Core Sessions

Immigration Reform to Strengthen the U.S. Economy

The immigration reform debate has changed in meaningful ways over the past decade as business leaders and other unique allies have entered the fold. This panel, featuring representatives from national and statewide business-oriented coalitions, will highlight the successful strategies and arguments they have employed in recent years to broaden support for reform across the political spectrum. Hear how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition have moved the needle with business and conservative leaders and see how they view the landscape for state and federal action going forward. Speakers: 

  • Randel K. Johnson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Todd Schulte,
  • Dan Wallace, Partnership for a New American Economy
  • Rebecca Shi, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition

Picking the Story That’s Right for You: A Horticulture+Strategy Workshop

Designed for anyone who is currently -- or considering -- embedding art and culture into their immigrant integration strategies, this hands-on workshop offers a fresh metaphoric framework for planning, implementation and assessment. Find out why Welcoming America chapters used the multimedia platform Immigrant Nation as a Rake, and test your new analytical skills: is Jose Antonio Vargas’ film DOCUMENTED a Trellis... or a Trowel? Hosted by Active Voice.


  • Ellen Schneider, Director Active Voice Lab
  • Special guests to be announced

The Campaign to Make Citizenship Affordable: Victories, Next Steps, and Original Research

Dr. Manuel Pastor will present his original research on who is eligible to naturalize. Participants will discuss next steps in the campaign to make citizenship affordable. Panelists:

  • Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor, USC, Dornslife-Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, Co-Director USC CSII Program
  • Felicia Escobar, Special Assistant to the President of the United States for Immigration Policy
  • Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director, National Partnership for New Americans
  • Jacki Esposito, Policy Analyst, National Partnership for New Americans

Learning From Our Allies in Other Social Justice Struggles

Communities across the United States are waging struggles for social justice on a variety of fronts, including police accountability, racial justice, fair working conditions, and LGBTQ equality. The recent grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, and the fights to increase the minimum wage and win marriage equality in various locations indicate the work that remains unfinished and must continue. This timely panel will bring together leaders from these battles to discuss the lessons they have learned, and how these lessons can be applied to the fight for immigrant rights and immigration reform. Speakers:

  • Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York -- Linda Sarsour is a civil rights activist, seasoned community organizer and social media maverick. She is the National Advocacy Director at the National Network for Arab American Communities and Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York. Linda has been at the forefront of the campaign to end the NYPD's unwarranted surveillance of the American Muslim community, discriminatory law enforcement practices like stop and frisk and broken windows policing impacting communities of color in New York City. She is the co-founder of Muslims for Ferguson which was born days after the tragic murder of Michael Brown to mobilize American Muslims to support the incredible people of Ferguson and their pursuit for justice. She is a board member of the New York Immigration Coalition. Linda is well known for her intentional work to build coalitions across communities and issues. She has been recognized as a ""Champion of Change"" by the White House, received the Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Award from the New York City Council, and named American Muslim of the Year by America's largest Muslim civil rights organization amongst many other accolades. She is a Palestinian Muslim American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Marco Antonio Quiroga, National Field Officer, Immigration Equality Action Fund
  • Tia Oso, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
  • Shuya Ohno, Campaign Director, Advancement Project -- Shuya Ohno joined Advancement Project in 2014 to lead the Right To Vote Initiative as its Campaign Director. With over twelve years of experience in electoral and advocacy campaigns at the local, state, and national levels, Shuya brings commitment to movement building that integrates organizing and communications to build capacity at the grassroots to bring campaigns to scale.Before joining Advancement Project, Shuya worked at the Center for Community Change and the National Immigration Forum on national immigrant rights campaigns. Over the past ten years, Shuya traveled to over 27 states, working closely with dozens of grassroots and statewide community organizations. In 2007 and 2008, Shuya played a pivotal role in responding to crises in New Bedford, MA and Postville, IA respectively when communities of color suffered devastation from major immigration raids. In Arizona in 2010, Shuya worked with local organizations and communities of color to train over 100 young organizers, empowering them to drive a strategic response to the passage of the racist and anti-immigrant SB1070 state law. Those efforts helped build movement and lasting power in AZ for the immigrant and Latino community. Working closely with local organizations, Shuya also steered similar crisis to movement efforts in AL in 2011.Shuya was born in Tokyo, Japan, immigrated to the US at the age of 6, and grew up in New Jersey where he attended Rutgers College. He is now based in Washington, DC. - See more at:

Creating a Sustainable Economy for All: Common Sense Economics

The vast majority of immigrants in this country are working people. And although our economy’s productivity has increased over the last few decades, working people are earning less and less in real wages and struggling to make ends meet for their families. At the same time, we are witnessing the largest redistribution of wealth in our nation’s history. This interactive workshop will implement an organizing tool called Common Sense Economics (CSE) built in the shape of a curriculum for mass education that helps participants understand how the economy affects their lives, and more importantly, how we can all work to build an economy that works for everyone. CSE is intended to be shared, modified and flexible. It’s designed to help people understand why this economy is not working for working people and that the economy is not inevitable, but is shaped by policy. The tool’s main goal is to immediately connect people to action and put workers in the driver’s seat to start changing the direction of this economy. Facilitators:

  • Yvette De La Cruz, AFL-CIO
  • Juliet Ovalle, CLEAN Carwash Campaign
  • Claudia Bautista, National Day Laborer Organizing Network

Creating Social and Economic Change through Strategic Labor/Community Alliances

Labor unions and community organizations have been creating and participating in various types of alliances and coalitions as a way to solve complex social and economic problems. In some cases these alliances have been highly effective. These alliances are increasingly interdependent and crucial to build power to address inequities, and to build and sustain stronger and more just communities. This workshop will explore the dynamic ways labor and community alliances interact as agents of change, analyze a framework to better understand the elements of effective alliances and identify best practices. Speakers:

