Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director
Marielena Hincapié is executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the nation’s leading organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants in the U.S., and of the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF). Under her leadership, NILC and the IJF strategically combine litigation, policy, communications, narrative change, and movement-building to effect transformational change. As an immigrant from Colombia, Ms. Hincapié brings her lived experience and bilingual/bicultural perspective to her work.
Hincapié is a nationally respected leader, a legal and political strategist in the immigrant justice movement, and a leading voice in the national conversation on immigration.
Hincapié began her tenure at NILC in 2000 as a staff attorney leading the organization’s labor and employment rights program. During that time, she successfully litigated law reform and impact-litigation cases dealing with the intersection of immigration laws and employment/labor laws. She then served as NILC’s director of programs from 2004 to 2008, after which she became executive director.
Recognized as a seasoned strategist and bridge-builder, Hincapié has led national initiatives, such as the Immigrant Movement Visioning Process, and policy campaigns, such as the creation and successful implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under Hincapié’s leadership, NILC has been at the legal forefront of the fight to stop President Trump’s attempt to rescind DACA, successfully representing DACA recipients and Make the Road New York in a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court found that the Trump administration’s rescission was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Before joining NILC, Hincapié worked for the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco’s Employment Law Center, where she founded the Center’s Immigrant Workers’ Rights Project. She currently serves as board president of the Indivisible Project and previously served on the boards of Jobs with Justice and the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration.
Hincapié has been recognized with numerous awards, including Univision’s Corazón Award, a Stanton Fellowship from the Durfee Foundation, the Latina of Influence award from Hispanic Lifestyle, the National Public Service Award from Stanford Law School, and the Prime Mover Fellowship from the Hunt Alternatives Fund. Hincapié was appointed to serve as cochair of the Biden-Sanders Unity Taskforce on Immigration. She was also the Northeastern University School of Law Daynard Distinguished Visiting Fellow and Practitioner-in-Residence at the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
Ms. Hincapié immigrated as a child from Medellín, Colombia, to Central Falls, Rhode Island, and grew up as the youngest in a family of ten children. She earned her juris doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
Follow Marielena on Twitter: @MarielenaNILC | Executive Coordinator: Claudia Lara | Scheduler: Joanne Maldonado
Victoria Ballesteros, Chief Communications Officer
Victoria Ballesteros heads NILC’s communications team and is responsible for developing strategic communication initiatives for the organization, to help grow the visibility and reach of NILC’s work on behalf of immigrants. She came to NILC with more than 15 years of experience leading communication efforts in the nonprofit and public sectors. She has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, California’s Senate majority leader, and The SCAN Foundation. Ms. Ballesteros earned her master’s degree in communication management from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She is bilingual (Spanish/English).
Briannon Gillis, Political Director, Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF)
Bri heads the Immigrant Justice Fund and is responsible for helping to manage the growth of the c4’s work, as well as the creation and implementation of its programs. She guides the strategic direction of NILC/IJF by providing vision and leadership to create effective programs that build political power for immigrant inclusion in the United States. Briannon brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in building political power on reproductive justice and gun safety issues which will be extremely beneficial as we strive to enhance our capacity to build political power with immigrant communities. She most recently served as Deputy Political Director for Giffords, managing relationships with candidates, members, and their staff, including coordinating political engagement for Gabby Giffords. She has experience managing PAC and C4 spending for federal and statewide candidates. Bri also served as PAC Director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, managing relationships with candidates and serving as political contact answering policy questions for a portfolio of over 100 candidates. This included advising major donors and Board Members on political contributions.
Marisa Aguayo, Senior Officer, Institutional Giving. Marisa Aguayo has lead responsibility for developing and implementing institutional fundraising strategies, which involves securing support from foundations, law firms, unions, corporations, and other associations. She also plays a leadership role in crafting annual fundraising plans that ensure NILC’s long-term sustainability. Prior to joining NILC in 2004, Marisa worked as a program director for the MultiCultural Collaborative, a social justice organization created after Los Angeles’ 1992 civil unrest. Prior to that, she was a development associate for El Rescate, a legal and social services agency serving immigrants in Los Angeles.
