Leadership

Cathryn Miller-Wilson
Cathryn Miller-Wilson
Executive Director
Cathryn Miller-Wilson

Cathryn Miller-Wilson
Executive Director

Cathryn Miller-Wilson has been Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania since November, 2016. Prior to joining HIAS Pennsylvania as Deputy Director in June, 2014, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Villanova University School of Law where she co-taught the Civil Justice Clinic. She also taught Legal Writing. From September, 2008 through June, 2011 she was both the Deputy Managing Attorney at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and an adjunct professor at Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law where she taught a Field Clinic. She has been a Custody and Support Master in Philadelphia’s Family Court, coordinator of the Delivery of Legal Services Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Director of the Parents with HIV/AIDS Project at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and a staff attorney at Community Legal Services, Inc. where she represented parents accused of abuse and neglect. She co-founded, while in law school, the Custody and Support Assistance Clinic (CASAC) and today sits on the board of that organization. She is the primary author of Pennsylvania’s Standby Guardianship Act which became law in December, 1998. With support from the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, she created a medical/legal partnership between the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center at Philadelphia FIGHT in 2007. She has made numerous presentations on family law, the unique issues in families affected by HIV/AIDS, standby guardianship, confidentiality and consumer rights issues. She has several law journal publications regarding legal ethics, disability law and policy and legal education. She graduated from Tufts University in 1989 and from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1993 and currently sits on the law school’s Board of Managers. In 2004 she was awarded the Penn Law Alumni Society’s Young Alumni Award for Professional Achievement.  

 

Ellen Freda
Ellen Freda
Director of Development
Ellen Freda

Ellen Freda
Director of Development

With more than 20 years of nonprofit advancement and community outreach experience, Ellen’s professional success is founded on her enthusiasm for providing meaningful experiences for both charitable organizations and donors. A lifelong Philadelphian, Ellen earned her B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in educational psychology from Temple University. She began her development career at a national consulting firm as part of a team that provided strategic development, management and marketing solutions to nonprofit organizations. Ellen worked for 10 years at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia in progressively more responsible positions, including leading its fundraising and communications efforts. Additionally, she has held leadership positions at a youth education organization, and an international organization that promotes women’s economic independence.

Lucy Rabbaa
Lucy Rabbaa
Director of Social Services
Lucy Rabbaa

Lucy Rabbaa
Director of Social Services

Lucy Rabbaa has been serving as the Director of Social Services at HIAS Pennsylvania since November 2020. She has worked with refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants since 2007 taking on a variety of roles such as a Caseworker & Interpreter at the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) in Bangkok, Thailand; Health Access Coordinator with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Oakland, CA; Preferred Communities Program Officer with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) in Arlington, VA; and Program Director at Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE) in Baltimore, MD. In addition, during the Mediterranean migration crisis in 2016, she volunteered with two nonprofit organizations in Malta – Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants (FSM), supporting their search & rescue efforts and community integration programs for migrants and asylum seekers.

Lucy’s other field of specialization is elder care with a focus on a comprehensive, community-based model of care called the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). In this capacity, she participated in the outcome measurement and evaluation project by assessing the level of satisfaction among program participants and their caregivers at various senior care facilities nationwide, using an instrument called the Integrated Satisfaction Measurement (I-SAT).

Lucy received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Temple University and a Master of Science (MSc) in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford. In her second year of the MSW program, HIAS Pennsylvania was her field placement where she engaged in both macro and micro social work by splitting her time between the two departments – Refugee Resettlement and Development.

Philippe Weisz
Philippe Weisz
Director of Legal Services
Philippe Weisz

Philippe Weisz
Director of Legal Services

Philippe Weisz has been an advocate for immigrant rights for over 20 years. He started his career as a staff attorney with the American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, N.J.  There, he represented detained asylum seekers and immigrants from Central America. In 2000, he was named the program’s managing attorney. In 2006, he joined HIAS Pennsylvania as their managing attorney.

In addition to supervising its staff of attorneys and paralegals and handling his own caseload, Philippe oversees the agency’s educational activities. He has presented at professional conferences, trained pro-bono lawyers and provided training to staff at numerous social- and legal- services agencies. He also has been interviewed by English- and Spanish-language media on immigration matters.

Philippe has taught immigration law and supervised law school clinic students. He served as a visiting professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Social Justice International and Human Rights Clinic in 2004. In the 2008- 2009 school year, he was an adjunct professor in the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Philippe earned a B.A. in International Relations at Dickinson College in 1992. and a J.D. from the Washington College of Law at American University, where he also received an M.A. in International Relations.

Management

Lori Alexander
Lori Alexander
Director of Citizenship and Family Unification
Lori Alexander

Lori Alexander
Director of Citizenship and Family Unification

Lori Alexander has been employed at HIAS Pennsylvania since 1978. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Social Work degree from Temple University. She has been accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals since November 1979 to represent clients before both the USCIS and EOIR. Over the years, she has successfully represented thousands of clients at interviews for naturalization, adjustment of status and other matters. Lori speaks four foreign languages: Russian, French, Spanish and Italian.

Shaloo Jose
Shaloo Jose
Director of Asylee Outreach Program
Shaloo Jose

Shaloo Jose
Director of Asylee Outreach Program

Shaloo Jose is the Director of the Asylee Outreach Program at HIAS Pennsylvania. She works with asylees to obtain necessary documentation, benefits, employment services, and other critical resources on the path to self-sufficiency. She also represents asylees in adjustment of status applications, family unification petitions, and other post-asylum grant matters. Shaloo graduated as an attorney from India and practiced Trademarks and Copyrights law. Shaloo is accredited by the Department of Justice since 2008 to represent clients before USCIS for immigration matters. She joined HIAS Pennsylvania in 2007.

Amy Eckendorf
Amy Eckendorf
Immigrant Wellness Program Manager
Amy Eckendorf

Amy Eckendorf
Immigrant Wellness Program Manager

Amy Eckendorf is the Immigrant Wellness Program Manager at HIAS Pennsylvania. In this role, she supports refugees and immigrants who are experiencing significant barriers to self-sufficiency here in the United States. Amy and her team navigate the complexities of systems and work to support clients in accessing the needed care and support they deserve.

Amy’s professional experiences include working with refugee youth and youth experiencing homelessness, and counseling survivors of interpersonal violence. She holds a Masters in Social Work from West Chester University and a B.A in Intercultural Studies and Sociology. As a licensed social worker, Amy is particularly interested in addressing barriers to accessing culturally appropriate mental healthcare.

Rona Gershon
Rona Gershon
Intake Managing Attorney
Rona Gershon

Rona Gershon
Intake Managing Attorney

Rona Gershon is the Intake Managing Attorney with HIAS Pennsylvania. She originally joined the Legal Department in November 2014 as a Cardozo Law Institute for Human Rights Fellow, and primarily focused on representing victims of domestic violence and children. Rona obtained her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2014. During law school, Rona was a legal intern at Her Justice, The Legal Aid Society, and Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation.  Rona also worked as a Clinical Student Intern at the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic and Cardozo’s Divorce Mediation Clinic. Rona is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (2014).