  • Xiomara Corpeno, Director of Community Education, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
  • Robert England, Communication Workers of America
  • Ben Monterroso, Executive Director, Mi Familia Vota
  • Saket Soni, Executive Director, National Guestworker Alliance

State Level Fights: The Good, the Ugly, and the Challenging

As Congress deadlocks over immigration reform, immigrant advocates have won battles on the state and local level. Immigrant leaders in more progressive environments have scored victories on issues from tuition equity and limiting ICE detainers to driver’s licenses and municipal IDs. Immigrants have also successfully fought back against restrictive proposals in less welcoming areas. This panel will discuss how these victories were won and what further work can be done as the federal stalemate continues. Speakers:

  • Petra Falcon, Promise Arizona -- "Petra Falcon is the Executive Director of Promise Arizona (PAZ), whose mission is to recruit, train and support a new generation of leaders from across the state to build a new Arizona, one that allows all residents to achieve their full potential (or promise). Ms. Falcon is a veteran organizer, activist and community leader with a long record of developing powerful grassroots strategies. Falcon grew up in the Grand Canyon State as a fourth-generation Arizonan. She first began working in Arizona in a sweatshop in Glendale as a young girl of 13. From her earliest experience she learned the value of access to education and opportunity, and the social inequities and violence that result from the systemic denial of such opportunities. During her organizing career, Falcon spent 10 years organizing in border communities in southern Arizona, working with immigrants and farm workers. She has devoted her life to ensuring and expanding access to opportunities for the underserved, having achieved significant victories over her 25 years organizing within faith, Latino, and immigrant communities in Arizona and the Southwest. Her work has included traditional grassroots organizing, institutional capacity building, faith community engagement and electoral organizing. Over the past two and half decades, she has established her reputation as a trusted and respected professional and leader among community advocates and organizations across the state including Yuma, Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. Falcon was an organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation from 1990 to 2009. Most recently, Petra Falcon served as the Southwest Regional Director for the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign and in that capacity, oversaw state directors, district directors, grassroots organizers, consultants and hundreds of volunteers across the states of Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas. She helped to pioneer a new model of youth organizing through “Movement Building” trainings that have dramatically expanded youth participation in public life. Since 2010, Promise Arizona has registered over 54,000 new voters and catapulted thousands of leaders across the state and country. Many of those leaders have gone to lead organizations, managed campaigns, and even ran for elected offices. Falcon leads by example and practices organizing by developing leadership and capacity in communities. Petra Falcon is dedicated to serving the community. She leads by example, and practices organizing by developing leadership and capacity in and among community members. Her organizing philosophy serves as a steady hand that guides her staff in providing community members with the tools, skills, methods, and the discipline necessary to develop their own leadership skills ultimately empowering themselves to build power and capacity to achieve meaningful change."
  • Joseph Villela, Senior Policy Advocate, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) -- Joseph Villela is CHIRLA’s policy director. His significant experience and knowledge of the local, state and federal legislative process, has helped the immigrant community gain representation and advocacy strength for laws and regulations pertaining to access to health services, income support programs, and immigrant and civil rights. He attended UCLA in 2005.
  • Marika Dias, Managing Attorney, Make the Road New York -- Marika Dias is the Managing Attorney at Make the Road New York, where she also coordinates the immigration legal services and LGBTQ legal support. Marika maintains an active caseload of immigration cases, predominantly working with immigrant youth in Stat
  • Fred Tsao, Policy Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights -- Fred Tsao is ICIRR’s senior policy counsel. In this position, he provides research and analysis of changesin immigration-related policies and procedures to ICIRR members and allies, and assists with the coalition's legislative advocacy efforts. He also provides technical support, trainings, and presentations on immigration-related topics to service providers, immigrant community organizations, and others who work with immigrants. A self-described “recovering attorney,” Fred practiced law at the Rockford office of Prairie State Legal Services, where he worked after receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan. He has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, and the Missouri Public Interest Research Group.


OCTAE’s Initiative on Building Local Networks to Advance Immigrant Integration

Networks for Integrating New Americans ("Networks") is a national initiative funded by the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, that is positioning adult education programs as key contributors to place-based, multi-sector networks working to advance immigrants’ civic, economic and linguistic integration. The panelists will share relevant research and sample activities on the role adult ESOL programs can play as part of networks. Presenters will share examples of both network development and integration activities. Speakers:

  • Silja Kallenbach, Project Director and Vice President, World Education, Inc. -- Silja Kallenbach, Project Director, World Education, Inc. where she is Vice President and oversees its US programs. Silja has 34 years of experience in adult education as administrator, professional development provider, program developer, researcher, and ESOL teacher.
  • Andy Nash, Technical Assistance Coordinator, World Education, Inc. -- Andy Nash, Technical Assistance Coordinator, World Education, Inc. Andy coordinates and provides professional development for state, regional, and national adult education initiatives. She specializes in the areas of contextualized ESOL, civic engagement, learner persistence, and participatory practice.
  • Jeffrey Gross, Director, New Americans Integration Institute; Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition -- Jeffrey Gross, Director, New Americans Integration Institute; Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Jeff joined MIRA after a diverse career as a college humanities instructor , ESOL teacher, team leader in high technology, and public policy researcher.

Scaling Up Adult Ed, Workforce, and CTE Programs to Meet Immigrant Needs

What are the best ways to meet the newly increased demand for adult education, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and workforce development programs? This workshop will provide a federal and state perspective on how new developments such as administrative relief and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act implementation are affecting the landscape. Learn how your organization can incorporate new policy developments into your local context to better serve immigrant communities.Room setup:  theater style. 


