Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.
To contact NILC by email: [email protected]
Marielena Hincapié is the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, the main organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants in the U.S. Under her executive leadership, NILC has grown to be one of the premier immigrants’ rights organizations, strategically using a combination of litigation, policy, communications, and alliance-building strategies to effect social change. Ms. Hincapié is highly respected for her legal and political strategies and is seen as a bridge builder within the immigrants’ rights field as well as across broader social justice sectors.
Fully bilingual and bicultural, Ms. Hincapié serves as a resource and is often interviewed by media outlets such as Univisión, Telemundo, CNN en Español, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. She also is a frequent lecturer at national and international conferences, addressing issues of migration, and she works closely with emerging leaders in the social justice movement. Ms. Hincapié began her tenure at NILC in 2000 as a staff attorney leading the organization’s labor and employment 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.
Before joining NILC, Ms. 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 holds a juris doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law, served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration, and is currently a member of the Jobs with Justice, Welcome.US, and Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) boards of directors.
Among the awards Ms. Hincapié has received are Univision’s Corazón Award for 2013, in honor of her commitment to the Latino community. The media company, which honors one organization and one individual each year, cited her leadership at the National Immigration Law Center as a key reason she received the award. In 2014, she received the Latina of Influence award from Hispanic Lifestyle, the National Public Service Award from Stanford Law School, and was selected as a Prime Mover Fellow by the Hunt Alternatives Fund. She also recently served as the Northeastern University School of Law Daynard Distinguished Visiting Fellow and the 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. She is the youngest of 10 children.
Follow Marielena on Twitter: @MarielenaNILC
Executive Assistant: Claudia Lara
Marisa Aguayo | Development Director | Los Angeles
Marisa Aguayo manages NILC’s overall fundraising efforts and plays a leadership role in developing and overseeing the implementation of annual fundraising plans that ensure NILC’s long-term sustainability. Prior to joining NILC in 2004, she 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.
Adela de la Torre | Communications Director | Los Angeles
Adela de la Torre directs communication and media outreach efforts for NILC. In this role, she works with others to conduct communications research and helps shape messaging for major legal and policy campaigns. Under her leadership, NILC’s media presence has grown, and NILC experts are now sought-after thought leaders who help shape the news. Adela joined NILC in 2009 as a communications specialist. Prior to joining NILC, she served as a media relations specialist for the George Washington University, where she earned her B.A. in International Affairs and her M.A. in Latin American Hemispheric Studies.
Kamal Essaheb | Director of Policy & Advocacy | Washington, DC
Kamal Essaheb directs NILC’s federal, state, and local policy and advocacy work. He also engages in advocacy relating to access to legal status for immigrants, including implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Prior to joining NILC, Mr. Essaheb was a practicing immigration attorney at CUNY Citizenship Now, a nonprofit immigration legal services provider in New York City. He is a graduate of Fordham Law School, where he was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. He is an immigrant from Morocco and is fluent in Arabic.
Linton Joaquin | General Counsel | Los Angeles
Linton Joaquin became NILC’s first general counsel in September 2008 after having served as executive director since 2004. Prior to that, he was NILC’s legal director. In his 35-plus years of legal practice, Mr. Joaquin has gained national recognition for his expertise in immigration law and in litigation to preserve and promote immigrants’ legal rights. He has served as lead or principal counsel in numerous class action lawsuits, such as Walters v. Reno, requiring the Immigration and Naturalization Service to comply with due process in charging immigrants with civil document fraud; Orantes-Hernandez v. Meese, prohibiting the INS from coercing a nationwide class of Salvadoran refugees into abandoning their right to seek asylum, and requiring the agency to allow detained class members access to counsel and legal rights materials; and Perez-Funez v. District Director, enjoining the INS from having detained children waive their right to a hearing without first having access to legal advice. Prior to joining NILC in 1990, Mr. Joaquin served as executive director and director of litigation for the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) in Los Angeles, and staff attorney for the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. He also has taught immigration law on an adjunct basis at the University of Southern California Law School (1997) and Southwestern University School of Law (1991-1996). Mr. Joaquin holds a juris doctor degree from the University of California (Boalt Hall).
