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.
Julie Schechter Torres
Interim Senior Director, Latin America
Julie Schechter Torres is the Interim Senior Director, Latin America. Prior to joining KIND in April 2023, she was a career U.S. diplomat. As the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. embassies in Honduras and El Salvador, she coordinated all U.S. government efforts in those countries to address the root causes of migration, with a particular focus on child migration. As acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, she led a team responsible for funding non-governmental organizations’ programs worldwide. In collaboration with partners in USAID and the Department of Defense, she oversaw the design of an unprecedented approach to strategic monitoring of all U.S. government diplomatic, development, and defense efforts in specified countries. She was part of the leadership team that created and managed the emergency logistics operation to facilitate the arrival in the United States of more than 45,000 Afghan evacuees after the U.S. embassy in Kabul closed in 2021. As a refugee program officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Julie pioneered reforms in the bureau’s decision-making processes for its foreign assistance funding, and she collaborated closely with NGO partners in the field. Among other assignments, Julie worked at the U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Germany, and Costa Rica, and she served as the Executive Director of a bureau with a $1.4-billion budget and 1,300 employees. She worked for a year on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, to which she was detailed. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master in Public Policy from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.
Senior Director, Europe
Kirsty Thomson is the Senior Director for Europe at Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) where she works with the Regional Director for Europe supporting the International Programs team in developing and implementing the organization’s work to address the legal and psychosocial needs of unaccompanied and separated children in Europe. Kirsty has worked alongside the organization since 2016; initially as a partner in the development of its UK program before also assisting with the development of its programs in Europe both as an Advisory Committee member and a Consultant. Prior to joining KIND, Kirsty practiced law in the UK for 18 years in both the private and NGO sector. She has expertise in the legal and protection needs of unaccompanied and separated children as well as linked specialisms in migration, gender-based violence and human trafficking. She is also an established social justice leader co-founding a human rights charity in 2017 with experience of developing and implementing legal, advocacy and capacity building initiatives in UK and Europe. She believes strongly in the power of partnership working as the key to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children.
Senior Director, Legal Protection
Laura serves as KIND’s Director, Legal Protection, International Programs, focusing on family reunification and international protection of children and separated families in Central America and Mexico. Laura joined KIND in 2018 and worked as a Staff Attorney in the Baltimore and Atlanta field offices before joining International Programs. Laura has previously worked with the UN Refugee Agency, Asylum Access and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Senior Director, Partnerships and Program Administration
Bio coming soon.
Amy Schaltegger Escoto
Director, Reintegration Programs
Bio coming soon!
Elba Coria Márquez
Director, Advocacy - Mexico
As a Mexican attorney, Elba comes to KIND, Mexico Program with expertise in the promotion and defense of the human rights of migrants and refugees in Mexico and the Americas. She has extensive experience working in academia, clinical legal defense, strategic litigation, and advocacy on public and political policies at a national and regional level. Prior to joining KIND, she directed the first law clinic on refugees in Mexico at the Ibero-American University and served as the Regional Associate of the International Coalition Against Detention, where she developed and advocated for immigration authorities to implement the first model of alternatives to detention for unaccompanied migrant children in Mexico. She was also Deputy Coordinator of the legal defense and strategic litigation area at Sin Fronteras IAP and has collaborated as a consultant, researcher and academic with different institutions, including the Center for Research and Economic Teaching (CIDE), the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR), the Institute for Legal Research (IIJ-UNAM), and the University of Texas (UT), among others. Elba is a graduate of law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where she also studied international relations, and holds a Master’s degree in Conflict and International Security from the University of Dublin, Ireland.
Director, Gender and Migration Initiatives
Bio coming soon!
