Paula Fitzgerald, Executive Director
Paula Fitzgerald, Esq. is the executive director of Ayuda. She previously served as managing attorney at Ayuda’s Virginia office, and as an immigration staff attorney. Prior to joining Ayuda in 2008, Paula served as an immigration staff attorney at Hogar Hispano of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, and as an associate at Hunton & Williams LLP.
Paula’s immigration legal work focuses on humanitarian relief for individuals, children, and families, including VAWA self-petitions, U visas, T visas, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions. She also has extensive experience in family-based immigration matters, consular processing, waivers and NACARA cases. Paula credits her parents with instilling the values that led her to her work. Her mother, a Colombian immigrant, was a social worker at a school with a large Latino immigrant population. Her father worked as a psychologist for the mentally ill at Saint Elizabeths Hospital.
Paula currently serves on the Fairfax County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. In 2017, Washingtonian magazine included Paula in its 40 Under 40 list of leaders in the Washington, D.C. region. Paula has also been recognized by the Alexandria Domestic Violence Program for her work with domestic violence victims. Paula earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in psychology from James Madison University. Paula and her family have lived in northern Virginia for more than 35 years.
Laurie Ball Cooper, Legal Director
Laurie Ball Cooper is Ayuda’s legal director. Laurie provides leadership, vision and support to our legal services teams across offices and practice areas. Laurie previously served as a senior staff attorney in Ayuda’s pro bono program. She has represented immigrants and survivors of trauma in many capacities throughout her career, including as a Skadden Fellow at the Tahirih Justice Center, at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, and in the human rights practice group at the private law firm Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll.
Prior to her work in direct legal services, Laurie was a law clerk to the Hon. M. Margaret McKeown on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked in international development and human rights. Laurie has dual degrees in law and public policy from Yale Law School and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and completed her undergraduate degree at Duke University. Laurie is fluent in Spanish and Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian.
Kate Clark, Managing Attorney, Maryland Immigration
Katharine Clark is the Managing Attorney for Ayuda’s Maryland immigration program, where she supervises an attorney and a BIA-accredited legal assistant, representing immigrants in family-based and humanitarian matters. Before joining Ayuda, Katharine worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee minority staff as immigration counsel for Senator Dianne Feinstein, and for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of Immigration Litigation and the Boston Immigration Court. Katharine earned her law degree, with a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies, from Georgetown University Law Center, and earned her B.A. in English Literature from Brown University. She is excited to continue her legal career with Ayuda.
Josh Doherty, Managing Attorney, DC Immigration
Josh Doherty is the Managing Attorney of Ayuda’s D.C. Immigration program, where he supervises a team of attorneys, BIA Accredited Representatives, Paralegals and Legal Assistants who assist immigrants in the greater D.C. area seeking a variety of humanitarian and family-based immigration remedies. Prior to becoming Managing Attorney, Josh was previously at Ayuda as a Supervising Attorney, Staff Attorney, Law Clerk, and Legal Intern. Josh has developed particular expertise in assisting immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Josh received his J.D. with honors from the George Washington University Law School and an M.A. in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs. He received his B.A. in International Studies magna cum laude from the University of Richmond. He is admitted to the Virginia and District of Columbia bars. Josh is fluent in French and Spanish.
Victoria Hernandez, Interim Supervising Attorney - Maryland / Supervising Attorney, Domestic Violence/Family Law Program
Victoria Hernandez currently serves as Interim Supervising Attorney for Maryland, and also continues to work as a Supervising Attorney with the Domestic Violence/Family Law Program at Ayuda.. She previously served as a Staff Attorney in the Program. Victoria provides legal representation to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who seek Civil Protection Orders and resolution in family law matters (e.g. divorce, legal separation, custody, and child support) at D.C. Superior Court. Additionally, she works with the D.C. and U.S. governments to ensure her clients’ interests are conveyed and honored in criminal cases. Prior to working at Ayuda, Victoria was a law fellow at the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers project and a law clerk at the Law Offices of Cohen & Hertz, PC. Victoria received her J.D. from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 2015 and her Bachelor of Science in Public Management and Policy from The University of Arizona in 2012.