Tom Kam | Deputy Director, Development and Operations | Washington, DC
Tom Kam oversees NILC’s internal operations and special projects, and he helps lead NILC’s strategic fundraising efforts. He also serves as a key member of NILC’s Senior Leadership Team. More than half of Tom’s career has been dedicated to serving immigrant and refugee communities. From 1997 to 2006, he had a leadership role in directing the Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants, a funder’s collaborative that served, and advocated on behalf of, immigrant communities across the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. As Vice President, Social Justice Programs, at the Arcus Foundation, and as Vice President, Strategy and External Affairs, at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, he was responsible for strategic planning and the evaluation of critical initiatives. Tom is proud to be the son of an immigrant family from Panama, he was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and raised on more military bases than he cares to remember. He holds master’s degrees in Divinity and in Social Work.
Reshma Shamasunder | Deputy Director, Programs | Los Angeles
Reshma Shamasunder oversees the NILC’s legal, policy and advocacy, and communications strategies and serves as a key member of NILC’s Senior Leadership Team. Before joining NILC in 2017, Reshma served as executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center from 2003 to 2015. Under her leadership, CIPC helped to spearhead many successful campaigns at the state level, including placing limits on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, preserving important health and human service programs, winning driver’s licenses for all Californians, and furthering important immigrant integration efforts. Reshma served on the boards of Health Access California and the South Asian Network in Los Angeles. She was previously director of benefits policy and government affairs at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and also worked for several years on child labor issues in India. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants and was raised in California’s Mojave Desert. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA and a Master’s in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Karen Tumlin | Legal Director | Los Angeles
Karen Tumlin focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation and related advocacy. She has successfully litigated numerous cases of national importance, including the constitutional challenge to Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant SB 1070 law, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on immigrants’ rights issues. Her primary responsibilities are leading NILC’s legal department and overseeing NILC’s impact litigation. Before joining NILC as a Skadden Fellow in 2005, Karen clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Prior to law school, she worked as a research associate at the Urban Institute, where she coauthored studies on immigration, welfare, and language access issues. She also spent a year as a Luce Scholar in Bangkok, Thailand, where she conducted a study on child trafficking in the region for the U.N. International Labor Organization. Karen holds a juris doctor degree and a master of public policy from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall). Follow Karen on Twitter: @karentumlin.
LEGAL & POLICY
Bianca Alcala-Ruiz | Paralegal | Los Angeles
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. She previously worked for three years as a paralegal for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Ms. Alcala, whose interests are immigration reform and social justice, is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She earned her B.A. in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. After college, she obtained her paralegal certificate with highest honors from El Camino Community College in Torrance, California. Ms. Alcala grew up in South Los Angeles and is an immigrant from the Central American country of Belize.
Tanya Broder | Senior Staff Attorney | Berkeley
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. Before joining NILC in 1996, she worked as a policy analyst for the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County in Oakland. Ms. Broder holds a juris doctor degree from Yale Law School.
Shiu-Ming Cheer | Senior Staff Attorney & Field Coordinator | Los Angeles
Shiu-Ming Cheer focuses on challenging immigration enforcement, promoting access to legal status, and integrating a field strategy into NILC’s issue areas. Previously, she held the positions of Soros Justice Fellow and managing attorney at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network’s Los Angeles Detention Project and children’s attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. In those roles, she represented detained immigrants facing deportation. She was also the civil rights coordinator at South Asian Network and a public benefits attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a juris doctor from the UCLA School of Law Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. She has a long history of involvement in social justice organizing projects, campaigns, and coalitions.
Justin B. Cox | Staff Attorney | Atlanta
Justin B. Cox works to defend and advance the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation and administrative advocacy. He has litigated cases brought in response to unlawful immigration raids, unconstitutional and anti-immigrant state laws and executive orders, President Donald Trump’s Muslim-ban executive orders, fair-housing violations, and failure by federal and state agencies to provide access to information under federal and state freedom-of-information laws. Prior to joining NILC, Cox was a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, where he focused on litigation and advocacy related to state and local immigration laws and policies, particularly in the U.S. South. Cox was also an Arthur Liman Fellow at CASA de Maryland and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Mark Kravitz of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and to the Honorable Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Cox graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis and obtained his J.D. from Yale Law School. He is from a small town in rural Missouri.
