Executive Leadership

Murad Awawdeh

Interim Co-Executive Director

Murad is a strategist, organizer, and advocacy expert currently serving as the Interim Co-Executive Director at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). The son of Palestinian immigrants, Murad has dedicated over two decades of his life fighting for low-income communities of color across the State of New York. He grew up organizing to stop dangerous and hazardous developments in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and engaging community residents to build power and bring transformational change to their neighborhoods. As the NYIC's Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategy he successfully led electoral, legislative, and policy campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, and mobilized hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers at demonstrations against anti-immigrant policies. As the Executive Vice President of NYIC Action, the NYIC’s sister 501(c)4 political advocacy and action organization, he has successfully led grassroots electoral campaigns to elect progressive candidates. Murad has been featured in VICE and the Huffington Post, and was honored with a U.S Congressional Recognition, and Public Service Awards from the NYS Senate and Assembly. He serves as a Trustee of the New York University Family Health Centers Board, as a member of the Justice 2020 Committee, and as Commissioner of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission. Raised in Sunset Park, Murad currently lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

Rovika Rajkishun

Interim Co-Executive Director

Rovika is a nonprofit fundraising and communications expert and community organizer currently serving as the Interim Co-Executive Director at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). Born and raised in Guyana, Rovika immigrated to Brooklyn, NY at age ten. She has spent the last two decades helping community-based organizations build their sustainability and capacity. Rovika has committed her career to progressive causes, including gender equity, racial justice, workforce development, civic engagement, and immigrant rights. Prior to serving as Interim Co-Executive Director, Rovika served as the Vice President of Development and Communications at the NYIC (and at it's sister 501(c)4, NYIC Action), leveraging a statewide rapid-response fundraising campaign in the wake of the 2016 presidential election to more than double the organization’s budget in just four years. Rovika works to build a more inclusive fundraising and development field by providing mentorship to aspiring development professionals of all backgrounds. She also teaches fundraising skills to burgeoning community-based organizations through the Robin Hood Foundation’s Grant Readiness Training Program (G.R.I.T) and the NYC Capacity Building Funder Collaborative. Rovika serves on the Board of Directors of Girls for Gender Equity and Wild Earth, and is the Chair of the Brooklyn Community Board 7 Committee on Census 2020. Rovika has lived with her husband in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for 17 years where they are now raising three children.

Alana Pilar Cantillo

Senior Director of Advocacy

Alana Pilar Cantillo is the Senior Director of Advocacy for the New York Immigration Coalition. In this role, She leads the planning, implementation, and execution of the NYIC’s top campaigns. She also provides strategic vision and oversight of the organizations federal, state, and local agendas as well as member and political engagement across the state.

Ms. Cantillo previously served as the Director of the New York City Council Progressive Caucus where she coordinated 18 Council offices to advance an agenda that promotes a more just and equal New York. Through legislation, funding of social service programs and advocacy, Alana lead multiple city-wide efforts that address inequalities in education, employment, housing and criminal justice.

Emigrated from Colombia and raised in New Jersey, Ms. Cantillo earned a BA in Anthropology and Spanish from Rutgers University and a MS in Bilingual Special Education from City College, City University of New York. She is a proud alumna of the New York City Teaching Fellows Program and Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. Alana has been recognized in City and State Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars list and is the recipient of the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Community Engagement Award. Alana volunteers with multiple mentorship programs and is a member of the Public Leadership Education Network’s Board of Directors, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center’s Junior Board and New York State Archives Partnership Trust Advisory Committee.

Anu Joshi

Vice President of Policy

Anu Joshi is the Vice President of Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition where she leads the organization's work on issues relating to immigration status and enforcement. She has worked for over 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 spent three years as a child services social worker in the Bay Area. She is a native Californian and has her Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.

Cathy Kim

Vice President of Operations

Cathy Kim is the Vice President of Operations for the NYIC. In this role, she oversees NYIC's budget and finances, human resources, and organizational development, ensuring efficient internal operations as well as strong governance and compliance, liaising with the Board of Directors. Prior to NYIC, she served as Chief of Staff at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation where she helped advance the organization’s strategic plan to disrupt the racial wealth gap in Central Brooklyn through the development of programs and organizational infrastructure. Prior to that, she was at Enterprise Community Partners New York where she helped ensure low-income New Yorkers have access to affordable housing and could leverage it as a platform for economic stability and mobility. She also worked at the New York City Housing Authority where she helped the agency rethink and implement how residents are connected to services and economic opportunity and at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board where she helped create homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income New Yorkers.

