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.
Vanessa Alfaro is a native Texan practicing Immigration Law in the city of Houston. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University School of Law in May of 2015. During her time in law school, Vanessa interned with the Innocence Project of Texas while also volunteering with the Estate Law Society. Her volunteer work consisted of drafting wills for Veterans which lead her to receive recognition from the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas in 2015. Vanessa began her legal career working for a boutique law firm dedicated to Immigration Law. It was there where she gained significant experience in deportation defense and family based immigration. In her free time, as a true Houstonian at heart, she enjoys cheering on the Dynamo and the Rockets.
Leslie was born and raised in Houston, Texas to Salvadorean, immigrant parents. Her passion to explore Latin American politics, culture and migration began very early on. Prior to joining the KIND-Houston office, Leslie studied at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Government in May 2017. During her undergraduate career, she had the opportunity to study and conduct research in both Costa Rica and Chile, where she focused on cultural identity and social politics. She interned with the Catholic Charities St. Francis Cabrini Center in Houston in 2016, where she specifically worked with DACA applicants and recipients. After graduating from Hamilton in 2017, she moved back to Houston and briefly worked as a paralegal at a private law firm, where she gained experience in cases with unaccompanied minors applying for asylum and/or SIJS. Leslie joined the KIND-Houston office in February 2018, where she passionately continues to work with children seeking immigration relief.
Enrique Chavira Cantu
Acting Senior Paralegal
Enrique Chavira Cantu is a DACA Recipient and an advocate for Immigration Reform and Immigrant Rights. As an immigrant with an uncertain future in this country, Enrique knew he wanted to enter a field that would allow him to help members of his own community. Enrique entered the realm of immigration law in 2013, working as a receptionist and learning immigration law under Susan Nelson, former President of the State Bar Foundation. In 2014, Enrique graduated from Texas A&M University with a major in Political Science and a minor in English. Shortly after, Enrique began working with the Bernardo Kohler Center where he gained experience in victim-based and humanitarian-based immigration relief. During this time, Enrique was involved in the preparation of Budhathoki v. Nielsen, a landmark case in S.I.J. argued before the Fifth District Appellate Court. In 2015, Enrique was admitted to St. Mary's University School of Law where he began his law school career, but was unable to finish due to unforeseen events. After returning from law school, Enrique transitioned to the private sector where he worked with attorney Tania K. Rosamond. While at the Law Office of Tania K. Rosamond, Enrique assisted the attorney with extensive detention and removal work, as well as U-Visas, T-Visas, and SIJ. In 2017, Enrique transitioned back to the non-profit world and began working with Catholic Charities. During his time at Catholic Charities Enrique volunteered with the Texas Here to Stay Coalition and gave Know Your Rights presentations and S.B. 4 trainings, throughout the state. Most recently, Enrique worked in a medium sized employment and investment-based immigration law firm where he specialized in assisting Independent School District teachers through their immigration journey. Enrique volunteers with American Gateways and assisted the organization in their transition to becoming a paperless office. Enrique plans on returning to law school and becoming a solo practitioner in the next five years. Until then, Enrique is ready to go to work for the members of his community. In his free time, Enrique enjoys building puzzles and reading. If you enjoy reading, feel free to ask him how you can check a book out from his personal library! Besides the usual self-care, Enrique can be found spending time with his twin brother, his older sister, and his parents.
Noemi serves as a paralegal for the detained program based at KIND’s Houston office. Noemi earned her Bachelor of Arts International Studies degree and minors in politics, history, and economics at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon in 2018. Prior to joining the KIND team, Noemi provided “Know Your Rights” presentations and conducted legal screenings, among other legal services, to detained minors with the YMCA of Greater Houston International Services- Unaccompanied Children Program. Noemi has extensive experience working with tender-age children in vulnerable environments as she has worked as an Early Childhood Development Assistant with the Salem Family Literacy Program, a Site Teacher with the KinderCare Education program and as a Program Leader with the City of Davis. Her passion to work with minors in the immigration field stems from being the daughter of immigrant parents.
Social Services Supervisor
Melissa Davila is the Social Services Supervisor for Kids In Need of Defense Houston and Mexico Team. Melissa holds a bachelors and master’s degree in social work and has extensive experience in volunteering and working with immigrants in Houston. She previously served as a Social Services Coordinator for the Houston office, where she helped clients by connecting them to resources needed and providing psycho-emotional support throughout their legal process. Prior working with KIND, Melissa was a Bilingual Care Coordinator for the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team with The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD where she worked predominantly, with the Latino population. While she was completing her bachelor’s in social work at the University of Houston-Downtown, she participated in a study-abroad program led by the Criminal Justice Department through which she learned more about policy and explored different legislative approaches Amsterdam and Stockholm had implemented to prevent human trafficking. Melissa has always been passionate about direct services and policy and how policy can impact marginalized communities. During grad school, Melissa worked as a Social Work Intern in the Program Planning and Evaluation Department with Baker Ripley and the 85th Legislative Session with Texas State Representative Jessica Farrar.
