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 a executive director of San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc in the Inland Empire where he has being involved in immigrant's rights defense and  advocacy. His organization provides direct immigration and legal services to immigrants in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Arturo Carmona | Executive Director, COFEM

Arturo Carmona has led the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM) since its incorporation and founding in 2005.  As Executive Director, Carmona leads one of the most dynamic movements of organic leadership in the nation.  With over 300 hometown associations and tens of thousands of members, COFEM is determined to mobilize its membership to develop active leaders and improve the educational and socioeconomic attainment of Latino families in California.

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 leadership and oversees program and organizational management, resource & 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 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and 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 Orange County office of ACLU/SC.  Prior to working at the ACLU, Ms. Escobosa Helzer worked at MALDEF as the Immigrant Rights and Day Laborer Project Staff attorney.  Ms. Escobosa Helzer 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.  Ms. Escobosa Helzer 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, and was Vice President of the PEOC Board from 2000-2001.  She 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, the need for increased visibility and inclusion into the progressive social justice movement.  She is founding member and current Director of 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-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 | Community Organizer, PICO CA - CCISCO-Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization

Apolonio (Polo) Morales 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 with a degree in English and a minor in Education in 1999.  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. Currently, he is back as a full-time organizer for CCISCO in Richmond and West Contra Costa County working on immigrant issues and violence prevention.

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 part of the country for over 30 years and his passion is social justice. He is currently an attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance and 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.  Ortiz holds a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA.  She co-authored Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles: Strategic Directions for Funders with Manuel Pastor.  Ortiz previously worked as an Evaluation Associate for The California Endowment, working closely with evaluators serving the Hmong immigrant community of the Central Valley, 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 the 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 crisis 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 has been awarded the 2008 Immigrant Advocate of the Year by SIREN (Services, Immigrants, Rights and Education Network) and the 2010 Director’s Award from 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 Bachelor’s of Music Degree from San Francisco State University and a Master 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, Ms. Preciado was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California, where she litigated cases dealing with immigrants' 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.  Ms. Preciado holds a juris doctor degree from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).

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 MA in Ethnic Studies and a BA 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 participating, observing, and fortifying the fight for immigrant rights in the United States. Ms. Rodriguez received her Bachelor's Degree 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, was a 2002 Fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute, and holds a Master's degree 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, Ms. Tellefson Torres 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. Ms. Tellefson Torres 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 immigrant’s 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 & Communications, Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Karin Wang is Vice-President of Programs & 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 & 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, Korean Resource Center

Dae Yoon served as Korean Resource Center(KRC)’s executive director from 1998 to 2000 and resumed his position in July 2003.  Yoon has been developing community education and organizing experiences since 1993.  Yoon served the Advisory Board member for the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant affairs and Community Advisory board member at UCLA Center for Health Improvement for Minority Elders (CHIME). Currently, Yoon serves on the board of directors at the Strategic Concept in Organizing & Policy Education (SCOPE) and National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), Advisory Board member for the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and the Community Advisory board member for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services.