Valeri Harteg
Valeri Harteg
Education Program Manager
Valeri Harteg

Valeri Harteg
Education Program Manager

Valeri Harteg is a native of Reading, Pennsylvania and currently works as the Refugee Education Program Manager at HIAS Pennsylvania. She attended Franklin and Marshall College, where she studied psychology and also took on several leadership roles in campus organizations, including a student-run human rights advocacy coalition. Valeri received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant that took her to Guatemala after graduating from college in 2011. In addition to developing her passion for teaching while living abroad, Valeri also furthered her interest in intercultural relations and human rights advocacy. Soon after returning to the US, she began an M.S.Ed. program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Temple University and was able to combine her love of teaching with her interest in supporting immigrant populations through her work as a volunteer ESL instructor for refugee English classes. At HIAS Pennsylvania, Valeri continues to teach English to new Americans in addition to coordinating two after-school programs for refugee youth in Northeast Philadelphia. She is deeply grateful that she can live out her passion for education while being a voice of welcome to refugees in Philadelphia.

Anneke Kat
Anneke Kat
Community Engagement Specialist
Anneke Kat

Anneke Kat
Community Engagement Specialist

Anneke Kat currently serves as HIAS Pennsylvania’s Community Engagement Specialist, managing volunteer engagement, in-kind donations, and community events, and creating partnerships focused on engagement with entities across the region. Anneke is a community development practitioner with experience collaborating alongside refugees, women, and youth on issues of education, economic empowerment, and inter-religious community building. Her academic and professional experiences have provided her with opportunities to work with communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. Anneke obtained a B.A. in International Development and Social Change and an M.A. in Community Development and Planning, both from Clark University. As a Philadelphia native, she hopes to utilize her knowledge of advocacy, community outreach, and refugee resettlement on behalf of the organization. She served as a refugee resettlement intern for HIAS PA between 2013-2015.
Stephanie Lubert
Stephanie Lubert
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Program Managing Attorney
Stephanie Lubert

Stephanie Lubert
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Program Managing Attorney

Stephanie Lubert joined HIAS Pennsylvania in 2015 as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow. In her current position, Stephanie provides direct representation to unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings, pro se assistance, and community outreach.  She previously held a staff attorney position at the Crime Victims Law Project where she represented survivors of sexual assault in family law and immigration matters.  Prior to law school, Stephanie worked for two years as a case manager at Catholic Charities’ St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigration Legal Assistance in Houston, TX.  Stephanie hails from the great state of Tennessee.  She obtained her law degree from Villanova University and her undergraduate degree from Fordham University.

Andrew Nguyen
Andrew Nguyen
Employment Program Manager
Andrew Nguyen

Andrew Nguyen
Employment Program Manager

Andrew Nguyen serves as the Employment Program Manager at HIAS Pennsylvania, where he ensures our clients have direct employment support services and develop personalized career development plans for career entry and advancement.

Prior to coming to HIAS PA, Andrew was a union organizer with UNITE HERE Local 26, organizing for better working standards with hospitality and food & beverage employees. Andrew graduated from Brandeis University with Bachelor Degrees in Anthropology and Sociology.

Mohammad Sadiq Sadeed
Mohammad Sadiq Sadeed
Office Manager
Mohammad Sadiq Sadeed

Mohammad Sadiq Sadeed
Office Manager

Mohammad Sadiq Sadeed, HIAS Pennsylvania’s Office Manager, came to the US in September 2019 on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). For the past 6 months, he worked as a Benefits Outreach Specialist at Benefit Data Trust, an NGO that has a partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, Sadiq provided screening and application services over the phone for SNAP, LIHEAP, and other government benefits.

Previously, Sadiq worked as a Travel Assistant with USAID at the US Embassy in Kabul for five years; this diplomatic work gave him and his family the opportunity to move to the US. While working at the US Embassy, Sadiq attended several trainings abroad, including Supervisory training, Customer Satisfaction training, Travel and Transportation Workshop, Travel Policy, E2I Solution Systems, Leadership, and more. He also obtained several awards from the USAID\US Embassy in Kabul such as the Mission Honor Award, Cash Award, Innovation Award, and Group Award.

Prior joining USAID in the US Embassy, Sadiq was employed by the Netherlands Embassy as an Office Manager and Finance Associate. In this role, he was mainly involved in HR, Finance, Administrative, Security and other related activities. He was also honored with several awards during his four years of employment with the Netherlands Embassy in Kabul.

Sadiq has also worked in multifunction positions with UNHCR, Save the Children, and other NGOs and private companies.

Sadiq has a Bachelor Degree from American University of Afghanistan, with a Major in Business and a Minor in Law. He is also in the last module of his online MBA with South Wales University UK.

In his spare time, Sadiq loves to read history books, play chess, and spend time with family and friends. His favorite sport is volleyball.

Christopher Setz-Kelly
Christopher Setz-Kelly
Asylum and Removal Defense Program Manager Attorney
Christopher Setz-Kelly

Christopher Setz-Kelly
Asylum and Removal Defense Program Manager Attorney

Chris Setz-Kelly joined HIAS Pennsylvania as the Asylum and Removal Defense Program Manager Attorney in 2022 after years of representing immigrant clients in the Philadelphia region. Chris regularly represents individuals in Immigration Court and has extensive experience in asylum law, motions to reopen, and minimizing the immigration
consequences of criminal convictions. Previously, he was an associate at the law firm Gian-Grasso, Tomczak & Hufe, P.C., where his practice focused on representing non-citizens in removal proceedings as well as in appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals and federal courts. Before that, Chris was a staff attorney at Nationalities
Service Center.

Chris received his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers School of Law. While in law school he represented clients in their applications for legal status through the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Chris received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado. Chris is conversant in Spanish.

Taj Sheikh
Taj Sheikh
Refugee Reception and Placement (R&P) Program Manager
Taj Sheikh

Taj Sheikh
Refugee Reception and Placement (R&P) Program Manager

Taj Sheikh currently serves as the Refugee Reception and Placement (R&P) Program Manager. In this role, she welcomes and supports refugees during their first few months in the U.S.

A Texan at heart, Taj received her Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Administrative and Policy Practice, as well as her Bachelors of Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining HIAS PA, Taj worked in various legislative capacities, and also volunteered as an ESL Instructor with Casa Marianella, a refugee shelter in Austin. She is proud to serve the refugee community here in Philadelphia.

