance and Operations

Vibha Bhatia

Vice President for Finance and Administration

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.

Nathan Blumhorst

Human Resources Associate 

bio coming soon.

Melissa Galarraga

Director of Operations & Facilities

bio coming soon.

Karla Gant

Assistant to the President & Executive Vice President

Bio coming soon.

Anthony George

Senior Director of Human Resources 

Bio coming soon.

Michelle Giezeman

Program Coordinator and Data Manager

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.

Travis Lyle

Finance & Operations Associate

Travis supports the grant management, finance, and administrative work of KIND. He graduated with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), earning a double major in International Studies as well as Religious Studies. During his senior year, Travis interned for a nonprofit that advocated for the protection of indigenous communities living in the Guatemalan Highlands. He also published and presented research that explored the intersections between transgender civil rights, criminality, and grassroots organizing in Buenos Aires, Argentina following the enactment of the country’s Gender Identity Act in 2012.

Prior to KIND, Travis worked for a DC-based nonprofit and managed the operations and disbursement of grant funds for programs that addressed the systemic inequities across race and class for students enrolled in DC Public Schools. Please to be a part of the KIND team, Travis is excited to plug into work that supports the self-determination, justice, and liberation of undocumented communities.

Ram Neupane

Staff Accountant 

Bio coming soon.


Development

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

Development Manager

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

Bio coming soon.

Megan Masterson

Development Associate 

Bio coming soon.

Policy, Advocacy, and Communications

Cory Smith

Vice President, Policy, Advocacy & Communications

Cory Smith has led policy advocacy work for nearly two decades, developing and executing strategic plans, issue plans and legislative campaigns; managing staff; fundraising; and building diverse coalitions to protect the human rights of vulnerable populations, including immigrants and refugees, as well as individual rights, and civil rights and civil liberties. Smith has advanced these rights through federal legislation, appropriations, and executive branch measures. Smith has been integral in the drafting of key pieces of legislation by building coalitions of unusual allies such as conservative faith-based organizations, civil rights groups, immigrant rights and women’s rights organizations, while working strategically with Republican and Democratic staff. .

As the Vice-President of Policy, Advocacy and Communications at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Smith is charged with creating the strategic vision and advocacy plans for the organization that builds support among policymakers, promotes the work and services of KIND to the broader community, and establishes KIND as an expert on the protection of unaccompanied minors. Smith was a key strategist in drafting and building support for “The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act,” and “the Secure the Northern Triangle Act.”

As Senior Policy Counsel for Humanity United, Smith led the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) coalition advocacy efforts both to successfully reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2013 and to secure nearly $100 million dollars in new federal funding and report language to combat modern day slavery.

As Deputy Campaign Manager for Legislative Affairs at the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Smith led a national, state, and local coalition of over 100 immigrant rights, labor, civil rights, faith-based, and community rights organizations to advance comprehensive immigration reform by seeking passage of the “Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S.1033) to final passage of S.2611 by a vote of 62-36 in the U.S. Senate.

Smith founded and has been President of Smith Strategies LLP for 7 years, and served as interim Executive Director for the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress. In both these roles, and as a Vice-President at KIND, Smith has been responsible for managing large budgets, hiring, supervising and evaluating various staff including directors, program managers and assistants and building a small business with diverse clients. Smith has also gained development experience, including grant writing and reporting and identifying and meeting with prospective donors to communicate the vision and mission of the various programs. Smith has built and executed annual budgets and has extensive experience communicating externally and internally regarding the mission and vision of the various organizations he directed. He has acted as a spokesperson for the media, spoke at external events, testified before federal and state legislatures and participated in high-level policy discussions with key policy makers and other influential stakeholders including senior staff and members of the U.S. Congress, and senior officials in the Executive branch.

In addition to his advocacy work, Smith has authored books, advocacy materials, and op-eds for major news outlets, and taught as an adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.  Active in his community, Smith has served on the boards of national and state organizations and committees.  Smith received his J.D. from the University of Oregon and is a member of the Washington State Bar.

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

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 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.

Jennifer Podkul

Director of Policy 

Jennifer Podkul is an international human rights lawyer and expert on child migration in the United States.  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 is a national expert on issues affecting immigrant children, has published articles, handbooks and reports on U.S. immigration law, and she presents regularly as an expert at various conferences, briefings, and professional trainings.  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.   She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, holds a B.A. in American Studies and Spanish 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.

Cory Shindel

Policy Associate

Bio coming soon.