Cathy began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa where she helped launch and develop Childline Mpumalanga, an organization that protects children from violence and abuse. She is currently a Fellow of the Sterling Network, a diverse group of leaders across the public, private and non-profit sectors working together to increase economic mobility across New York City, with racial equity as a central guiding value. Cathy is a Coro Leadership New York Alumna (LNY28) and holds a M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a B.A. in International Relations from Occidental College.


Mona Abdulla

Manager of Community Engagement, Western New York

Mona Abdulla serves as the Manager of Community Engagement in Western New York where she will be providing community education, outreach, and engagement. She also creates resources and conducts trainings and workshops for the community. Previously, Mona was an Employment Counselor for the NYS Department of Labor where she assisted immigrants and the community at large with job search and preparation strategies. Outside of her regular job, she assisted organizations that serviced immigrants and worked on projects with the NYIC.

Mona holds a BA degree in Psychology with a minor in Creative Leadership & Problem Solving. She also has an MS degree in Higher Education Administration. Presently she serves as a Board Trustee in the Lackawanna City School District. Outside of work, she spends time with her two teenage sons and continues to assist the Yemeni American community with projects and events in WNY and throughout NYS.

Mayra Aldás-Deckert

Director of Community Engagement

Mayra Aldás-Deckert is the NYIC Director of Community Engagement at The New York Immigration Coalition where she provides management, logistics, and strategic planning support for a number of NYIC initiatives that support community and family engagement. She develops and implements outreach strategies to engage, educate, and inform NY's diverse communities. Previously she served as the main coordinator of the NYIC’s Key to the City Initiative, which brings foreign consulates alongside social and legal service providers to schools in immigrant neighborhoods for multi-day specialized events. A native of Ecuador, Mayra moved to NYC in 2005 with her family. She joined the New York Immigration Coalition in 2014.

Mayra graduated from Brooklyn College earning a B.S. in Business Management and Finance in 2013. In Ambato, she completed three years of Commercial Engineering with a focus in Management and Business Planning at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador.

Catherine Alerta

Human Resources Generalist

Catherine Joy Alerta is our HR Generalist for NYIC bringing 18 years of HR experience in various aspects of human resources management and administration working for multi-national and international Fortune 500 companies based in Southeast Asia, U.S.A. and Europe. Prior to joining NYIC, she was responsible for recruitment and staffing, account management, policy development, retention, legal compliance, project implementation, conflict resolution and records management. She is excited to bring her expertise and contribute innovative recruiting programs, comprehensive employment, employee interaction policies and the creation of compliant and effective affirmative action programs. She has serviced and worked for different sectors in the fields of Telecoms, Health Care, and Information Technology. Catherine holds both a BCOM in Business Administration and an MBA in Business Management ,International Business from Ateneo Graduate School of Business located in Manila, Philippines.

Meeta Anand

Census 2020 Senior Fellow

Meeta is the Census 2020 Senior Fellow spearheading the organization’s efforts to ensure a complete and accurate count of New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. Meeta has been actively involved in New York's mission-driven community for more than a decade, most recently serving as Board Chair for Sakhi for South Asian Women. Meeta spent over 10 years working at the law firm White & Case, where she was an associate in the project and asset finance group and headed business development for the same group. Prior to that, she clerked at the Court of International Trade, interned at the Division of Appeals and Opinions at the New York State Office of the Attorney General, worked as a commercial banker at Banco Santander, interned at the Bureau of Human Rights at the State Department, and assisted research in economics at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A from the The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a B.A. from Tufts University in Political Science and Economics, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. Meeta is a proud native of Queens, where she was born to a Haitian mother and an Indian father. She roots for the Mets and tries to teach her Minnesotan husband to say "stand on line."

Natalie Bernstien

Census Associate

Natalie Bernstien is the Census Associate at the New York Immigration Coalition. She supports the Census Activities of NYIC and NY Counts 2020. Prior to joining the NYIC, she was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Casablanca, Morocco. As part of her research, she conducted a qualitative survey assessing contemporary perceptions of Moroccan Jewish history. Natalie graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017 with a B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies and was a part of the Arabic Flagship Program.