Vleidmy R. Velarde
Vleidmy R. Velarde
Immigrant Victims of Crime Managing Accredited Representative
Vleidmy R. Velarde

Vleidmy R. Velarde
Immigrant Victims of Crime Managing Accredited Representative

Vleidmy R. Velarde joined HIAS Pennsylvania in August of 2008 to help provide legal services to the Latino immigrant community in Philadelphia. Born in Venezuela, she came to the United States in 2001 as a student and earned her Master’s in International Legal Studies and American Law from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in 2007. Prior to joining HIAS Pennsylvania, she worked as a legal interpreter and a legal assistant at a boutique immigration law firm.

Ms. Velarde graduated as an attorney from the Law School of Universidad Catolica de Tachira, Venezuela, in 2000. She practiced business, corporate, employment and family law prior to taking a position as the Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel for a private Hospital in Venezuela.

Since joining the legal services department at HIAS Pennsylvania, she has become an Accredited Representative and supervises the Immigrant Victim of Crime Initiative. In May 2011, she co-authored, with Judith Bernstein-Baker, an article about a case that was published in the Philadelphia Bar Association Foundation newsletter, titled “A New Citizen Becomes a Proud Marine.”

Legal Services Department

Isabel Ashford Arya
Isabel Ashford Arya
Haverford Fellow
Isabel Ashford Arya

Isabel Ashford Arya
Haverford Fellow

Isabel is excited and grateful to intern as a Haverford Fellow with the Asylee Outreach Program at HIAS Pennsylvania. Originally from Los Angeles, Isabel is a rising junior at Haverford College, studying Cultural Anthropology and Spanish. She hopes to eventually become a human rights lawyer.

Natalia Barber
Natalia Barber
Haverford Fellow
Natalia Barber

Natalia Barber
Haverford Fellow

Natalia Barber is a Haverford Fellow on the Asylee Outreach Program at HIAS Pennsylvania, primarily assisting the legal team. Natalia is a senior at Haverford College, double majoring in Political Science and Spanish with a concentration in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Studies.

Beverly A. Black, Esq.
Beverly A. Black, Esq.
Complex Litigation and Humanitarian Relief Staff Attorney
Beverly A. Black, Esq.

Beverly A. Black, Esq.
Complex Litigation and Humanitarian Relief Staff Attorney

Beverly A. Black graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1979 with majors in Spanish and History. She spent her junior year abroad in Costa Rica. Beverly has focused on immigration issues since 1986 when she obtained her paralegal certificate from Villanova University and began working for Catholic Social Services as an immigration accredited representative. She continued to work as an immigration paralegal for Orlow, Steel, Rubin and Rudnick (later Steel, Rudnick and Ruben) and Krusen, Evans & Byrne while she attended Temple Law School. Beverly graduated from Temple Law School in 1992, passed the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bars in the fall of 1992 and opened her own law office in Northeast Philadelphia focusing on immigration matters in September 1993. She continued to handle primarily immigration cases for the next twenty-eight years.

Beverly joined HIAS Pennsylvania as a staff attorney for the Complex Litigation and Humanitarian Relief team in November 2021. She is fluent in Spanish and conversant in Portuguese having lived in Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Chile in her youth.

Mary Clark
Mary Clark
P-CAN Coordinator
Mary Clark

Mary Clark
P-CAN Coordinator

Mary Clark serves as the Philadelphia Citizenship Action Network (P-CAN) Coordinator at HIAS Pennsylvania. The P-CAN partnership works to increase naturalization rates in low-income and underserved immigrant communities throughout the city and surrounding counties.

Mary joined HIAS Pennsylvania in 2017. She was previously the Executive Director of Esperanza Immigration Legal Services (EILS), an organization that provides direct legal serves, education, and advocacy to primarily Latino immigrants and their families in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of Brown University and Temple University Beasley School of Law, Mary has worked in the field of immigration law since 2009. Prior to law school, she served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.

Stephanie Curl
Stephanie Curl
Temple Public Interest Fellow
Stephanie Curl

Stephanie Curl
Temple Public Interest Fellow

Stephanie is a Law Fellow working with the Intake Team at HIAS Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in French from Georgetown University in 2014 and her J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2021. During law school, Stephanie served as a Staff Editor for the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal. She also participated in Temple law’s Asylum Practicum which partnered with the Washington Office on Latin America to create and provide asylum resources for attorneys and pro-se asylum seekers nationwide. Stephanie also volunteered with a group of Temple law students assisting the Sheller Center for Social Justice to file cases under the Federal Tort Claims Act on behalf of families separated at the US-Mexico border. Stephanie also served as an intern for the Asylum Outreach Program at HIAS Pennsylvania and as a Law Clerk at the Philadelphia office of Green and Spiegel LLC.

Jessica Oliff Daly
Jessica Oliff Daly
Pro Bono Coordinator
Jessica Oliff Daly

Jessica Oliff Daly
Pro Bono Coordinator

Jessica Oliff Daly is the Pro Bono Coordinator at HIAS Pennsylvania.  She is responsible for facilitating all aspects of the organization’s pro bono work in collaboration with the different initiatives of our legal services program.  Jessica also represents a variety of individual clients including those seeking asylum, adjustment of status, and family unification, as well as victims of crime and unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. Before joining HIAS Pennsylvania, Jessica worked at both small and large law firms; several education-related nonprofit organizations; and the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society of New York.  Jessica graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.  She also has a Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Raisa Davidovich
Raisa Davidovich
Legal Specialist
Raisa Davidovich

Raisa Davidovich
Legal Specialist

Raisa Davidovich has been employed by HIAS Pennsylvania since 1997. Born and raised in Moldova, Raisa graduated from the University of Foreign Languages in Pyatigorsk, Russia, with a degree in teaching. Later, she earned a degree in patent searching. With the help of HIAS Pennsylvania, she came to the United States as a refugee. In her current position, she represents clients at naturalization and adjustment-of-status interviews before USCIS, and she teaches ESL and citizenship- preparation classes for different ethnic groups. She was accredited by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals in May 2000 and she is fluent in Russian.

Matthew P. Egler DiFerdinando
Matthew P. Egler DiFerdinando
Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow
Matthew P. Egler DiFerdinando

Matthew P. Egler DiFerdinando
Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow

Matthew P. Egler DiFerdinando, Esq. joined HIAS Pennsylvania’s Removal Defense Team in 2020 as a Public Interest Law Fellow through the Independence Foundation. Matt provides direct representation to foreign nationals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Prior to joining HIAS Pennsylvania, he served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Denis P. Cohen in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Matt obtained his B.A. in Sociology from Loyola University Maryland, and his J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Joseph C. Gembala, Esq.
Joseph C. Gembala, Esq.
Staff Attorney
Joseph C. Gembala, Esq.

Joseph C. Gembala, Esq.
Staff Attorney

Joseph C. Gembala, Esq., joined HIAS Pennsylvania in 2021 through Temple Law’s Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowship program. In his current position, Joe is a Staff Attorney on the Asylee Outreach Program. Joe attained his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law’s Evening Division, taking classes on the Tokyo, Rome, and Philadelphia Campuses. He attained his Bachelor of Science from Drexel University in Fashion Design & Merchandising.