M. Lucero Ortiz, Esq.
Director, Partnerships & Capacity Strengthening
Lucero serves as the Director, Partnerships & Capacity Strengthening. Most recently, she served as the Director of Legal Services at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) and solo practitioner focused on immigration and family law in Washington, DC. She brings valuable experience in strategic planning, coalition building, and delivery of culturally competent, community-based direct legal services based on positions at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA, respectively. She has appeared on local, national, and international print, television, and radio media on topics related to immigration law and policy. For her important contributions, Lucero has received several awards and recognitions including DOL Secretary's Exceptional Achievement Award, HBA-DC's Rising Star Award, the Premio Inspiración and Bou Alumni Award from American University Washington College of Law, among others. Lucero is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law (WCL) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She has lived, studied, and traveled throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Central America.
Director, Partnerships & Pro Bono Programs - Europe
Marieanne McKeown is KIND’s Regional Director for Europe. In this role she manages KIND’s portfolio of projects across Europe, in which NGO and legal partners provide quality pro bono legal assistance to help unaccompanied and separated children obtain protection and reach safety. Prior to joining KIND, Marieanne held a number of leadership positions at PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law, most recently as Director of Global Programs. She was responsible for developing and managing projects that promote public interest law and strengthen local cultures of pro bono around the world. Her background is in human rights and strategic litigation for a range of non-profit organizations in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she was also awarded an LL.B. in law and an LL.M. in human rights from Queens University Belfast.
Based out of New York, Anilú supports the International Programs Department at KIND. She joined the KIND team in September 2018 and previously served as the KIND’s inaugural Acting Managing Attorney for the ORR Emergency Intake Shelter at Ft. Bliss, and as Acting Managing Attorney and Senior Attorney for the Family Separation Team. Prior to joining KIND, Anilú served as a Staff Attorney for Catholic Charities Community Services’ (CCCS) ICARE Project, where she represented unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings, served as a media liaison, and actively participated in CCCS’ administrative response task force. Prior to CCCS, Anilú served as a legal fellow for Catholic Charities Archdioceses of Newark where she represented detained adult torture survivors through the Access to Justice program. Additionally, she served as a legal fellow for the Safe Passage Project, representing unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings. Anilú is a graduate of Howard University School of Law (JD) and the University of New Mexico (BA). As an immigrant from Mexico, she continues to invest her professional career in advancing the rights and dignity of all immigrants and asylum-seekers. Anilú’s previous experiences include work at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as the Co-President of the Board of Trustees for First Friends of New Jersey and New York, and as a Student Attorney for her law school’s criminal justice clinic.
Kate Metcalf is a Managing Attorney in International Program at KIND. Prior to joining KIND in September 2021, Kate worked as a Senior Attorney at Catholic Charities in Boston where she represented unaccompanied children, domestic violence and trafficking survivors, asylum-seekers, and other noncitizens pursuing a wide variety of humanitarian and family-based immigration benefits. Kate previously advised immigration judges on complex issues of immigration law at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and counseled detained noncitizens and asylum-seekers at the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project. Kate received her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University.
Alisa Whitfield supports the International Programs team at KIND. She joined the KIND team in November of 2021. Alisa has been working with immigrants and refugees since 2011, including internships with Asylum Access in Quito, Ecuador, and with the University of Cape Town’s Refugee Rights Project in Cape Town, South Africa. In the United States, Alisa worked in removal defense in California for over five years, both as a Deportation Defense Fellow at Van Der Hout LLP, and in the non-profit sector. Her removal defense work focused on appellate litigation, asylum cases, and working with youth and people with disabilities. From 2017 to 2019, Alisa was an Immigration Defense Attorney at the Alameda County Public Defender, where she focused on minimizing the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Most recently, Alisa was a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law where she taught immigration law and supervised law students. She received a BA in International Relations from Stanford University, and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor.