Kristen Billings

Communications Associate

Kristen Billings is the Communications Associate at the NYIC, where she assists with social media and press management and is responsible for internal graphic design and email marketing. She transitioned to the Associate role after serving as the NYIC’s Communications VISTA from 2018-19. Prior to her time at the NYIC, she was an urban farming apprentice in her hometown, Indianapolis, IN, and also supported communications and events planning for municipal climate resiliency and campus sustainability projects. She graduated with a BA in English and Environmental Studies from Indiana University.

Philip Brand

Development Associate

Philip is the Development Associate at the NYIC, where he helps cultivate relationships with individual donors and execute fundraising events. Prior to this position, he has provided logistical and administrative support to the NYIC’s Civic Engagement team, assisted social workers in a supportive housing complex in Times Square, and conducted photo research for Ken Burns Florentine Films. Philip holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Middlebury College in Vermont.

Michelle Born

Manager of Immigrant Services Support, Training

Michelle Born serves as Manager of Training with the Immigrant Services Support team. Michelle oversees the development and growth of the NYIC's training initiatives to build the capacity of legal service providers and other community-based organizations serving New York State's immigrant communities. Previously, Michelle served as a Training and Outreach Manager for LawHelpNY / Pro Bono Net and as Staff Attorney in the Immigration Program at The Bronx Defenders. Michelle has worked abroad and in the U.S. in various program and development capacities with Catholic Relief Services, Human Rights Watch, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She holds an M.A. in International Development from Fordham University and a J.D. from CUNY School of Law.

Wennie Chin

Senior Manager of Civic Engagement

Wennie Chin is the Senior Manager of Civic Engagement at the NYIC. She oversees the organization's work in civic participation, electoral reform, and good government practices.

Prior to joining the New York Immigration Coalition, Wennie was a Community Organizer at the MinKwon Center for Community Action working with Asian American youths and supported the launch of APA VOICE. Wennie previously managed two State Senate races in Queens and was formerly on the board for OCA-NY Advocates, chairing their Civil Rights Committee.

Wennie received her B.A. cum laude with high honors in Politics and Asian American Studies from NYU.

Steven K. Choi

Senior Advisor

Steve Choi is a Senior Advisor at the New York Immigration Coalition. As Executive Director of the NYIC from 2013-2020, he led organizational expansion from 16 staff and $2.1 million budget to 55 staff and an $11 million budget. During his tenure, he oversaw successful historic victories to restore driver’s licenses for all immigrant New Yorkers; create the first-ever $10m New York State Liberty Defense Project; and create the first-ever $40m ActionNYC immigration legal services program in New York City. He also led the NYIC in creating the New York Counts 2020 coalition that successfully raised more than $60 million to support Census efforts across New York State.

Previously, Steve was the Executive of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, which represents the Korean and Asian community in New York, and the Director of the Korean Workers Project at the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF). He currently serves as the co-chair of two national immigration coalitions—the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), and serves on the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Scherman Foundation.

He was ranked #1 by City & State for the “2019 Nonprofit Power 100” list for New York State. Steve is a graduate of Stanford University and received a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Seongeun Chun

Senior Manager of Health Policy

Seongeun is the Senior Manager of Health Policy. She works within the NYIC's Policy department to support work at the municipal, state and federal levels to improve access to high-quality care for immigrant New Yorkers. Most recently at Montefiore Medical Center, Seongeun directed a multi-site study to increase access to effective treatment for opioid use disorders in primary health care settings. Prior to Montefiore, she led research and policy analysis focusing on health care delivery, and access to maternal and neonatal care in Indonesia, Liberia and China. She has proficiency in Korean and conversational in Bahasa Indonesian and French. Seongeun received her MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Meredith Fortin

Director of Immigrant Services Support

Meredith Fortin is the NYIC Director of Immigrant Services Support. Meredith oversees a program dedicated to supporting service providers in the state, which includes coordination of direct service providers in coalition (including rapid response work), management of the NYIC's training institute, and the administration of events like the NYIC's Key to the City initiative. Previously she was the Asylum Program Officer at Physicians for Human Rights, where she oversaw the development, recruitment, and training of the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Asylum Network. Before that, Meredith served as a staff attorney and then director of the Immigration Legal Program at Lutheran Social Services of New York. Meredith has represented clients before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in a broad range of immigration matters, developed and conducted Know Your Rights programs as well as both legal and non-legal trainings for professionals, and managed community-based pro-bono immigration clinics. Meredith holds a BA from the College of William and Mary, and a JD from New York University School of Law.

