Director of Legal Services and Sr. Vice President
David Colodny oversees the agency’s legal services programs after joining Catholic Migration Services in 2016.
David has spent more than eighteen years in the legal services community providing legal representation to, and advocating for, recent immigrants. Immediately prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, David was a supervising attorney at the Urban Justice Center (UJC), where he managed their workers’ rights program. During his eleven years at UJC, David represented immigrant workers with a variety of employment-related claims in federal and state courts and administrative agency investigations. Before working at UJC, David was the Deputy Director and Director of Legal Services at the D.C. Employment Justice Center (2001-2005) and an associate at the Washington, D.C., based law firm Patton Boggs LLP (1995-2000). David was also an adjunct professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law (2008-2010).
David received his B.A. from Duke University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He first became a member of the bar in 1995 in Maryland, and has been a member of the New York bar since 2006.
Bio coming soon.
Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq.
Chief Executive Officer
The Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq. is the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services, where he coordinates and plans the work of the agency along with the dedicated Board of Directors and his colleagues in the agency.
In 2011, Father Keating joined Catholic Migration Services to strengthen and grow an agency dedicated to welcoming, empowering, and assisting immigrants in Brooklyn and Queens, through a variety of programs that include: Immigration Legal Services, Immigrant Housing Legal Services and Immigrant Workers’ Rights Legal Services.
Father Keating has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College of the City of New York, as well as a Master of Arts in Theology and a Master of Divinity from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. He will graduate from Brooklyn Law School with a Juris Doctor in the Spring of 2017.
In addition to being the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services, Father Keating is the Associate Vicar for Human Services for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Chaplain to the Catholic Lawyers Guild for Kings County, and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and affiliate agencies.
Executive Secretary, Office of the Vicar for Migrant and Ethnic Apostolates and to the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services
Ellen LaCarrubba is the Executive Secretary to the Office of the Vicar for Migrant and Ethnic Apostolates and to the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services. Ellen works closely with the International Priests and the Coordinators of Ministry representing the different ethnic ministries in the Diocese of Brooklyn. She has an essential role in the organization of the Annual Shining Star Award Dinners, honoring key parishioners of the diocese from over 30 ethnic ministries for their dedicated service to the Church in Brooklyn and Queens. The Annual celebration is one of the most significant fundraisers for the organization, held on two evenings, the festivities highlight the diversity of the community in which Catholic Migration serves.
Nanette Morales is the Office Assistant at the Queens office of Catholic Migration Services where she maintains the day to day operations. She is the crucial point of reference for answering client’s initial questions, scheduling, and assigning client appointments. Nanette joined Catholic Migration in 2012 where alongside her general administrative tasks she occasionally serves as an interpreter for Spanish speaking clients. In her work, Nanette succeeds in creating a positive and welcoming community for both clients and staff to efficiently resolve issues and maintain their workflow. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, Nanette was an Office Assistant at Brooklyn Psychiatric Center where for 17 years she provided organizational support to psychiatrists, therapists and patients alike. She aspires to become an immigration counselor.
Aida Ocasio is the Administrative Assistant at the Brooklyn office of Catholic Migration Services. She is responsible for performing administrative and office support activities which facilitates the advancement of the organization. She combines her patience and discretion to answer client’s questions, schedule appointments and direct clients to supportive resources and organizations that can enhance their quality of life. Aida joined Catholic Migration over 15 years ago and has been a crucial point of reference for clients given her ability to communicate effectively and her support of client self-advocacy. Since joining the organization Aida has implemented an organized approach toward coordinating day to day operations. In her time at Catholic Migration Aida has been inspired by the positive attitude of staff and clients, and she has maintained a helpful and familiar dynamic in the Brooklyn office. Aida is fluent in Spanish.
Executive Assistant to the Associate Vicar for Human Services and Chief Executive Officer
Nancy Pardo joined Catholic Migration Services in March of 2014 as the Executive Assistant to the Associate Vicar for Human Services and Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services. In this role, she works directly with the Very Rev. Patrick Keating in the day to day operations which are essential for the mission of the organization, assisting clients with immigration, housing and workers’ rights legal services. Nancy plays a crucial role with Catholic Migration from staff support to her diverse responsibilities. Prior to joining the the team, Nancy worked for 13 years at St. Bartholomew Parish and as a legal assistant with a Manhattan law firm. Nancy is fluent in Spanish.