Ana Karen Davila
Ana Karen Davila is a former Sam Houston State University Alumni. Ms. Ana has fulfilled her calling for the past three years by advocating for children as a Child Advocate with CASA and Volunteered with the SAAFE House in Huntsville, Texas. Prior to making the decision to call Houston her home she interned with the City of Houston, Mayors office working with the Inspector General and Claims and Subrogation Department. Working with the city allowed her to find her passion through working with the community and decided to move to Houston to pursue a career in Immigration and continue her advocacy. Ana has been working with immigration legal service providers for the past year, by supporting legal staff and providing legal screening for newly arrived unaccompanied minors. Ana currently resides in Houston, Texas with her four legged child Grizzly.
My name is Martin. I am originally from Mexico City, Mexico (CDMX). I migrated to the U.S in the late 90’s. I have lived in Texas ever since. During the past six years I have worked supporting unaccompanied minors detained in shelter, and their sponsors with reunification efforts to have these minors reunified with their families here in the United States. I also supported and participated on Legal Orientation for Custodians of Unaccompanied Alien Children presentations, to provide sponsors with information regarding fingerprints services, as part of the reunification efforts. One of my greatest passions is helping animals in need. I have foster 3 animals in the past. A kitten named Astro, a chihuahua named Mocha and a Pocket Pitbull named Oreo. All three have found their forever homes!
Rosalba is originally from Mexico City. She has been residing in Houston since 1999. She received her Bachelors in Science in Marketing from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Prior to joining KIND, Rosalba worked with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston conducting Know Your Rights presentations and intakes to detained and released unaccompanied children in the Houston area.
Stephanie was born in raised in Brownsville, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in International Finance from the American University of Paris, and her Juris Doctorate from the St. Mary's University. She is licensed to practice in Texas and speaks Spanish fluently.
Cristina is Peruvian-American and was raised in McAllen Texas, a town located on the US-Mexico border. She graduated from Baylor University with a bachelors degree in International Studies. She then pursed a master’s degree at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where she focused primarily on security studies. She also studied development in Latin America, Latin American- U.S. relations, and immigration policies.
Nancy is originally from Los Angeles, CA but her family is from El Salvador. She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor's degree in Victim Studies. Prior to KIND, she worked for Catholic Charities conducting Know Your Rights presentations and assisting with direct representation to Houston minors.
Rossana grew up in a small town on the US-Mexico border where crossing an international border every day to go to school was normal. She graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management with minors in International Studies and History. While an undergraduate, Rossana was an intern at Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre in Dublin working in several programs dedicated to achieving full human rights for Travellers and Roma in Ireland. After graduating, she moved to New York City to complete a master’s degree in International Affairs with concentrations in Security and Conflict and Governance and Rights. During her studies, Rossana was accepted to the International Field Program where she was given the opportunity to work in a nonprofit in Turkey assisting with research and reports on the socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions of the Kurdish people who have been forcibly displaced due to the armed conflict in the area. She is happy to return to her home state of Texas working for KIND in an issue that is very important to her.
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.
Senior Social Services Coordinator
Maira was born and raised in Houston, Texas to Mexican-American parents. She attended the University of Houston-Downtown and graduated with Bachelor of Social Work in May 2015. After graduating, Maira worked for Communities in Schools of Houston, coordinating social services and advocating for children within the schools. She then graduated with a Master of Social Work from University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, concentrating in clinical social work and trauma. Since then she has found her way back to advocating for children through KIND - Houston.
Lauren Leal was born and raised in Port Lavaca, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 and her Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2015. While studying law she worked as a student attorney and research assistant for the St. Mary’s Center For Legal and Social Justice’s Civil Justice Clinic where she represented low-income clients in various areas of the law with a focus on Social Security Disability cases. Upon Graduating, Lauren began her legal career working at Heard and Smith LLP a Social Security Disability firm helping those in need receive the benefits they are entitled to by going before an Administrative Law Judge. After that time, Lauren took a position at Catholic Charities San Antonio – Caritas Legal Services where she worked under a grant to provide legal services to victims of domestic violence seeking protective orders and expanded her experience in State court working on various civil suits. Lauren is passionate in helping the marginalized and oppressed seek justice. Lauren is licensed to practice law in Texas.