Silvia Gonzales

Manager of Administration & Finance

Silvia is the NYIC Manager of Administration and Finance. In her current role, she manages the financial health of the organization and oversees state and city contracts from budgeting to reporting. A native Peruvian, Silvia fell in love with nonprofits when she was a teenager. Inspired by a high school program Global Kids at International High School at LaGuardia Community College, Silvia quickly developed a deep passion for nonprofit and charitable work. She joined the New York Immigration Coalition as an intern in 2005 and has provided administrative support to the NYIC for over 10 years.

Silvia holds a BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies from Hunter College.

Kiwi Grady

Director of Membership & Capacity Building

Kiwi Grady is the NYIC Director of Member Services and Leadership Development. In her role, she runs leadership development and service programs such as the NYIC VISTA program, which places AmeriCorps members in service at nonprofit organizations around New York State, where they build capacity for immigrant-focused anti-poverty programs and services; and the NYIC Volunteer program, which provides opportunities for individuals to support diverse immigration services, advocacy efforts, and fundraising campaigns. She also has a leadership role in the ongoing development of the NYIC's Membership program, which works to support and engage nonprofit organizations in immigration advocacy and service campaigns, and created the New Americans Youth Leadership Corps, a leadership development and service program for first and second generation immigrant youth. Prior to working at the NYIC, Kiwi managed student leadership development programs and organizational chapters at the national Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and peer education-in-residence and social justice programs at New York University’s (NYU) Department of Residential Education.

Kiwi earned a bachelor’s degree in Gender and Sexuality Studies and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the NYU Steinhardt School of Education, respectively. In her fairly limited spare time, Kiwi loves to consume speculative fiction, read comic books, obsess over theme parks, and try to understand cats (it is not working).

Veronica Hinds

Manager of Individual Giving and Events

Veronica Hinds is the Manager of Individual Giving & Events at the NYIC. In this position, she provides strategic direction on donor relations and cultivates relationships with major donors. She also plans various fundraising events, including the annual gala and manages the Young Professional Leadership Council. Veronica has over ten years of experience in fundraising. Her expertise includes donor cultivation and stewardship, communications, and event planning. Before joining the NYIC, Veronica managed communications and events at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. She holds a BA in Communications from SUNY Buffalo and an MS in Journalism from Iona College.

Bonnie Huang

Civic Engagement Fellow

Bonnie Huang is the Civic Engagement Fellow with the NYIC. In this role, Bonnie works to increase voter registration and engagement efforts across New York's five boroughs. She also supports efforts to build NYIC's member capacity in civic engagement initiatives and community engagement. Prior to joining NYIC, Bonnie worked as a Researcher at the Service Employee's International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ supporting a campaign to unionize a large non-union contractor through strategic research. Bonnie has a Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies, and Public Policy from Hunter College. She also holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

Ivan Larios

Manager of Member Engagement, Long Island

Ivan Larios was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He attended San Francisco de Asis school.  Ivan moved with his parents to Queens, New York.  Ivan continued his education at I.S. 53 and Beach Channel High School, both in the county of Queens. After his graduation, Ivan attended St. John’s University and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Political Science.

Ivan’s interest in immigration influenced him to work for the Central American Refugee Center where he served the immigrant community drawing on the roots of his own immigrant experience. Ivan’s personal commitment and compassion enable him to assist hundreds of new American citizens and advocate for the immigrants of Long Island, New York.

Mark Libatique

Manager of Membership & Capacity Building

Mark is the Manager of Membership and Capacity-Building, and has been working with the NYIC since the beginning of 2017. Prior to that, he's been: a museum tour guide, an adult night school French and Mandarin teacher, a news editor, a freelance editorial consultant, a street canvasser, and a cashier at a Times Square watch store (among other things).

Mark received his BA in journalism at Rutgers University and is currently working on getting his Masters degree in Public Administration from NYU.