Will Dempster, Director of Communications. Will Dempster leads the planning and execution of NILC’s communication operations, including media, narrative, and digital strategy, and will play a key role in advancing the strategic priorities of the organization and amplifying the stories of low-income immigrants and their families. Will has over a decade of experience confronting and solving complex communications challenges in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining NILC, Will served as communications director for U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, as press secretary for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and in a number of senior roles at strategic communications consultancies in Washington, DC. Will holds an M.A. in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Tracy C. Dennis, Director of Human Resources. Tracy Dennis is responsible for managing the design, implementation, communication, administration, and compliance of health benefit and compensation programs, organizational policies and procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and HR technology systems.
Lisa Graybill, Legal Director. Lisa Graybill oversees NILC’s litigation and legal advocacy activities. She joined NILC in 2020 after having served, most recently, as a deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center and, previously, as the legal director of the ACLU of Texas and a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Lisa also taught at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, focusing on civil rights and immigration issues. She is a graduate of Smith College and the University of Texas School of Law. Raised in San Antonio, Lisa speaks English and Spanish.
Tiffanie Luckett, Senior Officer, Individual Giving. Tiffanie Luckett has responsibility for developing and implementing strategies that garner and retain a fierce and growing network of grassroots and major-gift donors. Additionally, she helps lead NILC’s fundraising team in developing annual plans that maximize the ability of every fundraiser to use their time and talents in the fight. Her work focuses on building relationships to cultivate a sustainable donor base that is engaged in the immigration rights fight beyond making gifts — to taking action and joining the movement. Prior to joining NILC, she worked at NPR and various medical and health organizations, always in fundraising, both institutional and individual giving–focused. She has a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and an AM from the University of Chicago.
Jenny Rejeske, Director of Policy and Advocacy. Jenny Rejeske leads the planning and execution of NILC’s policy development, legislative, and advocacy strategies. Jenny has 18 years of experience working in nonprofits, starting at a migrant health center in Colorado. She has served in various positions at NILC, most recently as associate director of policy and advocacy and senior health policy analyst. Before joining NILC in 2011, Jenny was director of health advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition. She holds an M.S. in nonprofit management from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment.
LEGAL, POLICY & ADVOCACY
Bianca Alcala-Ruiz, Paralegal. Bianca Alcala provides legal assistance to the NILC litigation team, which focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, technical assistance, and administrative advocacy.
Cheasty Anderson, PIF Campaign Deputy Director. Cheasty Anderson is the Deputy Director of the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) coalition and focuses on advancing inclusive public policy that maximizes the opportunity for immigrant families to thrive and contribute to a stronger America.
Facundo Bouzat, Staff Attorney. Facundo Bouzat engages in civil rights litigation, administrative advocacy, and community education to address issues of workplace and economic justice and health equity for immigrant communities.
Tanya Broder, Senior Staff Attorney. Tanya Broder specializes in the laws and policies affecting access to health care, public benefits, and education for low-income immigrants across the United States. She writes articles and policy analyses, provides technical assistance, co-counsels on litigation, and presents trainings to legal and social service providers, government agencies, legislative staff, and community-based organizations.
Meredith Cabell, Paralegal. Meredith Cabell works to defend and support low-income immigrants through litigation, administrative advocacy, and community engagement.
Adriana Cadena, PIF Campaign Director. Adriana Cadena directs the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) coalition uniting more than 500 nonprofits to engage immigrant communities and advance inclusive public policy that maximizes the opportunity for immigrant families to thrive and contribute to a stronger America.
Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, Staff Attorney. Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram works to advance and defend the rights of diverse low-income immigrant youth, workers, and families through community-centered affirmative impact litigation, technical assistance, and administrative advocacy, as well as community-led policy advocacy and education. Admitted to practice in California and New York, Joanna is a litigator who brings significant due process, equal protection, and civil rights impact litigation experience to NILC. She currently addresses safe spaces, equal access to the courts, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and challenges to discriminatory law enforcement policies, practices, and executive orders.
Ben D’Avanzo, Senior Health Policy Analyst. Ben D’Avanzo works on access to health care and healthy lives for low-income immigrant communities. Through advocacy, relationship-building, and analysis, he advances policies that enhance the health of immigrant families and works to block those that bring harm, with a focus on federal legislation and executive action.
Nicholas Espíritu, Supervising Attorney. Nicholas Espíritu focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation and administrative advocacy.
Elaine Garcia, Legal Administrator. Elaine Garcia serves as the primary administrative liaison and project manager for NILC’s Legal Department. She conducts departmental and State Bar compliance training for all legal staff. She also analyzes document management software and conducts testing and implementation of systems for the department infrastructure, and she manages internal expense reports and billable records.
Jessie Hahn, Senior Labor and Employment Policy Attorney. Jessie Hahn engages in legislative and administrative advocacy focused on protecting and expanding the rights of low-wage immigrant workers. She also provides legal analysis and strategic advice to support immigrant worker advocates around the country on legal and policy matters affecting immigrants in the workplace. Follow Jessie on Twitter at @hahn_jessie.
Jess Hanson, Staff Attorney. Jess Hanson focuses on advancing and defending the rights of low-income immigrants through impact litigation, direct work with affected individuals, advocacy, and technical assistance. Her main areas of work include access to status, access to justice, and immigration enforcement.
Sarah Kim Pak, Staff Attorney. Sarah Kim Pak works to advance the rights of low-income immigrants through administrative and policy advocacy, litigation, and community education. Her work focuses on immigration enforcement issues and advocating for safe spaces and full access to schools, courthouses, and civic life for immigrants and immigrant communities.
Michelle Lapointe, Senior Staff Attorney. Michelle Lapointe focuses on immigration enforcement, workers’ rights, and education issues. She is a litigator who has worked for more than a decade to advance and defend the rights of low-income immigrants and their families, primarily in the Deep South.
Gabrielle Lessard, Senior Policy Attorney. Gabrielle Lessard specializes in the laws and policies affecting access to health care for low-income immigrants and their families. She is an active member of the California Health4All Coalition and the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign. Gabrielle’s work includes writing articles and policy analyses, providing technical assistance, and presenting trainings to legal and social service providers, government agencies, legislative staff, and community-based organizations.
Matthew Lopas, Manager, Winning in the States Initiative. Matthew Lopas engages in policy advocacy and coalition-building to protect and improve immigrants’ access to affordable health care through federal programs, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and efforts to expand programs to cover the remaining uninsured. His work focuses on outreach and support to groups working at the state level. He manages a national coalition of advocates and health care assisters, and he leads NILC’s efforts to support state and local campaigns to advance the expansion of health care programs.
Katherine “Kat” Lundie, State and Local Policy Analyst. Kat Lundie supports NILC’s work on the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign, where she collaborates with state and local organizations on issues of immigrant access to health care. She works with state and local advocates to help them be better informed and equipped to address federal policy within their communities.
Laura Lynch, Senior Immigration Policy Attorney. Laura Lynch engages in legislative and administrative advocacy focused on defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.
Araceli Martínez-Olguín, Supervising Attorney. Araceli Martínez-Olguín focuses on protecting immigrants’ civil and workplace rights in the face of immigration enforcement and on defending the employment authorization and immigration relief available through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She is a seasoned impact litigator who has worked for over a decade to advance and defend immigrants’ rights.
