Claire Valentin supports the KIND’s Boston office as Managing Attorney. Prior to joining KIND in 2023, Claire worked with the Immigration Impact Unit of CPCS, the public defender agency in Massachusetts, where she advised public defenders on the immigration consequences of criminal conduct and on immigration-related matters in family defense/child welfare cases. Previously, Claire worked for five years at the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, representing unaccompanied children and youth in immigration and state child welfare matters. She has taught an experiential immigration law course at Boston College Law School and co-authored sections of the Massachusetts Continuing Education Manual for criminal defense and family defense attorneys. Claire holds a BA in International Studies and Ethnic Studies from Brown University (2006) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2011). Claire is a naturalized US citizen, and believes more humane, equitable, and generous immigration laws would benefit us all.
Liz Ahmadi graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she studied political science and art history. She obtained her juris doctor from New England Law Boston. While in law school, Liz interned with De Novo where she worked with clients to prepare U visa and VAWA applications. After graduating, Liz began her career at Ascentria Care Alliance where she most recently served as Managing Attorney. In that role, Liz represented asylum seekers, survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, and unaccompanied minors. As Supervising Attorney, Liz provides direct representation to unaccompanied children and mentorship to pro bono attorneys. Outside of practicing law, Liz teaches yoga and serves on the board of directors of the non-profit African Community Education.
Jessica has been an attorney at KIND since January 2016. 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 was a KIND pro bono attorney from 2011 to 2016 and also 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 is a graduate of Scripps College and American University, Washington College of Law.
Prior to joining KIND, Paola was a Staff Attorney at Northeast Justice Center, where she provided legal representation to non-citizen survivors of domestic violence. Previously, Paola worked for four years as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow and a Staff Attorney for KIND, where she provided legal representation to minors in immigration removal proceedings. Before moving to the United States, Paola worked for a law firm in Argentina as an insurance defense litigation attorney. Paola is a graduate of the LL.M. program at Northeastern University School of Law and earned her first law degree from the University of Buenos Aires School of Law in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ashley M. Barkoudah
Before joining KIND as a Staff Attorney, Ashley was in private practice for over 10 years practicing exclusively in the area of immigration law. Her practice focused on asylum, family-based immigration, removal defense, and appellate work to the Board of Immigration Appeals and First Circuit Court of Appeals. Ashley has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for many years, previously serving as liaison for over five years to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and congressional relations. Recently, Ashley authored a chapter of the Massachusetts Continuing Education Manual on immigration appeals, and co-authored a chapter on removal proceedings before EOIR. Ashley is also an adjunct professor of Legal Research and Writing at New England School of Law, where she obtained her JD in 2008. During law school, Ashley completed two UN internships abroad with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh. Ashley graduated summa cum laude with a degree in history from the University of Memphis.
Justin graduated from Boston University in 2010, where he majored in environmental policy, with a minor in East Asian Studies. He obtained his Juris Doctor from New England Law Boston and has been a member of the Massachusetts Bar since 2014. Prior to joining KIND, Justin worked in private practice for nearly six years, exclusively in the field of immigration law. His primary focus was on removal defense of children, LGBTQ+ individuals, and victims of domestic violence. Over his years of practice, Justin developed an affinity for representing children in their Special Immigrant Juvenile applications, from the State Court petition all the way to obtaining lawful permanent residence before the immigration court of USCIS. As a pro bono coordinating attorney at KIND, Justin mentors pro bono attorneys, while also providing direct representation to clients.
Sarah joined the KIND Boston Field Office in February 2022 as a direct representation attorney. Since graduating law school in 2015, she has worked at the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts, and Catholic Charities of Boston, representing unaccompanied minors, asylum-seekers, survivors of violence, TPS and DACA beneficiaries, and families as they seek to gain lawful status. In law school she interned at ProBAR Children’s Project in Harlingen, Texas, working with minors in the weeks and months following their arrival to the United States. She graduated from New York University in 2009 with degrees in Communication and Spanish and obtained her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. Her work is based on the understanding that immigration laws seek to exclude and disempower, so she strives to combat those realities with every client at every step of their journey.
Bio coming soon.
Samantha Howland Zelaya
Samantha joined KIND’s Boston Field Office in September of 2022 as a Legal Advocate, where she will be serving clients in Providence County, Rhode Island. She obtained her JD from New England Law Boston where she also obtained a Certificate in Immigration Law and was a member of the New England Law Review. Additionally, she obtained her MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University where she also received a Graduate Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies and her BA from Holy Cross where she majored in Political Science with concentrations in Latin American Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. Samantha has worked with unaccompanied children and the larger immigrant community for over a decade. Previously, Samantha worked at Ascentria’s Immigration Legal Assistance Program in Worcester, MA as a Fully Accredited DOJ Representative where she represented clients in a variety of immigration matters, with a primary focus on representing immigrant survivors of human trafficking. She has worked on policy issues and proposals impacting unaccompanied children with the National Immigration Forum. Additionally, Samantha worked with BCFS providing and supervising post release case management services and home studies for unaccompanied children and their families. She speaks English and Spanish.
Social Services Supervisor, East
Bio coming soon.