Programs in Central America

Lisa Frydman

Vice President, Regional Policy and Initiatives

Lisa serves as KIND’s Director 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

Gender and Migration Initiatives Director

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.

Emily Kephart

Project Coordinator, Child Migrant Return & Reintegration Project (CMRRP) 

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.

Adriana Ysern Zarranz

Senior Attorney – Central American Family Reunification Project

Bio coming soon.


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

bio coming soon.

Kathrine Beno-Valencia

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Laura Just

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.

Ruth Blom Barkley

Paralegal

Ruth Blom Barkley has been working with Baltimore’s Latino immigrant community for almost a decade, primarily serving victims of violent crime and gender-based violence.  Ruth was the Bilingual Special Victims Advocate at the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City where she advocated on behalf of juvenile and adult survivors of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence throughout the judicial process.  In 2015, Ruth served on the Police Commissioner’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Public Safety. She received a Citation from State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for her work with Latino homicide survivors as well as a 2015 Maryland Governor’s Victim Assistance Award for Outstanding Victim Services Professional.    Prior to her position at the State’s Attorney’s Office, she worked at Adelante Familia, a grassroots program that provided wrap-around services and trauma-informed advocacy to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Rodolfo Castillo Jr.

Staff Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Lili Eskinazi

Paralegal

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

Part-time Program Assistant 

bio coming soon.

Elena Martinez Fernandez

Program Assistant 

Bio coming soon.

Cielo Fortin-Camacho

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorneys

Bio coming soon.

Laura Just

Staff Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Ilana Kramer

Direct Representation Attorney

Bio coming soon.

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.

Andres Meraz

Direct Representation Attorney

Bio coming soon.

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 

Bio coming soon

Carly Sessions

Pro Bono Coordinating 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. Carly speaks Portuguese, which she learned as a missionary living in Brazil, and some Spanish. She is barred in Maryland.

Boston Office

Marisa Howe

Managing Attorney

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.

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.

Alexandra Peredo Carroll

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Alex is a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney in KIND’s Boston Office.  Prior to joining KIND, Alex ran a solo immigration practice for five years.  A 2006 graduate of Suffolk University Law School, Alexandra has been practicing immigration law almost exclusively since 2009.  From 2009-2010 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 AILA member, serving as liaison for the Congressional Committee, National Day of Action, and UPIL committee.

Gabriella Chavez

Program Assistant

Gabriella is the proud daughter of Salvadoran and Bolivian immigrants. Originally from Orange County, California, she came to the East Coast to attend Wesleyan University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies in 2013. Afterwards she went on to complete a Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, graduating in 2017. During her graduate program, Gabriella focused on immigration. She did her field education with both Centro Presente and Harvard’s Religious Literacy Project, where she learned from and worked with the immigrant community in Boston. She also wrote her master’s thesis on Central American migration and trauma and received the Frederick Buechner Award for excellence in writing. Additionally, she has volunteered with different legal service organizations in Boston, such as Greater Boston Legal Services, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, and of course, KIND. Gabriella is excited for the opportunity to continue working with and learning from the communities in the Greater Boston Area.

Jasiel Fernandez

Social Services Coordinator

With over ten years in non-profit and human services program administration, Jasiel comes to Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) with a deeply felt passion to work on behalf of vulnerable immigrant communities.  As an immigrant raised in Massachusetts, she is well acquainted with the challenges immigrants face and the need for social justice advocacy.  She believes that the immigrant experience brings with it a certain degree of trauma, especially for children, who have a pressing need for guidance and care throughout such a vulnerable period.  She has managed direct service programs for low-income families in need of affordable housing, and most recently developed a regional teen pregnancy prevention program for youth implemented throughout several New England states.   Jasiel has substantial experience working with social justice causes, adolescent sexual and mental health issues, as well as communities of faith.  She has a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, and is pursuing a master’s in clinical counseling at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.

Emma Israel

Paralegal

Emma graduated from Bates College in 2015 with a B.A. in Politics. Her interest in Latin America began when she lived in rural Honduras during high school as a participant with Amigos de las Americas. Three years later, Emma traveled to Paraguay as a staff member Amigos de las Americas, supervising high school students on a youth leadership program. After her time in Paraguay, Emma spent four months studying politics and economics at Universidad de Santiago in Santiago, Chile. Prior to returning to Bates College for her senior year, Emma then spent six months living in Boston and working at Class Action, a nonprofit that strives to find an end to classism and end the stigma of economic disadvantage. During her senior year, Emma completed her politics thesis on the roots and development of violence in Honduras. After graduation, Emma interned at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in Washington, D.C., where she worked on their citizenship and civic engagement program and with a youth group of undocumented students. Before joining KIND in the summer of 2016, she completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps fellow at Project Citizenship, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides free legal assistance to legal permanent residents applying for citizenship.