Alejandra Lopez-Cuellar

Associate of Membership and Capacity Building

Alejandra Lopez-Cuellar is the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the 2017-2018 VISTA cohort at the NYIC. Through her position, she manages, supports, and allocates the proper resources to current VISTA serving at various NYIC host sites, as well as recruiting and training volunteers. Before joining the NYIC, Alejandra served a year as an AmeriCorps CSU STEM VISTA, at her host site, San Jose State University, under their Engineering Projects for Community Service (EPICS). During her time there, she supported the students enrolled in the course and connected the EPICS program with the necessary community partners, industry sponsors, and technically skilled mentors. Alejandra earned her B.A. in Ethnic Studies with a Political Science minor from the University of San Diego.

Meghan Maloney de Zaldivar

Manager of Member Engagement, Western NY

Meghan is the NYIC Manager of Member Engagement in Western New York. Meghan is a native of Buffalo, New York. In her role, Meghan works with NYIC members and partners to understand and advocate for the complex and diverse issues that immigrants face in the Western New York region. Before coming to the NYIC, Meghan worked on Buffalo's West Side for People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo as an organizer and Community Education Specialist. Prior to her work with PUSH, Meghan worked in El Salvador for the Center for Exchange and Solidarity. In El Salvador, Meghan also contributed in various roles, researching gender inequality in organizing, coordinating international election observation, working with community health organizations, and interpreting and translating for various individuals and professionals. Meghan holds a BA from Hampshire College in Central American Studies and Popular Education.

Nora Melendez

Immigrant Services Support Associate, Events

Nora Melendez is the Immigrant Services Support, Events Associate. She focuses on NYIC’s Key to the City initiative and community resource events promoting access among immigrant communities in New York City. Prior to joining the NYIC, Nora served in the Peace Corps, Comoros, where she worked as a Secondary Education teacher and as an educational consultant to the Ministry of Education. Nora has also worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for Jumpstart, a national early education organization focused on providing individualized attention to children from under-resourced communities. She majored in English with a double minor in journalism and photography at St. John’s University. 

Theodore Moore

Director of Local Policy and Legislation

Theodore Moore is the Director of Local Policy and Legislation at the NYIC where he supports the development of local and regional campaigns. He brings over 15 years of non-profit and political advocacy experience, having previously worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in the Policy & Innovation Division, as the National Lead Organizer with the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-United), with ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, and with the Working Families Party. Theo is also a founding member of New Kings Democrats and serves as a board member of the Riders Alliance. He is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, born and raised in the East Flatbush section of the borough, and a long-suffering Mets fan. #LGM

Madeline Murnane

Development Associate

Madeline (Maddy) is a Development Associate at the NYIC. In her position, she manages the NYIC's government contracts, and works to build the team's contract and grant management systems. She draws from previous experiences working in USAID program management, as well as nonprofit direct services providing asylum, education and financial services to immigrant communities in San Francisco and the Twin Cities. Maddy grew up in San Francisco, and graduated in 2019 from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN with a BA in International Studies and Economics. She joined the NYIC shortly after in 2019.

Yma Oria

Senior Associate of Training

Yma Oria is the Senior Associate of Training with the Immigrant Services Support team. She coordinates and supports the NYIC training initiatives under the organization’s Immigrant Concerns Training Institute (ICTI), which promotes effective immigration services to attorneys and organizations.

Prior to joining the New York Immigration Coalition, Yma was a District Representative for Congresswoman Nita Lowey where she specialized in immigration related matters affecting constituents and local stakeholders. She also served as a Diversity Enrichment Leader for the Office of Admissions at the University of Delaware. There she worked with admissions staff to promote diversity in regards to enrollment of students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Yma holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Delaware.

Andrea Ortiz

Manager of Education Policy

Andrea A. Ortiz is the Education Policy Manager for K-12. She engages educational stakeholders and collaboratives to develop robust policies that ensure the academic success of Multilingual Learners in New York public schools. She is a committed advocate for immigrant rights, with over twelve years of experience organizing with undocumented youth, families, and allies. Before joining NYIC, she worked with state education officials to develop professional development curricula and consulted with the Institute for Urban and Minority Education to improve academic enrichment programs serving youth of color. Before moving to New York, she led a high-school based program in Austin, Texas that offered students a constructive alternative to punitive disciplinary actions with trauma-informed and restorative practices. While living in Florida, she was a board member of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and a leader for Students Working for Equal Rights. She is also passionate about ending the criminalization and detention of communities of color and advancing worker rights for farmworkers and day laborers. She holds an M.A. in education policy with a specialization in law from Columbia University's Teachers College and a B.A. in philosophy and gender studies from New College of Florida.

