Speakers (I-L)

Laila Ikram is the CAIR AZ Staff Attorney serving the Arizona community. Prior to law school, Laila worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she dealt with issues of refugee civil rights. Throughout law school at Arizona State University, Laila was the shelter director for a domestic violence shelter in Phoenix. During law school, the Islamic Scholarship Fund awarded Laila a scholarship for her commitment to service through law. Laila has worked for distinguished Judges at the Arizona Court of Appeals and the federal District Court of Arizona. In addition, she interned for the largest law firm in Arizona. Laila has now merged her track record of service with her passion for civil rights as she joins CAIR Arizona to protect the civil rights of the Arizona community.

Deepa Iyer is a South Asian American writer, lawyer, and racial justice advocate. Iyer is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion and a member of the 2017 Soros Equality Fellows cohort. Iyer served for a decade as Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). Her first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future, received a 2016 American Book Award.URL: www.deepaiyer.com. Twitter: @dviyer.

Stephanie Jackson Ali is an organizer, advocate and educator with experience in the fields of consumer protection, women’s rights, voting rights, HIV and immigrant and refugee advocacy. Since 2012, she has been working with New American Pathways and the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies to lift up the voices of new Americans in Georgia and to empower refugees to take a larger role in their democracy.

Cristina Jiménez is Executive Director and Co-founder of United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S.. Originally from Ecuador, Cristina came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13, attending high school and college as an undocumented student. She has been organizing in immigrant communities for over a decade, and was part of UWD’s campaign team that led to the historic victory of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. In October 2017, Cristina was a named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Letters & Humanities by Wesleyan University. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP), Hazen Foundation, and Make the Road Action Fund. Cristina holds a Masters degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY. 

Losmin Jiménez is Project Director and Senior Attorney for the Immigrant Justice Project of the Advancement Project. She has worked for legal services organizations in Maryland and Florida, focusing on policy, litigation, and advocacy for the rights of immigrants, minors, and families. Losmin is a member of the ABA Children’s Rights Litigation Committee’s Right to Counsel Strategy Group. She received her law degree with honors from the University of Florida College of Law, and has a Master of Science in European Politics and Policy from the London School of Economics. Losmin migrated from Puerto Rico to the mainland U.S. when she was eight years old.

Mayra Joachin focuses on improving access to affordable health care coverage for uninsured immigrants. She engages in policy analysis, consumer advocacy, direct work with affected individuals, and impact litigation. Before joining NILC as a Columbia Law Social Justice Fellow in 2015, Ms. Joachin interned at the Public Law Center’s Immigration Unit and was a judicial extern for Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her passion for immigrants’ rights advocacy stems from her experiences as a Salvadoran immigrant. Ms. Joachin holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a JD from Columbia Law School.

Robert P. Jones is the founding CEO of PRRI and a leading scholar and commentator on religion and politics. He is the author of The End of White Christian America, two other books, and numerous peer-reviewed articles. Jones writes a column for The Atlantic online on politics and culture and appears regularly on Interfaith Voices.  Dr. Jones serves as the Co-Chair of the national steering committee for the Religion and Politics Section at the American Academy of Religion and is a member of the editorial boards for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion and Politics and Religion.

Anu Joshi is the Immigration Policy Director at the New York Immigration Coalition. She has worked for seven years in the immigrant rights movement, including with the Center for New Community in Chicago and the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C.. Previously, Anu organized around issues relating to access to education and foreign policy and was also a child protective services social worker in the Bay Area. She is a native Californian and has her Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.

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

Amaha Kassa is founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together (ACT). Amaha is an Ethiopian immigrant with 22 years of professional experience as a labor and community organizer, nonprofit director, and social entrepreneur. Launched In 2012, ACT is a membership organization of African immigrants organization with chapters in New York and D.C. that has run several successful policy campaigns and emerged as a key voice on African immigrant issues. Amaha earned his JD from UC Berkeley and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.

Caitlin Katsiaficas is a Research Assistant at the Migration Policy Institute, where she primarily works with the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. Her areas of interest include asylum policy, refugee resettlement, and integration. She is currently focusing on issues related to early childhood education provision for refugee and immigrant children, and for communities experiencing super-diversity and multilingualism.

Erol Kekic is executive director of the Immigration and Refugee Program for global humanitarian agency Church World Service. Kekic leads the New York-based agency’s responsibilities as one of the 9 U.S. refugee resettlement agencies that work in partnership with the U.S. State Department. Kekic guides the agency’s role as an outspoken advocate on behalf of fair, humane U.S. immigration and refugee policies.Internationally, Kekic has led CWS’s role in humanitarian protection and development of durable solutions that bridge the gap between disaster relief and development, by helping displaced persons create life beyond mere subsistence. Before his appointment as director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program in 2008, Kekic served as associate director, coordinating the services of CWS’s nationwide network of local refugee resettlement affiliate agencies. Kekic came to CWS from the Lutheran Family and Community Service Immigration and Refugee Program in New York City, where he served as Associate Director. Prior to that, he was Assistant Director for Resettlement for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, also in New York.He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia. He also has done post-graduate study at The University of Detroit-Mercy in Michigan and at Oxford University Refugee Study Centre in England.