Nicholas Espíritu | Staff Attorney | Los Angeles
Nicholas Espíritu focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation and administrative advocacy. Currently, he is litigating cases challenging state anti-immigrant ordinances and discrimination against recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). His practice also includes litigation focusing on the First Amendment and on detention issues. Previously, he was a national staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), where his docket focused on voting rights, immigrants’ rights, and the rights of low-income immigrant workers. Mr. Espíritu previously served as the Thurgood Marshall Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the Judge Constance Baker Motley Fellow at the Equal Justice Society, and a senior researcher at the UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program. He earned his B.A. from San Jose State University and his J.D., with a concentration in Critical Race Studies, from the UCLA School of Law.
Jessie Hahn | Labor & Employment Policy Attorney | Washington, DC
Jessie Hahn engages in legislative and administrative advocacy focused on protecting and expanding the rights of low-wage immigrant workers. She also provides legal counsel and strategic advice to support immigrant worker advocates around the country on legal and policy matters affecting immigrants in the workplace. Before joining NILC, Ms. Hahn worked for the City of New York, supervising the legal and investigative team enforcing the city’s Paid Sick Leave Law. Prior to that she worked as an attorney at the New York State Dept. of Labor, where her responsibilities included the enforcement of labor standards and health and safety. Ms. Hahn is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where she was a Public Interest Law Fellow and received a Peggy Browning Fellowship, and of Reed College. Prior to law school, she lived in southern Mexico for five years and worked with indigenous human rights organizations. She is fluent in Spanish.
Jessica Hanson | Skadden Fellow | Los Angeles
Through her Skadden fellowship, Jessica Hanson focuses on promoting and defending educational, professional, and financial opportunities for low-income immigrants with deferred action status. Before law school, she served as a legal assistant at both the Immigration Center for Women and Children and Casa Cornelia Law Center, where she worked with immigrant survivors of crimes, helping them with their U visa and VAWA petitions. Ms. Hanson holds a juris doctor from UCLA and a bachelor of arts in Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In law school, her specializations were UCLA’s Critical Race Studies Program and the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. As a law student, she was part of a legal team that successfully represented a clemency applicant who was serving a life sentence, and she helped an asylum applicant secure lawful permanent residence.
Alvaro M. Huerta | Staff Attorney | Los Angeles
Alvaro M. Huerta works to defend and advance the rights of low-income immigrants and their family members through litigation, administrative advocacy, and community education. His work focuses on ensuring that low-income immigrant families are not wrongly denied access to quality health care as states and municipalities implement federal health care reform. His practice also includes litigation on due process, equal protection and civil rights, and he is currently co-counsel on cases challenging anti-immigrant state legislation. Before joining NILC as a Skadden Fellow in 2011, Mr. Huerta clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Prior to law school, Mr. Huerta worked at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, where he directed the organization’s communications, community education, and advocacy strategies on various local, state, and federal immigration issues. Mr. Huerta holds a B.S. from Yale College and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. He is the son and grandson of Mexican immigrants to the United States. Follow Alvaro on Twitter: @AlvaroMHuerta
Mayra Joachin | Staff Attorney | Los Angeles
Mayra Joachin focuses on improving access to affordable health care coverage for uninsured immigrants. She engages in policy analysis, consumer advocacy, direct work with affected individuals, and impact litigation to advocate for improved access to health care. Before joining NILC as a Columbia Law Social Justice Fellow in 2015, Ms. Joachin interned at the Public Law Center’s Immigration Unit and was a judicial extern for Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her passion for immigrants’ rights advocacy stems from her experiences as a Salvadoran immigrant. Ms. Joachin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a juris doctor from Columbia Law School.