Erin Larkin, Associate Director, Domestic Violence/Family Law
Erin is the Associate Director of Ayuda’s Domestic Violence/Family Law Program, where she supervises a team of attorneys who represent immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in civil protection orders and family law cases. Before joining Ayuda, Erin served as a policy attorney at the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where she led advocacy efforts for funding for domestic violence programs and services, educated policy makers, and provided technical assistance and training. Prior to her work at the Coalition, Erin helped create another non-profit legal services organization that leverages pro bono attorneys in providing representation to domestic violence survivors in civil protection orders and family law cases, and served as the organization’s first Executive Director, and Managing Attorney of its Domestic Violence Program. Erin currently serves as the chairperson of D.C.’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board and has volunteered with the D.C. Bar’s Advice and Referral Clinic. Before moving to the District, Erin served as an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts, where she prosecuted over 500 domestic violence cases, and clerked at the Connecticut Supreme Court. Prior to law school, Erin worked in the U.S. House of Representatives covering legislation related to women’s issues, housing, teen pregnancy and foster care. Erin earned a J.D. with high honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law and a B.A. in International Relations and French from the University of Virginia.
Marilyn Lovo, Language Access Manager
Marilyn Lovo is the Language Access Manager at Ayuda, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC that provides direct legal, social, and language access services to low-income immigrants. Marilyn received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Communication from Stevenson University. As Ayuda’s Language Access Manager, Marilyn trains interpreters, educates service providers, and arranges interpretation and translation for 80 nonprofit organizations throughout the DC Metropolitan area. Marilyn oversees a team of coordinators responsible for administering a publicly-funded interpreter bank whose purpose is to ensure that victim services nonprofits in the District and surrounding jurisdictions can serve all clients, regardless of the languages they use to communicate. In addition, she recruits and selects interpreters to work in victim services settings, and designs, coordinates, and delivers trainings for victim services professionals on best practices regarding interpretation, language access, and using Ayuda’s interpreter banks.
Rossana Molina, Finance Director
Rossana Molina has been with Ayuda in the operations and administration department for over 5 years, functioning as our staff accountant and human resource analyst. Before joining Ayuda, Rossana worked for a CPA firm preparing corporate and individual tax returns and providing bookkeeping services for various clients including non-profit organizations. Prior to that she worked for an Immigration Law firm as a Full Charge Accountant. An active community member, Rossana volunteers with the immigrant population in Northern Virginia by helping parents and families thrive in new environments. Rossana graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelors degree in Accounting from Strayer University.
David Sokolowski , Development Director
David is the Director of Development at Ayuda. David brings 30 years of fundraising and nonprofit management experience from a variety of nonprofit organizations. He started his career in Seattle with the American Cancer Society (ACS), establishing Relay for Life events across Western Washington State. Over a 26-year period with the ACS, he worked in all aspects of annual giving that included major gifts, corporate giving, foundations and large-scale special events.
In 2014, David went to work as a Development of Director for the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. In that role he more than doubled the annual fundraising breakfast his first year and exceeded the annual gala goal by 20%. Moving to DC in 2016, David served as the National Director of Development for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). His focus was raising money to fight the Muslim Travel Ban and protect the sanctions that supported the 2014 Iran Nuclear Deal. While at NIAC he established the first major gifts giving circle for $100,000+ individual donors.
Rose Spero, Operations Director
Rose is the Director of Operations at Ayuda, where she oversees internal operations. Her work at Ayuda includes human resources, administration, and oversight over all internal systems and processes. Rose holds a Master of Research degree from the University of Glasgow, and a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from Whitworth University.
Prior to coming to Ayuda, Rose managed operations at Polaris, a non-profit that combats human trafficking in the US and operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Earlier in her career she served as the communications director of Rise, a political advocacy campaign for sexual assault survivors.
David Steib, Language Access Director
David Steib is the Language Access Director at Ayuda. The Language Access Program trains interpreters, educates service providers, advocates for enforcement and amendment of local and federal language access laws, and arranges interpretation and translation services for dozens of nonprofits throughout the DC metropolitan area.