Jessica Mols

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 Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney.  Jessica is a graduate of Scripps College and American University, Washington College of Law.

Daniela A. Peña

Paralegal

As a child to two Dominican immigrants, Daniela’s passion for immigrant rights started young as she witnessed first hand the struggles that faced those who weren’t born in America. Which is what ultimately drove her to pursue a Juris Doctor. She graduated from CUNY Queens College in 2016 with a B.A in Political Science. While at Queens, Daniela discovered her passion for community, interning with New York City council member Julissa Ferreira’s where she assisted the Council Member with her primarily Latino constituents. She attend New England Law | Boston where her interests in criminal law and immigration have been amplified. She anticipated to graduate in May of 2019 where she will then use her degree to further the rights of the immigrant community and give back to the very same place I came from.

Houston Office

Claire Doutre

Managing Attorney

Claire is originally from France and was raised in Mendoza, Argentina.  Prior to working for KIND, Claire represented detained and released unaccompanied minors with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and History from New York University.  After graduating, Claire worked for Legal Aid Society with The MICA (Mentally Ill, Chemically Addicted) Project. She then graduated from Pace Law School with a focus on International Law.  During law school, Claire worked with refugees from Northern Africa with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as an International Human Rights Fellow.  Through Pace’s Immigration Justice Clinic, she represented asylum seekers from Senegal and Eastern Europe.  Upon moving to Houston, Claire took her first pro-bono Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases and worked for a private immigration law firm, where she primarily represented immigrants in family petition cases. Claire’s hobbies are hiking in state parks, cooking and playing with her cat.

Leslie Campos

Paralegal

Bio coming soon

Ana Estrada

Paralegal

Bio coming soon

Rosalba Gallardo

Paralegal

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.

Rossana Guerra

Paralegal 

Bio coming soon.

Salma Hasan

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.

Hillary Larsen

Senior Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

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.

Jae M. Lee

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Jae is a native of South Korea who grew up in Mar del Plata, Argentina.  She passionately believes in KIND’s mission statement.  She is committed to protecting and advocating for the rights of unaccompanied children through quality pro bono representation.  She dedicates her time recruiting, training and mentoring pro bono attorneys to represent unaccompanied children before the Houston Immigration Court, Harris and Montgomery County Family and Juvenile Courts, and Houston USCIS offices.  She holds a law degrees from Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina and from Washburn Law School in Topeka, Kansas.  Before KIND, she represented unaccompanied children at Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston.  Prior to moving to Houston in 2014, she enjoyed practicing law for nineteen years, in Dodge City and Cimarron, Kansas and in Honolulu, Hawaii.   Jae’s friends say she speaks English, Spanish with a Porteño accent, Korean; but, mostly, “Jae”.

Yvonne Licht

Direct Representation Attorney

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.

Laila M. Nabi

Direct Representation Attorney

Laila has dedicated her legal career to KIND; she has served as a legal intern, paralegal, and now a Direct Representation Attorney. As a child of immigrant parents, from Jordan and Mexico, she has a passion for immigration law and advocating for vulnerable populations.  Laila also developed a desire to protect children from an early age, while living abroad in Indonesia, Argentina, and Spain. Prior to her career in the law, Laila served as a 1st grade teacher and an Assistant Director at a child advocacy organization.  During her time in law school, Laila worked for the Houston Immigration Court, UHLC’s Immigration Clinic, UHLC’s Mediation Clinic, Texas Civil Rights Project, and Tahirih Justice Center.  She received dual bachelor degrees in Corporate Communication and Hispanic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Laila completed her J.D. at the University of Houston Law Center.  She is licensed to practice in Texas and is fluent in Spanish. Most recently, Laila has spent her free time volunteering in Oaxaca, Mexico and as an appointed Guardian Ad Litem for Child Advocates.

Natalia Palomino

Program Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Carmen Portillo

AWA Fellow 

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.

