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

Building Economic Power for Immigrant Workers: Union Organizing, Apprenticeships and Collective Bargaining

Labor organizing, apprenticeship programs and collective bargaining have long been key tools to improve economic conditions and opportunities for workers. Unions serve as important mechanisms for immigrant inclusion into our society and help building economic power through collective voice. In many fields, labor-led apprenticeship programs are the primary means through which workers build the skills and qualifications needed to access safe and well-regulated employment. Panelists from unions, worker centers and academia will discuss the trajectory of labor unions as spaces for immigrant inclusion and improved economic mobility, as well as how collective action and new forms of organizing and bargaining can serve and protect the economic interests of immigrant workers in the absence of public policies of integration. Moderator: 

  • Arturo Mendoza, Field Campaign Director, AFL-CIO National Organizing Department – Works with the Building Trades Unions in the Southwest U.S. on strategic organizing campaigns to organize recent immigrant construction workers.  Began career with the United Farm Workers Union as organizer for 14 years followed by several years as staff representative with the National Education Association.


  • Victor Narro, UCLA Labor Center, Project Director -- At the UCLA Labor Center Victor Narro directs leadership programs immigrant workers, strategy and campaign support for worker centers and unions, and student internships. He is a professor for the Labor and Workplace Studies Program; adjunct faculty at UCLA School of Urban Planning; and Lecturer in Law at UCLA Law School; and he has co-authored several scholarly studies.
  • David Gornewicz, Ironworkers Association IWINTL, Assistant Director of Organizing (Assoc. Membership, Apprenticeship) -- Member of the Iron Workers Local Union 272 Miami, FL since 1980 where he served as Apprenticeship Director, Organizer, President and Director of Organizing. Became International staff in 2006 and currently Assistant Director of Organizing. Served on Catholic Charities Legal Services Board of Directors (Miami, FL) from 1999 - 2006.
  • Rosemarie Molina, CLEAN Carwash Campaign Strategic Director - At CLEAN Rosemarie develops comprehensive strategies that steer a coalition effort partnering with the United Steelworkers to support carwash workers organizing to improve conditions in their workplaces and in their communities in Los Angeles.
  • Lorena Lopez, UNITE HERE Local 11 -- Lorena Lopez is an organizing director for hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 11. In the past 14 years she has successfully helped thousands of Southern California hotel workers from Santa Monica to Costa Mesa demand respect and better working conditions by organizing a union.

Immigration and the States: Advancing State Policy Priorities in Immigration

Several states have created dedicated offices to advance state immigration policy priorities in such areas as economic development, citizenship promotion, and talented workforce recruitment. The Pew Charitable Trusts will lead a discussion among representatives from these offices to hear examples of how they are achieving various state-policy aims regarding immigration. The panel will highlight the roles they play in advancing immigrant integration, and areas where state engagement is important for any future federal immigration reform. Panelists:

  • Adam Hunter, Director, Immigration and the States, The Pew Charitable Trusts -- Adam Hunter directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ immigration and the states project, examining the intersection of federal, state, and local immigration laws and policies and their impact on all levels of government. Before joining Pew, Hunter was the acting chief of staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security, which administers immigration benefits and related activities for the U.S. government. In an earlier capacity at USCIS, he managed citizenship and immigrant integration policy research, interagency initiatives, and international engagement. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and European studies from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
  • Jorge Montalvo, Director, New York Office for New Americans -- Jorge Montalvo serves in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration as the top policy advisor to the New York Secretary of State and Director of the New York State Office for New Americans. He has distinguished himself as one of the most entrepreneurial thinkers in public service. He employs his training as a chemist to take a “systems-based approach to make change and open opportunities for hard-working people.” Among some of his many accomplishments, Montalvo developed the State’s Opportunity Agenda to ensure those living in poverty were included in the state’s economic revitalization, helped merge the State’s consumer protection and occupation licensing agencies and created the Empire State Fellows program - an innovative approach to attracting and training cross-sector leaders for public service.
  • Karen Phillippi, Deputy Director, Michigan Office for New Americans -- Karen Phillippi is the Deputy Director of the Michigan Office for New Americans in the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder. She began her more than 20 years of work in immigration law by serving as the Immigration and State Department Specialist for U.S. Senator Don Riegle. She is very passionate about immigration and has served on a variety of boards and committees related to the issue including serving as Board Chair for Global Detroit; Chairperson for the Global Michigan initiative; and serving on the advisory boards for the Global Talent Retention Initiative; Welcome Mat Detroit; and, Welcoming Michigan. Karen is very active in promoting the benefits that immigrants have on the economy, and making Michigan a more immigrant-friendly state.
  • Marcony Almeida-Barros, Acting Executive Director, Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants -- Marcony Almeida-Barros serves since July 2014 as the Acting Executive Director for the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, having joined ORI in January 2013 as its Chief of Staff. Prior to ORI, he was the Director of Organizing and Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) where he worked primarily in the area of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, assisted with the management of the agency’s policies and procedures, performed outreach, advocacy and communications on legislative efforts, as well as immigration trainings for interested stakeholders. In 2003, the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians presented him with the New Bostonian of the Year Award for his significant contribution to improve the lives of the immigrant and refugee communities in the city of Boston. Mr. Almeida-Barros received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism at Universidade Católica de Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, and a Master’s of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communications, with concentration in leadership, from Northeastern University in Boston.
  • Teresa Reyes, Director, Illinois Office of New Americans -- Teresa Reyes is the Director of the Illinois Governor’s Office of New Americans where she ensures human rights protections and access to justice for immigrants through various programs, policies, and public education. GONA has been unique in building on the foundation of the strengths of New Americans in order to promote stronger immigrant integration throughout Illinois. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, she served as District Director for Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois’ Fourth Congressional District, where she managed congressional casework, was responsible for community outreach, acted as a liaison for local community groups and national organizations. The daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, Ms. Reyes is a first generation college graduate and was born and raised in the far South East Side of Chicago.

