Staff

Executive Leadership

Steven K. Choi

Executive Director

Steve Choi is the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, a coalition of over 200 member groups that represents New York State’s immigrant communities. He has tripled the organizational budget and doubled the size of the organization’s staff since joining in 2013, now overseeing the nation’s largest state immigrant rights coalition and serving as the chief advocate on immigrant rights, education, civic participation, and health care access on the Federal, state and local levels.

From 2009 to 2013, Steve was the Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, which represents the Korean and Asian community in New York. Prior to that, he was Director of the Korean Workers Project at the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF). His previous experience includes working for the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center in Boston, Greater Boston Legal Services, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Los Angeles.

Steve received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a M.A. from the University of Hawaii, and a B.A. from Stanford University in History with Honors. He is the recipient of the 2013 New York Law Journal’s “Rising Stars” Award, the 2012 NAPABA Best Lawyers Under 40 Award, the Korean American Association “Man of the Year” Award, the Skadden Fellowship, the Wasserstein Fellowship, the Skirnick Public Interest Fellowship, and the Harvard Law School Asian Pacific American Alumni Award. He also currently serves on the New York City Commission on Human Rights.


Sara Rakita

Executive Vice President

Sara is the NYIC Executive Vice President. Sara supervises the NYIC's membership program, capacity-building efforts for community-based organizations, support for direct service providers and finance and administration. Sara played a key role in developing the NYIC's 2016-2020 strategic plan and in organizing the 2015 NYIC conference. Prior to joining the NYIC in 2014, Sara served as Associate Director of the Public Interest Law Center at NYU School of Law. She also served as a consultant to organizations including the Ford Foundation and Amnesty International USA, and as an Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch - two years of which were based in Kigali, Rwanda. Sara is a dedicated New Yorker and proud Queens resident, where she lives with her husband and two children. In addition to speaking fluent French, proficient Spanish, and some Russian, Sara holds a law degree from NYU, a masters of international affairs from Columbia University, and a B.A. from the American University.


Genevieve (Gigi) Gazón

Chief of Staff

Gigi Gazón is the NYIC Chief of Staff, which is a newly created position at the New York Immigration Coalition created to oversee the day-to-day management of NYIC’s highly talented program, policy and advocacy staff. In this role, she works closely with NYIC staff to assist in maintaining the high quality work across all areas of the organization. Prior to joining the NYIC, Gigi served as the Deputy Director of the City of Jersey City’s Division of Community Development. Gigi was born and raised in New York City to Dominican immigrant parents and currently lives in Jersey City with her husband and two children. She holds a degree in Urban Policy and Advocacy from SUNY Empire State College and speaks Spanish fluently.


Murad Awawdeh

Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategy

Murad Awawdeh is the NYIC Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategy 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.


Elizabeth (Betsy) Plum

Vice President of Policy

Betsy Plum is the NYIC Vice President of Policy. She oversees the organization's issue-based policy programs, which seek to influence public policies to expand basic rights for immigrants and ensure immigrants can build truly thriving and fulfilled lives. Since joining the NYIC in 2013, Betsy has led several initiatives and campaigns to empower and integrate immigrant communities including: her leadership of the “This is Our New York” campaign in response to the 2016 presidential election, adult education and workforce development policy, and the NYIC's Key to the City Initiative. Prior to joining the NYIC, Betsy was a staff member at Central American Legal Assistance. She speaks Spanish, lives in Brooklyn, and is a graduate of Bard College and the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Staff

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.


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."


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.


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.


Claudia Calhoon

Senior Director of Immigrant Integration Policy

Claudia is the Senior Director of Immigrant Integration Policy. Policy Claudia joined the NYIC in 2014 and worked in the Health program for four years, leading development and execution of city and state campaigns to improve health access, coverage, and delivery for immigrant communities. As Senior Director, she will strengthen cross-sector collaborations and build the capacity of NYIC's Health, Education, and Democracy Policy program areas. Claudia has provided leadership to the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, at the Open Society Foundations, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cuenca, Ecuador. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the HHC Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP) Performing Provider System and the Community Advisory Board of the NYU Center for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities. Claudia is currently enrolled in the Doctorate of Public Health Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. She received a MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a BA in American History from Earlham College.


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.


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

Senior Manager of Membership & Capacity Building

Kiwi Grady is the NYIC Senior Manager 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).


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. 