Prior to joining Ayuda, David was the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest at American University Washington College of Law. He serves on the Language Access Advisory Committee of the DC Courts and on the board of the Washington Council of Lawyers. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the DC Language Access Coalition and on the Steering Committee of the DC Bar’s Courts, Lawyers, and the Administration of Justice Community. David received a JD from Georgetown University Law Center. He earned his BA in Spanish and Theater Studies from Yale University.
Madeline Taylor Diaz, Supervising Attorney, VA
Madeline Taylor Diaz is a supervising attorney with the Virginia immigration program, where she supervises attorneys, fellows, and legal assistants. Madeline represents immigrants in humanitarian and family-based immigration matters before EOIR, USCIS, and the Virginia court system. Madeline began at Ayuda as a law student intern in both the DC and Virginia office.
After law school she joined Ayuda as an Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLC, focusing on children’s immigration matters. She continues to focus on children’s cases, and has been invited to speak throughout the region on matters related to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the representation of immigrant children. Madeline graduated Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and holds a B.A. in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies from the George Washington University.
Treshia Thomas, Language Access Manager
Treshia is one of the Language Access Managers at Ayuda. The Language Access Program trains interpreters, educates service providers, advocates for enforcement and amendment of local and federal language access laws, and arranges interpretation and translation services for dozens of nonprofits throughout the DC metropolitan area. Prior to joining Ayuda, Treshia was an admissions officer at the School of International Service at American University. Earlier in her career, she was a Project Manager at CPA Global, an intellectual property management firm. Treshia holds a Master of Organizational Development degree from American University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Politics from New York University.
Laura Trask, Associate Director of Development and Communications
Laura Trask is the Associate Director of Development and Communications at Ayuda, where she oversees Ayuda’s external events, communications, fundraising and donor management. Prior to joining Ayuda in November 2017, Laura worked abroad in Chile and most recently, Guatemala. In Chile, Laura worked as the development coordinator for a local organization that supports at-risk youth in Santiago. In Guatemala, Laura was a sponsorship coordinator for a local foundation that provided quality education, nutrition and access to healthcare for low-income students.
Laura received her B.A. in Journalism and Foreign Relations from James Madison University. She holds a graduate certification in NGO Management from James Madison University, and a certification in Human Rights: Immigrant and Refugee Rights from the Henry Dunant Foundation.
Jessica Trease, Grants Manager
Jessica is the Grants Manager at Ayuda, where she supports Ayuda’s senior staff in managing Ayuda’s grant applications and grant reporting requirements. She also provides strategy and develops systems to sustain and grow Ayuda’s grant funding. Prior to joining Ayuda in 2019, Jessica served as a Sr. Grants Officer at Polaris, an international anti-human trafficking organization. She has also secured and managed grant funding for other victim service and human rights organizations. She has experience providing crisis intervention and case management services for human trafficking and domestic violence survivors. Jessica received her Bachelors of Social Work from the University of Toledo and her Masters of Social Work from the University of Michigan.
Rebecca Walters, Managing Attorney, Virginia
Rebecca Walters is the Managing Attorney at Ayuda’s Fairfax, Virginia office, where she manages and supervises a legal staff of ten Ayuda attorneys, legal fellows, paralegals, and other administrative staff. At Ayuda, Rebecca has represented low-income clients on a wide range of immigration matters for the last eight years, with a focus on serving immigrant survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and teen dating violence. Rebecca also has extensive experience representing additional vulnerable immigrant populations such as asylum seekers, unaccompanied immigrant children, and immigrant survivors of violent crime in the United States. She represents her clients in a variety of immigration matters before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Executive Office for Immigration Review. She also has significant experience representing immigrant children and their relatives in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions and custody proceedings before the Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts and Circuit Courts throughout Northern Virginia.
Rebecca is a native of southwest Virginia and she speaks Spanish and French. She graduated summa cum laude from American University Washington College of Law and obtained her bachelor’s degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. She began her legal career as a Skadden Fellow at Ayuda in 2010.
Andrea Wein, Interim Director of Social Services
Andrea Wein is the Interim Director of Social Services at Ayuda. She joined Ayuda’s Social Services team in 2016 as the Bilingual Therapist in the Takoma Park office. As a therapist at Ayuda, Andrea enjoyed working with clients to overcome their traumas and to find their resiliency in the process. She also started Ayuda’s Wellness Wednesday program, which focuses on providing self-care to Ayuda’s staff.