  • Margie McHugh, Director, Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, Washington D.C. -- Margie McHugh is Director of the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. The Center is a national hub for leaders in government, community affairs, business and academia to obtain the insights and knowledge they need to respond to the challenges and opportunities that today’s high rates of immigration pose for communities across the United States. Ms. McHugh’s work focuses on education quality and access issues for immigrants and their children from early childhood through K-12 and adult, post-secondary and workforce skills programs. She also leads the Center’s work seeking a more coordinated federal response to immigrant integration needs and impacts, and more workable systems for recognition of the education and work experience immigrants bring with them to the United States.


  • Rachel Unruh, Associate Director, National Skills Coalition, Washington D.C. -- Rachel helps lead National Skills Coalition, which works to advance policies at the state and federal level that ensure every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper. She has over 15 years of experience in workforce development, higher education and adult basic education policy and has authored numerous reports about policies that can help ensure that individuals with low basic skills obtain credentials with labor market value. Rachel joined NSC in 2006 to develop and lead Skills2Compete, a national campaign replicated in 13 states that brought the nation’s middle-skill gap to the attention of the American public and policymakers.
  • Donna Brashear, Executive Director, Division of Adult and Career Education, Los Angeles Unified School District -- Donna Brashear is Executive Director of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Division of Adult and Career Education, the largest provider of adult education in the United States. In this role, Brashear oversees education and career training programs serving thousands of students each year in schools and occupational centers throughout the Los Angeles region. She also builds meaningful partnerships with local community, business, and government organizations; implements innovative solutions to meet the diverse needs of local adult learners; and co-chairs the newly-formed Los Angeles Regional Adult Education Consortium as it strives to improve the local adult education system. Brashear holds a B.S. in Business Education from East Carolina University; an M.A. in Vocational Education from California State University, Long Beach; and an M.A. in Educational Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
  • Virginia Hamilton, Regional Administrator, US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration -- Virginia Hamilton serves as the Regional Administrator for the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. The Region covers 8 Western states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and 4 territories in the Pacific. Her office oversees the Workforce Investment Act, Job Service, Unemployment Insurance, Trade Act, and discretionary grants such as the TAACCCT, Youth Build, Ex-Offender, and National Emergency Grants. Prior to her work at DOL, Ms. Hamilton spent several years consulting with workforce agencies, non-profits and government agencies both in the United States and Europe, including the National Association of Workforce Boards and the OECD, based in Paris.

Connecting Adult Education & Postsecondary Training to Promote Workforce Opportunity

This workshop will explore how adult education and postsecondary alignment promotes career-pathways. Explore how workforce development and integration initiatives are instrumental in developing industry-driven collaborations that create connections between employers, community colleges and nonprofits; learn best practices and the connections between organizations that provide workforce training and immigrant integration through contextualized and career-pathway learning models; and specific recommendations to engage in training models to assist students to enter and succeed in postsecondary education or the labor market. Speakers:

  • Aida Barragan, Executive Director, Building Skills Partnership, San Jose, CA -- Aida Cardenas graduated from UCLA and brings over 12 years of experience coordinating and directing educational and leadership development programs as well as organizing campaigns with janitors and other low-wage service workers. Aida’s leadership was crucial in bringing together representatives from several organizations and industry representatives, such as employers and building owners, which led to the expansion and creation of the statewide Building Skills Partnership. Aida, herself the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to the United States as teenagers, says she recognized the value of education early on. She would like to see more skills and language training for low-wage, immigrant workers. The key, she says, is to look for opportunities that will benefit both workers and their employers. The benefits to society are significant. For example, when low-wage workers are trained to the point of winning promotions, they clear the way for new hires, which helps reduce unemployment.
  • Teresita Wisell, Executive Director, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, Valhalla, NY -- Teresita Wisell is the Vice President and Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Westchester Community College, overseeing a broad portfolio of programs and services for both immigrants and native born students. She also serves as Executive Director of the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE), a national network of community colleges and leading professional and research organizations committed to strengthening and expanding programs and services for immigrants and leveraging the role that community colleges play in successful immigrant integration. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Spanish and an MBA in Marketing from Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Dr. Chito Cajayon, Vice Chancellor of Economic & Workforce Development, LA Community College District -- Dr. Chito Cajayon is the Vice Chancellor of the Los AngelesCommunity College District's (LACCD) Economic & Workforce Development Department. He brings close to 20 years of workforce and economic development experience to the district's nine community colleges, which he applies on a daily basis to develop local, regional, and statewide initiatives. His department works closely with all district colleges and provides support in procuring local, state and federal grants. In the last 4 years, Dr. Cajayon's assistance has exceeded $19 million dollars in workforce development-related grants and contracts. He is responsible for forming multiple industry-driven intermediaries and developing innovative contract education strategies that deploy technology-based solutions. He represents the district in local, state, and federal-level advocacy efforts. He has been instrumental in establishing national and international educational partnerships and is recognized as being a partnership developer for multiple regions across the state. Dr. Cajayon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Cal State University-Long Beach, a Certification in website development, a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Cal State University-Dominguez Hills, and a Doctorate of Education from the University of Southern California.
  • Audry E. Dow, VP, External Affairs and Operations, The Campaign for College Opportunity, Los Angeles -- Audrey Dow currently serves as the Vice President of External Affairs and Operations for The Campaignfor College Opportunity.  She is responsible for leading a community engagement strategy for an unprecedented, statewide, bipartisan coalition that seeks to ensure a college education for millions of California students and a healthy economic future for the state.  She is also responsible for an all inclusive media campaign positioning higher education as a critical issue in California for all sectors. In 2010, her work helped secure passage of historic transfer reform legislation that will make it easier for community college students to transfer to the CSU system.  She also successfully launched the One Million More College Graduates by 2025 campaign, a public awareness campaign outlining higher education policy priorities for California’s Governor. Audrey is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy and Management.  She received her Master’s in Public Affairs with an emphasis in Domestic Policy, and a certificate in Urban Policy, from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.  She is a member of the Princeton Interview Committee for Southern California and an active member of Princeton’s Students and Alumni of Color.  She is a former fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California, serves on the Advisory Board of New Futuro and College Summit, is a member of the CSU African American Initiative, and recently served on the CEO for Cities National Talent Dividend Annual Conference steering committee.
  • Laura Barrera, President, LB Consulting -- Laura Barrera is a public and government relations expert with more than 20 years of experience. Ms. Barrera has worked for many high profiled elected officials including California State Controller John Chiang, State Assembly Member Marco A. Firebaugh, Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar, and consulted on projects impacting real-estate development, construction, education, social services, environmental and transportation. She has worked with multiple corporations, municipalities, counties, school districts, nonprofit organizations and in multiple states on project and stakeholder engagement. She has a vast network of relationships with local, state, and federal elected officials, corporations, community leaders and is astute in strategic coalition building.Ms. Barrera earned a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from California State University, Humboldt, where she graduated with honors and was awarded the prestigious David Kalb Award for Excellence in Government Leadership. She also studied at Guangxi University in China. Her extensive community involvement includes serving on several nonprofit and private boards and volunteering with the East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Girls Today, Women Tomorrow, Relay for Life and Hispanas Organized for Political Equality.

