Mehrdad Azemun, National Campaigns Director, People’s Action

Mehrdad has over 15 years of experience running electoral and legislative campaigns with immigrant leaders at the local state, and national level. He currently oversees campaigns for People’s Action, an economic and racial justice organization working in 30 states. He has run the grassroots operations for 2 different national immigration reform campaigns. Before that, he was Organizing Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Mehrdad is an immigrant from Iran.

Marleine Bastien is a graduate of Miami-Dade Community College and Florida International University with Master's Degree in Social Work. She is the founder, former president, and current Executive Director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. {Haitian Women of Miami) an organization that provides desperately needed services to Haitian women and their families and to the community at large. She is the current Chair of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, and Vice-Chair of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition.

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Dr. Sayu Bhojwani is the Founder and President of New American Leaders, which prepares immigrant leaders to use their power and potential in elected office. She served as New York City’s first Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs. Born in India, and raised in Belize, Dr. Bhojwani is a naturalized citizen. She holds a PhD in Politics and Education from Columbia University and is the author of a book on multiracial democracy, forthcoming from the New Press. 

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Matthew Burnett, Director, Immigration Advocates Network (IAN)

Matthew served as IAN’s first full-time staff when it was formed in 2007. He received his B.A. cum laude from the University of Washington and his J.D. cum laude from Seattle University School of Law. Under his leadership IAN's work has received several Webby Awards and the American Bar Association's Award for Excellence in eLawyering. Matthew was named to the Fastcase 50, which honors the law's "most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, & leaders."


Sandra Sandoval Chavarria, Citizenshipworks Program Manager

Sandra joined the Immigration Advocates Network in October 2013. Prior to joining IAN, Sandra worked with San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement (SAIYM), a youth-led movement to empower undocumented youth to help navigate the higher education system. She received a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.


Seemi Choudry is the Director of the Ofice of New Americans for the Mayor of Chicago. Born and raised in Venezuela, Seemi is the child of Pakistani immigrants who immigrated with her family of six to Chicago in the late 90's. In 2010, she graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish. Since then, she has worked in community development, program management, conflict mediation and financial technology. All the while, she has fostered a strong interest in serving Chicago's immigrant communities. In 2016, Seemi joined the Mayor's Office, where she works on public policy and community engagement in relation to Chicago's immigrant and refugee populations in an effort to make Chicago the most #1 welcoming city in the country. As Director, she convened an immigration task force earlier this year and was responsible for launching Chicago’s public service campaign “One Chicago.” Amidst a hostile political landscape for immigrants, Seemi has been working on progressive policies and ways to champion immigrants’ rights including, but not limited to, filing a lawsuit against the Trump Justice department to protect sanctuary cities, urging Trump to maintain the DACA program for young immigrants and exploring new housing options for Chicago’s refugee community. In her spare time, Seemi runs Q’hubo Supper Clubs where she hosts and promotes up-and-coming immigrant chefs.


Henry Der is a senior program officer at Four Freedoms Fund and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. He has taught ESL to adult immigrants, and also served as Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction at the California Department of Education, and State Administrator to bring Emery Unified School District out of fiscal bankruptcy. He currently serves on the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation Board of Directors, and steering committees of NoMoreExclusion.org and the End National Security Scapegoating Coalition.

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Emmanuel Gallardo-Sanidad is the proud son of Mexican migrants, Emmanuel was born in California. His family moved to Phoenix in 1992. Emmanuel is an Arizona State alum and studied to be a Spanish secondary teacher.  He was a front desk agent and the union shop steward at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown hotel. In 2015, he established the immigration and worker center for UNITE HERE! local 11 in AZ and Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy, a BIA accredited organization.