Michelle Vazquez is an administrative assistant at Catholic Migration Services where she aids in maintaining the day to day operations by providing administrative support to all departments. She received her B.S. in Criminal Justice from St. Francis College in 2017. Her experience with the criminal justice system while at St. Francis College, opened her eyes to the injustice that exists, especially within the immigrant community. Michelle’s experience in college combined with her experience as a first-generation Mexican-American made her want to be a part of an organization that does all it can to help the immigrant community. Prior to becoming an administrative assistant, Michelle interned with the Workers’ Rights Program and acquired direct skills and expertise that will continue to help her in her role at Catholic Migration Services while serving the community.
Ellen Ryan is the development officer for Catholic Migration Services. She is responsible for developing the funding sources needed to keep Catholic Migration in operation, as well as reporting to existing funding sources on the work accomplished through such funding. Since joining Catholic Migration Services in late 2012, she has helped increase our organization’s grant and government portfolio. New funders include two city agencies and several foundations. Ellen practiced law for over twenty years and brings an understanding of our organization’s legal services program and operations not common among development officers. She earned a J.D. and M.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from New York University. Her hobbies include hugging trees, skating (ice and inline), and hiking in the great outdoors. When stuck indoors, her favorite pastimes are reading, cooking and looking for whatever she misplaced last week.
Nadiya Tolstikova joined Catholic Migration Services in February 2020. She is the Grants Associate and works alongside Ellen Ryan, the Development Officer, assisting with grants applications and invoicing. She considers working in Catholic Migration Services as the biggest privilege and blessing from God, as her heart goes out to all in the immigrant community. Nadiya received her Bachelor’s Degree in Ukraine and worked in several non-profit organizations. She loves worship music and reading. Nadiya is fluent in Russian and Ukrainian.
Rebecca is the Outreach Coordinator for operations at Catholic Migration Services. In this capacity she informs the parishioners of the Diocese of Brooklyn about upcoming events and existing programs at Catholic Migration. She joined the organization in 2011 as a Mercy Volunteer with the labor and immigration program. She’s also served as an interpreter for the immigration, tenant advocacy and workers’ rights programs. As a Mercy Volunteer she assisted in the development and format improvement of the Línea Laboral hotline to reach a wider range of individuals through different outreach events. Rebecca’s past experience at Catholic Migration Services have enhanced her understanding of the importance of connecting the immigrant community to the different resources the organization offers. She enjoys reaching out to the community about the work of Catholic Migration. Prior to Catholic Migration, Rebecca attended Gordon College in Massachusetts where she graduated in 2011 with a B.A. in Spanish. She graduated from a certification program for legal interpretation at New York University and is currently in a double certificate program for interpretation and translation at Hunter College. She hopes one day to be a professional interpreter.
Natasha Venegas Abarca
External Relations Associate
Bio coming soon.
Sr. Joan Anzalone
Immigration Counselor, DOJ Accredited Representative – Immigration Program
Sr. Joan Anzalone is an Immigration Counselor. She assists clients by preparing applications for Adjustments of Status, Naturalization, Green Card and Visa extensions. She also participates in outreach activities in parishes and community organizations. Prior to working at Catholic Migration Services, Sr. Joan was a social worker for communities in the South Bronx, the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in the Dominican Republic. Her work with these communities motivated her desire to work directly with immigrants because she wanted to help them feel welcomed in their country. Sr. Joan attended Fordham University where she studied Sociology and Education. She received her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University. Sr. Joan is fluent in Spanish.
Immigration Counselor – Immigration Program
Xiomara Bustamante is an Immigration Counselor. She assists clients by preparing applications for Adjustment of Status, Citizenship, Petitions for the Freedom of Information Act disclosure and Removal of Conditional Residence. For clients who qualify, Xiomara ensures that they understand their right to access to public social benefits. Prior to becoming an Immigration Counselor Xiomara was an administrative assistant at Catholic Migration for 4 years. Xiomara enjoys the variation in her day that comes from the diversity of cases she manages. She delights in giving clients thorough explanations of their rights during their consultations. She is inspired by her client’s perseverance during times of difficulty and she uses this as motivation to exhaust all of her efforts to help enhance each client’s experience with the organization. Xiomara attended Brooklyn College where she studied Computer Science. Xiomara is fluent in Spanish.