Building Alliances Between African Americans and Immigrants

Though many immigrant integration advocates and practitioners focus on the shared benefits of immigration to immigrants and receiving community members alike, such arguments may ring hallow for some African Americans who continue to feel marginalized and their needs unmet. What can we learn from cities like Los Angeles that have worked hard for years to overcome a history of racial profiling and violence in order to unify African American and immigrant communities and create greater opportunities for all? This session will drill down on the best approaches to alliance building; discuss how African Americans and immigrants are coming together to address common interests such as civil rights, education and labor issues; and explore the potential for African Americans and immigrants to share pieces of a larger economic pie. Moderator:

  • Dr. Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California Dornslife-Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, Co-Director USC CSII Program -- Manuel Pastor is a Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He currently directs the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor’s research focuses on movement building and the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income communities. He has written several books and speaks nationally on issues including demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. In 2012, the Liberty Hill Foundation awarded Pastor the Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year for social justice research partnerships.


  • Juan F. Soto, Executive Director, Gamaliel of Metro Chicago -- Juan F. Soto is the Executive Director of Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, Gamaliel of Illinois and Gamaliel Network’s Director of the Civil Rights for Immigrant Department. Juan is also a senior trainer for the Gamaliel Network and mentors and trains organizers at the local and national level. He oversees Fiesta del Sol, the largest four day Mexican cultural event in that draws in over 1.3 million people annually and has been an economic engine that has supported the creation of entrepreneurship for many small business minded owners.
  • Alberto Retana, Executive Vice President, Community Coalition -- Alberto Retana is the Executive Vice President at Community Coalition. Previously he was a youth organizer and then Director of Youth Programs with the Coalition’s youth component, South Central Youth Empowered through Action (SCYEA). In addition to his work at the Coalition, Alberto has been dedicated to advancing unity and solidarity among South L.A.’s African American and Latino residents. He recently served under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as Director of Community Outreach organizing town halls across various U.S. cities bringing together thousands of students, parents and teachers.
  • Dr. Steven Pitts, African American professor at UC Berkeley Labor Center -- Steven Pitts is the Associate Chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Steven received his Ph.D. in economics with an emphasis on urban economics from the University of Houston in 1994; an M.A. from the University of Houston a B.A. from Harvard University. At the Labor Center since 2001, Steven focuses on issues of job quality and Black workers. In this arena, he has published reports on employment issues in the Black community, developed an initiative to support Black worker centers, and shaped projects designed to build solidarity between Black and Latino immigrant workers.
  • Opal Tometi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration -- Opal Tometi is the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), an education and advocacy organization comprised of African Americans and Black Immigrants working at the intersection of racial justice and migrant rights. BAJI’s headquarters are in New York City with additional staff and offices in Oakland, CA, Atlanta, GA and Phoenix, AZ. Opal is a 1st generation Nigerian-American who was born and raised in Arizona and has been active in the migrant rights movement for over 10 years. To learn more about BAJI please visit


How to Communicate about Changing Demographics and Address Unconscious Prejudice

Emory University professor and recognized pollster Drew Westen will present findings from his recently completed national ethnicity, race, and immigration meta-issues project and share lessons on how to talk with the public about unconscious prejudice and the changing demographics of the U.S. Westen has found that there are multiple ways to talk about unconscious bias that Americans can “hear,” by creating a sense of unity and shared identity – “us” rather than “them.” His research challenges all of us to address the changing demographics in America head-on and lean into the race question in new and effective ways. Speakers:

  • Robert Bray, Director, Communications, NEO Philanthropy -- Robert Bray has worked at the intersection of strategic communications and social justice for more than 30 years. He is Director of Communications at NEO Philanthropy (formerly Public Interest Projects), where he oversees the Strategic Communications Initiative (SCI) at NEO’s Four Freedoms Fund (FFF). The initiative focuses on building the capacity of the immigrant rights field to engage the debate and move forward immigration reform and integration in America. In that capacity, Bray develops and funds strategies including message focus group and polling research; social media; strategic alliance building efforts between African American, LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) and immigrants; civic engagement communications; and responses to harsh enforcement and border communications. FFF also supports campaigns to change “hearts and minds” about immigration in receiving communities, including Welcoming America. Prior to NEO, Bray was director of communications for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in San Francisco. In 1997, Bray founded the SPIN Project, a media training resource for grassroots advocates. Before that, Bray was communications director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign Fund, in Washington, DC, during the 80’s and 90’s as AIDS and gay and lesbian rights exploded into the media headlines.
  • Drew Westen, Westen Research Strategies -- Drew Westen, Ph.D. is a psychologist and neuroscientist and Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University. He is also the founder of Westen Strategies, a strategic messaging firm. Dr. Westen is the author of three books and over 200 articles, including The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, which has influenced campaigns and elections around the world. Dr. Westen has done extensive work on immigration, and has particular expertise on speaking openly about racially and ethnically charged issues, particularly in regions (e.g., the South) where advocates often find themselves in search of the right words.

