Executive Leadership

Murad Awawdeh

Executive Director

Murad is a strategist, organizer, and advocacy expert currently serving as the 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.

Alana Pilar Cantillo

Vice President of Advocacy

Alana Pilar Cantillo is the Vice President 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 led multiple city-wide efforts that addressed 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. In her role Anu oversees the Coalition's work on immigrant integration and immigrant rights policy, as well as the Immigrant Services Support team. Anu has over a decade of experience fighting for immigrant rights, previously working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Center for New Community. Anu is originally from California and has her Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.

Sara Stuart

Vice President of Operations

Sara Stuart leads finance, human resources, operations and governance as well as serving on the executive leadership team of the NYIC. Prior to this, she served as Interim Chief of Staff at The Opportunity Agenda—a social justice communications lab, and Director of Development and Communication at Union Settlement—the oldest a largest social service organization in East Harlem, Equality Now—an international women’s human rights organization, the Center for Community Alternatives—a leader in alternatives to incarceration, and Citizen Union/Citizens Union Foundation—century old advocates for good government.

For twenty years at Communication for Change, she established pioneering participatory video projects in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East which advanced local economic development, community health, and the rights of women and girls.

Heather Varian

Vice President of Development

Heather Varian is the Vice President of Development at NYIC. Heather oversees all fundraising efforts for NYIC and NYIC Action. Most recently, she was in charge of stewardship efforts at Brooklyn College Foundation. Prior to that she was the Director of Corporate Relations at Point Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential. Heather also oversaw all corporate and foundation giving at The Trevor Project, a national, 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth.

A child of Brooklynites, Heather was raised outside of Philadelphia and went to college at the University of Minnesota, studying political science and women’s studies. She worked her first political campaign as a teenager, volunteering for the late Senator Paul Wellstone’s first run for Senate - and then all of his campaigns and many others afterward.


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.

Jesse Bennett

Senior Operations Associate

Jesse Bennett is the Senior Operations Associate. Originally from Upstate NY, Jesse received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from SUNY Geneseo before moving to El Sauce, Nicaragua. While in Nicaragua, she worked at the nonprofit Enlace Project conducting career development classes, job training, and business development programs in the community. When she returned to the US, she managed daily operations for an elementary school before moving to NYC to attend graduate school and work at Baruch College. She has experience working in nonprofit operations, support, and program delivery with a particular focus on immigrant and marginalized communities. Jesse holds a Master in International Affairs from Baruch College with a focus in international nongovernmental organizations and refugee and immigrant rights.

Kai Bent

Director of Human Resources

Kai N. Bent, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Director of Human Resources at New York Immigration Coalition. Kai leads the human resources function of NYIC including strategic planning, organizational development, recruitment, employee relations, training, performance management, compliance, and compensation. Kai comes with over 16 years of experience in human resources in non-profit, healthcare, manufacturer of consumer goods, finance, and media industries. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Pace University and received her master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology at Alliant International University in Los Angeles, California. Kai also has her PHR and SHRM-CP certifications. She is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and was raised in the northeast section of the Bronx.

Nicole Catá

Director of Immigrant Rights Policy

Nicole Catá is the Director of Immigrant Rights Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. In her role, Nicole manages a portfolio to end state support for detention, deportation, and mass incarceration. Nicole previously worked as a senior staff attorney on the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families, where she represented noncitizen clients who had experienced patriarchal violence. There, she helped her clients secure and maintain lawful immigration status and obtain U.S. citizenship. Nicole grew up in Flushing, New York, and Cortlandt, New York, and resides in Kensington, Brooklyn. She has her B.A. from Columbia University, her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School, and her M.A. from the Elliott School of International Affairs. Nicole is a member of the New York State Bar.

Wennie Chin

Director of Civic Engagement

Wennie Chin is the Director 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.

Seongeun Chun

Director of Health Policy

Seongeun is the Director 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.