Yvonne was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Her parents, from Puerto Rico and Poland, raised her in Puerto Rico until she moved to the United States in 2011. She has 23 years of experience as an attorney in different fields of law. While in Puerto Rico, she led a successful private practice for about 10 years, in the areas of Family, Business and Labor Law. At the top of her career, before leaving Puerto Rico, she served as a Judge in Labor Law related proceedings. Yvonne started to practice Immigration Law as a Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston by representing unaccompanied children facing removal proceedings, while detained in shelters, under the Foster Care Program and those who were released in Houston. At Catholic Charities, she also worked for the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) by conducting legal orientations at the Houston Immigration Court for children and sponsors that were facing removal proceedings without an attorney. Prior to working at KIND, Yvonne worked as an attorney in private practice, representing children and adult clients before Family Court, Houston Immigration Court and USCIS’ office. There, she focused on removal defense representing clients pursuing several forms of immigration relief. Yvonne’s passion, as an attorney, is to fight for justice and fairness on behalf of her clients. She is licensed to practice law in the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, The Texas State Bar, The United States District Court for the Judicial District of Puerto Rico and The United States Court of Appeals for The First Circuit. On her free time, Yvonne enjoys to spend time with her family, go biking and listen to music.
Maria Fernanda Loza
Maria was born in Mexico City, but moved to Houston in 1998. She became interested in becoming an immigration lawyer when she was an elementary school teacher. During law school, she focused most of her energy on learning as much as she could about immigration laws in the United States. She was a legal intern for KIND during her 2L summer and is thrilled to return to KIND as a full-time 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.
Silvia Ruiz Mancera
Silvia Ruiz received her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 2017 and her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Texas A&M University in 2012. Before joining KIND, she worked on migration and refugee issues in her native Colombia as a researcher and legal fellow at human rights organization Dejusticia. During law school, as part of the International Human Rights Clinic, she worked on impact litigation cases seeking better conditions for people deprived of their liberty in Brazil and seeking justice for crimes against humanity committed by government officials in Bolivia. She also participated in the Child Advocacy Clinic and was a legal intern at KIND in the summer of 2016. Before law school she worked as a legal caseworker at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. She is licensed to practice law in Texas.
Monica Myint was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Texas A&M University in 2010 and her Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law in 2013. During her time in law school, Monica worked with the Harris County Attorney’s Office and the Children’s Assessment Center on cases involving child abuse and neglect, and also worked as a student attorney in the South Texas College of Law’s Legal Clinic representing low-income clients in family law cases. Prior to working at KIND, Monica worked as an attorney in private practice where she represented clients throughout all stages of family law related proceedings and always strived to protect the best interests of children. Monica has been with KIND since June 2019 and is licensed to practice law in Texas.
Johanly Nazario works as a Staff Attorney with KIND’s Direct Representation Team in Houston, TX. She joined KIND on March 2019. Johanly was born and raised in the small town of Sabana Grande, in the southwest of Puerto Rico. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Arts in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude, from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Johanly later obtained a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, with a specialization in Human Resources Management and Management Information Systems. Johanly received her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from the Pontifical Catholic University School of Law in Ponce, Puerto Rico. During law school, she interned with the Legal Aid Society of Puerto Rico where she assisted attorneys in criminal law defense cases of low income and indigent population. She also worked as a law clerk for the Department of Consumer affairs in Puerto Rico, collaborating with administrative law judges with research and drafting adjudications in consumer law matters. She moved to Texas in December 2014, hoping to commence a career as an immigration attorney, and being able to help the Hispanic community leveraging her bilingual skills. In February 2015, Johanly began working as an associate attorney for a boutique immigration law firm in Houston, TX, where she represented adults and children in removal proceedings and family immigration matters. Prior to joining KIND in March 2019, she briefly worked as an attorney for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas in Amarillo, TX, where she provided legal advice to low-income clients in a variety of legal issues related to, employment law, consumer rights, immigration, housing rights and family law. Johanly is admitted to practice law in Puerto Rico and Texas and is fluent in English and Spanish. In her free time, Johanly likes to spend time with her family, cooking, gardening, watching movies and reading. Johanly enjoys travelling and loves the outdoors.
Melissa grew up in Indiana as a Cuban-and-Spanish-American. She graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science in 2012 and a J.D. in 2016. Prior to joining KIND, Melissa worked in private practice, first in Indiana in commercial litigation, and then in Houston in energy regulatory law; however, she maintained an active pro bono practice in immigration and civil rights law. Melissa is licensed to practice law in Indiana and Texas. She is fluent in Spanish.