Promoting Greater Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Community Inclusion

Escalating violence and unrest in the Middle East are negatively affecting how Muslims around the world and in the U.S. are perceived and treated. High profile cases of extremists and increased media coverage are fueling national security concerns and fear among receiving communities. The resulting increased racial profiling and community backlash challenge Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian immigrants and refugees’ long-term integration in the U.S., threaten our civil liberties, and prevent many deserving refugees from the Middle East from finding refuge in America. Speakers will address how community groups and advocates are responding. Moderator:

  • Shireen Zaman, Program Officer, Security and Rights Collaborative, Proteus Fund, Amherst -- Shireen Zaman directs the Security & Rights Collaborative at Proteus Fund, helping America’s Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities partner with the broader racial justice and civil rights movements. Prior to becoming a grant maker she was executive director of the research- and policy-focused Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and before that led the Middle East Program at Vital Voices Global Partnership. Shireen is on the board of Slim Peace Groups, which brings together American Jewish and Muslim women to develop healthier eating habits, and foster empowerment and relationship building.


  • Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area -- Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney and the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA). Zahra is a leading voice on American Muslim civil rights. She is a 2013 recipient of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California's Trailblazer Award and a 2014 recipient of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter's Unsung Hero Award. Zahra earned her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, and was admitted to the California Bar in 2009.
  • Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York -- Linda Sarsour is a civil rights activist, seasoned community organizer and social media maverick. She is the National Advocacy Director at the National Network for Arab American Communities, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, and board member of the New York Immigration Coalition. Linda has been at the forefront of the campaign to end the NYPD's unwarranted surveillance of the American Muslim community, discriminatory law enforcement practices like stop and frisk and broken windows policing impacting communities of color in New York City. Linda is well known for her intentional work to build coalitions across communities and issues. She is a Palestinian Muslim American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Kasey Jama, Executive Director, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Portland, OR -- Kayse Jama, a founder and executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing in Portland, Oregon, was born into a nomad family in Somalia, He is dedicated to building a multi-racial, multicultural movement for immigrant and refugee rights. As a New Voices Fellow at the Western States Center, Kayse trained immigrant and refugee community leaders. He is the recipient of numerous awards including: the Skidmore Prize for outstanding young non-profit professionals, the Oregon Immigrant Achievement Award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigrant Lawyers Association; and the Lowenstein Trust Award for the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in Portland, Oregon.


What Works: Overcoming Backlash and Fostering Greater Understanding in Today’s Volatile Environment

Local government and grassroots efforts to welcome immigrants and refugees have proliferated in recent years, yet the nation has also experienced a spike in challenges that underscore the need for sustained bridge building efforts to unite diverse communities. This session will explore what works to foster greater community support for immigrants and refugees, and apply those lessons to issues that have triggered or are likely to trigger backlash, including unaccompanied children from Central America, Deferred Action’s renewal, decreases in refugee resettlement funding, and executive action by the Obama Administration. This is designed to be a highly interactive session, which will include brief context setting and an overview of what works in preventing and overcoming backlash and will give participants an opportunity to problem solve together. Moderator:

  • Rachel Peric, Deputy Director, Welcoming America -- Rachel Peric is the Deputy Director of Welcoming America, a national nonprofit that works to create more prosperous communities where all individuals – including immigrants – have the opportunity to participate and thrive. Prior to Welcoming America, she served as Executive Director of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a capacity building and advocacy organization supporting adult ESOL and literacy programs in suburban Washington, DC. Her career includes work spanning a number of community building issues at the local and international level, including serving as a regional director with the United Way of the National Capital Area and managing international development programs with a private consulting firm, Management Systems International (MSI). The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Rachel also serves on the board of Art and Remembrance, a nonprofit devoted to using art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience. Ms. Steinhardt holds a BA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Public Management from the University of Maryland.


  • Maria Blanco, Vice President of Civic Engagement, California Community Foundation -- María Blanco is the Vice President of Civic Engagement at the California Community Foundation, promoting collaboration and advocacy across the nonprofit, public and private sectors to address community problems. Before joining CCF, Blanco was the executive director of UC Berkeley Law School’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity. In her long career as a litigator and advocate for immigrant rights, gender equality and racial justice, she served as the Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area and as National Senior Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. As a member of the California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, Blanco helped redraw California’s new state legislative and congressional districts. Blanco earned a bachelor’s degree from the UC Berkeley and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She has served on many California and national nonprofit boards, including the Public Policy Institute of California.
  • Luma Mufleh, Fugees Family -- Luma Mufleh is founder and director of Fugees Family, Inc. in Georgia. Originally from Jordan, she earned her BA in Anthropology from Smith College. Luma is a social entrepreneur who has created several businesses to gainfully employ refugees and immigrants in her community. In 2004, she created Fresh Start, a cleaning service that pays refugee and immigrant parents a living wage to clean residential and commercial properties. In 2010, she began Queen Food Company, a food truck business employing parents and graduates, which focuses on authentic, ethnic street food. Luma is now focused on building a permanent home for The Fugees Academy, the first school for refugee boys and girls in the US. In addition, Luma has coached soccer for over 10 years, and is currently the head coach of the Fugees Soccer teams. She has made numerous media appearances and received several awards, including the Search for Common Ground Award, The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, and the Smith College Medal.
  • Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition -- Steve Choi is currently the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, a coalition of nearly 200 member groups that represents New York State’s immigrant communities. From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Choi was the Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, which organizes, advocates for, educates and serves Korean and Asian community members in New York. Prior to that, Mr. Choi was Director of the Korean Workers Project at the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the only project on the East Coast focused on providing free legal services to low-wage Korean immigrants. His previous experience includes working for the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center in Boston, Greater Boston Legal Services, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Los Angeles. Mr. Choi received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a M.A. from the University of Hawai’i, and a B.A. from Stanford University in History with Honors. He is the recipient of the 2013 New York Law Journal’s “Rising Stars” Award, the 2012 NAPABA Best Lawyers Under 40 Award, the Korean American Association’s “Man of the Year” Award, the Skadden Fellowship, the Wasserstein Fellowship, the Skirnick Public Interest Fellowship, and the Harvard Law School Asian Pacific American Alumni Award.
  • Eben Cathey, Communications Coordinator, TIRRC (Resource Person) -- Eben Cathey is the Communications Coordinator for TIRRC, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. From Smyrna, Tennessee, Eben directs TIRRC’s voter engagement work, strategic communications, and Welcoming Tennessee program, working to improve how immigration issues are portrayed in the media and strengthen relationships between immigrant and receiving communities. He earned a Master’s degree in Political and International Studies as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to South Africa and has also worked internationally as a consultant on HIV education programs.