Staff Attorney – Immigration Unit
Marlon Campeche is a staff attorney working for the Removal Defense Project at Catholic Migration Services. Marlon graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in May 2019, where he participated in the Immigration Justice Clinic as a student attorney representing indigent immigrant clients. Marlon has worked with asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors through legal internships at My Sisters’ Place and Safe Passage Project. He speaks fluent Spanish. As the son of immigrants from Mexico living in New York, Marlon sees working at Catholic Migration Services as an excellent opportunity to display his skills and contribute to his community.
Supervising Immigration Counselor, DOJ Accredited Representative – Immigration Program
Marisol Canales is a Supervising Immigration Counselor. She assists clients by preparing applications for Adjustments of Status, Naturalization, Green Card, VAWA, DACA, and RI Visa extensions. She also participates in outreach activities in parishes and community organizations. Prior to working at Catholic Migration Marisol was a receptionist and later an immigration counselor at Emerald Isle Immigration Center. She also worked as an assistant to the Director of Faith Formation at St. Bartholomew Parish in Elmhurst. She enjoys providing direct assistance to immigration because the information and resources gives clients the chance to live a less restrictive life. She is inspired by the personal connections she feels with her clients and by their hard work and perseverance. Her dedication to her clients is fostered by the knowledge that she will be an everlasting part of their life. Marisol attended Universidad del Istmo in Panama where she studied Information Systems. She is a DOJ accredited representative and is fluent in Spanish.
Staff Attorney – Immigration Program
Sandra is a Staff Attorney with Catholic Migration Services and comes from Miami, Florida where she recently graduated law school at the University of Miami, School of Law. Sandra has a solid background in community engagement and public service as well as direct experience assisting in-need immigrants with not only legal but social service needs. Sandra graduated with a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago, where she spent a number of years working in community organizing. She is the oldest daughter of immigrants who fled Cuba and Nicaragua in 1980s, a boxing enthusiast, and a native Spanish speaker.
Sandra is admitted to practice law in New York.
Managing Attorney – Immigration Program
Alexandra Gonçalves-Peña is a managing attorney for the Removal Defense Project at Catholic Migration Services. Alexandra specializes in removal and asylum law. She has worked in immigration law since 2006 following her graduation from Vermont Law School.
During her career, Alexandra has represented hundreds of individuals before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and has worked on numerous appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals and U.S. Courts of Appeals. Over the course of the last decade, she has worked at Central American Legal Assistance, HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and most recently as a supervising attorney at the American Friends Services Committee.
Alexandra’s work is driven by her unwavering commitment to working hand in hand with immigrant communities and her belief that all persons in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, should be afforded equal and humane treatment and due process under the law.
Alexandra is admitted to practice law in New York.
Supervising Attorney – Immigration Program
Christopher Holtz is a supervising attorney in the Removal Defense Project, where he defends asylees and noncitizens in removal proceedings in U.S. Immigration Court and before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He also represents clients who are affirmatively filing for immigration benefits in our Immigration Legal Services Program. In his work, Chris strives to help clients who otherwise cannot afford legal representation to navigate the complex immigration laws of the U.S.
Prior to joining our staff in 2012, Chris served as a legal intern in the organizations Immigrant Tenant Advocacy Program from 2009-2010. He graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 2011, and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University at Buffalo in 2008. During law school Chris worked with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, where he provided legal services to low-income artists.
Chris is admitted to practice law in New York.
José M. León
Senior Staff Attorney
José M. León works as a senior staff attorney in the Removal Defense Project, which represents clients in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. He helps clients with defensive asylum claims, defensive Violence Against Women Act petitions, Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Resident applications, U-Visa Petitions, T-Visa Petitions, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Petitions in Family Court and with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
José is a graduate of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and holds a B.A. in Economics and History from Northwestern University. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, Jose interned at Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, the Immigration Unit at Legal Aid Society in Manhattan, and completed the year-long immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo Law.