Helen Rodriguez

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Helen’s passion for immigration law derived from her experience growing up on the US-Mexico border as well as from her family’s immigrant background. Prior to joining KIND, she was a staff attorney at the YMCA International Services in Houston, TX, where she represented immigrant survivors of violent crimes in VAWA, T visa and U visa proceedings. Before moving to Houston, Helen represented detained and released unaccompanied children at the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR). Helen is originally from El Paso, TX. She completed her law school education in Boston, MA at Suffolk University Law School. During that time, she participated in the Suffolk University Law School Immigration Clinic and advocated for immigrant survivors of domestic violence as an intern at non-profit organizations in Washington, DC and El Paso. Helen received dual bachelor degrees in both Spanish and Latin American Studies from Smith College in Northampton, MA. Helen is a native Spanish speaker and is licensed to practice law in Texas.

Desiree Salinas

Direct Representation Attorney 

Desiree is a native Texan and a native Houstonian. She received her Bachelor of Art degree in International Business and Spanish from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She returned to Houston to complete her law degree from South Texas College of Law. She began her career in private practice that included family law in the courts of Harris County and surrounding counties. Before joining KIND, she was a Supervising Attorney at Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston for the Unaccompanied Minor’s program.  While there she trained and mentored a team of ten attorneys and support staff. She has been representing unaccompanied minors and their families in the Houston area ever since. Desiree is licensed to practice law in Texas and is fluent in Spanish.

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.

Maritza Alva

Social Services Coordinator

Maritza was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Orange County, California. She and her family immigrated to the United States in the early 90s and since she has been raised in immigrant communities. From a young age she was exposed to a spectrum of marginalized folks and quickly began to feel empathy for the needs of communities of color. Over time this sentiment grew into a career goal in the social services field. Maritza graduated from California State University – Long Beach in 2014 where she was President of the Sociology Student Association and obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a concentration in Social Change and Global Issues and a minor in Queer Studies. During her time as a CSULB student she participated in a one year internship at the Child Abuse Service Team as a Child Advocate. Upon graduating from CSULB she volunteered as a Community Organizer and Events Coordinator for DeColores Queer Orange County, the only queer Latino organization in Orange County. In February 2016, she began her role as Social Services Coordinator at Kids in Need of Defense. In the near future, she plans on obtaining her MSW degree focusing on immigration and the needs of communities of color.

Maria Cobian Alvarado

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Vanessa Contreras

Program Assistant

Bio comingsoon.

Haiyun Damon-Feng

Staff 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.

Stephanie Delgado

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.

Joanna Fluckey

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

Joanna used her time at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she received a BA in both Spanish and Portuguese, to study abroad in Mexico, Argentina, Spain and Brazil. While in Brazil Joanna worked with a non-profit community center in Sao Tome do Paripe volunteering with marginalized women and children. Joanna received her J.D. from Willamette University College of Law and, following her first year in law school, secured the Willamette Public Interest Fellowship to work with Immigrant Counseling Services in Portland, Oregon. Joanna focused her efforts on humanitarian forms of relief, including U and T-visas and Asylum applications. After living in Oregon, Joanna happily relocated to sunny southern California, where she has been a member of the California State Bar since 2013. Joanna started her legal career in private immigration practice in Los Angeles, focusing on family based immigration including family petitions, consular processing, 601-A waivers and DACA. Joanna would later work at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project zealously representing children and detained adults with mental health disabilities in their removal proceedings. Joanna now serves as a Direct Representation Attorney for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Joanna is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, loves the Denver Broncos and is enthusiastic about pioneering a future of providing pro-bono direct representation services to the immigrant community of Los Angeles.

Iris Franco

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

Program Assistant

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

Direct Representation Attorney

Jossiel Moreira is a member of the State Bar of California since 2014 and currently serves as a Direct Representation Attorney for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Jossiel graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA with cum laude honors, where he majored in Legal Studies. Jossiel continued his legal education at Western State College of Law (WSCL) in Fullerton, CA, where he received his Juris Doctorate and graduated with magna cum laude honors. 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. During the clinic, Jossiel helped clients with various forms of legal relief, including U-Visas, Asylum applications, and bond hearings. After law school, Jossiel continued helping the community by volunteering with Public Law Center as a Legal Clerk, where he conducted intakes of immigrants detained in the Santa Ana City Jail and helping clients with various aspects of their immigration case. Soon after becoming a licensed attorney, Jossiel moved to the border region in South Texas and served as Child Advocate for unaccompanied immigrant children detained in the area. As Child Advocate, Jossiel represented the best interests of children with exceptionally vulnerable backgrounds. Jossiel advocated in major aspects of a child’s case, including advocacy in their immigration removal proceedings, the child’s legal relief applications, and the child’s detention and reunification with family.  Jossiel now joins the KIND team in Los Angeles as a Direct Representation Attorney, where he is excited to pioneer a new chapter in KIND’s pro-bono services and to continue helping the immigration community.