Practical Responses to the Humanitarian Crises Behind the Exodus of Children and Families from Central America and Mexico

Children and families have been fleeing from Central America and Mexico in unprecedented numbers, seeking refuge in the US. This massive exodus has become a serious humanitarian crisis. Many communities have responded with compassion, support and innovative practices. These experiences offer both a source of hope as possible models from which we can learn and leverage more impact. What are cities, faith based coalitions, legal providers and advocates doing locally, nationally and transnationally to address this crisis? Speakers:

  • Rosalind Oliver, Supervising Attorney, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Los Angeles -- Rosalind Oliver is the Supervising Attorney for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Los Angeles office, one of KIND’s eight offices. KIND finds pro bono attorneys in law firms and corporations who agree to represent KIND's unaccompanied children clients in their immigration proceedings. KIND attorneys in each office provide training on representing unaccompanied children in the U.S. immigration system and comprehensive mentorship until the case is completed. Before joining KIND, Rosalind worked with Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy in Los Angeles supervising the non-immigrant visa team for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, as well as providing counsel on all major employment-based temporary and permanent visa categories to a variety of companies. Prior to her tenure at Fragomen, she worked representing families and individuals in removal proceedings and asylum interviews, as well as family-based and employment-based permanent residence applications. During law school, Rosalind clerked for the Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn, United States Immigration Judge and founder of Pepperdine Law School's Asylum and Refugee Clinic. She has also served as a Guest Lecturer in Immigration Law at Southwestern University School of Law, her alma mater. Rosalind completed her undergraduate studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies.
  • Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director, Central American Resource Center, San Francisco
  • Linda Hartke, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) -- Linda Hartke serves as President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugees Service. For 75 years, LIRS has walked alongside migrants and refugees through ministries of service and justice. Linda is driven by a deep commitment to ensuring migrants and refugees are protected, embraced, and empowered. Before joining LIRS, Linda crafted policy on Southeast Asian refugee issues as Chief of Staff to Rep. Chet Atkins, served as Country Director with Church World Service in Cambodia, and as Executive Director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
  • Martha Arevalo, Executive Director CARECEN Los Angeles
  • Yanira Arias, President, Salvadoran American National Network (SANN)
  • Isabel Vinent, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Florida Immigrant Coalition

Analyzing Root Causes of Global Migration

Every year, hundred of millions of people are forced to leave their homes. Financial crisis in one part of the world reverberate across globe. Violence drives children and families to flee their homes in search of a safe haven. Profound inequality, lack of opportunity, destructive storms, organized crime, rising sea levels, extractivism, drought--these are all factors that influence migration. We must analyze deeper at the macro economic, social and political reasons why people migrate and how migration policy should interact with US foreign policy. We will look specifically at the root causes behind the humanitarian crisis in the Northern Central American region and Mexico. Speakers:

  • Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), San Francisco
  • Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, Ph.D., Project Director, UCLA Labor Center
  • Ivonne Quiroz, National Coordinator and Organizer at the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA)
  • Angela Sambrano, Director of the Red Mexicana de Líderes y Organizaciones Migrantes (Red Mex)
  • Oscar Chacón, Executive Director, National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities (NALACC)

Mainstreaming vs. Targeted Integration Services: U.S., Canadian and European Perspectives on How to Best Serve Immigrants and Their Children

Governments in the U.S. and elsewhere struggle with question of whether the needs of immigrants and their children are better met through targeted or mainstream service approaches. The benefits of targeted services are seen to include greater accountability for reaching and serving immigrant clients, and development of specialized service providers with a high degree of commitment to serving the target population. Mainstreaming acknowledges that immigrants and refugees have special needs, but seeks to meet these needs via services available to all residents. This session will feature candid reflections from senior analysts on how the tensions inherent in both approaches to integration services have unfolded in different countries, and insights on how to productively manage these tensions. Speakers:

  • Dr. Demitri Papademetriou  -- Demetrios G. Papademetriou is Distinguished Senior Fellow, Co-Founder and President Emeritus of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), and President of MPI Europe. Dr. Papademetriou has published more than 270 books, monographs, articles and research reports on migration and related issues, and advises senior government officials, foundations, and civil society organizations in dozens of countries. He also convenes the Transatlantic Council on Migration and the Regional (North American) Migration Study Group, chairs the Advisory Board of The Open Society Foundations’ International Migration Initiative (IMI), and is Co-Founder and Chair Emeritus of Metropolis
  • Dr. Justin Gest -- Dr. Justin Gest is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University's School of Policy, Government and International Affairs. His teaching and research examines immigration and integration policy in the United States and internationally. Professor Gest previously held a Lectureship and Fellowship in the Department of Government at Harvard University between 2010 and 2014. In 2007, he founded the Migration Studies Unit at the London School of Economics and remains its Deputy Director.
  • Westy Egmont -- Associate Professor of Macro Practice, Global Practice Director, Immigrant Integration Lab. Boston College Graduate School of Social Work