Cristina Garcia is the Membership Mobilization Manager at Alianza Americas, a network of immigrant-led organizations.  Cristina’s work is centered on building alliances across issues and constituencies.  In 2017, she pioneered work bridging migration, climate change, and trade policy in the Americas.  Cristina began her career in non­profit management at Erie Neighborhood House in 2005, where she served in a various leadership positions, among them Director of Adult Programs. participated in the Latino Policy Forum’s Nonprofit Leadership Program in 2013. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University and a Master’s degree in Social Policy from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

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Alejandra Gomez, Co-Executive Director, Living United for Change in Arizona

Alex comes out of SB1070 and was trained, along with many others, to organize the community in the aftermath with an organization that was founded shortly after, Promise Arizona. That's led her to incredible opportunities, where she worked for Organizing for America in Arizona, the Adios Arpaio campaign she directed with NOI, and as a Deputy Organizing Director at United We Dream during the immigration reform push in 2013 and 2014. Since then, she's now a Co-executive Director at Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), where they organize and coordinate many different efforts across a range of issues locally, including immigration, worker's rights, living wages, and voter registration. Alex brings what I would consider a wide lens perspective, given both the local and national roles she's served, and has been one of the most influential people in Arizona, investing in new leadership that is changing the political landscape at home.

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Dolores Huerta is a labor leader and community organizer. She has worked civil rights and social justice for over 50 years. In 1962 she and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers union. She served as vice-president and played a critical role in many of the union’s accomplishments for four decades. In 2002, she received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF). DHF is connecting groundbreaking community-based organizing to state and national movements to register and educate voters; advocate for education reform; bring about infrastructure improvements in low-income communities; advocate for greater equality for the LGBT community; and create strong leadership development. She has received numerous awards: among them The Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in l998. In 2012 President Obama bestowed Dolores with The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

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Cristina Jiménez is Executive Director and Co-founder of United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. Originally from Ecuador, Cristina came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13, attending high school and college as an undocumented student. She has been organizing in immigrant communities for over a decade and was part of UWD’s campaign team that led to the historic victory of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 that protects close to a million young immigrants from deportation. Under Cristina’s leadership UWD has grown to a powerful network of 57 affiliates in 25 states with over 400,000 members. In October 2017, Cristina was a named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for her work as a social justice organizer. Cristina is also one of Forbes’s 2014 “30 under 30 in Law and Policy;” and was named one of “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy; one of “50 Fearless Women” by Cosmopolitan; and one of 25 disruptive leaders who are working to close the racial opportunity gap by Living Cities. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Letters & Humanities by Wesleyan University. She was also awarded the Creative Change Award. She has appeared in hundreds of media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, the LA Times, ABC, NPR, The Huffington Post, Univision, Telemundo, and La Opinion. She proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP), Hazen Foundation, and Make the Road Action Fund.  Cristina co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the Dream Mentorship Program at Queens College, was an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at Make the Road New York. Cristina holds a Masters degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Queens College, CUNY.


Director of Programs and Engagement Mohan Kanungo joined MAF’s team in early 2013 to help expand Lending Circles in new communities. He brings a solid background in contracts negotiation, training, and project coordination. Most recently, he worked for the International Warehouse and Longshore Union where he managed communications, contracts, and program coordination. Mohan graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in International Studies. He is a member of the CFED’s Assets and Opportunity Network Steering Committee, and he serves on the Board of Directors at the Social Justice Collaborative.

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An Le is the Policy and Communications Advisor for the Boston Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement, which implements Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s vision for promoting the empowerment and integration of Boston's diverse cultural and linguistic communities. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the Boston College School of Social Work. An holds JD and MSW degrees from Boston College and a BA in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.

Jason Mathis serves as executive director of Salt Lake City’s Downtown Alliance and leads policy initiatives for immigration and urban development for the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest business organization. He currently serves on the boards of the National Immigration Forum, the US Global Leadership Coalition, and the Utah AIDS Foundation (among others.) He is the recipient of the Professional Communicator of the Year Award from the Public Relations Society of America and the 40 Under 40 Award from Utah Business Magazine. In 2013 he was named a White House Champion of Change for helping to draft The Utah Compact.

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Adriana Garcia Maximiliano, Manager of Alumni Programs, The New American Leaders

Adriana Garcia Maximiliano’s immigrant experience has shaped much of her journey. It currently influences her leadership in recruiting and training progressives all over the country to run for office. An organizer by craft, Adriana, has lead various political and issue-based campaigns, and organizations in Arizona in the field and in the board room. She serves on the board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Alumni Phoenix Chapter, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and Unlimited Potential.  She’s proud to be an alumna of Grand Canyon University, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, The New American Leaders, and Center for American Progress’ Leadership Institute.