Sofi Koivula

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

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.

Odessa Powers

Direct Representation Attorney

Odessa Powers received her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (UCH) in 2014, where she successfully represented an asylum applicant through UCH’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. As a legal intern at the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, she continued to represent asylum seekers and handled claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity, domestic violence, and political opinion. Odessa also collaborated with refugee organizations in Uganda during her internship at the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration, where she helped advocate for the interests of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. Prior to law school, Odessa promoted the interests of former foster youth while participating in the Guardian Scholars Program at San Francisco State University (SFSU). She graduated from SFSU in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations.

Xavier Rosas

Direct Representation 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 with honors. In over ten years of private practice before joining KIND he represented immigrants from over ten different countries and in several states including California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Illinois and Michigan. Xavier’s practice included everything from advising on immigration consequences of criminal convictions, post-conviction, asylum, family based immigration, SIJS, DACA, assistance to the Trans-Latina community to advanced Habeas Corpus appeals. In 2014, he accompanied a group that visited the women and children’s detention center in Artesia, New Mexico through AILA to provide pro bono representation. He has been published in three different matters at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Board of Immigration Appeals. Xavier also served in an advisory position in drafting several California State laws that protect vulnerable children and help the immigrant community. Xavier’s work will now focus on Direct Representation of Unaccompanied Children.

Lidia Vargas

Paralegal

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 and mistreated 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, both as a direct representative as well as in a mentoring role to pro bono attorneys. Prior to his fellowship at KIND, Kyle worked as an 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 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.

Vicky Hernandez

Paralegal

Vicky conducts “Know Your Rights” presentations intakes of minors detained at the Union County Juvenile Detention Center of New Jersey, and of released minors. In the past Vicky has worked with the American Friends Service Committee in Newark, Centro Comunitario CEUS in Union City, and the International Institute of New Jersey in Jersey City. She currently continues to collaborate with non-profits whose focus is advancing immigrant rights and improving language access for people with limited English proficiency.

Gilda Holguin

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Stephen Guzman

Program Assistant

Stephen Guzman is a former KIND intern and now serves as Program Assistant. He conducts “Know Your Rights” presentations and intakes for children referred to KIND in New Jersey. He also assists the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney in working with KIND’s network of pro bono attorneys. 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 received his B.A. in political science from Rutgers University – Newark in May 2017. He is fluent in Spanish.

Vanessa Lucas

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Vanessa Lucas joined the KIND Newark office as Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 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. Until recently, Vanessa 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.

Emily Niemel

Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellow 

bio coming soon.

Yohana Valdez

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.

New York City Office

Elisa Gahng

Interim Managing Attorney

Elisa Gahng is the Interim 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.

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Erika Arce-Romero

Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow

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Bio coming soon.

Joseant Cardoso-Rojo

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Bio coming soon.

Melissa Forero

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.

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.

Benardette McEvoy

Paralegal

Benardette has personally experienced the struggles and difficulties that undocumented immigrants face when searching for a better future in the United States and her experiences led her to pursue a career in the legal field. Benardette has worked in private law firms, the federal courts, non-profit legal services organizations, and private legal translation providers. In each position, Benardette used her bilingual skills to provide interpreting and translation assistance when needed. Her interest in working with KIND began while providing interpreting and translation assistance in connection with a KIND pro bono representation. That involvement led her to become a volunteer interpreter and translator for KIND in its Newark Office. Benardette is a graduate of the University at Buffalo and holds a Certificate in Translation and a Paralegal Certificate from New York University. She is excited to join KIND and be part of its New York team.

Nina McKenna

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Cinderelle Mensah

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Emily Norman

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

bio coming soon.

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.

Pradine Saint-Fort

Hunton Andrews Kurth Fellow

Bio coming soon.

San Francisco & 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

California Bar Foundation Legal Fellow-Attorney

Bio coming soon

Ana Moraga Archila

Direct Representation 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

Bio coming soon.

Florencia Reyes Donohue

Paralegal

bio coming soon.

America Hernandez

Social Services Coordinator 

Bio coming soon.