Prior to her work at Ayuda, Andrea worked extensively with immigrant communities in the DC Metropolitan area in schools, home-based programs, and outpatient settings. In addition to her work at Ayuda, she works in private practice in Washington, DC.
Andrea received her Bachelor’s of Social Work from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and her Masters of Social Work with a clinical concentration from The Catholic University of America.
She is very excited to continue Ayuda’s mission of serving the immigrant community in the DC area through the resourceful and passionate social services team.
Lori Faeth, Director of Government Relations, Land Trust Alliance, Chair
Lori Faeth was deputy assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior during the Obama Administration from 2011 to 2017, where she managed five independent offices – International Affairs, Policy, Environmental Policy and Compliance, Restoration and Damage Assessments, and Native Hawaiian Relations. Prior to this, she was senior policy advisor for Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona.
Christina Wilkes, Founder, Wilkes Legal LLC, Vice Chair
Christina Wilkes is the founder of Wilkes Legal, LLC an immigration law firm in Takoma Park, Maryland providing comprehensive and compassionate representation in family and humanitarian based immigration, deportation defense and appeals. Christina has been practicing immigration law since 2004; she has been in private practice since 2012, and before that she was with Ayuda. During her tenure at Ayuda, Christina wore many hats. She founded and directed the Children’s Project from 2005-2008, served as interim executive director from late 2008-2009, and legal director from 2008-2012. She was inducted to Ayuda’s Hall of Fame in 2014 in recognition of her critical impact on Ayuda. She is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School and Smith College and she is fluent in Spanish.
Kate Ambler, International Food Policy Research Institute, Secretary
Kate Ambler is an associate research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. Her work currently focuses on the evaluation of anti-poverty programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on smallholder agriculture, gender, and household decision-making. She also has a research interest in migration issues, covering information asymmetries in remittance transactions from the United States to Central America and seasonal migration in Malawi and Senegal.
Kate is originally from El Paso, Texas and previously lived in Lima, Peru where she was a Project Coordinator for Innovations for Poverty Action. She holds a BA from Williams College and a PhD in Economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Kevin Metz, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP, Treasurer
Kevin Metz is a litigator in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins where he specializes in complex commercial, securities and class action litigation. He has served on the firm’s Pro Bono, Ethics and Recruiting Committees, and currently serves on the Board of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Prior to law school, he worked for several years as a journalist, covering Florida politics for The Tampa Tribune. He graduated from Northwestern University and Yale Law School, and clerked for the Hon. Michael S. Kanne on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit before joining Latham’s Silicon Valley office in 2000.
Tara Castillo, Partner, Alston & Bird LLP
Tara Eliza Castillo is a partner in Alston & Bird’s Finance Group and co-leader of the Auto Finance Team. She represents clients in warehouse financings, structured finance, securitizations, and other asset-backed transactions. Tara has experience representing issuers, underwriters, sellers, servicers, trustees, rating agencies, and other transaction parties across a wide variety of asset classes, including auto loans, consumer loans, credit card receivables, equipment, insurance premium finance loans, leases, merchant advance loans, residential mortgages, and trade receivables. She has also represented financial institutions and nonbank finance companies serving as lessors and lessees in equipment lease transactions.
Jill Flack, Assistant General Counsel, Exelon
Jill Flack is an Assistant General Counsel at Exelon, where she handles labor, employment and employee benefits matters. She is also the co-coordinator for Exelon’s D.C. region pro bono program and has done pro bono work with many organizations, including several immigration relief clinics with Ayuda. She has also volunteered with non-profits in her community as well as Arlington Public Schools. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law and obtained a Certificate in Employee Benefits Law from Georgetown Law School.
