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Track Co-Leads

NIIC is proud to introduce the 2017 Track Co-Leads: experts from across the country who design and lead the conference’s 14 Track areas.

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Rich André is the Associate Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy, a bipartisan coalition of business and political leaders working to create sensible immigration policies. Prior to joining NAE, he was the NYCitizenship Program Manager and Cities for Action Coordinator at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Rich has over 6 years of experience working on immigration issues, including local, state and federal policy, national organizing and advocacy, program design, and service delivery.

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Kristen Aster is the Associate Director for Policy and Advocacy, US Programs, at the International Rescue Committee where she is responsible for Congressional engagement, state-level policy strategy development, and strategic grassroots initiatives. Immediately prior to IRC she managed a coalition of San Diego organizations advocating on California state hunger and poverty policies. Kristen previously served as Associate Director of Refugee Council USA and worked in External Relations at UNHCR Washington. Kristen has a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University

Murad Awawdeh is the Vice President of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition. Murad leads the Coalition's Community, Political, and Member Engagement departments. Formerly, Murad was the NYIC’s Director of Political Engagement where he led the organization's Federal, State, and Local legislative and policy campaigns to push for a more inclusive New York. Through his work, Murad has been able to secure over $120 million in funding for low-income communities of color. He has been featured in VICE, the Baffler, NY1, NY Daily News, Daily Beast, and Huffington Post. He was honored with the Brooklyn Do Gooder Award, Congressional Recognition, and State Senate and Assembly Achievement and Service Awards.

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Kate Brick is the Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy, a bipartisan coalition of business and political leaders who support immigration reform. Kate has 10 years of experience working on immigration issues in the U.S., Mexico/Central America, and Europe through her time at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Unbound Philanthropy, the Migration Policy Institute, and the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center. Kate holds an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a BA in Latin American Studies from The George Washington University.


Ben D’Avanzo is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, a national health justice organization which influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. In this role, he develops strategic health and equity policy guidance for policymakers and Health Forum partners. Before coming to the Health Forum, Ben worked at Families USA, a leading consumer health advocacy organization.

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Susan Downs-Karkos is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Welcoming America, where she oversees technical assistance for local governments, nonprofits, refugee resettlement organizations, and local collaboratives working to promote welcoming communities for immigrants and receiving communities.  She manages the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange, which promotes promising practices between the U.S. and Germany in welcoming newcomers.  Susa is also the author of the Receiving Communities Toolkit.


Catrina Doxsee is a Research Assistant at the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, where her work focuses on adult education and workforce development. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. in History from the University of Chicago.


Paul Feltman is Deputy Executive Director for Global Talent Policy and Programs and Director of the Global Talent Bridge program for World Education Services (WES), a non-profit organization that helps immigrants gain recognition of their academic qualifications earned abroad. He oversees outreach, education and training programs, establishes strategic partnerships, and shapes policy initiatives designed to help immigrants successfully integrate into academic and professional settings in the U.S. and Canada.

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Juan Gallegos immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He Attended the University of Nebraska, pursuing a Bachelors of multimedia, and a minor in Spanish. In 2009, Juan started volunteering in support of the DREAM Act. He came out publicly as undocumented in support of Executive Action in 2010. He is now the Director of Legal Services and Civic Engagement at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

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Thomas Huddleston leads migration research at the Brussels-based Migration Policy Group ( His expertise are integration and citizenship practices, family reunification and education. He chairs the EU migrant education network (SIRIUS) and meetings of the NGO Platform on EU Migration and Asylum. MPG promotes best practices, learning and innovation across Europe and other major destinations: Migrant Integration Policy Index (, EU Equality Law Network, EU Integration Website and new Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue with NPNA.

Meagan Hume is the Policy and Advocacy Associate at HIAS, the global Jewish refugee protection agency.  With 130 years of refugee protection experience, HIAS operates in 12 countries and 20 cities within the United States.   A proud alumna of AmeriCorps’ Health Corps program, Meagan connected refugees in Philadelphia to health care.  Meagan has a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and a Masters in International Development (MDP) from the University of Minnesota.


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: Twitter: @dviyer.


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.


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.

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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.


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 providesleadership 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


Margie McHugh is Director of the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. Ms. McHugh’s work focuses on education quality and access issues for immigrants and their children from early childhood through K-12 and adult, post-secondary and workforce skills programs. She also leads the Center’s work seeking a more coordinated federal response to immigrant integration needs and impacts.


Eva A. Millona is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). She joined MIRA in 1999, and is one of New England’s most highly quoted immigration experts. Prior she directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts, and in her native Albania, she practiced civil and criminal law, serving on Tirana’s District Court from 1989 – 1992, as the youngest district judge ever appointed in the nation. Ms. Millona is also the co-chair of the MA Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.