José grew up in San Jose, Costa Rica and Barcelona, Spain. He Speaks Spanish, Catalan, French and German. José is admitted to practice law in New York.
José G. Miranda
Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow & Staff Attorney – Immigration Program
José is an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow and Staff Attorney for the Removal Defense Project. He is a native New Yorker born to parents who migrated to the U.S. from Ecuador. He received his B.A. in Media Studies from Hunter College and J.D. from Columbia Law School. In law school José gained experience in a variety of immigration law matters at Bronx Legal Services, where he also organized law students and advocates to conduct Know-Your-Rights workshops. As an extern at the Center for Popular Democracy José contributed legal research to a campaign aimed at disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline in New York City public schools, and as an Environmental Justice intern at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest he provided legal support to community-based organizations in their efforts to create healthier environments for New York City residents. Through his work with Catholic Migration Services, José aims to play a small, but crucial role in the struggle for immigrant justice. He is a native Spanish speaker, an avid runner, and a running coach.
Jesuit Volunteer Corp Volunteer and Naturalization Counselor – Immigration Program
Emi is a Jesuit Volunteer Corp Volunteer and Naturalization Counselor with the Immigration Program. She assists clients by preparing applications for naturalization, as well as doing intake for prospective clients. Emi graduated magna cum laude from Seattle University with a BA in International Studies with Departmental Honors. Prior to her time at Catholic Migration Services, Emi interned at the International Rescue Committee and worked as a French and Spanish tutor. She is fluent in French and Spanish.
Naturalization Coordinator, DOJ Accredited Representative – Immigration Program
Chloe is the Naturalization Coordinator, and DOJ Accredited Representative at Catholic Migration Services. She plans and coordinates citizenship workshops in the community with other non-profit organizations and local law firms. Chloe also assists individual clients by preparing applications for Naturalization. Chloe graduated from the University of Texas in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. While in school in Texas, Chloe devoted her time to volunteering with immigrants’ rights groups and with individuals who have disabilities. Prior to working at Catholic Migration, Chloe worked as an English instructor in Argentina, and later interned at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Washington, D.C. Chloe is fluent in Spanish.
Supervising Attorney – Immigration Program
Lynn Neugebauer is the Supervising Attorney for the Removal Defense Project. Before joining Catholic Migration Services, she was the Director of the Safe Horizon Immigration Law Project, a staff attorney representing immigrants at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, staff attorney at two small immigration law firms, and an attorney at the National Labor Relations Board.
She went to Brooklyn Law School and NYU undergrad. Admitted to the New York Bar and the federal courts here, Lynn spent a little over three years as an Administrative Law Judge doing hearings and adjudicating claims for individuals seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
Lynn is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish and is conversational in French and Russian. She is admitted to practice law in New York.
Mercy Volunteer Corps and Naturalization Coordinator – Immigration Program
Sarah is a member of the Mercy Volunteer Corps and serves as a Naturalization Counselor at Catholic Migration Services. She graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 2019 with a B.A. in neuroscience and behavior and Spanish. While at Notre Dame, she advocated for immigrants’ rights, volunteered in a health clinic catering to South Bend’s Spanish-speaking population, and was privileged to study in Puebla, Mexico for a semester. These experiences aided her understanding of the complexities and injustices of immigration law and fueled her desire to assist those needing access to immigration services. At Catholic Migration Services, she helps clients prepare applications for naturalization. Sarah is fluent in Spanish.
Andrea B. Sánchez
Mercy Corp Volunteer and Naturalization Counselor – Immigration Program
Andrea was proudly born and raised in Michigan by immigrant parents who came to the United States from Mexico. She recently successfully sponsored and petitioned for her parents to adjust their status in the United States. Since the age of 10, she has been aspiring to attend law school and specialize in the field of immigration. She is a recent graduate from a small liberal arts school in Michigan, Albion College, where she studied political science, mathematics, and public service. During her time at Albion, she worked at a small family law firm in Michigan, volunteered with a local non profit filling out medicaid applications for low-income families, and interned at a refugee center during her time studying abroad in Athens, Greece. Andrea is a native Spanish speaker, a Mercy Corp Volunteer, and a member of the Naturalization Team.