Veronica Nannis, Partner, Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, LLP
Veronica Nannis is a seasoned litigator who takes on fraud. She is a principal in Joseph, Greenwald & Laake’s Civil Litigation department. For more than 10 years, Veronica has represented employees who blow the whistle on employers defrauding the government. She files suit under the False Claims Act in district courts all around the country, primarily focusing on health care fraud and all sorts of illegal kickback schemes. She is barred in State of Maryland, District of Columbia, United States District Courts for Maryland, D.C., and Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Jayesh Rathod, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
Jayesh Rathod is the founding director of the law school’s Immigrant Justice Clinic. His areas of expertise and scholarly interests include immigration law, labor and employment law, occupational safety and health, and clinical legal education. Prior to joining the faculty, he was a staff attorney at CASA of Maryland, representing low-wage immigrant workers on employment law and immigration matters, and participating in worker education, organizing, and advocacy efforts. He also practiced in the litigation section at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering LLP, and was law clerk to the Honorable Louis F. Oberdorfer, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Harvard College.
Michael Sklaire, Managing Partner, Greenberg Traurig LLP
Michael Sklaire focuses his practice on government investigations, business crimes, and financial litigation and regulation. He has wide-ranging experience as a trial lawyer, including more than 11 years with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). He handles jury trials, non-jury trials, class action litigation and arbitrations, both domestic and international. In addition to Ayuda, he serves on the Board of Director of the Federal Bars Association Criminal Law Section. Michael received his J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law.
Marie Talwar, Senior Manager, International Trade Compliance, General Electric Company
Marie Talwar serves as Senior Manager, International Trade Compliance and has responsibility for audit and trade compliance at the General Electric Company. Prior to this role, Marie served as Finance Manager/CFO of various businesses within GE, including GE Appliances, GE Capital, NBC and Corporate where she had responsibility for controllership, planning, budgeting & analysis. She has over 20 years of financial and operations management experience. She is a graduate of GE’s Financial Management Program and has an MBA from Virginia Tech. She has recently served as Treasurer on the Board of the US-ASEAN Business Council.
Samir D. Varma, Partner, Thompson Hine
Samir is a partner in the International Trade and White Collar Criminal Practice, Internal Investigations & Government Enforcement practice groups. He advises multinational corporations on export controls, economic sanctions and customs, and counsels individuals and corporations on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption laws. He represents clients in enforcement actions before U.S. regulatory agencies and conducts corporate internal investigations. Samir participates in many firmwide activities, including the pro bono program, and serves as the Washington D.C. chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative. He was a co-recipient of Thompson Hine’s 2013 Diversity Champion Award for his work developing and launching the Diversity Externship Program, which provides law students in Washington, D.C. with rewarding educational opportunities and real-life work experience on pro bono matters.
While in law school, Samir served as a judicial extern for Judge Douglas Eaton of the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Also, he interned for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.
Michael Woods, Assistant General Counsel, Verizon
Michael Woods is a Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Verizon, where he handles national security, public safety, and cybersecurity policy. Prior to joining Verizon, he served in the Justice Department (National Security Division), the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, the National Counterintelligence Executive, and as a federal prosecutor. He began handling U Visa cases with Ayuda in 2011 through Verizon’s in-house pro bono program. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School (1992) and Oxford University (1987).
Stacy Brustin, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Civil Practice Clinic, The Catholic University of America
Stacy Brustin and her students represent low-income clients in family law, employment, and public benefits matters. Stacy also engages in court-reform efforts, policy development, and scholarship focused on family law and access to justice. Her involvement with Ayuda dates back to 1989 when she began as a staff attorney in the family law unit. She also brought her experiences and inspiration from her time in Mexico and started the Hermanas Unidas support group for survivors of domestic violence, which continues today. She served on the Board of Directors from 2011-2017. Most recently, Stacy introduced Ayuda to the DC Social Justice Fund, a donor-advisement philanthropy group.
Arleen Ramirez Borysiewicz,
United Community Ministries
Arleen Ramirez Borysiewicz’s seasoned experience in fundraising, external affairs, community relations, board development, and branding and marketing benefited Ayuda from 2014 – 2018. As its director of development for four years, she revived and grew Ayuda’s development and communications operations, helping to transform Ayuda to its next plateau of success. Arleen’s leadership raised the stature and brand of Ayuda’s signature annual anniversary event and its Welcome Breakfast. Private sector support from foundations, corporations, and individuals rose to record levels. She identified, cultivated, and recruited candidates for board nominations. She created the Ayuda Advisory Council to convene additional strategic leadership for Ayuda. Prior to Ayuda, Arleen worked for a national higher education nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Currently, Arleen is director of development and communications at the United Community Ministries in Alexandria, Virginia.
