Marielena Hincapié is executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, the leading organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants in the U.S. Under her leadership, NILC has grown to be a premier immigrants’ rights organization, strategically using a combination of litigation, policy, communications, and alliance-building to effect social change. As an immigrant from Colombia, Ms. Hincapié brings a bilingual and bicultural perspective to her work in the immigrants’ rights movement.
Ms. Hincapié is a highly-respected legal and political strategist in the immigrants’ rights movement and a leading voice in the national conversation on immigration.
She 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 is the board president of the Indivisible Project. Previously, she served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration and on other boards.
Ms. Hincapié is widely recognized for her leadership in the immigrants’ rights movement. She is a sought-out speaker for national and international conferences and regularly speaks to the media on immigration, including recent interviews with the New York Times, Washington Post, Univisión, Telemundo, CNN, CNN en Español, MSNBC, and many other outlets. Additionally, Ms. Hincapié’s leadership has been recognized with numerous awards, including Univisión’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. 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, 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 Assistant: Claudia Lara
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.
Jill Corral, Director, Finance & Administration. Jill Corral is responsible for the fiscal management and administration of NILC’s infrastructure, to ensure long-term sustainability, enhance quality programming, and build capacity. Ms. Corral has over fifteen years’ experience in business and financial planning leadership roles, specializing in business process improvement, financial governance and oversight, and operational efficiency. She holds an MBA from the University of San Diego.
José Delgadillo, Interim Director, Talent Management & Human Resources. José Delgadillo oversees NILC’s staff recruitment efforts and partners with teams to enhance staff development.
Kamal Essaheb, Deputy Director. Kamal Essaheb is responsible for overseeing the execution of all of NILC’s programmatic activities, ranging from impact litigation to policy advocacy to strategic communications plans. Essaheb previously served as NILC’s director of policy and advocacy, spearheading the integration of the organization’s federal, state, and local policy work and also taking a key leadership role in the development of NILC’s strategic framework. Essaheb joined NILC in 2012 as a staff attorney after having practiced immigration law in New York City. He is a graduate of Fordham Law School, where he was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. An immigrant from Morocco, Essaheb is deeply familiar with the personal and policy implications of major immigration measures.
Linton Joaquin, General Counsel. 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 40-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).
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.
Anthony Martinez, Associate Director of Communications for Digital and Publications. Anthony Martinez oversee NILC’s online and offline publications. He also serves as the primary Communications Department liaison to NILC programmatic staff, connecting with other organizational deputy or associate directors to implement the programmatic aspects of NILC’s Strategic Framework. Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthonyjr_.
Jenny Rejeske, Interim Advocacy Director. Jenny Rejeske supports the Policy and Advocacy Department in the development and implementation of goals and priorities as well as in the effective allocation of department resources and assessment of department priorities. Jenny was previously NILC’s senior health policy analyst.
Archana Sahgal, Senior Advisor, Strategic Engagement and Initiatives. Archana Sahgal is senior advisor at the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund and leads NILC Immigrant Justice Fund’s 2020 Presidential Project. She works at the intersection of politics, power, and movement-building to create social change and comes to NILC after serving in the Obama administration. At the White House, Sahgal served as senior associate director for public engagement and as the director of advisory committees and industry outreach at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She served as a senior advisor at the NoVo Foundation, where she developed the Collaborative Fund for Safety and Dignity, a new $20 million philanthropic vehicle focused on expanding #MeToo’s impact in the workplace. She has also served as senior advisor at the Democracy Alliance, where she led the investment strategy to protect democratic norms and principles in the Trump era. In addition, Sahgal has worked with other foundations and donors across the U.S., including the San Francisco Foundation, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and the Open Society Foundations. Her work has been profiled in the New York Times, Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, and WNYC. She served on the board of directors of the Korematsu Institute, Californians for Justice, and South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow. Sahgal received her B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and J.D. from the University of California Davis School of Law.
Joshua Stehlik, Deputy Legal Director. 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.
LEGAL & POLICY
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.
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.
Shiu-Ming Cheer, Director of Movement Building & Strategic Partnerships. Shiu-Ming Cheer spearheads NILC’s bridge-building efforts to support a healthy, powerful, and purposeful movement. At NILC, she has also focused on challenging immigration enforcement, advancing access to status, and incorporating a field perspective into the work.
Connie Choi, Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign Field Manager and Strategist. Connie Choi leads and oversees field, education, and mobilization strategy for the Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future national campaign, co-chaired by NILC and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a leading national anti-poverty organization.
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.
Nicholas Espíritu, Staff Attorney. Nicholas Espíritu focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation and administrative advocacy.
Elaine Garcia, Legal Administrator
Robin Goldfaden, Staff Attorney
Jessie Hahn, Labor & 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 counsel 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.