Derick Gomez
Derick Gomez
Know Your Rights Data Specialist
Derick Gomez

Derick Gomez
Know Your Rights Data Specialist

Derick Gomez is the Know Your Rights Data Specialist for the Immigrant Youth Advocacy team at HIAS Pennsylvania. He conducts Know Your Rights presentations and legal screenings to unaccompanied children in custody, maintains detailed tracking of each child, and refers cases of released youth to legal services providers. Before joining HIAS Pennsylvania, Derick worked as a team leader for the AmeriCorps NCCC and as a policy assistant at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. He graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in history in 2015.

Jazmin Gutierrez
Jazmin Gutierrez
Know Your Rights (KYR) Specialist
Jazmin Gutierrez

Jazmin Gutierrez
Know Your Rights (KYR) Specialist

Jazmin Gutierrez joined HIAS Pennsylvania in 2021 as a Know Your Rights (KYR) specialist. In her current position, Jazmin primarily provides education to children regarding their rights as unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings. She previously worked as a Care Coordinator for children in crisis. Prior to social service work, Jazmin worked at a variety of museums and cultural non-profits. Jazmin is originally from Guatemala and received her undergraduate degree from Moore College of Art & Design.

Naomi Iser
Naomi Iser
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney
Naomi Iser

Naomi Iser
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney

Naomi Iser, Esq. is an Immigrant Youth Advocacy Initiative Staff Attorney at HIAS Pennsylvania. Naomi represents unaccompanied children in removal proceedings by pursuing humanitarian forms of relief such as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and asylum. Naomi represents her clients before USCIS and the Immigration Court. Before joining HIAS Pennsylvania, Naomi clerked for the Honorable Judge Jennifer Di Toro of the District of Columbia Superior Court and served as a fellow with the Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers project at Cabrini Green Legal Aid. Naomi received her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 2017.

Gerardo Castillo Jimenez
Gerardo Castillo Jimenez
Immigrant Victim of Crime, Legal Advocate
Gerardo Castillo Jimenez

Gerardo Castillo Jimenez
Immigrant Victim of Crime, Legal Advocate

Gerardo Castillo Jimenz was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico. He and his family moved to the United States in 2002, when he was 13 years old. In 2012, he became eligible to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Gerardo received his Associates Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Lehigh Carbon Community College in 2013, and his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Kutztown University in 2015. He worked at KidsPeace with unaccompanied minors as a Youth Care Worker and Case Manager for two years. Gerardo joined HIAS Pennsylvania as a Know Your Rights Specialist in late 2015 and now coordinates the Latino Outreach and Immigration Services Initiative and is a Legal Advocate on the Immigrant Victim of Crime team.

Rebecca Kashiwagi
Rebecca Kashiwagi
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney

Rebecca Kashiwagi
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney

Noelle Lemon
Noelle Lemon
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney
Noelle Lemon

Noelle Lemon
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney

Noelle Lemon is an Immigrant Youth Advocacy Initiative Staff Attorney and is part of the Immigrant Youth Advocacy Initiative (IYAI) team at HIAS Pennsylvania. Noelle is one of forty-five Equal Justice Works fellows across the country specifically dedicated to serving human trafficking survivors through the Crime Victims Justice Corps program. She works with the IYAI team to provide immigration legal services to low-income children in Pennsylvania with a focus on trafficking survivors. Noelle graduated from Drexel’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law in May 2018.

Mary McCabe
Mary McCabe
Detained Children Project Supervisor
Mary McCabe

Mary McCabe
Detained Children Project Supervisor

Mary McCabe is the Detained Children’s Initiative Supervising Attorney at HIAS Pennsylvania. She represents kids and teens in removal proceedings, and supervises a team that provides direct representation, Know Your Rights presentations, and legal screenings to unaccompanied minors in Office of Refugee Resettlement custody and post-release. Before joining HIAS Pennsylvania as an attorney in 2015, Mary spent many years as a HIAS PA volunteer. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Mary was a staff attorney at Central American Refugee Center on Long Island, and then at Catholic Legal Immigration Network in New Jersey and New York.
Marina Merlin
Marina Merlin
Legal Specialist
Marina Merlin

Marina Merlin
Legal Specialist

Marina Merlin, born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, arrived in the United State as a refugee and joined the HIAS Pennsylvania staff soon after arrival, first as a volunteer with the advisory committee, then as a staff member. During her years at HIAS Pennsylvania, she has assisted hundreds of immigrants and refugees through the immigration process and resettlement.

Marina graduated with a civil engineering degree from St. Petersburg’s School of Engineering and Science. She has partial accreditation from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to represent immigrants before USCIS.

Michelle Nava
Michelle Nava
Immigrant Victims of Crime Initiative Case Manager
Michelle Nava

Michelle Nava
Immigrant Victims of Crime Initiative Case Manager

Michelle Nava is the Case Manager for the Immigrant Victims of Crime Initiative at HIAS Pennsylvania. With a strong passion to serve and advocate for those in need, Michelle looks forward to providing support, self-sufficiency, and direct social services to immigrant survivors of violence and serious crimes.

Prior to joining HIAS Pennsylvania she worked right out of college as a Family Advocate for families enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start programs in the South Philadelphia community with Montgomery Early Learning Center and Maternity Care Coalition, respectively. Working with low-income families struggling with language barriers, accessibility to basic needs and general social services has cemented Michelle’s dedication in social work and advocacy. She received her B.A. in Spanish/Social Work from Immaculata University in 2016.

Pamela Roberts
Pamela Roberts
Citizenship and Family Unification Staff Attorney
Pamela Roberts

Pamela Roberts
Citizenship and Family Unification Staff Attorney

Pam joined HIAS Pennsylvania as the Citizenship and Family Unification Staff Attorney in February 2020. In this position, she assists residents in applying for citizenship and petitioning for family members to join them in the U.S. Pam received her J.D. and Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, where she concentrated her studies on immigration and human rights violations as social justice impacts of climate change. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Sciences from Ramapo College of New Jersey.

While in law school, Pam was a Student Intern on the Immigrant Rights Project in the South Royalton Legal Clinic, where she drafted asylum briefs, applications to adjust status, and public comment letters. She completed several independent research projects and a field study to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the topics of forced migration, human rights, and immigration policy.

Pam was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in October 2019 and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Pam speaks conversational German and is learning Spanish.

Rebecca Stewart
Rebecca Stewart
Afghan Project Attorney
Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart
Afghan Project Attorney

Rebecca Stewart is HIAS Pennsylvania’s Afghan Project Attorney. She focuses on a wide range of legal support for the newly arrived Afghan population, particularly asylum and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) claims. Previously, Rebecca worked as a legal officer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and as an asylum attorney at Human Rights First. Rebecca started her career at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and focused predominantly on construction litigation. While at Pillsbury she championed firm resources to represent multiple asylum clients as well as other pro bono immigration cases. Originally from Vermont, she is currently based out of San Francisco, California. Rebecca has a BA from Northwestern University and a JD from Washington University in St. Louis – School of Law.

