NIIC 2019 Track Co-Leads
NIIC's issue area Tracks are powered by a diverse, national team of leaders, all experts in the field. We are pleased to announce this year's Track Leads and thank them for their dedication, vision and hard work that power these sessions that comprise the heart of NIIC. (List in formation)
René A. Vargas Martínez is a Program Officer at Inclusiv. René is tasked with advancing financial inclusion for Hispanic and immigrant communities by overseeing the engagement and expansion of the Juntos Avanzamos national credit union network. Prior to Inclusiv, René worked for the credit union industry for 8 years. He also occupied high profile leadership positions at the University of Puerto Rico, fighting for access to Higher Education as Associate VP for Student Affairs, Student Ombudsperson, Board Member, Academic Senator and President of the Student Council. René is a graduate of the University Of Puerto Rico School Of Law.
Ellen Beattie is Senior Director, Program Quality & Innovation with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where she oversees a portfolio of integration programs for New Americans across 25 US cities, among them economic empowerment, health & wellness and citizenship, and including programs for asylum-seeking families. Prior to joining the IRC in 2003, she worked in community development with the United Nations Development Program, World Food Program, among others. Ellen holds a B.A. from Rice University, an M.S. in Regional Development Planning from Los Andes University and studied Development Sociology at Justus-Liebig University.
Jennifer Wang comes to her role as Deputy Director of Programs for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) with a deep commitment to the reproductive justice lens. With nearly a decade of experience in policy and government affairs, Jennifer has built and managed a coalition of 80+ organizations to fight fraud and abuse, create a youth start-up nonprofit’s policy and government affairs systems from the ground up, help an abortion fund with its first foray into policymaking, and developed an expertise in negotiated rulemaking and administrative and legislative advocacy. Jennifer is an alumna of UCLA and the University of Iowa College of Law.
Amy Shannon currently serves as Alianza Americas’s Senior Advisor, providing strategic and programmatic analysis and guidance. She has worked extensively in philanthropy, both as a consultant and as a program officer in the Environment Programs at both the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where she conducted research on rural financial systems, sustainable enterprise, and social marketing. Amy has lived and worked extensively in Latin America, and now resides in Chicago, IL.
Lindsay Schubiner directs Western States Center’s program to counter the dangerous ascension of white nationalism and hate violence across the country. She previously led advocacy efforts against anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry at the Center for New Community. Lindsay has served as a Congressional staffer handling housing, health, and immigration policy, and managed advocacy for sexual health and rights at American Jewish World Service.
Diana Konaté is Policy Director at African Communities Together, where she advocates on behalf of African immigrants in front of federal lawmakers. Prior to joining ACT, Diana worked in the House of Representatives as a legislative assistant and scheduler. While a congressional staffer, Diana also served as President of the Congressional African Staff Association (CASA), an organization with a mission of educating the Capitol Hill community on Africa policy issues. Diana holds a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from Old Dominion University.
Mustafa Jumale is the policy manager for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). He is one of the co-founders of the Black Immigrant Collective and is the co-founder of Khyre Solutions LLC. He has worked on various policy issues such as remittances issues in Somalia, Human rights, education, female genital cutting, and immigration. He’s a recipient of the 2011 Josie Johnson Human Rights & Social Justice Award at the University of Minnesota. He holds a degree in Sociology and African American & African Studies from the University of Minnesota. He was a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Policy.
Juliana Cabrales is Mid-Atlantic Director with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. In this capacity, Juliana promotes the organization’s civic engagement campaigns in the Mid-Atlantic region and North Carolina while providing programmatic support to national civic engagement efforts. She was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan College in Macon, GA and an Associate in Applied Science from Parsons The New School of Design in New York, NY. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the NC Counts Coalition and NC Asian Americans Together.
Denise C. Bell is a researcher on refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA, where she serves as an expert on issues of migration and displacement in U.S. and human rights law and policy. She has led multiple field missions to the U.S. southern border and Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Previously, she was the senior campaigner for Amnesty USA’s campaign on the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, following her tenure as an Attorney Advisor on the New York Immigration Court. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, University of Cambridge, and Georgetown University Law Center.
Yanira Arias, a native of El Salvador and TPS holder, is the National Campaigns Manager for Alianza Americas. She leads the TPS advocacy, house to house outreach, SOMOS/We Are anti-racism programming and other key campaigns. She also brings more than a decade of experience in the field of public health, with special expertise in community mobilization and participation, community organizing and capacity building to address health disparities and social justice issues.Yanira graduated from the University of El Salvador in 1996 with a focus on journalism. Yanira is based in the Bay Area of northern California.
Liz Kenney is the Associate Program Director for the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network — a national network of local jurisdictions committed to protecting due process by providing legal representation to their immigrant communities at risk of deportation. In this role, she supports local leaders and immigration legal service providers that strive to provide universal representation to ensure that no detained immigrant faces deportation alone. She joined Vera in 2016 to work on the Unaccompanied Children Program, a national initiative that increases access to legal services and information for unaccompanied children.
Soya Jung has spent the last 30 years as a journalist, communications professional, and organizer. In the 90s she organized immigrant and refugee communities against regressive federal welfare and immigration laws. At ChangeLab she has authored Left or Right of the Color Line: Asian Americans and the Racial Justice Movement, The Importance of Asian Americans? It’s Not What You Think, and A Different Asian American Timeline. She has convened various events uniting scholars and social movement activists to explore race, gender, and war. Her writing has been published in Othering & Belonging: Expanding the Circle of Human Concern, Kalfou, and RaceFiles.