Staff Attorney, Southern Border
Aracely Medina joined KIND Mexico as a Staff Attorney in Tapachula, Chiapas in February 2022. Before joining KIND, she worked as a lawyer in HIAS at Tijuana, providing legal guidance to people on the move through individual interviews and group presentations. She served as the focal point of a migration regularization project, supporting immigration procedures for asylum seekers in Mexico. She has also worked as a Paralegal in a shelter for refugees and asylum seekers in Tapachula giving information and legal advice to people in need of international protection. Aracely holds a B.A. in Law and Finances from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. She has participated and organized several volunteering projects and during the summer of 2019 she worked in a refugee’s shelter in Belgium where she found her passion for defending human rights of people on the move. She has just completed a certificate in Mexican Immigration Law and is currently studying a Specialization in International Migrations at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte. Aracely recently got certified as a Self-defense and Empowerment instructor with ESD Global and is passionate about sharing these workshops with children, women and LGBTQ+ community
Ines Lourdes Tobar Canuz
Inés Lourdes Tobar Canúz supports the International Programs team at KIND as a Staff Attorney for the CAM project in Central America. She graduated magna cum laude from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala with a degree in Law and is a certified Notary. Inés also has a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from the Rafael Landivar University. She has worked in the adoptions process in Guatemala, with GBV survivors and with unaccompanied and separated children. Before joining KIND, she worked in protection with UNHCR, including with the Protection Transfer Arrangement, and with IRC.
Joshua Rodriguez supports the International Program at KIND. As a first generation, queer, Afro-Latino he personally understands the importance of everyone having the opportunity to be heard. His passion for defending the human rights of migrants is rooted in his family's migration experience from Ecuador to the United States. His professional career has included analyzing potential cases for clients and designating critical strategies for each case as well as appearing before various immigration courts throughout the United States for Master Calendar Hearings and Individual Hearings. His case load has included family petitions, deportation defense, asylum, bond hearings, and assistance with consular processing. As an attorney licensed to practice in the state of Alabama, he was able to represent minors for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases. Joshua also co-hosted legal segments on iHeartMedia, discussing the civil rights of individuals. He received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law where he was awarded the Dean scholarship throughout his attendance. He was the president of the Hispanic Law Student Association, and a member on the Trial Advocacy team. Joshua received his bachelor's degree in Political Science Pre-Law at Saint Peter's University in his hometown Jersey City, NJ.
Bio coming soon.
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.
Michelle Villegas supports the International Programs department at KIND. She joined the KIND team in October 2021. Prior to joining KIND, Michelle was a legal fellow with the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), where she served ASAP’s asylum-seeking membership, assisting with emergent legal issues for their cases and creating resources to empower members in their immigration process. Previously, Michelle also clerked with the Julia M. Toro Immigration Law Firm and worked as a paralegal with Ayuda, a nonprofit that serves survivors of domestic violence and other crimes with immigration and family legal services. Michelle earned her JD from American University’s Washington College of Law, where she participated in the Immigrant Justice Clinic, traveled to the U.S-Mexico border to volunteer with ProBAR’s representation of asylum seekers in immigration proceedings, served in several organizations to promote access to justice and equity for marginalized communities, and taught as a fellow with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Program at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. As a graduating law student, Michelle received the Peter M. Cicchino Public Service Award for Outstanding Advocacy. Michelle received bachelor’s degrees in Chicana/o Studies and Psychology at the University of California, Davis. While at UC Davis, she engaged with the community as a student organizer in support of educational access and equity issues. Prior to law school, Michelle worked in rural Northern California, utilizing her organizing and programming skills to support and empower undocumented and first generation high school students. Michelle is originally from Los Angeles, CA, and is the proud daughter of Salvadoran immigrants.
Staff Attorney, Europe
Sylwia graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Catholic University of Lublin. She obtained the right to practice her profession in 2018. Before joining KIND, Sylwia has been working for children at the "I Know the Law" Foundation in Lublin. She conducted classes with children and expanded their knowledge about their rights. Sylwia also provided legal assistance to refugees from Ukraine since the war in Ukraine broke out. Sylwia actively works for children, provides free legal assistance, and supports the activities of the Chamber of Legal Advisors to improve the legal situation of children and their legal guardians. In 2023, for her charitable activities, she was awarded the "Heart for Heart" award by the District Chamber of Legal Advisors in Lublin.