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Michelle Maziar currently serves as the founding Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for the City of Atlanta, in addition to serving as the Director of Welcoming Atlanta, a public-private initiative which seeks to grow an inclusive, diverse metro-Atlanta.  At Welcoming Atlanta, Michelle leads strategic visioning for creating an inclusive region with the support of diverse stakeholders from across  metro Atlanta.  At the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Michelle leads policy and programmatic initiatives as they relate to public safety, civic engagement, and economic empowerment.  Michelle's has spend most of her career working in social justice, advancing policies and initiatives that afford all residents equal access to civic life.  Michelle is a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Education where her research focused on education equity for immigrant youth and families.


Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Bitta is a long time immigrant rights advocate and human rights organizer. After graduating law school from DePaul University in Chicago she practiced civil rights law with a particular focus on the discriminatory impact of immigration practices on Muslim or Middle Eastern immigrants. Shortly thereafter she joined Safe Horizon and continued her legal practice representing immigrant crime victims, asylees, and others in both affirmative and defensive petitions before the immigration court. Along the way Bitta has continued her community organizing, working to increase awareness of global human rights injustices and the plight of refugees. In 2014 Bitta joined the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs to spearhead the IDNYC outreach campaign. She currently serves as Acting Commissioner for MOIA.


Daranee Petsod has led GCIR since 1999 and has worked on immigration and social and economic justice issues since 1987. As president of GCIR, she develops and leads new areas of work, in addition to providing programmatic, fiscal, and administrative oversight. Prior to joining GCIR, Daranee was a program and communications consultant for foundations and nonprofits. She previously held leadership positions at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and was a program officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc. and the Sophia Fund, one of the first women’s funds in the United States. She has served on the boards of the Donors Forum and the Heartland Alliance, both in Chicago, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Washington, D.C. Daranee has authored and co-authored numerous research reports on a range of immigration issues, as well as opinion pieces on the role of philanthropy in supporting immigration and immigrant integration issues. Daranee earned an M.A. in social policy from the University of Chicago and is a recipient of the 2014 Professional Development Fellowship from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. When not immersed in immigration and philanthropy, she enjoys the great outdoors, savoring gourmet meals, and traveling the world with her family.


Frank I. Sanchez is the Executive Director of the Needmor Fund. He has an extensive career as a community organizer, public policy advocate, and foundation leader. He was the lead plaintiff in New Mexico’s first successful Voting Rights Act lawsuit, Sanchez v King. For the past 30 years, he has worked with public and private foundations in a grantmaking capacity and served on 5 foundation boards and a leader in several foundation affinity groups. He currently serves on the Board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. In 2007 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of New Mexico for his contributions to voting rights, community organizing, philanthropy, and public service in New Mexico and the Southwest.

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Sabrina Terry, Senior Strategist, Economic Policy Project, UnidosUS

Sabrina implements nationwide pilots that integrate technology and financial products into direct services targeting low-income Latinos and immigrants. She also advocates for the adoption of best practices to create a more inclusive economic landscape for Latinos, providing research and data analysis on the intersections of immigration policies, financial technology, and wealth opportunities in Latino households. She received her Bachelor’s in Political Science from San Francisco State University and Master’s in City and Regional Planning from Pratt University.

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Laura Vazquez, Senior Program Manager, Immigration Initiatives, UnidosUS

Laura is the Senior Program Manager for Immigration Initiatives at UnidosUS (formerly NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. She works with UnidosUS affiliates to expand and sustain their immigration legal services programs. Laura holds an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from Kenyon College.


Laurel Wales, Deputy Director of Movement Politics, People’s Action Institute (PAI)

Laurel started organizing 8 years ago with TakeAction MN around expanding our democracy, economic justice and rights for formerly incarcerated people. After that she got into electoral politics working on races up and down the ticket from US Senate to City Council. At PAI she is leading the program that recruits new leaders to run for office, blending her love of community organizing with her experience in electoral campaigns.