Gin Sum
Gin Sum
Asylee Outreach Program Case Manager
Gin Sum

Gin Sum
Asylee Outreach Program Case Manager

Gin Sum, Asylee Outreach Case Manager at HIAS Pennsylvania, was born in Burma where he lived with his father and mother and his four siblings in Chin Hill. His father was a Christian spiritual leader who was targeted by the military junta. When Gin was just three years old, his father fled Burma to the United States where he gained asylum. Gin’s family was separated from his father for 17 years. They eventually fled to India where they applied for refugee protection.

In 2009, Gin’s father developed a terminal illness.  He reached out to HIAS Pennsylvania seeking assistance to be reunited with his family. HIAS Pennsylvania helped expedite the family reunification application and finally, in December 2009 Gin and his family were reunited with his father.  Gin and his family are grateful they had a year together before his father passed away.

Gin joined our refugee resettlement team as a case aide in January 2011. He was promoted to Refugee Housing & Basic Needs Coordinator job in July 2014 and became Employment Program Manger in July 2016. Gin speaks Burmese and Tedim (Zomi) dialect.

Dylan Tagg
Dylan Tagg
Asylee Outreach Program Intake and Outreach Coordinator
Dylan Tagg

Dylan Tagg
Asylee Outreach Program Intake and Outreach Coordinator

Dylan Tagg is the Asylee Outreach Program (AOP) Intake and Outreach Coordinator at HIAS Pennsylvania. As an Asylee Navigator, he assists AOP with asylee outreach and the intake process within AOP. Dylan graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Psychology. He hopes his time at HIAS PA will give him the skills and knowledge to encourage communication and understanding between cultures.

Refugee And Immigrant Social Services Department

Steven Adams
Steven Adams
Housing Case Manager
Steven Adams

Steven Adams
Housing Case Manager

Steven Adams, HIAS Pennsylvania’s Housing Case Manager, is originally from Philly but primarily grew up in Puerto Rico. In 2013 he graduated with a degree in History from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, and in 2019 received an MA in Spanish from Portland State University. Before working at HIAS PA, Steven worked several roles including Residential Advocate and Shelter Supervisor, and as a Case Manager with Transition Projects in Portland. Additionally, he worked as a Spanish Instructor at Portland State. Outside of work Steven enjoys making music, reading and walking aimlessly around the city.

Rachel Aistrop
Rachel Aistrop
Adult ESL Instructor
Rachel Aistrop

Rachel Aistrop
Adult ESL Instructor

Rachel Aistrop is the Adult ESL Instructor teaching the Intermediate and Advanced levels. She contributes to curriculum development, student retention and an array of administrative tasks for the Education team. Before completing her TESOL certification, she achieved a B.A in Spanish from Temple University and an M.A in Global Migration and Policy from Tel Aviv University. It was in South Tel Aviv where Rachel discovered both her passion for teaching and her interest in serving and empowering refugee and asylum-seeking communities. Rachel is thrilled to be a part of HIAS PA where she can continue to help increase access to opportunity and self-determination by way of the English language.

Victoria Chau
Victoria Chau
Refugee Career Pathways Coordinator
Victoria Chau

Victoria Chau
Refugee Career Pathways Coordinator

Victoria is the Refugee Career Pathways Coordinator at HIAS PA. She is very passionate about her work and was previously the Youth Education Curriculum Specialist! As a teacher, she has taught students in schools, nonprofits, and arts organizations based in Philly and New York City. She has served as a teacher at the Training & Upgrading Fund where she worked with young adults in career readiness & college prep. Prior to this, Victoria was an actress with InterAct Theatre Company, Mu Performing Arts, and the National Asian American Theatre Festival, to name a few.

Prior to her work in education and theatre, Victoria originally started out in nonprofit management at Asian Arts Initiative, a community-based organization in Chinatown, and has been engaged in advocacy and policy work in immigrant communities since. She previously served as the Board Chair of the New York chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and was a Policy Advisor member to the national organization. She is very happy to return to nonprofit and to bring her dynamic range of experiences to her role!

Victoria’s proudest role to date has been being a mom, and she credits her 3-year-old son with giving her the strength and courage to spread love and cheer to those around her! In her spare time, you will find her taking a yoga class or making the perfect Vietnamese salad with her mom. She is the proud daughter of refugees from Vietnam and is excited to honor her father and mother’s hard work and legacy through serving immigrant and refugee communities in her beloved hometown Philly! Victoria received her Master’s from NYU and is a graduate of Central High! Yay Lancers!

Roger Cheng
Roger Cheng
Community Resettlement Coordinator

Roger Cheng
Community Resettlement Coordinator

Roger Cheng serves as the Community Resettlement Coordinator at HIAS Pennsylvania. In this position, he recruits, empowers, and coaches/mentors volunteer groups to provide comprehensive services in resettling Afghan families.

As an immigrant many years ago, Roger received his BS degree from Drexel University and MS and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University. He worked in academic institutions, first as a faculty member and then in various senior academic administration positions, in the US and Hong Kong. Recently, Roger was personally involved with a volunteer group to resettle Afghan refugees in the Philadelphia area. This experience led him to his current position at HIAS PA. Roger expects to bring his teaching, administrative, and volunteer experience to empower volunteers to work as a team to provide holistic services for Afghan immigrants.

Roger enjoys hiking and running and loves to travel around the world.

Colleen Cronnelly
Colleen Cronnelly
Economic Empowerment Coordinator
Colleen Cronnelly

Colleen Cronnelly
Economic Empowerment Coordinator

Colleen serves as the Economic Empowerment Specialist at HIAS Pennsylvania. In this role, Colleen connects clients to career mentors, coordinates with the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union to provide financial literacy programs, and oversees digital literacy workshops. Colleen is new to Philadelphia, and she is excited to get to know the city alongside her clients. Before working at HIAS PA, Colleen was the Legal Education Coordinator with NJ LEEP, where she supported college access and career readiness programs for high school students in Newark, New Jersey. Colleen attended Seattle University, majoring in International Studies and minoring in Arabic and Business Administration. Colleen is originally from Spirit Lake, Idaho, and she is happiest when she is near a body of water.

Cecilia De Boeck
Cecilia De Boeck
Afghan Parolee Assistance Case Manager
Cecilia De Boeck

Cecilia De Boeck
Afghan Parolee Assistance Case Manager

Cecilia De Boeck is the Afghan Parolee Assistance Case Manager at HIAS Pennsylvania. She grew up in Iowa City, Iowa and graduated from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI with a major in International & Area Studies, her area of focus being Latin America, and a minor in Anthropology/Sociology. Since graduating in 2017, Cecilia has mostly worked in education. She was a paraeducator at an elementary school, the same one she attended in Iowa City (full circle!), working one-on-one with students in a modified classroom. Additionally, she taught at a nature immersion school and most recently, pre-COVID, taught English in Armenia.