Sheila Miller, Paralegal Manager. As an integral member of NILC’s Legal Management Team, Sheila Miller is responsible for the day-to-day management of a team of legal experts and primarily responsible for directing and supervising the work of the Legal Department’s paralegals, legal administrator, and assistants. She also helps develop and maintain a legal docket that furthers NILC’s priorities and strategies, embracing and advancing the implementation of NILC’s strategic framework.
Isobel Mohyeddin, Administrative Associate. Isobel Mohyeddin provides administrative support to NILC’s Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) and Winning in the States (WITS) campaigns.
Diana Pliego, Policy Associate. Diana Pliego works on a range of issues, including protection for DACA recipients and fighting immigration enforcement. She conducts policy research, analyzes and tracks legislation, and develops materials for movement and field partners as well as for congressional advocacy.
Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Immigration Policy Advocate. Ignacia Rodriguez conducts legal research as well as legislative and administrative advocacy focusing on immigration executive actions and congressional action on immigration. She also engages in policy analysis, education, and advocacy to support the integration of low-income immigrant youth and children through access to education.
Joshua Stehlik, Deputy Legal Director. Joshua Stehlik is an integral member of the management team that oversees NILC’s Legal Department, including its entire litigation docket of complex federal cases aimed at systemically advancing and defending the rights of low-income immigrants.
Subha Varadarajan, Campaigns Manager. Subha manages and organizes campaigns in order to protect and advance the rights of low-income immigrants. For the last four years she has managed the national No Muslim Ban Ever campaign to fight the discriminatory Muslim and African bans.
Jackie Vimo, Senior Economic Justice Policy Analyst. Jackie Vimo is a policy analyst who leads NILC’s economic justice program and driver’s license policy work through the Winning in the States (WITS) initiative. In addition to working to block the Department of Homeland Security’s new “public charge” rule, Jackie oversees NILC’s anti-poverty work on issues including hunger and food insecurity, housing, and tax policy.
Raha Wala, Deputy Director for Legislative Advocacy. Raha Wala leads NILC’s efforts to develop and implement congressional advocacy strategies that protect and defend the rights of low-income immigrant communities.
Max Wolson, Staff Attorney. Max Wolson works to advance and defend immigrants’ rights through impact litigation. He comes to NILC with significant litigation experience at the trial and appellate levels, having served as both a federal and state public defender. He is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Muzna Ansari, Special Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer. Muzna leads the execution of a wide range of projects within the Operations Department. She works closely with the COO and senior leadership of the department.
Karina Balderas, Human Resources Coordinator. Karina Balderas is responsible for facilitating and assisting with human resources processes, new-hire onboarding, administering employee health and welfare plans, acting as a liaison between employees and insurance providers, and resolving benefits-related problems.
Lauren Caputo, Associate Director of Human Resources for Employee Performance and Success. Lauren Caputo is responsible for developing NILC’s performance management system, leading recruitment, and supporting staff training and development.
Maria Cisneros, Senior Staff Accountant. Maria Cisneros is responsible for helping maintain fiscal order at NILC.
Nasiba Clark, Executive Assistant. Nasiba Clark provides executive assistant support to NILC’s deputy directors and senior leadership team.
Shaun Clarke, Project Manager. Shaun Clarke is responsible for the administrative functioning of NILC’s DC office as well as assisting with special projects.
Ruxandra Hernandez, Associate Director of Finance. Ruxandra Hernandez leads the organization’s budgeting and forecasting process and expands and enhances reporting and analysis for both NILC and NILC-IJF. This includes coordination, management, and completion of monthly, quarterly, and annual finance organizational reporting.
Veronica Ibarra, Special Assistant, Federal Advocacy. Veronica provides project management, systems improvement, and general support for NILC’s Federal Advocacy department. She works closely with the Deputy Director for Legislative Advocacy.
Claudia Lara, Executive Coordinator. Claudia Lara provides executive support to NILC’s executive director, Executive Office, and board of directors.