Genevieve Kessler is the Field Advocacy Officer for US Programs at the IRC. She builds advocacy capacity throughout USP offices.  Prior to IRC Genevieve was the Deputy Director to Congressman Sean Maloney. Genevieve was familiar with IRC based on her early experience with the organization as the Immigrant Program Coordinator spearheading an outreach campaign and before that as staff for Congressman John Hall.  Genevieve has an MPA from John Jay College of Criminal Justice CUNY.

Nasim Khansari is the Citizenship Project Director Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. This is Khansari's second year serving as a track lead within citizenship at the NIIC. Khansari has seven years experience in naturalization law, with a focus on immigrant integration including ESL and Civics education. In January 2016, Khansari was a panelist for the White House Convening on New Americans and has organized multiple sessions on naturalization law at various conferences including the New Americans Campaign, National Immigrant Integration, and Advancing Justice conferences.

Yagoub Kibeda is Vice President of the Association Mosaico action for refugees, based in Turin (Italy). He is a cultural mediator and social operator, specialized in asylum seekers and refugees integration and social inclusion projects. He is one of the founder of the network Refugees Ideas and Solutions for Europe (RISE).

Hilary Klein is the Director of Immigrant Justice and Leadership at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). Hilary has been engaged in community organizing and social justice work for over 20 years. She joined CPD after several years at Make the Road New York. Hilary also spent several years in Chiapas, Mexico, working with women's cooperatives in Zapatista villages, and is the author of the book "Compañeras: Zapatista Women's Stories." She lives in Washington, DC with her two-year old twins.

Andrea Kovach is an attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, which provides leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. Andrea has over 7 years of experience working on health policy issues. She provides policy support to the Healthy Illinois Campaign, which is working to provide a pathway to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage for every Illinois resident.

Bonnie Kwon is a mom, organizer and advocate. She was raised in Tucson, Arizona by immigrants and is passionate about building power in immigrant communities. As the Director of Network Innovation at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), Bonnie Kwon focuses on deepening relationships, networks, and mobilization capacity amongst community-based organizations and individuals through cultivating leaders, storytelling, and other strategies that move hearts and minds for health equity

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

Margot Lemaster is the Director of WelcomeNWA, a project of the Northwest Arkansas Council that welcomes all who choose to call Northwest Arkansas home. Margot is a native of Northwest Arkansas with over fifteen years of experience working in the field of immigrant integration. She received a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Oregon where her studies focused on developing methods for creating meaningful relationships between immigrants and their new home communities. In addition to starting a welcoming initiative in Iowa, her prior experience includes serving as Executive Director of Ozark Literacy Council and Program Associate for The ARK Challenge, a business accelerator program.

Esther López, UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer, is a leading champion of immigrants and all people seeking a better life. López began with the UFCW in November 2006 when she was hired as Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department. Since then, more women and minorities have been hired and promoted into positions of power. She also oversaw the launch of the UFCW’s first-ever LGBT constituency group-OUTreach. López currently serves on the national boards of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Jobs With Justice, Center for Community Change, and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

Rudy López is a Mexican American child of immigrant steelworkers. He recently left his position as the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), a national nonprofit organization that advances the rights of working people. Before leading IWJ, as the Political Director for the Center for Community Change from 2007-2013, he worked nationally to register, educate and turnout hundreds of thousands of voters in low-income communities and communities of color. He we one of the core fasters for Fast4Families. Rudy is currently a consultant working on to advance comprehensive immigration reform and the integration of immigrant communities.

Ruth Lopez-McCarthy is a managing attorney with the National Immigrant Justice Center. Ruth holds over 15 years of experience in the immigration movement both locally and nationally working over the years as an organizer in Chicago, deputy field director, coalition coordinator, deputy legislative associate/legislative liaison, comprehensive immigration reform implementation director, and as a consultant for national immigration advocacy organizations across the country. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Marguerite Lukes has been an educator and advocate for immigrant students for more than 25 years. Formerly on faculty at the City University of New York, Marguerite is currently Director of Research and Innovation at Internationals Network for Public Schools. In her role, she is primarily responsible for working across the network of schools to direct research, reporting, and analysis. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, parent organizer, professional development specialist, university faculty and researcher. Her recent book Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling: Dropouts, Dreamers and Alternative Pathways to College focuses on Latino immigrant youth in New York City and their quest to further their education.