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.