Melissa Keaney | Staff Attorney | Los Angeles
Melissa Keaney focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, technical assistance, and administrative advocacy. Her main work areas focus on immigration enforcement, with particular focus on programs that permit local law enforcement to collaborate in immigration enforcement. She also serves on the litigation teams challenging anti-immigrant measures in Arizona, Utah, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Prior to joining NILC, Ms. Keaney worked for a non-profit in Israel/Palestine. Ms. Keaney holds a juris doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
Gabrielle Lessard | Senior Policy Attorney | Los Angeles
Gabrielle Lessard specializes in the laws and policies affecting access to health care for immigrants and their families, in particular the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the maintenance and expansion of safety-net services for immigrants left uninsured. She writes articles and policy analyses, provides technical assistance, and presents trainings to legal and social service providers, government agencies, legislative staff, and community-based organizations. Ms. Lessard was previously the legal director of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, a health policy attorney at NILC, and a Skadden Fellow at the National Economic Development and Law Center. She holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Matthew Lopas | Health Campaign State and Local Manager; Health Policy Attorney | Washington, DC
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 expansion of health care programs. Prior to joining NILC as a fellow, Mr. Lopas interned at NILC and for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in the health policy office of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and he worked as a law clerk for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau. Before entering the legal field, Mr. Lopas was a newspaper reporter. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism and a juris doctor from the American University Washington College of Law.
Sheila Miller | Senior Paralegal | Los Angeles
Sheila Miller has extensive experience with case management, multidistrict litigation, investigative research, and court liaison at the state and federal levels. Prior to joining NILC, she worked as a supervising paralegal for a national securities litigation firm in Los Angeles. She has gained a wide breadth of knowledge in the areas of management while holding positions in several prominent law firms focusing on securities litigation, criminal defense and civil rights, including serving as an office administrator with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. A certified professional in her field, she is pursuing her master’s degree in business management. She is a Herbert Lehman Scholar and has served as the vice president of the board of Dare2Dream Scholarship Society, LLC.
Avideh Moussavian | Senior Policy Attorney | Washington, DC
Avideh Moussavian’s advocacy at NILC focuses on reducing the vulnerability of low-income immigrants to deportation on account of their race, class, or gender. She has previously worked on immigration reform advocacy and state and local enforcement issues at the New York Immigration Coalition and directly represented immigrant victims of gender-based violence at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, with a particular emphasis on representing immigrants in detention or with criminal convictions. She has served as board treasurer at Families for Freedom, an anti-deportation community organizing network in New York City, and as a visiting professional with the Office of Public Counsel for Defense at the International Criminal Court. She holds a juris doctor from Boston University School of Law and a bachelor of arts from Columbia University.
Nora Adriana Preciado | Staff Attorney | Los Angeles
Nora Preciado focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, technical assistance, and administrative advocacy. Her main areas of focus include immigration enforcement and workers’ rights issues. Before joining NILC, Ms. Preciado was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California, where she litigated cases dealing with immigrants’ rights issues and conducted extensive community outreach and education. She then joined the ACLU/SC’s Los Angeles office, where she focused on immigration detention litigation and advocacy on conditions of detention. Ms. Preciado holds a juris doctor degree from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).
Jenny Rejeske | Senior Health Policy Analyst | Los Angeles
Jenny Rejeske advocates for federal, state, and local policies giving low-income immigrants meaningful access to affordable health care. Prior to joining NILC, she directed the health advocacy program at the New York Immigration Coalition, where she organized advocacy campaigns aimed at improving and protecting immigrants’ access to affordable health care and health insurance, working in partnership with community-based organizations, health care providers, legal services and social services agencies and other advocacy groups. Prior to that, she worked at community health centers in New York City and Estes Park, CO. She earned her MS in nonprofit management from Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy.
Ignacia Rodriguez | Immigration Policy Advocate| Los Angeles
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 litigation, policy analysis, education, and advocacy to support the integration of low-income immigrant youth and children through access to education. Ms. Rodriguez’s experience as an activist in the immigrants’ rights movement and as an undocumented student from Chile has led to her devotion to improving the lives of low-income immigrants. While at UCLA School of Law, she worked with the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and Public Counsel. She holds an A.A. from Santa Monica College, a B.A. from UCLA, and a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.
Joshua Stehlik | Supervising Attorney | Los Angeles
Joshua Stehlik engages in policy advocacy, strategic litigation, technical assistance, and community education focused on enforcing and expanding the workplace rights of low-wage immigrant workers. Prior to joining NILC, Mr. Stehlik served as a supervising attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, where, for over ten years, he represented low-wage workers in a variety of wage-and-hour cases, unemployment insurance benefit appeals, and criminal record expungement proceedings to enhance employability. In that capacity, he also coordinated and supervised three weekly workers′ rights self-help legal clinics that assisted nearly 2,000 low-wage workers each year. Mr. Stehlik holds a juris doctor degree from Yale Law School.