Paul F. Caron, Director, Federal Government Affairs, Microsoft
Paul F. Caron serves as Director, Federal Government Affairs at Microsoft Corporation and is based in Washington, DC. Previously at Microsoft he served as chief of staff of U.S. government affairs for seven years, and worked for six years as an attorney for at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington. From 1999 to 2004, he served as an attorney for Software AG in Reston, Virginia.
Andrew Dana, Founder and Co-owner of Timber Pizza Co. and Call Your Mother
Andrew Dana is D.C.’s king of carbs. As the founder and co-owner of two award-winning restaurants, Timber Pizza Co. and Call Your Mother (a Jew-ish deli), Andrew has proven the secret is in more than just the sauce. In 2010 he left D.C. to attend business school at Fordham University, where studying and researching NY-style slices culminated into his capstone project: creating a pizza shop.
Andrew opened Timber Pizza in Petworth in June of 2016. Andrew’s first concept has received national acclaim, including being named a 2019 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand award-winner, a 2017 best new restaurant in Bon Appetit’s America’s 50 Best New Restaurants, 2017 Pizzeria of the Year by Bon Appetit, and topping lists of best pizzerias by The Washington Post Express, Washingtonian, and more.
Two years later, after an informal meeting with a fellow D.C. native and now business partner, Call Your Mother Jew-ish deli was born. Inspired in part by Andrew’s Jew-ish background and a dream to open a deli, the wood-fired shop infuses Jewish influence while flipping traditional deli staples on their head. The Park View deli has received national recognition from Conde Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, and Washington City Paper, most recently being named one of Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America, and a 2019 best new restaurant in Bon Appetit’s America’s 50 Best New Restaurants.
Andrew is inspired by the unique neighborhoods that make up D.C. and his restaurants are a reflection of the communities he’s grown to love. Andrew continues to be motivated by the desire to create authentic, yet unexpected concepts, menus, and spaces that, of course, pay homage to his love of carbs.
Andres Echeverri, Founder and President, ACSI Translations
Andres Echeverri is the Founder and President of ACSI Translations (ACSI), a firm that is focused on comprehensive language access solutions, offering services in translation, interpretation, sign language, transcription, consulting on language localization, as well as market and feasibility studies. Andres, originally from Colombia, South America, and a proud Naturalized American Citizen, has twenty-five years of experience in Inter-American business, finance and private equity. He has an MBA from American University and serves in various community organizations, including the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the DC Court Committee for Unauthorized Practice of Law. He lives in Bethesda MD, with his lovely wife Elsa and their two children.
ACSI is a firm designed to solve the clients’ needs by providing them with effective solutions that comply with government and industry standards. This for-profit organization is also extremely committed to giving back to underserved communities of color and immigrants in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia regions (DMV). ACSI gives back over 10% of its profits through NGO’s in the region that serve DMV populations who are vulnerable in education, health and legal services. Andres will continue to lead ACSI on its successful path of creating jobs, aiding clients in language access, and he is determined to keep growing its effective ties to the community that opened its doors to him and his wife over twenty years ago.
Patty First, Principal, The Raben Group LLC
With a career dedicated to litigating for civil rights and advancing progressive legislation, Patty First is one of the foremost policy advocates on immigration, women’s rights, civil rights, and technology policy in the nation. She has been a valuable member of The Raben Group since it was founded in 2001. Patty serves as a principal and lead of various client teams across the progressive sector. Prior to joining the Raben team, Patty was on the front lines of the struggle for humane immigration policy and civil rights. She worked for three years on the Senate Judiciary Committee as counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy where she helped craft landmark immigration legislation.
Gaela K. Gehring-Flores, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP
Gaela Gehring Flores concentrates her practice on international arbitration and litigation matters. She represents both multinational corporations and sovereign states in international commercial and investment arbitrations before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR/AAA), and in litigation and appellate proceedings before US federal courts. She advises clients in a broad range of disputes, including energy, natural resources, construction, hospitality, transportation, sovereign debt instruments, government contracts, and intellectual property.