Cecilia structured most of her college career around refugee resettlement, participating in various internships and leading a student organization, Refugee Outreach Collective, that aimed to connect Kalamazoo College students with refugee populations in Kalamazoo. Her senior thesis focused on refugee resettlement in the United States, specifically researching how the long-term integration of refugees is achieved. Something that Cecilia talked a lot about in her thesis is the fact that integration is a two-way street, the receiving community playing a salient role in welcoming and assisting refugees as they adjust to life in a new country. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to assist in that portion of the integration process.

Besides her professional and academic interests, Cecilia loves to cook, forage, and sift through thrift stores for vintage clothes/glassware.

Michelle Ferguson
Michelle Ferguson
High School and Post-Secondary Lead Instructor
Michelle Ferguson

Michelle Ferguson
High School and Post-Secondary Lead Instructor

Michelle serves as the High School and Post-Secondary Lead Instructor on the Resettlement Team. She coordinates college access programming for high school students and young adults, as well as advises adults who are seeking to start or restart their higher education. She also conducts professional development trainings for teachers and other school district staff on best practices for working with multilingual students, and assists and supports family educational needs.

Michelle received her B.A. in Linguistics and M.S.Ed in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Temple University. Michelle first became involved at HIAS PA as an intern on the Education team and has been involved ever since. She is grateful to be able to serve at HIAS PA and be a voice for immigrant and refugee students and families.

 

Lia Finkelstein
Lia Finkelstein
Employment Case Manager
Lia Finkelstein

Lia Finkelstein
Employment Case Manager

Lia Finkelstein serves as the Employment Case Manager, where she provides direct employment support services to newly-arrived refugees, immigrants, and asylees. Some of these services include workshops on resume-building and Workers’ Rights. Lia grew up in the Philadelphia area and is excited to connect clients to local resources and help them adjust to their new environment.

Lia graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a B.A. in Psychology, elevating her understanding of holistic and trauma-informed care. Lia gained community outreach and organizing experience within the Baltimore community and has held different ESL tutoring roles. She is grounded in Italian and Jewish roots and can be found cooking with friends and family during her spare time. Lia looks forward to learning from clients and colleagues at HIAS Pennsylvania!

Aminata Keita
Aminata Keita
Refugee Case Aide
Aminata Keita

Aminata Keita
Refugee Case Aide

Aminata Keita is a Refugee Case Aide at HIAS Pennsylvania. Originally from Conakry, Guinea, in West Africa, Aminata moved to the USA in 2017 from Montreal, Canada. She speaks Mandingo, Susu, French, and English. Aminata has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Montreal, and has a high interest in international relations.

She spent more than nine years working for the National Bank of Canada, and saw it as an opportunity to find her passion in customer service and build trust in relationships. Passionate about helping others, Aminata has been volunteering since she came to the USA for the Free Library of Philadelphia and for HIAS Pennsylvania. She also participated in the Immigrant Leadership Institute at the Welcoming Center. This program promotes immigrants’ integration into city life. Aminata also provided voter support during the 2020 elections.

Parisa Khoshnood
Parisa Khoshnood
Youth Education Administrative Assistant and Case Aide
Parisa Khoshnood

Parisa Khoshnood
Youth Education Administrative Assistant and Case Aide

Parisa serves as the Youth Education Administrative Assistant and Case Aide on the Education Team. She holds a B.A. in Global Studies & Modern Languages from Drexel University, with a concentration in Justice and Human Rights.

In this role, Parisa supports the K-8 Newcomer Youth ESL Program and the Young Adult Mentoring Program, facilitates school enrollment, and provides education case management to immigrant youth and families, with a focus on Afghan arrivals through the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program. She also conducts parent workshops on key education-related topics to ensure that our newly arrived families have the necessary information and communication tools to become empowered members of their child’s new school community.

Prior to beginning this position, Parisa conducted two six-month internships with the HIAS PA Education Team in 2018 and 2019, and has stayed on board in various capacities ever since. She is grateful to have the opportunity to continue supporting and advocating for our wonderful clients!

Marianne Khouri
Marianne Khouri
Immigrant Wellness Program Case Manager
Marianne Khouri

Marianne Khouri
Immigrant Wellness Program Case Manager

Marianne Khouri is a case manager in the Immigrant Wellness Program, which provides intensive case management services to individuals facing significant barriers to self-sufficiency. Previously, Marianne worked as a benefits counselor at a health center in North Philadelphia and served as an Americorps member in the National Health Corps. Marianne graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Biomolecular Science and Spanish. A daughter of Syrian immigrants, Marianne feels very fortunate to work with and help support immigrant communities in Philadelphia! 

Stephanie Laurancy
Stephanie Laurancy
Haitian Immigrant Relief Program Case Manager
Stephanie Laurancy

Stephanie Laurancy
Haitian Immigrant Relief Program Case Manager

Stephanie is the Haitian Immigrant Relief Program Case Manager at HIAS PA. In this role, Stephanie coordinates providing social services to Haitian immigrants, ensuring that their needs and goals are being met and supported. Stephanie has earned a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Political Science, with a focus on Latin American politics, at Widener University.

Stephanie has also conducted research on emigration and immigration and is familiar with servicing non-US natives through her internship at International Student Services (ISS) at Widener University. In addition, Stephanie has assisted Haitian immigrants in the Philadelphia community with translation services, document preparation, and service coordination. Stephanie’s professional career involves case management at Blessings Support Coordination, and she founded LaFortune Branding, a branding and creative direction agency in Philadelphia.

To her role, Stephanie brings her past experience in supporting immigrants, compassion for service and her invested interest in the Haitian community as a proud daughter of Haitian immigrants. Stephanie is excited to be able to serve her community in this capacity.

Yveline Merisier
Yveline Merisier
Health Case Manager

Yveline Merisier
Health Case Manager

Marty Miller
Marty Miller
Newcomer Youth ESL Instructor
Marty Miller

Marty Miller
Newcomer Youth ESL Instructor

Marty Miller has been a cantorial soloist for the last 22 years at Central Reform Congregation, the only Jewish Synagogue in the City of St. Louis, MO. She is a professional singer and performer who sang for the Chamber Chorus, St. Louis Symphony Chorus, St. Louis Opera Theatre and several seasons with The Muny. She received a BMA in education and a Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Missouri and studied a semester abroad at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England.

Marty has just retired after 32 years as a professional educator. She taught music education for over 20 years and then in 2000, received certification for the state of Missouri in ESL to teach children from over thirty-two countries. Marty has traveled extensively to many third world countries using her music and education background to work with children in their native schools. Among many educational awards, Marty went to Japan on a Fulbright Peace Education trip to learn about the music and education of Japan.