Senior Immigration Counselor, DOJ Accredited Representative – Immigration Program
Jeanne Sanon is a Senior Immigration Counselor. She assists clients by preparing applications for Adjustment of Status, Naturalization, Green Card, VAWA, DACA and RI Visa extensions. Three years prior to working at Catholic Migration Services Jeanne taught civics and adult literacy at the Empowerment Centre for Caribbean Immigrants. Jeanne was exposed to the immigrant experience from a very young age. This encounter fostered a deep sense of responsibility to empower the immigrant community, especially Haitian immigrants. The passion for her work is sustained by her belief that individual achievement is most satisfactory when a community has access to the same opportunities. Jeanne is motivated to reach her highest potential only if her community can achieve theirs as well. Jeanne is fulfilled in her work because she knows that she is leaving an everlasting life changing impact on the people she meets. Jeanne attended CUNY York where she received a B.A in English Literature. Jeanne is fluent in Haitian Creole.
Staff Attorney – Immigration Program
Aviva Schaffer is a Staff Attorney with Catholic Migration Services. She received her B.A. from the University of Rochester and J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. During her undergraduate years, she volunteered with the Legal Aid Society of Rochester, where she discovered her passion for serving immigrant clients. In law school, she was an intern at the Arlington Immigration Court, CAIR Coalition, and UNHCR. Aviva is proficient in Spanish and Hebrew.
Affirmative Legal Assistant – Immigration Program
Kylee Schunn is a member of Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) and serves at Catholic Migration Services as a legal assistant for the Affirmative Filings Team. She assists clients by preparing applications for Adjustments of Status, Petitions for the Freedom of Information Act disclosure, Green Card, VAWA, and DACA. Kylee graduated from Bethel College in 2018 with a B.A. in Social Work. During her time at Bethel, Kylee focused on helping children and families affiliated with trauma. The past year, Kylee served as a Guidance Executive Assistant, Substitute Teacher, and Coach at Martin Luther School in Maspeth, Queens. With a passion for working with marginalized populations, Kylee hopes to incorporate her knowledge of social work within the context of immigration law.
Senior Staff Attorney – Immigration Program
Michael Shannon is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Removal Defense Project. Before joining Catholic Migration Services, Michael worked at the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Bronx Defenders, and Sanctuary for Families, where he was an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow.
Michael received his J.D. from Boston College Law School, where he represented immigrants in removal proceedings in his school’s Immigration and Asylum Clinic and Federal Appeals Clinic. He spent his summers at human rights organizations in Colombia and Bolivia, and completed a semester-long externship program at a refugee rights organization in Ecuador.
Before law school, Michael was a management consultant in Texas, an English teacher in Ecuador, a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, and an advocate for survivors of human rights abuses in Bolivia and Mexico. Michael is a graduate of Bowdoin College. He speaks Spanish and French.
Michael is admitted to practice law in New York.
Immigration Paralegal – Immigration Program
Joseph Weiman is an Immigration Paralegal with the Removal Defense Project. He helps adults and children in deportation proceedings with their legal cases. After returning from a semester abroad in Bolivia, he worked at Safe Passage Project helping Unaccompanied Minors who are facing deportation. Previously, he worked at Catholic Charities of New York in the Immigration Legal Services Division. He was a Case Manager helping Unaccompanied Minors receive social services in New York City area. Joseph was born and raised in Manhattan. Joseph graduated from Vassar College and is fluent in Spanish.
Immigration Counselor – Immigration Program
Caitlin Wright is an Immigration Counselor. She assists clients by preparing applications for Adjustments of Status, Naturalization, Green Card, and Visa extensions. Caitlin started with Catholic Migration Services as a Jesuit Volunteer on the Naturalization team. She graduated in 2017 from Creighton University with a B.A. in English and Spanish and a minor in Legal Studies. In her time at Creighton, Caitlin fostered a passion for social justice pursuits, most notably through her leadership with the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, a study abroad program in Villa El Salvador, Peru, and an internship with Omaha Together One Community. Caitlin is thrilled to work for an organization dedicated to the livelihood of migrants. Caitlin is proficient in Spanish.