Nina Torres | Program Associate | Los Angeles
Nina Torres focuses on supporting local and statewide campaigns that NILC is involved in and provides the community with presentations and outreach services. She supports administrative and legislative advocacy related to immigration enforcement issues, DACA, workers’ rights, health, and other core issues. Ms. Torres has been involved with NILC for several years, starting as a volunteer. Prior to coming back to NILC, she worked for Larkin Street Youth Services, providing at-risk and homeless youth with various community resources. Ms. Torres earned her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Communications from California State University, Los Angeles. She earned an M.A. in Human Rights Education at the University of San Francisco.
COMMUNICATIONS & DEVELOPMENT
Hayley Burgess | Media Relations Associate | Washington, DC
Hayley Burgess supports NILC’s strategic communications and media outreach efforts, primarily working to facilitate interaction between NILC experts and the media. Prior to joining NILC, Hayley worked on a range of corporate social responsibility and nonprofit campaigns at Weber Shandwick’s global Social Impact practice. She has also served on the public relations teams at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Hayley earned her B.A. in Public Relations from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Follow Hayley on Twitter: @hayleyrburgess.
Acasia Flores | Development Coordinator | Los Angeles
Acasia Flores is responsible for coordinating the planning and implementation of fundraising events, including the organization’s annual awards dinner. She supports the organization’s ongoing fundraising and development efforts and maintains the administrative systems of the development department. Prior to joining NILC, she was the Director of Operations for the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Juan Gastelum | Media Relations Specialist | Los Angeles
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. Prior to joining NILC, Juan worked on a variety of high-impact issue advocacy campaigns, including national and local fights for workers’ rights, environmental justice, and access to health care. He has also worked as a reporter and editor for national news outlets, including BuzzFeed News and Univision. Juan has an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Fulbright fellow in Spain in 2007 and is a proud alumnus of the University of Notre Dame. Follow Juan on Twitter: @juangastelum.
Richard Irwin | Editor | Los Angeles
Richard Irwin helps write, edits, designs, and produces the written resources NILC publishes, both online and on paper. He is also primarily responsible for maintaining and updating NILC′s website. He edited NILC’s newsletter, Immigrants’ Rights Update, from 1993 to 2011. Prior to joining NILC in 1990 as a paralegal, Richard wrote funding proposals and grant reports, staffed special events, and performed a variety of public relations/communications functions as development officer for St. Joseph Center in Venice, CA. He broke into advocacy work by serving first as a case aide, then a legalization office manager, then a developer of training and informational materials for Los Angeles Catholic Charities′ IRCA Legalization Program. Prior to that, he taught English composition at Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA.
Victoria Johnson | Online Communications Associate | Los Angeles
Victoria Johnson coordinates and implements strategies to expand the reach of NILC’s online communications — messages and other information disseminated via social media, email, and the NILC website. She made her way to NILC by way of newspaper and online journalism, including stints at the Salt Lake Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and online news start-up DNAinfo Chicago.
Patrick O’Shea | Content and Research Manager | Washington, DC
Patrick O’Shea is an Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow who is developing and implementing a comprehensive communications research plan to produce a pro-immigrant narrative that will shine a nuanced light on the issues that impact low-income immigrants and their families. This project includes conducting interviews with plaintiffs, advocates, and other individuals for the creation of a story bank that will serve as a resource for NILC’s legal, policy, and development teams. Previously, he worked closely with immigrant families as a public school teacher and community liaison in Colorado, and he spent the past fourteen years teaching, studying, and conducting research in Mexico, Japan, Cuba, Chile, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Through an exploration of personal histories, his research engages with the ways in which socially transformative processes of migration (forced or voluntary) shape national cultures. He earned a PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies from the University of Manchester (UK).
Natalia Skinner | Grants Compliance Coordinator | Los Angeles
Natalia supports NILC’s grants management and institutional giving efforts. Prior to joining NILC, she served in several capacities supporting individual and institutional resource development at Accion International, an international NGO based in Boston. Before that, she worked in the office of the Dean of Student Services at Allan Hancock College. Born and raised in southern California, Natalia is a proud first-generation college graduate and alumna of the University of Sussex (UK); University of California, Riverside; and Allan Hancock College.
