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.
Vice President, Policy and Advocacy
Jennifer Podkul is an international human rights lawyer and expert on child migration in the United States. She has authored articles, handbooks and reports and presents regularly as an expert at various conferences, briefings, and professional trainings. Jennifer provides technical assistance and education to policy makers and testifies before Congress on issues related to migrant children. She co-authored “Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls from Central America” and was a contributing author to “Childhood, Migration, and Human Rights in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices, and Challenges.” Jennifer has taught child migration at Georgetown Law Center’s Human Rights Institute. Jennifer began her legal career as an attorney at Ayuda in Washington, D.C. first as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and later as a KIND Fellow. Prior to joining KIND, Jennifer Podkul was a senior program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission where she researched issues facing vulnerable migrants seeking protection in the United States and advocated for improved treatment. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, holds a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College and a J.D. with honors from the Washington College of Law, American University, where she was a Public Interest/Public Service Scholar.
Managing Attorney, Special Programs - Mexico
Florence Chamberlin is the Managing Attorney for the Mexico Initiative. Previously, Florence was the Supervising Attorney for KIND's Family Separation Response Team where she managed family separation cases originating at the KIND field offices in San Francisco, Seattle and Fresno. Ms. Chamberlin is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Prior to joining KIND, Ms. Chamberlin exclusively practiced immigration law representing corporations and individuals in proceedings before the various administrative offices of the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS, ICE, CBP) and at consular offices around the globe. She has extensive experience with complex family immigration matters as well as removal defense before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Director, Special Programs
As an immigration law expert with over ten years in the field, Christie oversees KIND’s family separation work nationwide, in addition to other special initiatives and projects. Christie previously served as Deputy Director of Legal Services, helping manage KIND’s East Coast field offices. Christie also served as the Managing Attorney for KIND’s Washington, DC and Northern Virginia field offices. Prior to joining KIND, Christie was a Supervising Attorney at Catholic Charities’ Hogar Immigrant Services in Virginia, where her work included deportation defense and family-based immigration matters. A 2008 honors graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Christie was a Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center and interned at several immigrant rights organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Catholic Charities of Washington, DC, and American Gateways in Austin, Texas. In addition, Christie participated in the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic and Transnational Worker Rights Clinic and served as a Human Rights Scholar with the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Prior to law school, Christie spent three years supporting consumer protection investigations and litigation at the Federal Trade Commission.
Senior Vice President, Legal Programs
Maria M. Odom is the Senior Vice President, Legal Programs at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), where she leads a team of immigration legal experts advancing the representation of unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. In this role, Ms. Odom oversees the management of KIND’s 10 field offices, leading the development and implementation of legal services programming nationwide, including pro bono representation of over 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children per year as well as the provision of innovative legal trainings and technical assistance in immigration law and policy. Her department also delivers comprehensive social services programs to address the special needs of unaccompanied children. In the near past, Odom served as the DHS Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman in the administration of President Barack Obama. In that role, she worked with community leaders and immigration professionals across the country to improve the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public. As Ombudsman, she reported to and testified before the U.S. Congress regarding systemic issues in our country’s immigration system. Odom is a nationally recognized legal and policy expert with a wide range of immigration experience in the private, government, and charitable sectors. She previously led the country’s largest network of charitable legal immigration programs as Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). For a decade, she practiced immigration law in the southeast, leading a successful private practice in the areas of deportation defense, humanitarian protections, as well as business and family-based immigration. Early in her career, Odom served at the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant District Counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service and as a judicial law clerk at the Executive Office for Immigration Review. At DHS, Odom led the department’s human trafficking prevention, training, and public education efforts as Chair of the DHS Blue Campaign. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Freedom Network, which works in coalition with service providers and survivor leaders to advance a rights-based approach to address human trafficking in the United States. Odom is a graduate of The Florida State University College of Criminology and the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. She currently lives in New York City.
Vice President, International Programs
Lisa serves as KIND’s Vice President, International Programs. 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.
KIND’s Blueprint for the protection of unaccompanied children provides guidance on how the U.S. government should uphold its responsibility to treat these children humanely and in accordance with th...Read More