Betsabe Lugo Rodriguez
Project Manager, Southern Border
Betsabé Lugo supports the Mexico Southern Border team at KIND and joined the team on November 18, 2021. Betsabé has a degree in Law from the Intercontinental University at Mexico City and a PhD in Human Rights from the University of Salamanca in Spain. Her doctoral thesis titled "The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families and the European Union" was published by the University of Salamanca in 2006. For almost five years, she served as Director of Protection and Restitution of the Rights of Children and Adolescents and as Director of Dissemination of the Rights of Children and Adolescents in the Federal Attorney for the Protection of Children and Adolescents in Mexico. She has completed certificates in the rights of children and adolescents and public policies, with a focus on gender and the protection of children and adolescents in conditions of vulnerability. Betsabé is certified in training delivery by the National Council for Standardization and Certification of the Ministry of Public Education of Mexico and has designed courses and workshops on comprehensive protection and the restitution of rights of children and adolescents.
Maria Cecilia Moya
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
Cecilia Moya is the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer for International Programs. Prior to joining KIND, she provided M&E support to projects in Latin America for 15 years. She led the design and implementation of monitoring and evaluation frameworks for country programs and projects, provided training and ongoing technical assistance, designed and tested monitoring tools, led the preparation of quarterly and annual project and organizational performance reports and reviewed M&E budgets. She also managed baseline studies, mid-term and final evaluations as well as research initiatives focused on topics relevant to the well-being of children and adolescents in developing countries, including migration. The work plans, tools and protection protocols for these studies were reviewed and approved by Ethics Review Teams. Cecilia has collaborated with technical and communications staff in the development of materials for external audiences to contribute to the advancement of evidence-based programming and influencing goals on topics pertaining to the rights of the girl child such as the prohibition of early and forced marriage. In Peru, Cecilia also participated in efforts to comply with government regulations pertaining to foreign assistance organizations. Specifically, she oversaw annual reporting on country programs and projects outcome level indicators, geographic coverage and reach to the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation (APCI). She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree from the Pontifical University of Peru and a Master of Arts in International Development from American University in Washington, DC.
Abel Ruiz Manjarrez
Senior Capacity Building Specialist, Southern Border
Abel Ruiz Manjarrez joined KIND’s International Program in Mexico in 2021 as the child protection specialist focused on trainings in Tapachula, Chiapas. He is an attorney and psychologist originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. Prior to joining KIND México, he worked with UNICEF México, the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims, Attorney General’s Office, among others. He is a passionate defender of human rights and dedicated advocate for the rights of vulnerable populations, including migrant children. During his career, he has promoted the development and application of policies that had a positive impact on survivors of crime and led trainings for various NGOs and governmental institutions on the rights of survivors of crime. He also served for 8 years as a university professor in different areas including psychology, social work, criminology, and law. He received his legal degree from the Cultural Central University in Chihuahua and his degree in psychology from the Autonomous University of Chihuahua.
Martín Alejandro Sánchez Martínez
Child Protection Specialist, Mexico
Since September 2021, Alejandro Sánchez works as a Child Protection Specialist in the International Programs team in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Alejandro coordinates alliances and inter-institutional agreements with government agencies and civil society organizations to promote and protect the rights of unaccompanied, separated, or at risk of separation children and adolescents who are in contexts of human mobility and, thus, strengthen the Route of Protection of their rights along the border between Mexico and the United States. Before joining KIND, Alejandro has collaborated, for more than 15 years, in socio-educational projects with children in vulnerable situations. He has developed various initiatives to promote the exercise of children’s and adolescents’ rights implementing community interventions to address and prevent street dwellers and promote the reduction of harm from addictions among children, adolescents and young people living on the streets of popular neighborhoods of Mexico City. Alejandro has also collaborated with the National DIF System on the Strategy for the Prevention and Attention of Unaccompanied Child Migration in Mexico. This Strategy sought to strengthen the family and community ties of Mexican children before they tried to migrate to the United States without the company of their families as well as to provide social assistance services to children and adolescents and of any other nationality who were already in migratory transit to the United States. Alejandro studied Sociology of Education at the National Pedagogical University, as well as a Specialty in International Migration at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte.