Meredith Owen serves as Policy Counsel for Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program, where she advocates to strengthen immigrant and refugee rights in the U.S. and overseas. Meredith previously served as Policy Associate for the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking and worked for Human Rights USA. Meredith received her law degree from Washington College of Law, her master’s in International Affairs from the School of International Service at American University, and is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.


Maki Park is a Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, where her work focuses on domestic and international early childhood policies affecting children of immigrants and Dual Language Learners. Previously, she worked as Director of Outreach and Program Manager at WorldTeach, based at Harvard’s Center for International Development. Ms. Park holds a master’s degree in international education policy.

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Arjun Sethi is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Vanderbilt University Law School. A frequent commentator on civil rights and civil liberties related issues, his work has appeared in numerous national outlets, including CNN, The Guardian, USA Today, and The Washington Post, and he is often quoted by The New York Times, The Independent, BBC America, BBC World Radio, and NPR. He is Co-Chair of the American Bar Association's National Committee on Homeland Security, Counter-terrorism & Treatment of Enemy Combatants, and is presently traveling the country and writing a book on hate and state violence in America.


Lindsay Schubiner is the Advocacy Director at the Center for New Community, a national research and advocacy organization at the forefront of efforts to defeat anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate. Lindsay previously served as a Congressional staffer handling housing, health, and immigration policy, and managed advocacy for sexual health and rights at American Jewish World Service. Lindsay holds a Master of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.


Stacey Simon is Director of IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations active in the emerging field of Immigrant Professional Integration  based at World Education Services (WES) in New York.  Her career has included the leadership and development of international educational exchange programs both here and abroad, and human resources and fundraising positions with national and local non-profit organizations. Stacey holds an M.A.T. in TESOL and a B.A. in Japanese Studies.  


Rich Stolz is the Executive Director of OneAmerica, Washington State’s largest immigrant and refugee organizing, civic engagement and advocacy organization.  OneAmerica’s mission is to advance justice and democracy by building the power of immigrant and refugee communities, with key allies.  Rich was born in South Korea, but was raised in the United States.  Prior to OneAmerica, Rich worked at the Center for Community Change and also managed the Reform Immigration for America Campaign.

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Nadia Tonova serves as the Director of National Partnerships for ACCESS, the nation’s largest Arab American organization, where she works to expand their national impact and programming by strengthening partnerships with key foundations and nonprofit organizations.  Prior to serving in this role, she was the Director of the National Network for Arab American Communities for seven years.  While there, she created and launched the campaign to Take On Hate, an unprecedented national grassroots campaign to challenge prejudice and bias facing Arab and Muslim Americans.

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Lorén Trull currently serves as the Senior Policy Advisor for education at UnidosUS (formerly, NCLR), where she focuses on policy and advocacy for Latino and English Learner students. Previously, she was a program examiner for the education branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget.  Lorén holds a PhD in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a JD from the University of North Carolina School of Law.


Emily Tucker is the Senior Staff Attorney for Immigrant Rights at the Center for Popular Democracy, where she focuses on severing the relationship between immigration enforcement and the criminal justice system. Most recently, Emily served as Director of Policy and Advocacy at Detention Watch Network (DWN), advocating with members of Congress and high level officials at the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to push the Network’s priorities for reform of the detention and enforcement regime. Emily graduated with a JD from Boston University, an MA from Harvard University and a BA from McGill University.

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Laura Vazquez is the Senior Program Manager for Immigration Initiatives at UnidosUS (formerly NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. She works with UnidosUS affiliates to expand and sustain their immigration legal services programs. Laura holds an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from Kenyon College.


Leslie Villegas is an Associate Policy Analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, where she works with the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy on K-12 education issues affecting immigrant children and their families. She is conducting research on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and working with a network of organizations in seven states that ensure English Learners are provided with equitable and accountable public education services.

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Eric K. Ward a long time civil rights strategist, is the newly appointed Executive Director of Western States Center (WSC), that works to harness regional advocacy to reduce racial, gender and economic inequality and advance opportunity. From 2014 – 2017, Eric worked as a Ford Foundation Program Officer, where his grant-making supported efforts to combat inequality.   Prior, he was the Program Executive for The Atlantic Philanthropies, U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme, United States and led the foundation’s grantmaking efforts in immigration and in support of American Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities. Eric is also a former staff member with Community Alliance of Lane County, the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, and was National Field Director for the Center for New Community.

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Ze Min Xiao (Zee) directs the Mayor’s Office for New Americans in Salt Lake County, which is leading the development and implementation of the Welcoming Salt Lake Campaign to ensure that Salt Lake’s New Americans’ economic, social, and civic potential is maximized. A naturalized Asian American, Zee co-founded a number of new organizations and programs in Salt Lake, including the Spice Kitchen Incubator, New Roots of Utah, Utah Asian Charitable Foundation and the Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Governor’s Multicultural Commision and the State’s Refugee Advisory Board.