2011/2012 Fellows for a New California




Emilio Amaya | Executive Director, San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc.

Born in Mexico, Emilio Amaya migrated to this country when he was 13-years-old as an unaccompanied minor. He went through the experience of being a homeless child, migrant worker, day laborer, food worker, and union representative. He is a founding member of Libreria del Pueblo, Inc. in San Bernardino, CA and currently serves as Executive Director of San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc. in the Inland Empire, where he has been involved in immigrant rights defense and advocacy. His organization provides direct immigration and legal services to immigrants in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.




Arturo Carmona | Executive Director, Presente.org

Arturo Carmona is the Executive Director of Presente.org. As Executive Director, Carmona leads a nationally recognized organization that exists to amplify the political voice of Latino communities. Presente.org seeks to be a platform for the Latino community and allies, to amplify collective voices and fight for the welfare and dignity of Latino immigrants. Previous to his time at Presente.org, Arturo led the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM) since its incorporation and founding in 2005.




Patricia Diaz | Executive Director, Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN)

As the Executive Director of Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), Patricia Diaz is responsible for the agency’s leadership and oversees program and organizational management, resource and fund development, financial operations and administration, and the management and evaluation of personnel. She has extensive experience in the areas of policy development, advocacy, research, and campaign development from her prior experiences at the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and from working on policy advocacy in San Jose and Sacramento.




Belinda Escobosa Helzer | Director, Orange County office, ACLU of Southern California

Belinda Escobosa Helzer is the Director of the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC). She joined the ACLU/SC in 2005, and until February 2011 served as a staff attorney in the Orange County office of ACLU/SC. Prior to working at the ACLU, Helzer worked at MALDEF as the Immigrant Rights and Day Laborer Project Staff attorney.  She has litigated cases involving religious freedom, due process, law enforcement abuse, and free speech, including successfully challenging anti-solicitation speech ordinances, and police practices barring day laborers from expressing their need for work on public sidewalks. She also works to educate the community about the limited scope of local police officers’ authority to enforce civil immigration laws.




Suzanne Foster | Executive Director, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center

Suzanne Foster has been the Executive Director of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC) since 2007, and oversees the organization’s work in Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, and the Inland Empire.  She started the ESL program at the Center in 1999 as a volunteer when she was a student at Pitzer College. She was Vice President of the PEOC Board from 2000-2001. Foster has a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA with an emphasis in Community Economic Development. She has extensive experience in program management, grant writing, and coalition-building, and has been active in the day laborer movement for nearly 11 years.




Nunu Kidane | Director, Priority Africa Network

Nunu Kidane is an activist from Eritrea, East Africa. She has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for over two decades. For the past seven years, she has focused her work on policy analysis and mobilization in African immigrant communities, and on the need for increased visibility and inclusion into the progressive social justice movement.  She is a founding member and current Director of the Priority Africa Network (PAN), a grassroots organization of Africa promotion and engagement, and sits on the Steering Committee of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) in Oakland, CA.




Deborah Lee | Project Director, Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights-CLUE-CA

Reverend Deborah Lee is the Director of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, a program of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice in California. Since 1994, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights has been a faithful voice, accompanying and advocating for the full participation and dignity of immigrants. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Deborah has worked at the intersection of faith and social justice for over 20 years as an educator and organizer on issues of race, gender, a just economy, anti-militarism and immigration.  Her work has consistently bridged different ethnic communities, generations, and geographies in creative and transformational processes.




Apolonio Morales | Political Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles - CHIRLA

Apolonio (Polo) Morales is the Political Director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. He is a first generation Mexican American born in Los Angeles. He was raised by a single mother who encouraged him to work hard and give back to the community. Morales graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 with a degree in English and a minor in Education.  Since then, he has worked as an organizer for the California Nurses Association/United Steelworkers, LA Voice and CCISCO (both PICO Network affiliates), and recently as a District Director for the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign in Northern California.




Baldwin Moy | Co-Founder, Madera Coalition for Community Justice

Baldwin Moy was born and bred in the Big Apple before leaving for grad school. He has been a legal services lawyer in different parts of the country for over 30 years, and his passion is social justice. He is currently an attorney with the California Rural Legal Assistance. He co-founded the Madera Coalition for Community Justice in 1992.




Rhonda Ortiz | Project Manager, USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration

Rhonda Ortiz is a Project Manager at the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. She holds a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA. Ortiz co-authored, Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles: Strategic Directions for Funders, with Manuel Pastor. She previously worked as an evaluation associate for The California Endowment, working closely with evaluators serving the Hmong immigrant community of the Central Valley, and evaluating initiatives targeting policy and advocacy work and grassroots organizations.




Bea Pangilinan | Staff Attorney, Asian Law Alliance

Bea Pangilinan is a staff attorney at Asian Law Alliance, a community law office that has been serving immigrant and low-income communities in Santa Clara County since 1977. At Asian Law Alliance, she focuses on providing direct legal services to Santa Clara County’s diverse population, preventing legal crises by informing individuals about their rights and responsibilities through community education, and organizing trainings for immigration services.  She is also active in advocating for significant issues that affect the community including justice in the immigration process and access to basic legal rights. 