Senior Social Services Coordinator
Karen Mejia has over seven years of experience working with immigrant youth and unaccompanied minors. For the last five years, she has worked for Massachusetts General Hospital’s Chelsea Campus as the unaccompanied minors case worker supporting UCs and their families with a wide range of services including basic medical care, mental health assessment and referrals, school access advocacy, truancy diversion, and parenting classes. She was awarded the Ernesto Gonzalez Award for her excellence and dedication to vulnerable patient populations at MGH. Karen also provided cultural sensitivity training to doctors and residents as well as initial training for first year medical residents at the start of their placement. She was also the designated complex population health worker working under a Chelsea Police grant conducting home visits along with the FBI Gang Unit providing support to families involved in high-profile gang violence cases. Prior to her work at MGH, Karen worked as OB/GYN case manager for the past two years, she has been a certified facilitator for the Parent Leadership Institute in various Massachusetts cities training immigrant parents and parents of UCs to advocate at the local and state levels. In a personal capacity, Karen volunteers with Agencia ALPHA as a citizenship coach volunteer, and as a youth leader in her faith community. Being an immigrant from Central America with life experiences similar to our clients, Karen is very well-known as an immigrant issues advocate, supporter, and social services professional. Karen is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Human Services and plans to continue onto an MSW program thereafter.
Social Services Coordinator
Eric joined KIND in 2023 as a Social Services Coordinator. He graduated from Clark University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Upon graduating, Eric became a case manager, working with unaccompanied refugee minors for Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester, MA. During this time, he enlisted in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, to which he has committed the past fours years to. Eric is currently working towards his Master of Science in Criminal Justice and hopes to pursue a law degree thereafter. Eric has also been recently appointed as a member of the Worcester Latino Affairs Commission, which works to bolster the voice of Latinos in the Worcester County. In addition, as someone who grew up in foster care, Eric has always sought to advocate for the rights of children. He hopes to continue advocating for children and youth, as well as for Latinos and marginalized communities across the nation.
Adam joined KIND in 2019 as a Paralegal. He graduated from Indiana University - Bloomington in 2017 with degrees in History, Spanish, and Art History, where he completed a thesis on trans artist Martine Gutierrez and the importance of queer Latinx voices in the evolution of intersectional feminism. Adam began work with Boston’s immigrant communities in 2017 through Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s (MIRA Coalition) New American Integration Program (NAIP), an AmeriCorps program focused on working with immigrants and refugees in Massachusetts to empower them toward finding jobs and pathways to citizenship. During his time with NAIP, Adam assisted folks with applications for citizenship and taught a civics course to prepare applicants for the citizenship exam at Action for Boston Community Development, a local antipoverty agency. Adam continued his work with working-class immigrants during a year of service through the program AmeriCorps Legal Advocates of Massachusetts, where he assisted clients with family-based petitions and humanitarian-based immigration relief at Catholic Charities of Boston’s Immigration Legal Services program. Adam’s passion for immigrant rights has been rooted in his belief in addressing systemic social, political and economic inequalities through the direct empowerment of vulnerable communities, especially youth, women, queer and trans communities and people of color.
Camilo joined KIND in 2020 as a Paralegal. He graduated from Clark University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and in 2018 with a master’s degree in Public Administration. While working on his graduate degree, Camilo worked as a paralegal for Ascentria Care Alliance, the largest low-cost immigration legal assistance office in Central Massachusetts. While at Ascentria, Camilo assisted clients who were victims of domestic violence and violent crimes. Along with this work, Camilo also helped clients with their applications for adjustment of status and naturalization. Camilo hopes to go to law school in the future.
Silvana Gómez joined KIND in June 2022 as a Paralegal. She graduated from Harvard University in 2021 with a degree in Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. While at Harvard, Silvana served as the president of both Fuerza Latina and the Women in Law Association. She also interned in the U.S. House of Representatives with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. After college, Silvana worked at Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston, an impact litigation firm working for the rights of immigrants and communities of color. At LCR, Silvana served as liaison to community partners, leading community education on civil rights issues such as education immigration, housing and voting rights. Silvana also directed LCR's housing assistance program where she provided application assistance to families facing housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Silvana aspires to go to law school in the future.
Loida joined KIND in August 2022, where she provides legal support as a Paralegal, to clients in Providence County, RI. Loida obtained both her law degree and master’s degree from Guatemalan universities. Prior to joining KIND, Loida worked at Catholic Social Services of Fall River, MA (CSS), where she helped the low-income immigrant community in Southeastern Massachusetts with their immigration needs including application for naturalization, adjustment of status, application to extend/change nonimmigrant status, DACA renewals, green card, and employment authorization document renewals. Prior to her work at CSS, Loida worked for the Guatemalan Consulate of New England in Providence, RI, where she had the opportunity to educate the Guatemalan community regarding their rights and provide them with information about immigration relief within the U.S. She also visited ICE detention centers in Massachusetts, served as a liaison between the Guatemalan detainees their families, ICE deportation officers, immigration attorneys and other legal services providers. Loida’s native language is Spanish, she is fluent in English and is working on improving her Portuguese.
Lupita Amaro is a Paralegal at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), where she provides legal support to KIND’s Boston Office. Prior to joining KIND, Lupita served as a legal intern supporting children in immigration removal proceedings at Project Libertad in Pennsylvania. During her time at Project Libertad, Lupita provided legal support to refugees, immigrant children and other immigrants in their applications for a wide range of immigration benefits. Lupita has also interned and volunteered at various organizations such as Congregation Mita Incorporated in Colombia and the United States. Lupita holds a B.A in Political Science from Politecnico Gran Colombiano. She also holds an LLM in Human Rights and Social Justice from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She advocates for children’s rights, immigration reform, and social justice. Lupita’s work has always been guided by her core principles of hope, equal justice, and freedom for all people.