Fabiola Ortiz Valdez

Manager of Member Engagement, Central New York

Fabiola is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. She is the Manager of Member Engagement for Central New York. Fabiola is based in Syracuse, where she coordinates the advocacy efforts of NYIC members and partner organizations in CNY around issues of deportation, workers’ rights, access to services, etc. Fabiola worked as an organizer in her home country supporting the work of Zapatista communities in Chiapas. Fabiola has worked with migrant farmworkers in the U.S. since 2009, first as a health case manager and researcher in the egg, dairy, and blueberry industries in Maine, and then as a researcher and labor organizer with dairy workers in New York. She has also participated and led research projects with different immigrant communities across the country. Fabiola holds a B.A. in Anthropology-Geography from the University of Southern Maine a M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Syracuse University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology from Syracuse University.

Suvasini Patel

Director of Communications

Suvasini Patel is the Director of Communications at NYIC. In this role, she oversees the communications team and works to optimize processes and opportunities to ensure that organizational issues and concerns remain in the public eye. Previously, she led communications efforts at a poverty research center at New York University and at WITNESS, the international human rights group. She also served as the Deputy Director of Special Projects at journalist Bill Moyers' Public Affairs Television and as the High Impact TV Director at the PBS series, P.O.V., where she developed dozens of online and community-based campaigns with scores of national and local partners and public television stations in support of some of the most pressing social causes of our times.

Rush Perez

Communications Manager, Press Secretary

Rush is the Communications Manager, Press Secretary for NYIC. Working with the coalition's communications team, he manages press relationships, pitches to outlets, drafts statements, conducts interview prep, and general messaging strategy. Before joining NYIC, he worked as a Communications Director for a Manhattan Council Member as well as for an Assemblymember in Central Brooklyn. He has worked on a wide range of topics—including street vendor reform, e-bike legalization, and senior immigrant rights. He has developed a strong rapport with key members of the New York press corps and has successfully placed stories with the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, WNYC, Politico, and several other major outlets.

Diana Rodriguez

Communications Associate, Digital Campaigning

Diana is the Communications Associate, and in this role she manages social media and develops innovative digital campaigns. As a DREAMer, law, social justice, and government has always been appealing to Diana. Diana previously interned for the New York Immigration Coalition where she supported the advocacy team. She graduated from Baruch College with a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs. Diana truly enjoys classes where she can learn about communities and social problems that impact her on a daily basis. Being part of the New York State Assembly Internship Program allowed her to continue the expansion of her knowledge of public policy and the complexity of the legislative process. Diana assisted with the legislative and budget work, as well as operations, in the Albany office. A native of East Elmhurst, Queens, Diana has previously interned for Her Justice, the office of State Senator Jose Peralta, and HANAC In School Youth.  She wants to be able to inspire others and help to develop leaders in her community, making sure they know that, in spite of the challenges they face, they can accomplish what they dream. She is currently pursuing her Masters in International Affairs from Baruch College.

K'Sisay Sadiki

Policy Associate

K'Sisay Sadiki is the Policy Associate at the NYIC. In her role she provides administrative, research and logistical support to the policy department and its campaigns. Prior to joining the NYIC, K'Sisay managed Firelight Media's production office and was the Education Coordinator at Maysles Documentary Center, both non-profit community based organizations that focused on supporting emerging filmmakers. She was mentored by the late documentarian Albert Maysles and attended speaking engagements with him nationally. She holds a BA in Film Studies from Hunter College.

Liza Schwartzwald

Manager of Education Policy

Liza Schwartzwald is the NYIC Manager of Education Policy. She focuses on Early Childhood Education and Care, Adult Literacy, and Two-Generation work, and works with the Director of Education to uplift educational opportunities for immigrant families and English Language Learners in New York in a holistic and integrated way. She previously worked as a Policy and Advocacy Associate at United Neighborhood Houses, where she worked on the Families United for Learning and Literacy (FULL) family literacy initiative.

Liza holds a dual bachelors degree from Florida Atlantic University in History and Interdisciplinary Humanities, an MSW from Fordham University, and a JD from Emory University School of Law. She is barred to practice law in New York State.