Tenant Organizer – Tenant Advocacy Program
Amy is one of our Tenant Organizers. She is an AmeriCorps volunteer alum, having served two years with Catholic Migration Services, and joined our team upon the completion of her second term. Amy is passionate about housing justice and hopes to have a positive impact in the movement along side her colleagues. In addition to her organizing efforts, Amy also provides continual support to our housing program through though not limited to interpretation skills and graphic design elements in which she applies when creating outreach material for the community.
Tenant Advocacy and Workers’ Rights Paralegal – Tenant Advocacy Program and Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program
Ahren Lahvis is a paralegal with part-time assignments in the Tenant Advocacy and Immigrant Workers’ Rights Programs for Catholic Migration Services. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, Ahren worked as a litigation assistant at Altshuler Berzon, a public interest law firm in San Francisco that works primarily in employment and labor issues. At Catholic Migration Services, his responsibilities include helping elderly and disabled clients submit applications for rent increase exemptions, translating during client intakes, and assisting in all stages of negotiation/litigation.
Ahren is a graduate of Macalester College, where he studied Political Science and Economics. He also studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is proficient in Spanish.
Managing Attorney – Tenant Advocacy Program
Andrew joined Catholic Migration Services in 2016 as the managing attorney of its expanding Housing Program. In that capacity, he supervises the organizations housing attorneys and tenant organizers in both the Queens and Bushwick offices, oversees the housing clinics in both locations, and provides legal representation for tenants and tenant associations.
Andrew began his legal career as an attorney with the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice. He later became a staff attorney and then a supervising attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Housing Development Unit and Community Development Project. He also served as a Housing Court judge and court attorney.
Andrew received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, where he majored in Urban Studies. He earned his law degree from New York University School of Law and received a Master of Public Affairs degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Andrew is admitted to practice law in New York.
Tenant Organizer, Public Ally Fellow – Tenant Advocacy Program
Lorena Lopez is a Tenant Organizer for Catholic Migration Services. She sustains and develops membership for the coalition by providing informative and educational meetings which empower community members. Lorena also serves as a translator during the monthly housing clinics. She enjoys working with tenants because it satisfies her desire to work towards improving the living conditions of immigrants and enriching their understanding of their rights as tenants. She is motivated by tenants who become self-advocates and beacons of knowledge for other tenants in their buildings or in their communities. Working with the tenants of the Queens Housing Coalition has reinforced her belief in the tenacity of immigrant communities. She is fulfilled in her work because she understands that she plays a small role in a greater movement towards eradicating housing inequality. Prior to her time with Catholic Migration, Lorena worked as a realtor for 4 years with The Mauro Brothers. This opportunity gave her a comprehensive understanding of housing issues from the perspective of landlords in the New York Metropolitan area. Lorena attended BMCC where she studied Business Administration. Lorena is fluent in Spanish.
Staff Attorney – Tenant Advocacy Program
Samantha Lyons is a staff attorney with the Immigrant Tenant Advocacy Program, where she provides free legal counsel to low and moderate income immigrant tenants in Queens and Brooklyn. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2009, and her J.D. from Boston College Law School in 2016. Prior to law school, Samantha worked as the Pro Bono Coordinator of a large law firm in Washington, D.C., where she helped manage the firm’s pro bono initiatives and assisted with housing, immigration, wrongful conviction, and other legal matters. During law school, Samantha performed clinical work, providing low-income clients with legal assistance in housing, public defense, and wrongful conviction matters.
Samantha speaks Spanish and is admitted to practice law in New York.
Senior Staff Attorney – Tenant Advocacy Program
Mariam Magar joined Catholic Migration Services in 2010 as a student attorney with the Immigrant Tenants Advocacy Program where she assisted the staff attorney of ITAP provide free legal counsel to low-moderate income immigrant tenants in Queens and Brooklyn. Currently in her role as a Catholic Migration Legal Fellow and staff attorney she represents clients in housing court. She is also the outreach coordinator for the Arabic-speaking community within the Diocese of Brooklyn. This role requires her to assess the legal needs of the Arabic-speaking community and move to resolve their housing, labor and immigration concerns. Mariam is fulfilled in her work because it keeps her in close communion with her community and enables her to use her skills as an attorney to educate and protect people who are not accustomed to pursuing their rights. She enjoys raising awareness about legal rights and teaching people how to self-advocate.