Senior Program Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Daniela Herrera supports the International Programs Department at KIND. She joined the KIND team on October 2021. Prior to joining KIND, Daniela completed her master’s studies in Pedagogy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where she focused her research on power relations in the work of nonprofit organizations. She served as a research assistant with the Mexican Institute for Behavioral Economics (IMEC) and the Institute of Research for the Development of Education (INIDE, UIA), and gained experience in counseling and training multicultural groups in Yomol A’tel, an organization based in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, that works for the defense of the territory of indigenous tseltal communities. Daniela also has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has worked for Casa Ernesto Meneses, a community center based in Mexico City, coordinating educational programs and providing socioemotional support.
Bio coming soon
Program Assistant, Southern Border
Ernesto joined KIND on September 2022 as the Program Assistant, Southern Border. He has a degree in Psychology from the Autonomous Metropolitan University with specialist in Cultural Management and Educational Spaces. Ernesto also has extensive experience in psychosocial interventions at the community level. He has designed educational content for children and adolescents and delivered socio-emotional training in various projects. He is founder and Director of Giraluna, a cultural space in the city of Morelia, Michoacán.
Alma Zacarias Marquez
Psychologist, Southern Border
Alma joined KIND in February 2023, supporting the Tapachula team as a Psychologist. Alma studied Psychology at the Universidad del Valle de México Puebla Campus. She deeply believes in the importance of intervening with children and adolescents to generate a stronger social fabric through the restitution of their rights and a dignified life. She has knowledge and experience in the educational and school area with children and adolescents generating learning experiences. He has worked in civil society associations, where his passion for working in defense of human rights, especially of populations in situations of human mobility, was born. Alma is based on a trauma-informed approach, which involves taking into account the physical, psychological and social effects of traumatic experiences, as well as the impact of violence at all levels. He has completed several courses on violence, trauma, attachment, focus on strengths, migration, safe environments, educational and therapeutic interventions with a focus on children and adolescents.
Ingrid Diaz Dominguez
Psychologist, Southern Border
Ingrid supports the International programs department at KIND since November 2021. She is a Zoque woman from Chiapas, Mexico. She has a degree in Psychology from the Chiapas University of Sciences and Arts and has a Masters degree in Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (INSP) and The School of Public Health of Mexico (ESPM). In her master's project she developed a participatory health Initiative that sought to actively engage children in generating proposals to benefit their environment and their health. Before joining KIND, Ingrid worked in the psychosocial accompaniment of indigenous Tzotzil and Tzeltal children in Chiapas and participated in the development of methodologies and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation of psychosocial approaches based on children’s rights and participation. Ingrid has also worked as a clinical psychologist and educator for children with learning and / or behavior challenges associated with a disability. Additionally, she worked in 2015 as a research assistant at The South Border College (ECOSUR), in the qualitative analysis of health diagnoses in Mam and Tojolabal indigenous populations and as an indigenous cultural promoter of her Zoque community.
I was born and raised in El Salvador. Graduated as a lawyer in my country, specializing in criminal justice. Since I began my studies, I became involved in working with communities, which became my motivation and passion, focusing mainly on defending the human rights of the most vulnerable populations in my country. For the past nine years, I have worked with the immigrant community in this country helping them improve their parenting skills and helping them adapt to this country. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading and handcrafts.
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Priscilla Madrid Valero
Priscilla Madrid Valero supports the International Programs team at KIND. She joined the KIND team in September 2023. Prior to joining KIND she studied a Bachelor Degree in Journalism at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico, a Master’s Degree in Development Studies and Culture Change in Macquarie University in Australia, a Master’s Degree focussing on Sexual Education at the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain, and an International Diploma in Prevention of Gender Based Violence organized by several institutions of the Mexican Government. She has worked in international cooperation, gender equality and diversity and inclusion. Priscilla was part of the official Mexican delegation for the CSW65 (2021), the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
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.