Abbey Sussell

Public Charge Fellow

Abbey Sussell is the Public Charge Fellow. She coordinates the NYIC's organizational response and policy priorities related to a proposed new rule that would dramatically re-define "public charge," and subsequently threaten the lives of low-income immigrant communities.

Prior to joining NYIC, Abbey worked for the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit and GetCovered NYC. She managed a team of outreach specialists and developed strategies to connect low-income and immigrant communities with healthcare benefits. She brings her experience in community organizing, public health and public benefits, as well as a dedication to fighting for immigrant rights, to the fellow position. Abbey received an MPH from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and a BJ and BA in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Missouri.

Kim Sykes

Director of Education Policy

Kim Sykes is the NYIC Director of Education Policy. Kim has longstanding ties to the NYIC, first working as a Fellow within the Worker's Rights program in 2008. She then joined the NYIC in September 2010 as a Policy and Program Fellow responsible for special projects such as co-leading the National Immigrant Integration Conference's education track and developing the NYIC's first performance evaluation system. Her current responsibilities include overseeing the NYIC's education policy work to support immigrant students and English language learners. She has run the NYIC's Education Collaborative since 2012, steering its successful campaigns on language access and protecting students from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Previously, she was Account Supervisor at Resnicow + Associates, a leading strategic communications agency for non-profit arts organizations.

Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Spanish from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and an MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) with dual concentrations in social policy and nonprofit management.

Miya Tada

Operations Associate

Miya Tada is the Operations Associate at the NYIC, where she maintains the day-to-day operations of the Manhattan office by coordinating facilities matters, managing vendor and partner relationships, and executing general operational and administrative tasks. Prior to the NYIC, Miya worked with the Asian American Pacific Islander community in New York City at both Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) and Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). She grew up in San Francisco, California, and earned her Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies at Barnard College.

Lovelie Tejada

Manager of Community Engagement

Lovelie Tejada is the Manager of Community Engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition where she supports outreach efforts and engages with New York's diverse communities around the organization's priorities. Previously Ms. Tejada served as Congressmember Yvette Clarke's Director of Community Outreach and in former Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy's administration as the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff. She was proudly born and raised in El Barrio and received her BA from Trinity College in Political Science & Film Studies.

Theresa Thanjan

Manager of Member Engagement NYC

Theresa Thanjan is the Manager of Member Engagement NYC. In this role, she systematizes and evaluates the NYIC’s community engagement activities, including community meetings and public gatherings, and integrates related partnerships and community needs into the NYIC Advocacy program priorities.

Theresa has over 15 years of experience working with immigrant communities in NYC. Theresa started her career working with Catholic Charities as a community organizer in Queens conducting needs assessments and creating culturally sensitive programming. She then directed programs for immigrant youth in the areas of leadership development and community service at South Asian Youth Action, Citizens Committee for New York City and Interfaith Neighbors respectively. Soon after, she directed award winning documentaries highlighting immigrant stories and profiling their ongoing fight for justice and civil rights. She served as the National Co-Chair of South Asians for Obama during the 2012 election and lead a task force fighting for comprehensive immigration reform post-election. Most recently, Theresa worked at the Interpublic Group of Companies providing corporate training and creating diversity programming for their employees.

Theresa received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Rochester and her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and daughter in Staten Island.

Scarlet Watts

Director of Development

Scarlet Watts is the Director of Development at the NYIC, where she leads and supervises a highly effective Development Team in sustaining and growing the organization’s fundraising revenues from foundations, corporations, individuals, and events. Prior to coming to the NYIC, Scarlet served as Development Director for HELP USA, an organization committed to serving people experiencing or at risk for homelessness, and as Development Director for the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people. Across her fifteen-year nonprofit career, Scarlet has worked on issues such as food sustainability, empowerment for girls with disabilities, wildlife conservation, and access to quality affordable health care for all. In her spare time she enjoys painting, sci-fi and fantasy, and discovering new foods to love.

Noah Weston

Advocacy Associate

Noah Weston is the Advocacy Associate at the NYIC, where he provides logistical and administrative support to the organization's Advocacy staff in NYIC's New York City and regional offices. He was raised in Los Angeles, graduated from Bard College with a concentration in Political Studies, and has since been a longtime Brooklyn resident.