Mariam graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 2012. While in law school Mariam was a Legal Intern with the Queens D.A. office. This experience taught her the importance of always being prepared to face a tough judge and instilled within her an appreciation for the application of the law. She was also a member of the Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute (PTAI) where she was able to participate in mock trial competitions.
Mariam speaks Arabic and is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Tenant Organizer – Tenant Advocacy Program
Carlos Ortiz is a Tenant Organizer. His work which takes place mostly in the Borough of Queens is devoted primarily on the Stabilizing NYC campaign, a city-wide effort led by a coalition of 14 organizations of which Catholic Migration is a member. The main focus of Stabilizing NYC is fighting Predatory Equity, and to this effect Carlos engages in tenant outreach, education, meeting facilitation, leadership development and other forms of organizing for both immediate tenant needs as well as more long-terms goals. He also provides support in other aspects of Catholic Migrations Tenant Advocacy program, providing translation and interpretation during clinics, meetings and court appearances, as well as mobilizing for actions. He is motivated by a deep commitment to social justice and a firm belief in community empowerment, which he strives to help facilitate. Carlos attended Columbia University, where he studied Philosophy and Political Science and organized around diverse issues including economic justice, gentrification and immigrant’s rights. Carlos is fluent in Spanish.
Managing Attorney – Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program
Magdalena is the Managing Attorney for the Workers’ Rights Program at Catholic Migration Services. For over ten years, Magdalena has worked on behalf of low wage and immigrant workers. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, Magdalena worked at Gladstein, Reif & Meginniss, Make the Road New York, MFY Legal Services, and Legal Services of New Jersey where she handled wage and hour, discrimination, and unemployment matters and represented clients in administrative proceedings, and state and federal courts. She is a graduate of Rutgers-Newark Law School and Davidson College.
Senior Staff Attorney – Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program
Alice Davis is a senior staff attorney in the Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program, where she represents workers in wage and hour claims and other employment matters. She received her B.A. from New York University in 2009, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2012. During law school she performed clinical work, providing low-income clients with legal assistance in employment, immigration, and housing matters. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services in 2013, she served as a Fellow at Legal Services of New Jersey in their Workers’ Legal Rights Project.
Alice is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Paralegal – Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program
Emma is a paralegal for the Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program. She assists with client intake, fields calls from our labor hotline, and helps lawyers with casework. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, Emma spent time on the border at a day-labor center in Tucson, AZ and a refugee shelter in El Paso, TX. Those places shaped her understanding of a global struggle where labor, migration, and incarceration all intersect. As a paralegal, she aims to advocate for New Yorkers through casework, continued partnerships with worker centers, and labor rights education. Emma is fluent in Spanish.
Immigrant Workers’ Rights and Tenant Advocacy Paralegal – Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program and Tenant Advocacy Program
Ahren Lahvis is a paralegal with part-time assignments in the Immigrant Workers’ Rights and Tenant Advocacy Programs for Catholic Migration Services. Prior to joining Catholic Migration Services, Ahren worked as a litigation assistant at Altshuler Berzon, a public interest law firm in San Francisco that works primarily in employment and labor issues. At Catholic Migration Services, his responsibilities include helping elderly and disabled clients submit applications for rent increase exemptions, translating during client intakes, and assisting in all stages of negotiation/litigation.
Ahren is a graduate of Macalester College, where he studied Political Science and Economics. He also studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is proficient in Spanish.
Staff Attorney – Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program
Thomas Power is a staff attorney with the Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program, where he represents workers in wage and hour claims and other employment matters. He joined Catholic Migration Services in 2016 as a Poverty Justice Solutions Fellow with the Tenant Advocacy Program, where he advocated on behalf of low-income tenants in Queens and Brooklyn.
Thomas graduated from CUNY School of Law in 2016. While in school, he participated in the Workers’ Rights Project and the Economic Justice Project, two clinics that advance the rights of working class people in New York City. Thomas was also the managing editor of the CUNY Law Review, a law journal dedicated to promoting social justice scholarship. During law school, he interned as a Peggy Browning Fellow with the Workers Defense Project in Austin, Texas and as an Ella Baker Intern with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Thomas speaks Spanish and is admitted to practice law in New York and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.