Jon Pedigo | Diocesan Director, Justice for Immigrants San Jose

Father Jon Pedigo serves as Pastor at St. Julie Billiart Parish in the southernmost area of the city of San José. Currently, he is the Diocesan Director for Justice for Immigrants in the Diocese of San Jose. Fr. Pedigo is a 2004 recipient of the Martin Luther King Good Neighbor Award, and was awarded the 2008 Immigrant Advocate of the Year by SIREN (Services, Immigrants, Rights and Education Network), and the 2010 Director’s Award from the Human Relations Commission of Santa Clara County.  He is an active PACT clergy leader and serves on the Sacred Heart Community Service Board, and the Inter-Faith Council on Economics and Justice Board of Santa Clara County. Fr. Pedigo holds a Bachelors of Music Degree from San Francisco State University and a Masters of Music from Indiana University, Bloomington. Fr. Pedigo did his theology studies at St. Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park, and holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.




Nora Preciado | Staff Attorney/Immigration Enforcement Project Manager, National Immigration Law Center

Nora Preciado focuses on promoting the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, technical assistance, and administrative advocacy.  Her main areas of focus include immigration enforcement and workers’ rights issues.  Before joining NILC, Preciado was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California where she litigated cases dealing with immigrant rights issues, and conducted extensive community outreach and education.  She then joined the ACLU/SC’s Los Angeles office, where she focused on immigration detention litigation and advocacy on conditions of detention. She holds a J.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Law.




Pedro Rios | Program Director, American Friends Service Committee

Pedro Rios has been employed by the American Friends Service Committee for 8 years and is currently Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US/Mexico Border Program in San Diego, CA.  He is responsible for supporting migrant-led organizing initiatives, documenting civil and human rights abuses, and reviewing border and immigration-related policy.  With over 17 years of community-organizing experience on immigration issues, Pedro also holds an M.A. in Ethnic Studies and a B.A. in English.




Maria Rodriguez | Statewide Youth Organizer, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles

Maria E. Rodriguez is an accomplished young leader for the immigrant rights movement, and for the social justice movement more broadly.  She has dedicated the last 10 years of her life to participating, observing, and fortifying the fight for immigrant rights in the United States. Ms. Rodriguez received her B.A. from University of California, Davis in Political Science and Religious Studies. She is committed to the healing, empowerment and enlightenment of humanity in order to help create a better world to live in.




Aparna Shah | Coordinating Director, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote

Aparna Shah has worked for social change and expanded democracy with immigrant and low-income communities for over 15 years. She is the Coordinating Director of Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV), a statewide, multi-ethnic coalition of grassroots organizations that builds the power and capacity of immigrant communities through electoral engagement. Prior to MIV, Aparna worked to advance the self-determination of women, people of color, and queer communities at Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, and spent several years working to transform a public middle school into a vibrant youth and community center at a San Francisco Beacon Center. Aparna previously chaired the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition. She was a 2002 Fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute, and holds a M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She was born in Manila, grew up in Mumbai, and now lives with her family in Oakland, CA.




Reshma Shamasunder | Director, California Immigrant Policy Center

Reshma Shamasunder has served as Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center since 2003.  Under Reshma’s leadership, CIPC has helped to advance several successful campaigns at the state level, including preserving important health and human service programs, supporting survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence, and other important immigrant integration efforts. Reshma currently serves on the board of Health Access California and as Board Chair of the South Asian Network in Los Angeles. She was previously Director of Benefits Policy and Government Affairs at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Reshma holds a Bachelors degree from UCLA, and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).






Diana Tellefson Torres | Executive Director, United Farm Workers Foundation

Prior to being chosen to launch and direct the UFW Foundation, Diana Tellefson Torres served as the Immigration Reform Field Director for the United Farm Workers Union. From 2006-2008, Tellefson acted as an advisor for the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its Institute for Mexicans Abroad. She also worked as the Deputy Director of an Arizona Latino voter registration and Get Out the Vote project during the 2004 presidential election. She graduated from Stanford University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and is a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accredited Representative.



Victor Viramontes | Senior Council, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)

Victor Viramontes serves as MALDEF’s National Senior Counsel, where he supervises litigation in each of MALDEF’s Regional Offices, including immigrants’ rights cases.  Previously, he worked as a Senior Trial Attorney at the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Carlos R. Moreno of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California..




Karin Wang | Vice-President of Programs and Communications, Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Karin Wang is Vice-President of Programs and Communications at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization serving Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.  Karin previously directed APALC’s immigrant rights project, and headed the first Los Angeles field office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. She is active in many local, state and national organizations that advocate on behalf of immigrant, low-income and LGBT communities.




Annette Wong | Program Coordinator of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network, Dolores Street Community Services

Annette Wong was born and raised in San Francisco and graduated from UC Davis.  After spending a few years in Philadelphia furthering her education, she came back to the city to continue working with immigrant communities. Currently, she is the coordinator of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network, which provides free immigration legal services and community education to low income immigrants.




Dae Joong Yoon | Executive Director, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)

Dae Joong Yoon is the Executive Director of the National Korean American Education Consortium. NAKASEC was formed with the purpose of projecting a national progressive voice on major civil rights and immigrant rights issues, and promoting the full participation of Korean Americans with the greater goal of building a national movement for social change. Prior to leading NAKASEC, he served as the Korean Resource Center’s Executive Director. Yoon has been developing community education and organizing experiences since 1993. Currently, Yoon serves on the Board of Directors at the Strategic Concept in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), and as an Advisory Board member for the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.