Kica Matos, President
Kica Matos is the president of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF). She is also a Distinguished Practitioner at Yale University’s Brady Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. Kica joined NILC and IJF as executive vice president of programs and strategy in January 2023. Prior to this, Kica was vice president of initiatives at the Vera Institute of Justice. She also served as the director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change. She has extensive experience as an advocate, community organizer, and lawyer.
Kica has also headed up the U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights Program at Atlantic Philanthropies. Before joining Atlantic Philanthropies, she was deputy mayor in the city of New Haven, where she oversaw community programs and launched new initiatives including prisoner re-entry and youth and immigrant integration. Kica was previously the executive director of JUNTA, New Haven’s oldest Latino advocacy organization. She also worked as an assistant federal defender for death sentenced inmates and with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Amnesty International on death penalty and criminal justice issues.
She has a B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, an M.A. from the New School and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Albertus Magnus College in 2017 and the University of New Haven in 2019. She is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and in 2021, she was inducted into the CT Women’s Hall of Fame.
Executive Office Director: Claudia Lara
Muzna Ansari, VP of Organizational Effectiveness
Muzna moves forward the work of the SLT, oversees the administrative support function across the organization, and acts as an essential thought partner to the Executive Director. Working with the SLT, Muzna addresses high-level issues across a wide range of activities, assesses situations, recommends appropriate responses, and ensures the team as a whole has met its internal and external commitments. Prior to NILC, Muzna previously served as Manager of Policy at the New York Immigrant Rights Coalition, where she was promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff. She was also a Legislative Policy Analyst on the Immigration and Civil Rights Committees for the New York City Council. She graduated from the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and completed her undergraduate studies at Barnard College at Columbia University.
Victoria Ballesteros, EVP of Strategic Communications and Narrative
Victoria Ballesteros leads NILC’s communications and narrative functions, helping to grow the visibility and reach of NILC’s work. She developed and led the organization’s award-winning #ImmigrantsAreEssential narrative project. Ms. Ballesteros has more than 20 years of experience leading communication efforts in the nonprofit and public sectors, including working for the U.S. House of Representatives, California’s Senate Majority Leader, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, 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, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the California State University, Fullerton. She is the daughter and sibling of immigrants and is bilingual (Spanish).
Tasha Harris, EVP, Operations
Tasha provides strategic leadership on all areas of operations, including Finance & Administration, Human Resources and Technology. Her work focuses on overseeing the strategic and day-to-day management of NILC’s operations, ensuring effective and strong operations functions for the organization as a whole.
Tracy C. Dennis, VP of Human Resources. Tracy Dennis is responsible for leading the strategic leadership and direction to all facets of the human resources management. Through strategic partnerships and collaboration, Tracy oversees the charge to attract, develop, and retain a high performing, an inclusive and diverse workforce and foster a healthy, safe, well-equipped and productive work environment for NILC employees, in order to maximize individual potential, and expand organizational capacity.
Will Dempster, VP of Strategic 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.
Lisa Graybill, VP of Law and Policy. 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.
Briannon Gillis, VP of Political Strategy, 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.
Raha Wala, VP of Strategic Partnerships and 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. Prior to NILC, Raha worked as Advocacy Director for Physicians for Human Rights and was the Senior Director of Government Relations for Human Rights First. He earned his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and earned his BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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.
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, Deputy Director, Legal. 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.
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, Deputy Director, Legal. 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, Deputy Director, State Advocacy. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Karina Balderas, Human Resources Generalist. Karina Balderas works across the HR team to execute the strategic HR vision for day-to-day HR functions including administering pay, benefits, and leave, ensuring compliance with company policies and practices, and assisting employees throughout the entire employee life cycle at NILC.
Claudia Lara, Director, Executive Office. Claudia Lara provides executive support to NILC’s executive director, Executive Office, and board of directors.
Fatima Blanca Munoz, Senior Executive Assistant to President. Fatima Blanca Munoz provides primary direct administrative support to the NILC and IJF President as well as to the Executive Team.
Lauren Caputo, Director, Employee Experience. 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.
Gail Heath, Director, Employee Relations. Gail will work on helping establish policies and procedures to develop a robust employee relations program, and help in implementing the union contract upon completion. She will be working to create and provide training and help provide guidance to managers and employees on effective ways to resolve workplace issues.
Grace Hochheimer, HR Project Manager. Grace works to advance the rights of low-income immigrants through supporting the talent management functions at NILC. Her work focuses on Human Resources projects that have a broad impact to the whole organization across the employee life cycle, including process improvement and quality assurance to support the most vital part of NILC, its people.
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.
Virna Madison, Human Resources Coordinator. Virna Madison will facilitate human resources administering, processing, and enforcing benefits programs with policies and procedures for new hires. Her work focuses on providing administrative support to the human resources functions, including the hiring process, employee record-keeping, safety regulations, track benefit plans, execute all employee terminations procedures and HRIS maintenance. Present training materials, retirement, and Workers Comp., including advising employees on their rights and any benefits employees are entitled to.
John Manwell, Director, Technology. John advances the missions of NILC and IJF by acting as a subject matter expert and leader in technology operations, including technology, data, and information security. He oversees and executes day-to-day technology operations including technology enablement, defining technology architecture and infrastructure, ensuring compliance, and managing vendor relationships. John acts as both a strategic leader and hands-on executor in areas ranging from systems administration to employee IT to procurement.
Jarvis Nash, Manager, Talent Acquisition. Jarvis is responsible for sourcing, screening, and recommending candidates for NILC positions as well as onboarding new hires. He develops and executes recruitment plans and strategies as his prime responsibility is to ensure hiring and onboarding goals are met with the best possible talent.
Rachelle Orozco, Staff Accountant. Rachelle handles Accounts Payable, processes payroll, and records revenue and expenses.
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.
Ileanna Santiago Ruiz, Senior OD Specialist. Ileanna works to evaluate factors influencing workforce performance including defining performance yields and co-engineering performance standards. Her work focuses on contributing to the environment that makes change possible and contributes to material change associated to talent management.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sabrina Orozco, Institutional Giving Program Manager. Sabrina supports NILC’s institutional fundraising efforts by assisting in the development and execution of long-term sustainability and growth plans for institutional funding.
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.
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, Director, Media & 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.