Katherine Krassilnikoff

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Prior to joining KIND, Katherine worked as an immigration attorney providing direct representation at Centro de Ayuda Legal para Inmigrantes (CALI) in Santa Clara, CA. While at CALI, Katherine gained extensive experience managing a large and diverse caseload that focused on humanitarian relief including U Visa, VAWA, DACA, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and provisional waiver applications.

Katherine received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law where she earned a Social Justice and Public Interest Certificate.  Katherine focused on immigration and international human rights during law school and was highly involved with the International Human Rights Clinic. Katherine also volunteered as a Probation Law Program Facilitator for Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY), where she taught a course to recently released youth on the law and the consequences of crime while helping to build life skills.

Katherine earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with an emphasis in Marketing from Santa Clara University and worked for five years in professional baseball prior to law school. She is licensed to practice law in 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.

Esmeralda Santos

Direct Representation Attorney

bio coming soon.

Alejandra Tovar

Paralegal

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.

Jesse Bica

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

Erin Diann Carter

Staff Attorney- Seattle & King County Legal Defense Network

Erin is the Legal Defense Network Staff Attorney at KIND’s Seattle office. She provides direct representation to detained and released children located within King County. Prior to entering the legal field, Erin was deeply involved in the nonprofit sector, both domestically and abroad. She lived in Mexico and Nicaragua, where she led a variety of development, microfinance, and education projects. As a law student, Erin sought out a broad range of opportunities, from advocating for farmworkers’ rights in Central Washington, to impact litigation efforts in Portland, Oregon. Erin graduated with honors from the University of Washington School of Law in 2017. She is grateful for the opportunity to continue partnering with immigrant communities and improving access to justice.

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.

Rebekah Fletcher

Supervising Attorney

bio coming soon.

Elizabeth Rueda Herrera

Program Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

Holly Miranda

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

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 graduated from the University of Washington School of Law, receiving a J.D. in 2014 and an LL.M. in Sustainable International Development in 2015.  In 2014, she was awarded the Jack McDonald Merit Award at the UW School of Law, recognizing her commitment to public service.  While in 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 is excited to continue her work in immigrant advocacy with unaccompanied minors and assist them in accessing justice and navigating cross-systems.  Melody is now the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney for KIND’s Seattle office, and works to connect released and detained unaccompanied minors with pro bono attorneys for legal representation. 


Washington, DC & 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.

Yonny Aguilar

Program Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Laura Bluher

Paralegal 

Bio coming soon

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.

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.

Yunie Hong

Part-time Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney 

Bio coming soon.

Michelle Kerr

Paralegal

Bio coming soon.

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.

Emily Swartz

Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney

Prior to joining KIND, Emily was in private practice where her caseload focused on immigration law and criminal defense.  Emily is a graduate from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.  While in law school, she interned at the Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center of Indiana Legal Services, and participated in their Migrant Farmworker Outreach Program.  She also was a Stewart Fellowship recipient, and spent a summer interning in New Delhi, India.  Prior to law school, she received a Bachelor’s degree in General Business and a minor in Spanish from the University of Alabama.  Her passion for immigration law began when participating in a study abroad program in Havana, Cuba during college.  Emily is fluent in Spanish.

Emily Stopa

Part-Time Staff Attorney

Prior to joining KIND as a volunteer attorney in September 2016 and as a Part-Time DC Staff Attorney beginning in May 2017, Emily was an Associate Attorney in Hogan Lovells’ health regulatory practice for four years.  While at Hogan Lovells, Emily provided pro bono representation to clients seeking immigration relief including U visas, asylum, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  She was selected in 2012 as a Pro Bono Champion by the American Health Lawyers Association.  Emily earned her J.D. and a Master of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received an award for her pro bono service.  During law school, Emily participated in the Transnational Legal Clinic, worked for Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed through the Legislative Clinic, and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Constitutional Law.

Sofia Vivero

Senior Direct Representation Attorney

Sofia received her JD in 2014 from American University Washington College of Law (WCL). Before joining KIND, Sofia worked as an immigration attorney with Northern Virginia Family Service in Falls Church, Virginia. Much of her time was spent working on unaccompanied children’s cases. Prior to that, Sofia was a WCL-JD Distinguished Fellow with Ayuda in Washington, DC. During law school, Sofia interned with the Legal Aid Justice Center and Ayuda. She was also a student attorney with the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Sofia received her Bachelor’s degree from George Mason University, with a major in Latin American Studies and a minor in Anthropology.

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.

Sandra Zegarra

Direct Representation Attorney

Bio coming soon

 

Leadership     Partners