Paul Westrick

Manager of Democracy Policy

Paul Westrick is the Manager of Democracy Policy at the NYIC where he works to identify and reduce barriers immigrant New Yorkers face in being fully enfranchised and engaged, and partners with elected officials and advocates to implement policy solutions. Prior to joining the New York Immigration Coalition, Paul was a campaign field operative with experience on four campaigns in three states. Most recently, he served for nearly five years as legislative director to a New York City council member where he successfully worked to pass online voter registration, an affordable housing database, and a ballot initiative to reduce the influence of big-money contributions in New York City’s elections.

He holds an MA in International Affairs from Florida State University.

Max W. Hadler

Director of Health Policy

Max Hadler is the NYIC Director of Health Policy. He works on a range of issues and campaigns at the city and state levels to improve health access, coverage, and delivery for immigrant communities. Prior to joining the NYIC team, he worked in many capacities related to access to care for immigrants, including project director and research associate at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, researcher at the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center, and Spanish-English medical interpreter at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Max received an MPH from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and an MA in Latin American Studies from the UCLA International Institute. He also holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

Celeste Williams

Director of Human Resources

Celeste is the Director of Human Resources. She is responsible for ensuring compliance with local, state and federal law practices for NYICs HR Department. Celeste has over 17 years of Human Capital experience. Prior to joining the NYIC, she served as an HR Consultant where she provided various organizations with sound human capital advice, specifically in recruitment, climate and culture change, leadership development and coaching as well as an overview of HR practices and policies and procedures that align with organizational needs. Celeste has long standing experience in both nonprofit and public employment environments.

Celeste was born and raised in Newark, NJ and currently lives in East Orange, NJ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.A. in Public Administration and a B.A. in Africana Studies and Communication from Rutgers University.

Cynthia Wong

Director of Operations

Cynthia works closely with the Chief of Staff to develop processes and systems in support of effective interdepartmental communication, coordination, and accountability around organizational priorities and goals. She has spent decades developing community leadership and strengthening resources at organizations in New York City and the Bay Area, and most recently served as Senior Program Director at Coro New York Leadership Center, where she helped launch two leadership programs to bring greater youth voice to public decision-making processes. As Senior Program Officer at the Union Square Awards, Cynthia oversaw grants and technical assistance programs for grassroots organizations working to address NYC’s most pressing social justice issues.

Cynthia is a proud member of the Greenlining Academy Alumni Association and National Urban Fellows alumni network. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley, a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College in New York City.

Lucy Wu

Senior Development Associate

Lucy Wu is NYIC’s Senior Development Associate. In this role, she provides support with all aspects of the institutional grants process, including research and prospecting, reporting and tracking, interdepartmental communication and coordination, and databases and systems. Prior to joining the NYIC team, Lucy focused on development during her internships at a fundraising consulting firm and a nonprofit membership organization. She has also previously worked as a CAMBA summer camp program leader, assisted with project data collection for the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program, and volunteered with Legal Hand. Lucy holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester.

Patrick Young

Downstate Advocacy Director

Patrick is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. He served for three decades as the Program Director at CARECEN and he was the co-founder of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, which works to increase civic activism in immigrant communities.  He is Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University School of Law and in 2012 he was named Director of Hofstra's Immigration Law Clinic. He blogs on the immigration website Long Island Wins and he is the author of the history series The Immigrants’ Civil War.

Abdullah Younus

Director of Political Engagement

Abdullah Younus is the NYIC Director of Political Engagement, where he leads the organization's Federal, State, and Local legislative and policy campaigns to push for a more inclusive New York. Prior to joining the NYIC team, he was a Strategic Researcher at the United Auto Workers union, where he fought for workers’ protections at private universities. He was the Field Director for the Khader El-Yateem campaign for New York City Council, and has since worked on a number of electoral campaigns in a variety of capacities, with a focus on developing self-sustaining field infrastructure. Abdullah holds a Bachelors of Science in Statistics from George Washington University.

Roman Zadorozhny

Director of Budget

Roman Zadorozhny serves as a Director of Budget for the New York Immigration Coalition. In this role, he leads the financial management of Non-profit organization, financial budgeting and modeling, and reports design. Roman is a financial and operational professional with over 16+ years experience in budgeting, financial management and analysis, and grant management of government and foundational awards. His work style is grounded on strong work ethics, professionalism, and integrity. Before joining NYIC, he worked over a decade as a Financial Manager for the Population Council, an international research organization that delivers solutions to improve health and lives around the world. Roman holds a BS in Accounting from the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, Ukraine.