Nelson Garcia, President, Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group, LLC
Nelson Garcia has more than 20 years of experience in congressional affairs, international relations, and federal, state, and local advocacy on behalf of various trade associations and social organizations. He founded the Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group in 2009 to promote embassy exchange programs, professional networking opportunities, and to engage in bi-partisan policy discussions around international trade. Previously, Nelson worked for the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and the Alliance of American Insurers. Early in his career, he was a congressional staff for Rep. Ken Calvert of California.
Sandra Grossman, Partner & Co-Founder, Grossman Law, LLC
Sandra Grossman is the founder and managing partner of Grossman Law, LLC, an immigration law firm operating in Bethesda, Maryland. She is an experienced immigration litigator, having successfully represented individuals in many aspects of immigration law before the immigration courts, Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Federal District Courts. Sandra represents clients in the area of deportation defense, detention and bond issues, the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, consular processing, requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), waivers of inadmissibility, asylum, adjustment of status and naturalization applications, extraordinary ability and artist’s visas, among many other matters.
Jennie Guilfoyle, Education and Training Attorney, American Immigration Council
Jennie Guilfoyle is the Education and Training Attorney for the Immigration Justice Campaign at the American Immigration Council. Before joining the Council, she spent four years as an Attorney Adviser at the State Department in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, working on issues ranging from citizenship to intercountry adoption. Prior to that, she worked for many years as a Senior Training Attorney at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, designing and leading in-person and online trainings on a wide range of immigration law topics. She also worked at Church World Service, where she trained refugee resettlement programs on immigration law and program management. She began her legal career as an Equal Justice Works fellow at the New York Association for New Americans, where she represented asylum and VAWA applicants.
Peter Kovar, Councilmember, City of Takoma Park, Maryland
Peter Kovar was elected councilmember for the City of Takoma Park, Maryland in 2016. After serving in political positions in the federal government for over 30 years, Peter left government service in 2013. His employment included working for U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) for 25 years, with 18 years as chief of staff. He also worked in the Obama Administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental relations.
Diego Marquez, Senior Sanctions Counsel, GE Corporation
Diego Marquez joined General Electric Company as sanction attorney in spring 2015. Prior to this, he was with Alston & Bird LLP for seven years as a senior associate in the International Trade & Regulatory Group in the Washington, DC, office. He advised clients on a wide range of legislative, public policy and regulatory matters, specializing on issues pertaining to international trade, federal elections and government ethics. He also managed the pro bono practice at Alston & Bird, focusing primarily on asylum work and other immigration law matters.
Diego received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2007, where he was a line editor for the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. He graduated from Davidson College in 2003 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in mathematics.
Diego served on Ayuda’s Board of Directors from 2013-2019.
Lucian “Mickey” Martinez, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
Mickey Martinez has practiced law in Washington since 2007. He is currently a trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice, Civil Division. He has previously worked as a litigation associate at Gilbert LLP and at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett LLP. He was a Simpson Thacher Public Service Fellow at the Victory Fund, where he served as assistant general counsel and assisted in their successful effort to increase the number of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in appointed positions in the executive branch of the federal government. Mickey served on Ayuda’s Board of Directors from 2011-2017.
Mauro Alberto Morales, Community Leader
Mauro Alberto Morales is currently the staff director at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Mauro previously served the Obama Administration as an assistant director in the Office of Public Engagement at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a position he held since 2014. From 2009 to 2014, he served as attorney advisor in the Office of the General Counsel at OPM. Before joining the Obama Administration, Mauro Morales founded The Morales Law Group in 2006, where he served as managing partner until 2009.
Other previous roles included serving as general counsel for private businesses, working as an attorney with law firms, and working for congressional members from California. Mauro received a B.S. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of Southern California.
Victoria Ortega, Associate, Blank Rome LLP
Victoria Ortega represents clients in a variety of complex civil cases before federal and state courts. Her practice, which covers all phases of litigation from inception through appeal, spans a wide array of subject areas, including commercial litigation matters, government contracts, government investigations, and white-collar defense. Victoria conducted and won a trial on behalf of a large corporation in Maryland State court. She also represents corporations and financial institutions, in connection with corporate governance and compliance matters. Prior to joining Blank Rome, Victoria served as a congressional legal intern for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and as a judicial intern for the Honorable Marvin J. Garbis, U.S. District Court,Baltimore, MD.