Building Financial Capability in Immigrant and Refugee Communities

As a follow-up to a popular NIIC 2013 session, this best practice-based panel will provide more practical examples of holistically-developed “nuts and bolts” being used to increase the financial capability of immigrants and refugees as they move towards citizenship and/or enter the financial mainstream. The panel will include successful models from the field and discuss challenges facing financial inclusion. Presenters will detail tools, products, program design, and innovative implementation strategies of their local asset-building programs. Moderator:

  • Cynthia Arreola, Senior Program Manager, NALCAB -- As Senior Federal Grants Manager, Cynthia is responsible for managing NALCAB’s federal grants for performance and compliance, ensuring strong internal systems and driving high quality implementation. She works with senior staff on administrating funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s OneCPD Program, Fair Housing Initiative Program and Neighborhood Stabilization Program II and provides supplementary support on technical assistance and resource development projects as needed. Cynthia, bilingual, received her BBA in International Business Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Bilingual Business Certification from her studies in Mexico and Argentina.


  • Mattias Kraemer, Deputy Director of Asset Building Programs, Mission Economic Development Agency, San Francisco -- As Deputy Director of Asset Building Programs at Mission Economic Development Agency in San Francisco (MEDA), Mattias Kraemer’s responsibilities include management of diverse multi-platform projects including CFSI’s Credit Building through VITA, FINRA Foundation’s Financial Capability in San Francisco Hotels, UWBA’s SparkPoint San Francisco Plaza Adelante, and the national hackathon’s winning smart phone app - MEDA Pulse. Internally, responsibilities include program design and support, curriculum development, capacity building and agency wide financial capability performance management. A Chileno double national, Mattias holds an M.A in Cultural Anthropology from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, as well as a B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
  • Chancee Martorell, Executive DirectorThai Town Community Development Center, Los Angeles -- Born in Thailand and raised in Los Angeles, Martorell studied political science and public law at UCLA where she received her B.A. and her M.A. in Urban Planning with a specialization in Urban Regional Development/Third World Development. She also studied Humanities at Chiang Mai University in Northern Thailand in 1988. Engaged in social activism for the past 28 years, Martorell is currently the Executive Director of the Thai Community Development Center, a non-profit organization she founded in 1994 in an effort to improve the lives of Thai immigrants through services that promote cultural adjustment and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Isabel Rubio, Executive Director, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Birmingham -- Isabel Watkins Rubio is a second generation Latina born and raised in post-civil rights era Mississippi. A social worker by training, Ms. Rubio was led to found the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama in 1999 as she observed the rapidly growing Hispanic population in Alabama. Remembering Birmingham and Alabama's place in the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Rubio believes that lessons learned from that struggle will help Hispanics in Alabama and the broader community integrate in a more peaceful and intentional manner.
  • Hee Joo Yoon, Executive Director, Korean Resource Center -- Hee Joo Yoon is the executive director of the Korean Resource Center. Prior to leading KRC, Hee Joo has been the KRC program director since 2005, after volunteering at KRC for thirteen years. She has been instrumental in developing and strengthening the organization’s programs and services which now include the areas of health access, civic engagement, youth leadership development, immigration legal services, and financial empowerment. Hee Joo was recently honored by the White House as Champion of Change for her leadership in launching and managing an impactful, culturally competent housing and foreclosure prevention program.