Marty and her husband Michael Hess have three daughters, one son, a daughter in law from Philly, two granddaughters and one grandson. They moved to Philadelphia five years ago to be near their family.

Marty began volunteering in September 2015 for HIAS PA at Spruance Elementary school in the after-school ESL program. She has a passionate commitment to empower each individual student through teaching English and strong support in all academic subjects. She believes acculturation to the US is vital but is respectful and sensitive to the strong cultural practices of the refugee students and their families.

Andrew Niemynski
Andrew Niemynski
Housing Coordinator

Andrew Niemynski
Housing Coordinator

Andrea Pulido
Andrea Pulido
Refugee Case Manager
Andrea Pulido

Andrea Pulido
Refugee Case Manager

Andrea Pulido is a Refugee Case Manager on the Refugee Resettlement/Reception & Placement (R&P) team, and will be assisting and supporting refugees during their first three months in the US.

Andrea is originally from Massachusetts, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Women/Gender/Sexualities Studies, with a main concentration in Reproductive Justice, and a minor in Political Science. She initially became interested in refugee issues while living in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a Rotary Youth Exchange Scholar. However, as a child of Filipino immigrants, Andrea has always been closely tied to the immigrant experience.

Prior to HIAS PA, Andrea conducted research on youths’ experience with sexual and reproductive rights in Manila on a Fulbright Research Grant, taught English in southern Spain, and worked in support services for incoming international students and truant students.

Outside of work, you can find Andrea biking, cooking, crafting, bouldering, or spending time with her family.

Rabiya Samad
Rabiya Samad
Immigrant Wellness Case Manager
Rabiya Samad

Rabiya Samad
Immigrant Wellness Case Manager

Anna Shaffer
Anna Shaffer
Immigrant Wellness Case Manager and Group Programming Coordinator
Anna Shaffer

Anna Shaffer
Immigrant Wellness Case Manager and Group Programming Coordinator

Anna Shaffer is a case manager with the Immigrant Wellness Program, which provides intensive case management services to individuals facing significant barriers to self-sufficiency. Anna also works with the Immigrant Wellness Group programming which provides immigrants ways to work towards goals in a safe group setting. She originally got involved with HIAS Pennsylvania through volunteering while working as the services coordinator for a nonprofit providing ESL classes to immigrants in South Jersey.

Anna is passionate about refugee and immigrant rights, mental health and collective healing, and most of all her clients integration and the strengths that they bring to the United States. Anna has experience working with refugees abroad and focused much of her college research around migration as a basic human right and intercultural communication.

Eliana Stanislawski
Eliana Stanislawski
Adult ESL Instructor and Citizenship Instruction Coordinator
Eliana Stanislawski

Eliana Stanislawski
Adult ESL Instructor and Citizenship Instruction Coordinator

Eliana is the Adult English as a Second Language (ESL) Instructor and Citizenship Instruction Coordinator at HIAS PA. In this capacity, they teach multiple ESL levels, support curriculum development, and assist in PCAN coordination. Prior to working at HIAS PA, Eliana was the Family Literacy Academic Instructor at the Nationalities Service Center. Eliana is currently pursuing their MSEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Temple University, and they hold a BA in International Development and Social Change with a specialization in migration and refugee studies from Clark University.

Eliana discovered their love of teaching in immigrant, refugee, and asylum-seeker communities while supporting refugees from Myanmar by running an after-school program and providing community advocacy services, as well as serving as an adult ESL instructor at the Worcester Adult Learning Center and Worcester State University’s Urban Action Institute.

Administration

Damaris Aguilar
Damaris Aguilar
Paralegal
Damaris Aguilar

Damaris Aguilar
Paralegal

Damaris Aguilar joined HIAS Pennsylvania in 2018 as the receptionist before being promoted to paralegal. She graduated from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Macros in Lima, Peru with a bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management; she then obtained a master’s degree in Hospitality Administration (2014) from the University of Kentucky. Aguilar also possesses certificates in medical interpretation (English-Spanish, Spanish-English), legal interpretation (English-Spanish, Spanish-English), and English as a Foreign Language, or “EFL” (also known as ESL and ELL). She both volunteered as an EFL teacher and studied EFL methodology. In addition to Spanish, she holds a basic level of French. Aguilar’s long-term professional interests include community development, agrotourism, and sustainability.

Madeline Artiga
Madeline Artiga
Receptionist
Madeline Artiga

Madeline Artiga
Receptionist

Madeline Artiga was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador. She and her family moved to the United States in 2016, when she was 16 years old. She participated in the youth group (grupo de encuentro de Jóvenes en el Espíritu (Young Encounter Spirit) and was a group Leader/Volunteer at a church in El Salvador. Madeline trained and supervised children on religious ministries and outreach; developed or directed study courses or religious education programs within congregations; scheduled special events such as camps, conferences, meetings, seminars, or retreats; and attended workshops, seminars, or conferences to obtain program ideas, information, or resources.

In 2017, Madeline participated with “La Puerta Abierta” and “Barrio Ed Project Philadelphia.” During that time she participated in several trainings, workshops where she learned about the importance of immigrant rights, how to be heard in the US and how we can help immigrants. She is now studying her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing at Franklin University. Madeline speaks English and Spanish and is currently learning Dari to help the Afghan community.

Madeline joined HIAS Pennsylvania as a receptionist in November 2021 to help and serve the community.

John Branca
John Branca
Paralegal
John Branca

John Branca
Paralegal

John Branca is a Paralegal on the Complex Litigation and Humanitarian Relief Team at HIAS
Pennsylvania. He has a Bachelors in Paralegal Studies from Peirce College. John has worked
at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office as well as in Philly’s hospitality industry as co-owner
of the James Beard-nominated Malaysian restaurant, Saté Kampar, along with his wife, Ange.
During that time he co-founded Muhibbah Dinners, a charity dinner series that raises money for
non-profits that work with immigrants and refugees. In recent years, he has helped run Kampar
Kitchen, an online pick-up/delivery platform featuring a diverse roster of Philadelphia chefs
specializing in underrepresented traditional cuisines. He started at HIAS PA at the beginning of
2022 and is happy to be combining his paralegal experience with his passion for being a part of
diversity thriving in Philly and the rest of the country.

Courtney Craig
Courtney Craig
Office Assistant
Courtney Craig

Courtney Craig
Office Assistant

Courtney comes from a background as a combined telephone operator/help desk assistant, but specializes in facilitating ease and efficiency! In her free time, Courtney can be found performing as a member of Trust Your Moves LGBTQ choir and knitting and crocheting hats and scarves, or creating yarn work kits for donation!