Chloe Dennison

Communications Associate

Chloe is the Communications Associate, where she maintains the website and powermail for NYIC, while also working to build out storytelling across the Communications Department. Prior to joining NYIC, she worked as a Research Fellow for Democracy North Carolina, where she was responsible for researching new election administration reforms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond policy, she also helped lead archival research for the League of Women Voters chapter in New York City, developing comprehensive records of their early history for their centennial. She graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History.

Jennifer Diaz

Manager of Community Engagement

Jennifer Diaz is the Manager of Community Engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition. She graduated from Pace University with a B.A. in Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies. Following her graduation, she taught English abroad in Seoul, South Korea, and tutored North Korean refugees. Before this role, Jennifer was most recently the Director of Constituent Services to Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, where she worked directly with the constituents of Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst in Queens. Her many experiences working with different immigrant populations drove her to pursue a Masters in International Affairs at Baruch College. She is driven by her desire to help others and wants to help uplift them so their needs are addressed and their goals achieved.

Jessica Douglas

Political Director

Jessica Douglas serves as Political Director leading community members to inclusivity and justice fostered by almost 10 years of experience within city government. She previously worked with the NYC Council introducing Participatory Budgeting and advocacy to constituents facing personal hardships in the 27th District. She then became Borough Director with the NYC Mayor’s Office where she served the Queens community. As Assistant Director for the NYC Department of Design & Construction, Jessica liaised with community stakeholders. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., NAACP, United Black Golfers Association, and Toastmasters. Born in New York to immigrant parents and holding a dual citizenship, of Costa Rica and the United States, she attended Stony Brook University where she obtained a BA in Political Science.

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).

Kaija Groom

Immigrant Services Support, Events Associate

Kaija Groom is the Immigrant Services Support, Events Associate. In this role, she supports community resource events to promote access among immigrant communities across New York City and State. Previously Kaija served as a VISTA at the NYIC where she supported the ISS Event and Training teams. Prior to joining the NYIC Kaija worked in events as a Gallery Assistant and supported immigrant education initiatives as a Peer Mentor at the International Rescue Committee in NYC, and as a Literacy Programs Intern at Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago. Kaija is from Brooklyn, NY, and holds a B.A. in History from Beloit College.

Karla Henriquez

Economic Recovery and Resiliency Fellow

Karla is the Economic Recovery and Resiliency Fellow at the NYIC. In her role, Karla works with various stakeholders to bring resources and support to immigrant-owned businesses in New York. Karla’s past experience with research, program implementation and financial service non-profits will enable her to support programming for economic resiliency of immigrant communities at the NYIC. Prior to NYIC, Karla worked at the Financial Health Network producing research to support the financial health of workers, young adults and students. Karla also worked at the Mission Asset Fund, working with immigrant communities in the San Francisco Bay Area to build credit and access funding for their immigration fees through their Lending Circles program. Karla holds a B.A. from San Francisco State University and an MPA from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

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.

Malik James

Political Associate

Malik James is the Political Associate. In this role, he provides support to the Advocacy Team’s work with tracking and streamlining outreach to elected and appointed government officials, along with helping manage data entry.

The son of immigrants from Dominica, he was raised in the Hollis neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens. Malik attended Nazareth College for undergraduate study, where he obtained his B.A. in Legal Studies. Prior to graduating, he served as Session Assistant to state Senator Jamaal T. Bailey. There, he conducted meetings with lobbyists, organization and constituents, analyzed budget asks and produced letters to Senate Leadership, and assisted the Deputy Chief of Staff with scheduling and other administrative duties. He also helped plan and moderate the 2019 Youth Summit, as part of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators annual Caucus Conference, with the focus on encouraging youth to become “change agents.” He took a gap year to work as a paralegal for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, serving in the Financial Frauds Bureau. He also began attending community board meetings, and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity NYC to revamp dilapidated houses in Southeast Queens. Malik is currently pursuing his Master of Public Administration at the Baruch College - Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.