Natalia is a first-gen Chicana from Northern California and thanks to her persistent parents, she is bilingual in Spanish. Before joining KIND’s Houston office, she resided in WA State and graduated from The Evergreen State College with an emphasis in Cultural Studies. She has several years of experience working in the violence prevention field, as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. As a teacher and coordinator of an English Language Learner’s program in WA State, she decided once in Texas, she’d return to working with the immigrant community. She’s very happy to have landed at KIND’s Houston office!
Interim Staff Attorney
Marisa was raised in Houston, Texas, and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Utah State University. As a law student at Lewis & Clark Law School she learned the importance of trauma informed practice by participating in the National Crime Victim Law Institute clinic. Prior to graduating Marisa worked with asylum seekers in Costa Rica as an intern with the Association de Consultores y Asesores Internacionales (ACAI). She also completed internships with Catholic Charities of Oregon, and KIND. After graduating from law school in 2015, Marisa returned to Texas where she has worked providing representation to unaccompanied children in ORR custody, adults in ICE detention, and asylum seekers in removal proceedings. She has experience providing immigration legal services in both direct representation and pro bono mentoring programs. Marisa is licensed to practice law in Texas and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
Carmen is a native Houstonian and first generation Latino American. From a very young age, her mother instilled in her the importance of obtaining an education, so she set her eyes on achieving the highest level education she could possibly obtain. Carmen graduated from Houston Baptist University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry-Molecular Biology and Chemistry. After graduating, she worked as a data collector for the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. During her time at UT Health, she realized that there was a great need for legal representation in the Latino community, so she decided to attend law school. Carmen graduated magna cum laude from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. During law school, she participated in Mock Trial and served as a board member in the Hispanic Law Student Association. She also interned for the Innocence Project, TMSL Criminal Law Clinic and clerked for a local immigration firm in Houston.
Angelica Rodriguez was born and raised in Houston, TX. She graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Spanish. Angelica’s desire to help those who can’t defend themselves has encouraged her to join KIND, originally as a Program Assistant and now as a Paralegal. Prior to working with KIND, Angelica worked with other non-profits like, The ABA’s Children’s Immigration Law Academy and the Head Start program with Gulf Coast Community Services Association. Angelica has interned with The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she worked with Federal Investigators who reviewed discrimination cases that had been filed by the public. Angelica enjoys working with KIND because it allows her an opportunity to provide those who are scared to speak, a chance to share their side of the story.
Stephanie was born and raised in Houston, Texas to Salvadoran immigrant parents. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Criminology, Law, & Society from the University of St. Thomas. Prior to joining KIND, Stephanie worked for Olson & Olson as a clerk under the group serving as special litigation counsel to the Harris County Appraisal District. She looks forward to being a part of an issue that she feels passionate about.
Denisha is the Houston's Office Coordinator. With a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and several years of management experience as well as work done with the Spanish speaking communities in San Diego in need of language representation, Denisha is a Puerto Rican native who prides herself on being a people person. It was working as a language interpreter where she was exposed firsthand to the challenges facing the immigrant communities in their attempts to establish themselves and thrive. This was humbling and eye opening and the main driver behind her establishing her own language services company. Denisha also worked for the French company Opera Patisseries in San Diego where she fell in love with the French language and decided to pursue learning it. She loves to travel, bake and paint and lives with her husband, teenage son and pet lizard.
Bio coming soon.
Guadalupe Mendoza graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio with a degree in Political Science. Her senior thesis focused on the Latino voter turnout by comparing the 2012 and 2016 elections and what issues might have caused an increase or decrease in voter turnout. The conclusion of her research showed that immigration was a key component, sparking her interest in the immigration field. Before joining KIND, she worked at a local nonprofit organization, specifically in the Unaccompanied Children’s Program giving Know Your Right presentations and conducting screenings with minors at local Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters. Guadalupe hopes to continue to grow in the field and become an advocate for undocumented immigrants.
Alfonso was born and raised in Houston, Texas and joined the KIND team in July 2021. He graduated with a Paralegal Associate of Applied Science degree from San Jacinto College-North and began his career working for a Private Law Firm in Immigration Law, where he worked for over 5 years. Alfonso was highly drawn towards joining the KIND team after learning of its mission and vision of ensuring that children’s rights and well-being are protected as they migrate alone in search of safety. Being a father he understands how vulnerable children can be and wants to passionately pursue helping children who are seeking immigration relief.