Erica Pelta Feldman
Erica Pelta Feldman
Refugee Resettlement Administrative Assistant
Erica Pelta Feldman

Erica Pelta Feldman
Refugee Resettlement Administrative Assistant

Jared Gencarella
Jared Gencarella
Asylee Outreach Program Paralegal
Jared Gencarella

Jared Gencarella
Asylee Outreach Program Paralegal

Jared Gencarella is a Paralegal on the Asylee Outreach Program team at HIAS Pennsylvania. Jared graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, and then spent a year as an Augustinian Volunteer at HIAS Pennsylvania working as an Asylee Navigator with the AOP team from 2019-2020. In this role, Jared worked with clients and families on Financial Literacy training, advocated for clients in the field when needed, and provided general support in consultation.

Besides the legal aspects of his position, Jared is fluent in Spanish, so working on the AOP team gives him the opportunity to practice speaking Spanish with his clients who mainly come from Spanish-speaking countries. Jared’s hopes are to continue to develop working across many different cultures and finding the bridges that bring us as people closer together. Jared hopes that he can take what he learns from working at HIAS Pennsylvania and bring the knowledge of navigating different cultures and supporting those in need to a Marketing world desperately in need of a greater awareness of these concepts.

Aidan Hamilton
Aidan Hamilton
Compliance Officer
Aidan Hamilton

Aidan Hamilton
Compliance Officer

Aidan Hamilton is the Compliance Officer at HIAS Pennsylvania. He is responsible for ensuring that the organization complies with its grant funding requirements. Aidan graduated from Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in philosophy and economics.

Cindy Herazo
Cindy Herazo
Immigrant Victims of Crime Paralegal
Cindy Herazo

Cindy Herazo
Immigrant Victims of Crime Paralegal

Lisa Lamboy
Lisa Lamboy
Community Engagement Assistant

Lisa Lamboy
Community Engagement Assistant

Lisa Lamboy is the Community Engagement Assistant at HIAS Pennsylvania. She assists with volunteer engagement, in-kind donations, and community events. After earning her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, Lisa volunteered for a year in Buffalo, NY, with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry. While in Buffalo, she volunteered two days a week at Vive La Casa, a shelter for those seeking asylum in Canada and the United States. Following her time in Buffalo, Lisa worked as a social worker in Philadelphia for nearly 5 years. She then volunteered for two years in Guyana, South America with Mercy Volunteer Corps where she volunteered at an orphanage and a hospital. Lisa subsequently worked for Mercy Volunteer Corps coordinating volunteers placed in Guyana, Philadelphia, and New York City.
Mariale Bolanos Leal
Mariale Bolanos Leal
Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Paralegal
Mariale Bolanos Leal

Mariale Bolanos Leal
Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Paralegal

Mariale Bolanos Leal is the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program Paralegal at HIAS Pennsylvania. In her current role she provides assistance to reunite eligible Central American families in the United States.

Mariale was born and raised in Costa Rica and moved to the United States in the summer of 2020. She graduated from the University of Costa Rica in 2019, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law. Right now she is writing a dissertation to obtain a license in law from the University of Costa Rica. Her dissertation is about taxation as a tool to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics. She is interested in Human Rights Law and Environmental Law. Mariale hopes to one day become a lawyer in the United States.

Mariale loves to learn about cultures and languages. She speaks Spanish, English, French, and Mandarin. She learned Chinese and French by living in each country for 11 and 8 months respectively.

In her free time she likes to rock climb and spend time with her family and friends.

Yvonne Leung
Yvonne Leung
Executive Assistant
Yvonne Leung

Yvonne Leung
Executive Assistant

Yvonne Leung joined HIAS Pennsylvania in August 2018.  She immigrated from Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese. She received her BA in Psychology from UC San Diego. Prior to working at HIAS Pennsylvania she was an AARS drug & alcohol counseling, LCFS foster care social worker, and CalSAC conference coordinator.

Nighat Noel
Nighat Noel
Citizenship Paralegal
Nighat Noel

Nighat Noel
Citizenship Paralegal

Nighat Noel is a Citizenship Assistant at HIAS Pennsylvania. She assists the clients with their citizenship applications. Noel has a Bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies from Peirce College in Philadelphia. She is part of the Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and has an interest in the Fine Arts. Noel is also fluent in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi and English, which she utilizes in her work as an interpreter.

Jordy Portillo
Jordy Portillo
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Program Paralegal

Jordy Portillo
Immigrant Youth Advocacy Program Paralegal

Gabriela Rodriguez De Jesus
Gabriela Rodriguez De Jesus
Social Services Administrative Assistant
Gabriela Rodriguez De Jesus

Gabriela Rodriguez De Jesus
Social Services Administrative Assistant

Gabriela joined HIAS Pennsylvania in June 2019. She was born in Puerto Rico and is of half Ecuadorian descent. She is studying International Development at Penn State. Gabriela speaks English, Spanish & is currently learning Russian. She is committed to giving back and advocating for her community. In her free time, Gabriela is a community organizer, always looking for new ways to raise awareness about current political and social affairs in Latin America & the Caribbean.

Rebecca Weber
Rebecca Weber
Development and Communications Associate
Rebecca Weber

Rebecca Weber
Development and Communications Associate

Rebecca (Becca) Weber is the Development and Communications Associate at HIAS Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, East Asian Studies, and Middle Eastern Languages from McGill University. Becca has worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in Israel, Taiwan, and Costa Rica, and has traveled extensively throughout Asia and Latin America. An avid language-learner, Becca speaks English, Spanish, and Hebrew, and has dabbled in Arabic, French, Chinese, American Sign Language, Esperanto, Russian, and Portuguese.

Becca is an editor and a writer, and has ghostwritten and edited multiple books. She was the Vice President of Public Relations of Independence Blue Cross’ Big Blue Toastmasters Club, is currently on the Board of M.A.P.S. Global Events, and is active within the Philadelphia Jewish community.

TONIGHT: Join us at the table!Join us for Thankful Together!

Thankful Together, formerly known as Refugee Thanksgiving, is happening TONIGHT at 6PM!

Register here to join us tonight: https://hiaspa.org/event/thankful-together-2021/

Celebrate our volunteers who make this all possible!Click here at 11:45AM to join our Annual Meeting!

Click here to join our virtual Annual Meeting!

The Annual Meeting starts at noon, but join us at 11:45AM for an informal chat before the event!

POSTPONED! Speed Advocacy: Afghanistan

Today's Speed Advocacy: Afghanistan Facebook Live event has been postponed due to a worldwide Facebook outage. We will update you as soon as possible about rescheduling the event.

Join us for Thankful TogetherWatch performances from cultural groups and immigrants from around Philadelphia.
Give immigrants a brighter future

Make 2021 better for immigrants and refugees by ensuring they have the support to recover from anti-immigrant policies and the pandemic.

Double your donation this Giving Tuesday!All gifts will be matched up to a total of $11,000

Help every immigrant achieve their greatest potential by ensuring there are no obstacles like a lack of legal status or language access stand in their way.