Full Citizenship: From Reducing Barriers to Naturalization to Full Civic Participation

Nearly 9 million people are eligible to naturalize but less than 10% naturalize each year. Is citizenship a privilege limited to wealthy immigrants? How can we reduce barriers? What is being done to ensure that the over 13 million naturalized immigrants become both voters and active citizens? Participants will explore long-term relationship building strategies used by organizations to engage the people they serve and ensure that naturalization becomes a portal for full civic participation. Speakers:

  • Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy -- Andrew came to CPD after 15 years building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Since co-founding Make the Road in 1997, Andrew helped grow the organization from a small, volunteer-run effort to an $8 million organization with over 11,000 members, 100 staff, and four community-based centers in New York City and Long Island. Andrew helped oversee all aspects of Make the Road’s work, including the organizing, legal services, adult literacy, workforce development, operations and finance department. He has worked as an adjunct professor in New York University School of Law’s Clinical Program, NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service and the New School for Social Research, and serves on the Board of Directors of Make the Road New York, and the Make the Road Action Fund. Andrew is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and a cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law.
  • Marika Dias, Managing Attorney, Make the Road New York -- Marika Dias is the Managing Attorney at Make the Road New York, where she also coordinates the immigration legal services and LGBTQ legal support. Marika maintains an active caseload of immigration cases, predominantly working with immigrant youth in Staten Island, with individuals in removal proceedings, and with undocumented individuals in the criminal justice system. Marika provides legal support to Make the Road’s organizing work in the areas of immigration, policing and LGBTQ rights.
  • Diana Colin, Director of Civic Engagement, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) -- Diana Colin is the Civic Engagement Director at CHIRLA. Diana and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico D.F. when she was two years old. Diana began her work at CHIRLA as a student volunteer in 2009, and was hired on as a campaign organizer in 2013. She graduated from California State University Fullerton in 2011 with a major in Political Science.
  • Dr. Manuel Pastor, Co-Director, Dornslife-Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, USC --- Dr. Manuel Pastor is a Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He currently directs the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor’s research focuses on movement building and the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income communities. He has written several books and speaks nationally on issues including demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. In 2012, the Liberty Hill Foundation awarded Pastor the Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year for social justice research partnerships.
  • Aparna Shah, Executive Director, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote -- Aparna Shah has worked for social change and expanded democracy with immigrant and low-income communities for over 20 years. Under her leadership, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote has organized five annual statewide campaigns directly reaching 150,000+ immigrant and New American voters, built the long-term infrastructure and capacity of grassroots immigrant organizations across the state to run electoral and issue campaigns, and established a sister organization, the MIV Action Fund. She was born in Manila, grew up in Mumbai, and now lives with her family in Oakland, CA.
  • Evan Bacalao, Senior Civic Engagement Director, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials -- Evan Bacalao oversees the Harry P. Pachón Civic Engagement program, which operates out of the organization’s Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, and New York offices; in addition to full-time staff in San Antonio, San Diego, and Washington D.C. Under Evan’s leadership, the program has assisted more than 20,000 legal permanent residents apply for U.S. citizenship, directly helped over 100,000 voters with voting questions, mobilized half a million Latinos to vote, re-granted $2 million to local Latino-serving non-profit civic engagement efforts, and touched millions more through mass-media and cutting-edge online outreach campaigns.


Ignite innovation! From Technology to New Partners in Naturalization

The field of naturalization is bubbling with innovation and excitement. Across the nation community organizations, legal service providers, credit unions, faith communities, municipalities, businesses, organized labor, and tech innovators are creating new models to help facilitate the naturalization of the nearly 9 million immigrants eligible to naturalize. Participants will learn about the latest tools, resources, partnerships, and best practices that can be implemented in their own communities to enhance their programs and expand their services. Moderator:

  • Melissa Rodgers, Director of Programs, New American’s Campaign -- Melissa Rodgers is the Director of Programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and the Project Director of the New Americans Campaign (NAC), a national initiative for which the ILRC serves as the lead agency, which brings together national and local organizations in partnership with a funder collaborative to increase naturalization among eligible lawful permanent residents. Melissa has held leadership positions at Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Child Care Law Center, the UC Berkeley School of Law Center on Health, Economic & Family Security, and the Health Consumer Center at the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. Melissa has an EdM and JD from Harvard.