Shiu-Ming Cheer is a Senior Staff Attorney & Field Coordinator with the National Immigration Law Center. She focuses on challenging immigration enforcement, advancing universal representation, and integrating a field strategy into NILC’s issue areas. Previously, she held the positions such as Soros Justice Fellow and Managing Attorney at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network’s Los Angeles Detention Project, Children’s Attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, and Civil Rights Coordinator at South Asian Network. She has been involved in many social justice organizing projects, campaigns, and coalitions and currently serves on the Board of the Filipino Migrant Center.
Paul Westrick is the Manager of Democracy Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, where he works to identify and reduce barriers immigrant New Yorkers face in being fully enfranchised and engaged, and partners with elected officials and advocates to implement policy solutions. He began his career as a campaign field operative, and most recently served five years as legislative director to a New York City council member, where he successfully worked to pass online voter registration, an affordable housing database, and a ballot initiative to reduce the influence of big-money contributions in New York City’s elections.
Raima Roy is the Program Associate for Census and Civic Engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), where she is responsible for working on policy research and analysis on census issues, developing communications strategies, and implementing advocacy campaigns. Previously, she worked as a Program Associate at the International Republic Institute, where she helped implement democracy advocacy programs in Africa. She has also interned at the International Rescue Committee, where she empowered refugees from South and Southeast Asia by guiding them through the employment process and providing Urdu translation services. Raima recently received her B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University.
Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec is the Immigration Policy Advocate at the National Immigration Law Center, where she engages in legislative and administrative advocacy focusing on immigration executive actions and congressional action on immigration. She also engages in policy analysis, education, and advocacy to support the integration of low-income immigrant youth through access to education. Rodriguez’s experience as an activist in the immigrants’ rights movement and as an undocumented student has led to her devotion to improving the lives of low-income immigrants. She holds an A.A. from Santa Monica College, a B.A. from UCLA, and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law.
Meagan Roche is the Communications and Partnerships Coordinator at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. She previously worked as the West Michigan Communities Coordinator with Welcoming Michigan, a program at MIRC that focuses on building communities where immigrants experience equity and belonging both through institutional change and contact building. Meagan focuses on issues of language justice and language access at MIRC, in her organizing, and in broader community engagement. She speaks Arabic and French.
Scot Nakagawa is co-founder and Senior Partner of ChangeLab, a national racial equity think/act lab promoting innovative solutions for achieving racial equity. Scot is the 2017 Association of Asian American Studies Community Leader Award recipient, a Senior Fellow of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation; and is currently hard at work on The Anti-Authoritarian Playbook, a resource manual for communicators and community leaders and advocates that he is creating as a Soros Equality Fellow of the Open Society Foundations.
Alvaro M. Huerta is a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, where works to defend and advance the rights of low-income immigrants and their family members through litigation, administrative advocacy, and community education. His practice includes litigation on due process, equal protection and civil rights, and challenging federal and state anti-immigrant legislation. He also helps state and local advocates ensure that immigrants and their families can obtain access to health care and economic support. He is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School, and the son and grandson of Mexican immigrants to the United States.
Annie Chen is the program director of the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network at Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice. Launched 2017, the SAFE Network is a diverse group of 18 local jurisdictions across America dedicated to the goal of providing publicly-funded universal representation for people facing deportation. Annie works with jurisdictions, legal service providers, and advocates to advance universal representation for immigrants. Previously she worked in the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit, where she represented immigrants in detention facing deportation. She holds a BA from Columbia College and a JD from Fordham Law School.
Stacey Simon is Director of IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations active in the emerging field of immigrant professional integration based at World Education Services (WES) in New York, where she is also Director of Policy Advocacy. Her career has included the leadership and development of international education and exchange programs, both here and abroad, notably with World Learning, One to World, and at NYU. Stacey holds an Masters of Teaching in ESOL and a B.A. in Japanese Studies. A resident of Brooklyn, she has lived and worked in Japan and in Hong Kong.
Margalit Tepper is the Integration Projects and Policy Lead at MIRA Coalition, where she works on education, child and family, and workforce development policy issues and impacts on immigrant and dual-language learner populations. She has previously worked in refugee resettlement and volunteers with African Bridge Network, a workforce development organization for high-skilled immigrants. Margalit holds a B.S. in Human Development and an M.S.W. from Boston College, where she wrote and researched for the School of Social Work’s Immigrant Integration Lab with Dr. Westy Egmont.
Rich Stolz has served as OneAmerica’s Executive Director since August 2012. During his tenure, OneAmerica has cemented its status as one of the most effective organizing, advocacy, and civic engagement organizations in the nation. Previously, Rich worked at the Center for Community Change, where he focused on the intersection of policy, politics, and organizing across a broad spectrum of issues impacting low-income communities and communities of color. In 2013, Rich was honored by President Barack Obama as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change alongside other leaders in the immigrant rights movement.
Swathi Shanmugasundaram is a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). She is an expert on forms of extremism including the organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements. Before joining the SPLC, Shanmugasundaram worked as a policy consultant for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights group based in Takoma Park, Maryland. She received her BA in immigration policy with minors in Asian studies and intergroup relations education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Lauren Pongan is the Network Innovations Manager on APIAHF’s Policy and Network Innovations Team. She works to build and strengthen partnerships with community-based organizations on policy, advocacy, and mobilization for health equity. Using creative problem solving, Lauren helps to design strategies to strengthen communities and AA & NHPI leaders across the country. Before joining APIAHF, Lauren was running Asian American immigrant health programs at one of the Health Forum’s community-based partner organizations in Philadelphia, her hometown. She earned her MA in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Washington.