Armen Bazikian | Senior Accountant | Los Angeles
Armen Bazikian is responsible for maintaining accounting records at NILC. Before joining NILC, he worked at The Cambodian Family, a nonprofit human service organization, for 13 years. Mr. Bazikian started there as a job counselor, assisting refugees in finding employment. While working towards his degree, he transitioned into the accounting department as a bookkeeper. Mr. Bazikian has volunteered for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program for seven years, preparing individual tax returns. He also has served as an independent consultant, assisting others with tax preparation. Mr. Bazikian earned his B.A. in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from California State University, Fullerton.
Alejandra Casillas | HR & Administration Manager | Los Angeles
Alejandra Casillas is responsible for all human resources administration as well as the overall supervision of information technology matters for the National Immigration Law Center. In this capacity, she works to ensure that NILC is compliant with human resource regulations in states in which the organization operates. In addition, Ms. Casillas uses her advanced technological expertise to ensure the safety and stability of NILC’s technological systems. Before serving at NILC, Ms. Casillas was the operations manager for a worldwide scientific and technical communication software development and marketing company. Ms. Casillas holds a PHR certification as well as a BA from California State University, Pomona.
Maria Cisneros | Staff Accountant | Los Angeles
Maria Cisneros is responsible for helping maintain fiscal order at NILC. Before coming to NILC, she served as an accounting clerk for Give More Hope, a Los Angeles–area nonprofit focused on rehabilitation. She also has served as a volunteer tax preparer with the California State University, Los Angeles Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, preparing individual tax returns and answering common tax questions. Ms. Cisneros expects to earn a B.S. in business administration from CSU-LA in August 2013.
Shaun Clarke | DC Office Coordinator | Washington, DC
Shaun is responsible for the administrative functioning of NILC’s DC office as well as assisting with special projects. She has a passion for creating efficiency and organization, which she considers cornerstones for the effective operation of an office environment. Since joining NILC, she has been using her experience to streamline office functionality. Shaun is a seasoned professional, with over 15 years working in executive support functions. She has provided executive assistance to CEOs, managing partners, and professional athletes within organizations such as Venable LLP, American Legacy Foundation, the Cohen Group, and MTX Wealth Management. Shaun has a passion for service, both in an out of the office. She spends her free time interior designing and crafting butterflies.
Claudia Lara | Senior Executive Assistant | Los Angeles
Claudia Lara provides executive assistant support to NILC’s executive director, executive team, and board of directors. Prior to joining NILC in 2011, Ms. Lara served as executive administrative assistant to the Saro Mortgage Co. for three years, and as legal administrative assistant with the Bander Law Firm for one year before that. She is working to complete her bachelor’s degree in political science and volunteers with the Union Station Homeless Shelter in Pasadena as well as with the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program at UCLA in Westwood, CA.
Jeffrey Samson| Director of Finance | Los Angeles
Jeffrey Samson oversees the financial management and day-to-day financial activities of the organization. He describes himself as a serving leader to a dynamic and collaborative team, and an innovative finance professional with a focus on integrating IT solutions with systems analysis, design, and implementation. With over 10 years of progressive experience working in the nonprofit industry, Jeffrey has worked with funders and grantees, providing technical assistance to different organizations in developing budgets, policies and procedures, financial management, and automation of accounting and finance systems. Before joining NILC, Jeffrey worked as the Director of Finance and IT at Bienvenidos Children’s Center and was instrumental in bringing new ideas and solutions to accounting and financial management. Outside the office, he serves as a fitness leader by promoting a healthy and active way of life through dance-fitness. Originally from the Philippines, Jeffrey earned his Bachelor in Accountancy from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
Samantha Silver | Office Coordinator | Los Angeles
Samantha Silver provides primary administrative support to the HR & Administration team and serves as a resource for all administrative support staff. Before moving to L.A., Samantha lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for eight years, where she worked as the events administrative assistant for the Bar Association of San Francisco and an event coordinator for the Western Literature Association. She interned for the current mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, when he was serving as a city councilmember. Samantha received her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from UC Berkeley.