  • Mathew Burnett, Immigrant Advocate Network -- Matthew is director of the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), a collaborative effort of leading immigrants' rights organizations that develops innovative programs and technology to increase access to justice for low-income immigrants and strengthen the capacity of organizations serving them. Before joining IAN, Matthew represented immigrants at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and served as law clerk to Justice Z.M. Yacoob of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He received his B.A. cum laude from the University of Washington, where he was a Mary Gates Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and his J.D. cum laude from Seattle University School of Law. In 2013 Matthew was named to the Fastcase 50, which honors the law's "most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, & leaders." Under his leadership, IAN has received multiple awards, including a Webby Award for Best Law Site in 2013 and the ABA’s 2014 Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering.
  • Laura Patching, Acting Chief of the Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services -- Laura Patching is the Acting Chief of the Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In this capacity she leads federal initiatives to promote the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship. In 2001, Patching joined the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and helped manage INS’ transition to USCIS after the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. She has been part of the Office of Citizenship since it was created in 2003.
  • Shanna Huey, Nashville Mayors Office of New Americans -- Shanna Singh Hughey is a senior advisor to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the director of the Mayor’s Office of New Americans. Previously, Shanna was nominations counsel on Chairman Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she worked extensively on the Supreme Court confirmations of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Shanna has also worked as an associate in the Washington, DC office of O'Melveny and Myers and as press secretary to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Shanna earned her B.A. with high distinction from The University of Michigan and her J.D. with honors from The George Washington University.
  • Vanessa Sandoval, Program Director, Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network, CA -- Vanessa Sandoval joined SIREN as the Director of the Policy Advocacy program where she has worked vigorously to promote comprehensive immigration reform, and protect immigrant rights on a local, state, and national level. Vanessa earned her juris doctorate from Golden Gate University, School of law and has continuted to serve the immigrant community as the Director of Immigration Legal Services. Vanessa is passionate about creating and preserving policies and laws that protect and empower the immigrant community.
  • George Escobar, Director of Health and Human Service, CASA de Maryland -- Mr. Escobar oversees the majority of CASA’s social service programming which includes legal assistance, naturalization support, financial literacy, case management, health navigation and health education initiatives. Programs within George’s portfolio are charged with providing services that address disparities, reunite families separated by unjust immigration policies and place community members in a stable situation, setting them up for success and introducing them to CASA’s power building and leadership development opportunities so CASA members can participate in collective actions meant to create positive social change and address the root causes impacting the circumstances in which they find themselves.
  • Mohan Kanugo, Director of Engagement, Mission Asset Fund, San Francisco -- Mohan Kanungo is the Director of Engagement at Mission Asset Fund. Mohan joined MAF in 2013 to lead programs that financially empower youth. Since then, his role has expanded to explore potential partners for MAF’s social-loan programs across the country. Mohan's experience with labor, law and non-profit management, have addressed various aspects of financial and social inclusion impacting veterans, immigrants, survivors of domestic violence and low-income families.
  • Jennie Murray, Director of Integration Programs, National Immigration Forum, Washington D.C. -- Jennie Murray is currently the Director of Integration Programs at the National Immigration Forum. At the Forum Jennie leads the integration initiative, New American Workforce, which is a national program that brings citizenship services to the worksite; linking legal service providers with the private sector. This program not only brings integration services to the worksite but also serves as a catalyst for encouraging the private sector to identify the vast importance of their foreign-born workforce as well as aiding them to support these employees.
  • Eduardo Pena, Assistant to the Director, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union -- During the last 16 years at the UFCW, Eduardo has dedicated his efforts to improve the working conditions of workers across the U.S. and has been involved in some of the largest labor fights for food industry workers in the last decade. He is currently oversees the implementation of the UFCW’s Union Citizen Action Network (UCAN) program. Some of Eduardo’s work was highlighted in the documentary Food, Inc., as well as in many national publications.
  • Krystina Francois, KMD Consultant Group- Catholic Legal Services Miami -- Krystina is multi-lingual, multi-cultural and globally minded capacity builder, as a result of life experiences in New York, Haiti and Miami. Krystina served as a Public Ally, an AmeriCorps fellowship which places young leaders with local nonprofits to reach efficiency and scale, during which time she founded and managed Florida New Americans, the Florida Immigrant Coalition's naturalization and immigrant integration initiative. In 2014, she founded KMD Consultant Group where she continues her work through capacity building consulting for businesses and organizations like Catholic Legal Services of Miami.
  • Christine Chen, Staff Attorney, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles -- Christine Chen is a Staff Attorney for Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA's Citizenship Project, where she provides assistance, outreach, and legal representation to immigrants applying for naturalization and DACA. Previously, Christine has provided services to domestic violence survivors as well as helping immigrant victims of crimes apply for various forms of immigration relief including T-visas, U-visas, and asylum.

Standing Up Naturalization in Your City: What does it take?

This session will explore how multiple sectors can develop and implement a successful coordinated naturalization program. Panelists will discuss models for the contributions of municipalities, business, and CBO’ s to advance citizenship efforts. What is the necessary funding and where can it come from? What is necessary to create effective partnerships with immigrant organizations? Practitioners at all levels can explore improving their efficiencies with new stakeholders to create greater capacity for naturalization in their cities. Speakers:

  • Alaa Mukahhal, Program Manager, National Partnership for New Americans -- Alaa Mukahhal is a Kuwaiti born Palestinian raised on Chicago’s southside. She has organized undocumented communities before joining the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). In her capacity as the Citizenship Project Manager at NPNA, Alaa has worked with the twelve core members of NPNA to set up citizenship programs across the U.S. that have assisted over 25,000 immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
  • Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, NYC Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs -- Nisha Agarwal is an accomplished public interest lawyer and a leading voice in immigration reform at the local and national level. She brings to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs an entrepreneurial drive and a proven record of enacting pro-immigrant legislation in New York City and New York State. Agarwal received her B.A. summa cum laude from Harvard College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She currently lives in Brooklyn.
  • Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition -- Stephanie Teatro is the Co-Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Stephanie leads TIRRC's programs to build the capacity of grassroots immigrant leaders to speak for themselves, to engage fully in the civic process, and to advocate for policies that make it easier for everyone to fully participate in public life. Stephanie serves on the board of the National Partnership for New Americans, is a member of the Memphis Mayor's Multicultural Coalition, and sits on the Nashville Mayor's New Americans Advisory Council.
  • Kelly M. Fay Rodríguez, Assistant to the Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO -- Kelly Rodríguez works in the office of EVP Tefere Gebre on citizenship, immigration and civic engagement issues for the Federation. She holds a J.D. from CUNY School of Law, where she was a Haywood Burns Civil & Human Rights Fellow. She previously worked at the NYS AG's Office and SEIU Local 32BJ.
  • Jamie Alderslade is Director of Policy, Research and Communications in the Community Development division at Citi. Citi Community Development lead’s Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. Earlier this year, Citi was proud to be named as the founding corporate partner of Cities for Citizenship, Cities for Citizenship is a major national initiative aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and encouraging cities across the country to invest in citizenship programs. It is chaired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, with support from the Center for Popular Democracy and the National Partnership for New Americans.