The Honorable Paul Wickham Schmidt, Federal Immigration Court Judge (retired)
Judge Schmidt was appointed as a federal immigration judge in 2003. Prior to his appointment as an immigration judge, he served as a board member for the Board of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and served as its chair from 1995 to 2001. He stepped down as chairman to adjudicate cases full-time. Prior positions include the following: deputy general counsel of Immigration and Naturalization Service; managing partner at Fragomen, Del Rey & Bernsen; and as business immigration law attorney with Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue. Judge Schmidt also served as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in 1989. He has authored numerous articles on immigration law, and has written extensively for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Judge Schmidt is a member of the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Wisconsin and District of Columbia Bars.
Andrew Selee, President, Migration Policy Institute
Andrew Selee succeeded co-founder Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix as president of the Migration Policy Institute in July 2017. He came to MPI from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he served as executive vice president for three years. The founding director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, Andrew is a respected scholar and analyst of Mexico and U.S.-Mexico relations. A frequent commentator in the media, he has also written and edited a number of books and policy reports on U.S.-Mexico relations, Mexican and Latin American politics, and Latino immigrant civic engagement in the United States, and is a regular columnist with the Mexican newspaper El Universal.
The Honorable J. Walter Tejada, President and Founder, Virginia Latino Leaders Council
The Honorable J. Walter Tejada served on Virginia’s Arlington County Board from 2003 to 2015. He was first elected to the Board in a special election on March 11, 2003. Reelected in 2007 and 2011, he served as Chairman of the Board in 2008 and 2013 and Vice-Chairman in 2007, 2012 and 2015.
A community advocate, Walter has distinguished himself as a leader committed to enhancing the diversity of Arlington and the region’s community voice. During his tenure on the Board, he reached out to local communities and encouraged residents to be active participants throughout the County and the Washington Metropolitan region. He has been instrumental in convening community stakeholders to address a wide range of issues such as affordable housing, civic engagement and volunteerism, community and economic development, education and employment, parks and recreation, tenant outreach and empowerment efforts, youth development programming, health and fitness, and nonprofit assistance.
Walter currently serves on the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, appointed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2016.
Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO, Hispanic Heritage Foundation
Jose Antonio Tijerino is president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, which focuses on education, workforce development, connectivity, innovative leadership and public awareness in addition to promoting cultural pride and accomplishment. Under Tijerino’s leadership, HHF has built a network of 100,000 vetted Latino talent (15-35-year-olds) and focused on the STEM fields, entrepreneurship, finance, media, and other priority areas for America. HHF works closely with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and other nonprofits. Prior to HHF, Tijerino worked at Fannie Mae Foundation, Nike, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe under the Young & Rubicam umbrella.
Tijerino has been honored with the prestigious Ohtli Award, which is the highest recognition by the Government of Mexico outside of Mexico; Lifetime Achievement Award by National PTA; Vision Award by Silicon Valley Latino Leadership; Brillante Award by National Society of Hispanic MBAs; Leadership Award from Telemundo; Army Strong civilian award by US Army; Community Service Award by Governor of Maryland; Cesar Chavez Award by National Hispanic Leadership Institute; and the Champion of Digital Equity Award by the Multi-Cultural Telecom & Internet Council (MMTC); among others.Tijerino serves on various boards including Harvard’s Latino Leadership Initiative at the Kennedy School; The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP); University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business; PBS Sci-Girls; Nielsen’s Latino Advisory Counsel; America’s Promise Alliance; Latino Jewish Leadership Council; and Center for the History of the New America. Tijerino also founded The American Project with Notre Dame University to treat immigrants with dignity.
Michael Tubman, Manager of State Government Affairs and Public Policy, Electrify America
Michael Tubman is manager of state government affairs and public policy at Electrify America, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group of America, which is investing billions of dollars in electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the United States. Michael first became involved with Ayuda in 2004 and served on its Board of Directors from 2011-2017, including four years as chair. He helped institute a new model for individual fundraising — the origin of Ayuda’s signature Welcome Breakfast event, provided critical leadership during Ayuda’s time of transition, and cultivated numerous high-value individuals for support and board leadership.