Kayla Kelechian

Manager of Member Engagement, Central New York

Kayla was born in Houston, Texas and raised in the border city of Laredo.
Early after High School, Kayla worked abroad in Southeast Asia where she has done extensive work with Karen refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border, and she successfully completed various community development projects.
Moving to Syracuse at the height of refugee resettlement in 2008, Kayla has lived in the Central New York region for over a decade. She has worked as a problem solver, a community navigator for the Karen community, and participated in bilingual literacy projects for adult learners. Before becoming Manager of Member Engagement for Central New York, Kayla was an organizer with the Workers' Center of Central New York (NYIC Member of the Year 2019) and with its members participated in the historic passing of the Greenlight law, and Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.

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.

Cheng Yang "Bryan" Lee

Manager of Community Engagement, Western New York

Cheng Yang "Bryan" Lee will serve as the Manager of Community Engagement for Western New York. In this role, he looks forward to working with the region's growing immigrant and refugee communities to build relationships and promote integration. Previously, he was the Curator at El Museo, a nonprofit arts organization in Buffalo focusing on underserved artists and communities. Born and raised in Malaysia, Bryan is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a BA in Anthropology and Sociology.

Mark Libatique

Technology and Systems Senior Manager

Mark is the Technology and Systems Senior Manager, 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

Manager of Membership and Capacity Building

Alejandra Lopez-Cuellar is the Manager of Membership and Capacity Building 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

Upstate Advocacy Director

Meghan is the NYIC Upstate Advocacy Director. 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 across Upstate New York. 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

Manager of Events, Immigrant Services Support

Nora Melendez is the Manager of Events within the Immigrant Services Support team. Nora focuses on linking community members to services providers throughout New York State through an array of community-facing events and the creation and distribution of community-facing resources. She oversees the NYIC's Events program, which has included the Key to the City and Road to Recovery initiatives. These initiatives aim to address community needs and access gaps faced by immigrant communities. Previously, Nora served in the Peace Corps, Comoros, where she worked as a Secondary Education teacher and an educational consultant to the Ministry of Education. Nora also worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for Jumpstart, a national early education organization focused on providing individualized attention to children from under-resourced communities. Nora is from Brooklyn, NY, and holds a B.A. in English from St. John's University.

Theodore Moore

Senior Director of Policy

Theodore Moore is the Senior Director of Policy 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

Annabelle Ng

Health Policy Associate

Annabelle is the Health Policy Associate. In this role, she provides support to the Policy Team’s work at the municipal, state, and federal levels to improve access to high-quality health care for immigrant New Yorkers. Previously, Annabelle served as a VISTA at the NYIC, where she worked on the Access Health NYC initiative. Prior to the NYIC, she worked as a short-term consultant with the Global Financing Facility at the World Bank and interned at the World Health Organization in Manila, Philippines. Annabelle is from Long Island and holds a B.S. in Global Health from Georgetown University.

Stephanie Nguy

Development Administration Associate

Stephanie Nguy is the Development Administration Associate for the NYIC. In this role, she supports critical departmental functions that will enable the team to optimize efficiency and grow revenue. Previously, she served as a VISTA at the NYIC on the Community Engagement team where she supported community outreach and education projects, which included leading the long-standing NYIC Know Your Rights program. Prior to joining the NYIC, she was employed as a Paralegal at an Immigration Law Firm. While working here, she was able to witness firsthand how important immigration policy is and how it can heavily impact individuals and families, sparking her interest in the field. Stephanie is from Queens, NY and graduated from Binghamton University with a B.A. in Biological Sciences.

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

Senior Manager of Education Policy

Andrea A. Ortiz is the Senior Manager of Education Policy 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.

Suvasini Patel

Senior Director of Communications

Suvasini Patel is the Senior 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

Senior Policy Associate

K'Sisay Sadiki is the Senior 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

Senior Manager of Education Policy

Liza Schwartzwald is the NYIC Senior 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.

Lovelie Tejada

Director of Community Engagement

Lovelie Tejada is the Director 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

Senior Manager of Member Engagement NYC

Theresa Thanjan is the Senior 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.

Noah Weston

Senior Advocacy Associate

Noah Weston is the Senior 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.

Lucy Wu

Development Manager

Lucy Wu is NYIC’s Development Manager. 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.

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.