Camille J. Mackler

Director of Immigration Legal Policy

Camille J. Mackler, Esq. is the NYIC Director of Immigration Legal Policy. In her role, she works on crafting NYIC policy priorities relating to access to justice and right to counsel for New York's immigrant communities. Prior to joining the NYIC, Camille was in private practice representing detained and non-detained immigrants facing deportation, in asylum proceedings, or in family-based petitions. She currently serves as the Chair of the Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers Task Force, the Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration Representation, and sits on the American Immigration Lawyers Association committees on Consumer Protection and Unauthorized Practice of Law (national) and Media & Advocacy (New York Chapter).


Gamileh Jamil

Director of Upstate Advocacy

Gamileh graduated from Robert Wesleyan College earning a Bachelor in Nursing and Masters in Health Administration. Her background includes Neonatal and Women's Health Nursing, non-profit executive, and acts as a change agent for peace and collective community impact. Currently, she serves as board members on the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women Advisory Board, Partnership of Public Good, and the New York State Folklore Society.


Anu Joshi

Senior Director of Immigrant Rights Policy

Anu Joshi is the Senior Director of Immigrant Rights 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.


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

Membership & Capacity Building Associate

Mark has been the NYIC Membership and Capacity-Building Associate 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.


Juan J. Ramírez

Manager of Human Resources

Juan J. Ramirez is the NYIC Manager of Human Resources. Juan joined the organization in 2007 as the Executive Assistant, managing the Office of the Executive Director. In his current position, he manages office administration along with the IT infrastructure of the organization. Juan is involved in the logistics for most organizational events such as: advocacy days of action, the NYIC Gala, and the Annual Meeting,among others. Additionally, he works with core functions relating to human resources and assists in setting and implementing employee policies. In his personal time, he volunteers with nonprofits that focus on education access and served as a mentor through iMentor.

Juan holds a Bachelor of Arts in History with a focus on Colonial Latin America from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.


Alejandra Lopez-Cuellar

Interim 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.


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


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

Communications Strategist

Suvasini Patel is the communications strategist at NYIC. In this newly created 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.


Rovika Rajkishun

Development Director

Rovika Rajkishun is the Development Director for the NYIC. In this capacity, she oversees the fundraising initiatives for the organization. Utilizing almost fifteen years of experience in fundraising, Rovika's expertise includes strategies for increasing revenues and diversifying funding streams, individual donor and board stewardship, and establishing and maintaining relationships with foundations and corporate grantors. Rovika has a B.A. in Comparative Religion from Barnard College. She has lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for the last sixteen years with her husband. They now have two sons. Rovika is on the board of directors of two non-profits: Girls for Gender Equity and Wild Earth. She also teaches as part of the Robin Hood Foundation's Grant Readiness Training Program (G.R.I.T).


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.


Jennifer So

Manager of Immigrant Services Support, Events

Jennifer (Jeong Hyun) So is the Manager of Immigrant Services Support, Events. Jen oversees the NYIC's Key to the City initiative and other events promoting service access among immigrant communities in New York City. As a 1.5-generation Korean immigrant to the U.S., Jen is strongly committed to immigrant empowerment. Prior to joining the NYIC, Jen created the Operations Manual for the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court, and supported community outreach and education efforts at the Korean American Family Service Center. Jen has also managed editorial sponsorship projects for TIME.com, and served as a fellow for anti-trafficking projects at International Justice Mission in South Asia. Jen holds a MSW from the Columbia School of Social Work and a BA in Psychology from New York University.


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.


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.


Erica Watson

Immigrant Services Support Senior Associate, Training

Erica Watson is the NYIC Immigrant Services Support Training Associate. As part of the Immigrant Services Support team, she coordinates trainings in order to build the capacity of legal service providers and other immigrant-serving organizations. She first joined the NYIC as an Americorps VISTA and worked to connect low-income immigrants to legal services and other critical resources. Prior to joining the NYIC, Erica worked to support migrant farmworkers in New York State at the Cornell Farmworker Program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at Cornell University.


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.


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.


Cynthia Wong

Deputy Chief of Staff, 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.


Xin Xin

Senior Manager of Development, Institutional Giving

Xin manages institutional fundraising and development for the NYIC. She was previously at the Open Society Foundations, supporting global health financing initiatives at the Public Health Program, as well as the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, making rapid-response grants to women and LGBTQI+ human rights defenders. Making the transition from grantmaking to fundraising, she managed an institutional fundraising portfolio of $5 million for a microfinance community development financial institution, served as Individual Giving Manager at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and oversaw communications and development at the Human Rights Funders Network. Xin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University.


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.


Fellows

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.

Need legal assistance?

Call the NYS Immigration Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 or view our directory of service providers here