Joanne Maldonado, Temporary – Senior Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. Joanne provides principal executive leadership support to Marielena Hincapié, managing her complex schedule, media interviews, speaking engagements and external communications with donors and funders. She also supports board engagement and quarterly business meetings and special projects for the Executive Office.
Rachelle Orozco, Staff Accountant. Rachelle handles Accounts Payable, processes payroll, and records revenue and expenses.
Kim Prophet, Associate Director of Accounting. Kim supports the implementation of NILC’s accounting infrastructure, helps drive the leadership of the accounting team, and leads the controller function.
Tamera Rizk, Special Assistant to the Deputy Director. Tamera provides project management, systems improvement, and general support for NILC’s Programs division and works closely with the deputy director.
Jeremy Rutigliano, Grant and Budget Analyst. Jeremy supports the finance and development teams in their grant proposal, monitoring, and reporting processes.
Denyce White, Executive Assistant. Denyce White supports NILC’s program directors, legal director, communications director, and director of policy and advocacy. She manages their busy calendars, scheduling meetings, calls, and travel. She helps keep the directors organized in their daily workload and other responsibilities and administers their monthly expenses via Concur Solutions.
Irene S. Botello, Development Associate. Irene provides administrative support for the Development Team.
Lucy Brandon, Donor Relations Manager. Lucy Brandon supports NILC’s individual donor fundraising efforts and manages special events for our network of donors and supporters.
Annabell Camacho, Grant Specialist. Annabell Camacho oversees grant management operations that support NILC’s extensive portfolio of institutional funders. She ensures the timely administration of all grant cycle activities and works closely with NILC’s development team to maintain and secure the resources required to advance NILC’s mission and goals.
Ana Diaz Casos, Administrative Assistant. Ana Diaz Casos serves as the primary point of contact for administrative needs for the Development department and supports NILC’s individual donor fundraising efforts.
Acasia Flores, Development Program Manager, Data Research and Analysis. Acasia Flores supports NILC’s fundraising efforts, including overseeing donor database management and producing fundraising performance reports and statistics.
Michael Regan, Donor Research and Prospect Management Analyst. Michael supports the Individual Giving Team’s efforts to build deeper relationships with donors who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to investing in NILC’s work on behalf of immigrants’ rights. His primary responsibilities include donor acquisition and helping to match current donors with giving opportunities that are especially aligned with their philanthropic interests and goals.
Madison Allman, Senior Communications Strategist for Media and Messaging. Madison Allman coordinates NILC’s media work and press outreach. She helps create messaging frameworks and executes strategic communications to promote NILC’s voice and programmatic goals.
Amrit Cheng, Head of Digital Communications. Amrit Cheng oversees NILC’s digital communications, including the execution of digital campaigns, audience engagement strategies, and storytelling to advance the priorities of the organization.
Sara Ellingrod, Senior Digital Strategist. Sara Ellingrod coordinates and develops content for NILC’s social media platforms and websites. She analyzes online trends and movements to meet organizational goals, boost NILC’s online engagement, and expand the organization’s reach.
Jasmin Gamez, Digital Strategist. Jasmin works to build, engage, and mobilize NILC’s online community by creating, editing, producing, and promoting content on all digital platforms. She collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to develop coalitions around common priorities, campaigns, and initiatives.
Juan Gastelum, Associate Director of Communications for Media and Messaging. Juan Gastelum works to advance NILC’s programmatic goals through strategic communications and by helping to keep interested parties outside the organization abreast of our work. He serves as the organization’s media contact and facilitates interview requests. Follow Juan on Twitter: @juangastelum.
Vita Makle, Executive Assistant to CCO. Vita Makle provides senior executive support to NILC’s Chief Communications Officer.
Emily Morris, Senior Communications Strategist for Media and Messaging. Emily Morris coordinates NILC’s media work and press outreach. She helps create messaging frameworks and executes strategic communications to promote NILC’s voice and programmatic goals.