Kevin Herrera, Staff Attorney. Kevin Herrera works to defend and advance the rights of low-income immigrants, their families, and communities through litigation, policy advocacy, and community education. His work focuses on full access to civic life for immigrant communities, immigration enforcement issues, and supporting immigrant workers.
Alvaro M. Huerta, Staff Attorney. 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 practice includes impact litigation on due process, equal protection and civil rights, and challenging anti-immigrant federal and state legislation and administrative actions. He also helps state and local advocates ensure that immigrants and their families can obtain access to health care and economic supports. Follow Alvaro on Twitter: @AlvaroMHuerta.
Mayra Joachin, Staff Attorney. Mayra Joachin focuses on advancing the rights of low-income immigrants through administrative advocacy, impact litigation, direct work with affected individuals, and technical assistance. Her main areas of work involve immigration enforcement issues, including advocating for policies that protect immigrants’ access to health care facilities, work sites, schools, and courthouses.
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.
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 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.
Araceli Martínez-Olguín, Staff 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. Sheila Miller has extensive experience with case management, multidistrict litigation, investigative research, and court liaison at the state and federal levels.
Avideh Moussavian, Legislative Director, Advocacy. 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.
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.
Trudy S. Rebert, Staff Attorney. Trudy S. Rebert is a litigator whose practice with NILC primarily focuses on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), immigration enforcement, and workers’ rights.
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.
Sonya Schwartz, Senior Policy Attorney – Advocacy. Sonya Schwartz co-chairs the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign, which works with hundreds of partner organizations across the country to protect and defend access to health care, nutrition programs, public services, and economic supports for immigrants and their families and to lay a foundation for a nation where all are truly equal, immigration is recognized as a strength, and no one in America is denied the essentials of life because of where they were born.
Subha Varadarajan, Muslim & Refugee Ban Legal & Outreach Fellow. Subha Varadarajan is the Muslim Ban Outreach and Legal Fellow for Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, CAIR San Francisco Bay Area, and National Immigration Law Center.
Jackie Vimo, Economic Justice Policy Analyst
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, HR 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.
Armen Bazikian, Controller. Armen Bazikian is responsible for maintaining accounting records at NILC.
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.
Michael Guillory, Project Manager. Michael Guillory is responsible for NILC’s administrative support and serves as the primary liaison to vendors and building management.
Ruxandra Hernandez, Senior Budget Analyst
Veronica Ibarra, Scheduler – Administrative Associate. Veronica Ibarra manages the calendar of NILC’s executive director and provides administrative support to the Executive Office.
Claudia Lara, Senior Executive Assistant. Claudia Lara provides executive assistant support to NILC’s executive director, executive team, and board of directors.
Isobel Mohyeddin, Administrative Associate. Isobel Mohyeddin provides administrative support to NILC’s Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) and Winning in the States (WITS) campaigns.
Moises Ortiz, Automation Specialist
Julian Ponce, Grant Analyst. Julian Ponce tracks expenditures charged to NILC’s grants and contracts and ensures that they are properly reported in NILC’s accounting system. He helps ensure that grant income is spent in accordance with donors’ intent and in compliance with any relevant government or professional regulations. Mr. Ponce also helps the Development Department prepare grant proposal budgets.
Matt Pritt, Temporary Staff Accountant
Cheryl Westbrook, Administrative Assistant. Cheryl Westbrook is responsible for the administrative functioning of NILC’s Los Angeles office and assists with special projects.
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.
COMMUNICATIONS & DEVELOPMENT
Robin Aubry, Digital Specialist. Robin Aubry co-coordinates and creates content for NILC’s digital and social media platforms. He monitors NILC’s accounts as well as current events related to immigrants’ rights, drafts posts, and creates other kinds of content that help advance NILC’s mission.
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.
Hayley Burgess, Media Relations Associate. Hayley Burgess supports NILC’s strategic communications and media outreach efforts, primarily working to facilitate interaction between NILC experts and the media. Follow Hayley on Twitter: @hayleyrburgess.
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.
Juan Gastelum, Media Relations Specialist. 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.
Alexandra Gilliland, Communications Strategist
Richard Irwin, Editor and Publications Manager. 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.
Patrick O’Shea, Research and Narrative Strategist. Patrick O’Shea 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.
Irene Santos, Development Associate. Irene Santos provides administrative support for the Development Team.
Natalia Skinner, Program Manager, Institutional Giving. Natalia supports NILC’s grants management and institutional giving efforts.
Holly Straut-Eppsteiner, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow and Research Program Manager. Holly Straut-Eppsteiner is developing a qualitative research program to support NILC’s litigation and advocacy on behalf of low-income immigrants.