Steven Choi, Esq.
Steve Choi, Esq. is the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella advocacy and policy coalition of nearly 200 member groups representing New York State’s immigrant communities. From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Choi was the Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, which organizes, advocates for, educates and serves Korean and Asian community members in New York. Prior to that, Mr. Choi was a Staff Attorney and the founding Director of the Korean Workers Project at the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the only project on the East Coast focused on providing free legal services to low-wage Korean immigrants.
Mr. Choi received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a M.A. from the University of Hawai’i, and a B.A. from Stanford University in History with Honors.
Camille Mackler, Esq.
Director of Training and Technical Assistance
Camille J. Mackler, Esq. is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the New York Immigration Coalition. Before joining the NYIC in March, 2013, Ms. Mackler represented immigrants in private practice since 2006. Prior to that, Ms. Mackler worked for various organizations providing free or low-cost legal services to some of New York City’s most vulnerable populations, including refugees, undocumented immigrants, and abused women. She continues to participate in legal clinics and other volunteer efforts hosted by local bar associations, community organizations, and government agencies to assist low-income immigrants.
Ms. Mackler currently services as the co-chair of the media and advocacy committee for the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is a graduate of New York Law School (J.D. 2006) and the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service (B.S.F.S. 2001). Ms. Mackler was admitted to the New York Bar in January 2007. She is also admitted to the bars of the Second, Third, Sixth and Eight Circuits Court of Appeals.
Director of Health Advocacy
Jackie Vimo is the Director of Health Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition. She is currently a member of the Regional Advisory Committee of the New York State Health Benefit Exchange established under the Affordable Care Act and was a member of the Health Disparities Workgroup of Governor Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT). Jackie has been working for over 15 years in the field of public policy on a broad array issues, including: HIV/AIDS, public health, workers’ rights, racial justice and immigration. Jackie has done social justice work in Argentina, where her family lives, and has held policy positions at organizations such as Make the Road New York and The New York AIDS Coalition.
Jackie has been the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Commission on the Public’s Health System and the New York Peer AIDS Education Coalition and has served as a member of the Board of Directors and the Community Funding Board of the North Star Fund. Jackie also teaches in the Political Science Departments at the City College of New York and the New School University. Jackie received a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University and a M.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate writing a doctoral dissertation about local immigration movements.
Mubashar (Max) Ahmed
Senior Education Advocacy Associate
Mubashar (Max) Ahmed is the Education Advocacy Associate with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). He has worked on schools and Latin-Consulate partnerships through the Consular ID Project, which gives consular identification to immigrant parents who may lack IDs to access their child’s school and attend parent teacher meetings, he has worked with NYC Council Members to fund the $18M DACA project which allows city funding for NYC youth to receive DACA & educational services, and with DREAMers and undocumented youth to advocate for federal immigration reform through testimony & speeches at rallies, hearings, legislative meetings, press conferences and communication with media. He has testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education to provide educational supports and a sound education to the City’s 150K English language learners. Max works closely with community leaders across NYC & NYS during monthly collaborative meetings to discuss education issues for immigrant students and their parents, informing City and State advocacy materials on education policy. He also coordinates the NYIC Parent Guide to College Project that provides immigrant parents with workshops, resources, and information on sending their children to college.
He was among the first cohort of recipients of the New York Immigration Coalition's DREAM fellowship, which provided a CUNY scholarship, leadership development sessions, and internships at NYIC member groups for ten talented young people. Previously, Max has held an Adviser Fellowship at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations and worked at Cotton Mine, a business-to-business print & design firm.
He has graduated, Cum Laude, with a Baccalaureate of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from the City University of New York, City College.
Special Projects Fellow
Mayra Aldás-Deckert is the Special Projects Fellow at The New York Immigration Coalition where she provides administrative and logistics assistance for Consular ID Events. She attended Brooklyn College where she obtained her B.S. in Business Management and Finance as well as the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador where she completed three years of Commercial Engineering with focus in Management and Business Planning. A native of Ecuador, Mayra moved to NYC almost 9 years ago. Mayra joined the New York Immigration Coalition in 2014.
Health Advocacy Senior Specialist
Claudia Calhoon joined the NYIC in 2014 as Health Advocacy Senior Specialist. She is responsible for program development and management of NYIC’s advocacy to ensure health access for all immigrant communities in New York. Claudia has led program development and operations in a diverse array of public health and non-profit settings including the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Open Society Foundations and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cuenca, Ecuador. Most recently, she worked at NYU School of Medicine where she oversaw an NIH-funded research core to promote health disparities research and community engagement in medical research.
Claudia has strong interest in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and health access and equity. She is currently enrolled in the Doctorate of Public Health Program at CUNY Graduate Center. She received a MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a BA in American History from Earlham College.
Immigration Campaign Organizer
Manuel Castro is the Immigration Campaign Organizer at the New York Coalition. Manuel currently works with NYIC’s New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform campaign, a coalition of over 170 member and partner organizations working to pass federal immigration reform. Manuel also works on statewide and local advocacy initiatives, such as the campaign to expand access to driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers. Previously, Manuel worked with the NYIC’s advocacy efforts to increase support for immigrants impacted by Hurricane Sandy and with NYIC’s voter registration and Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns. Manuel graduated from Hampshire College with a BA in anthropology and film studies and is currently finishing a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree at Baruch College.
Immigration Advocacy Manager
Christina Chang is the Immigration Advocacy Manager at the New York Immigration Coalition. Before joining the NYIC, Christina was the Advocacy and Organizing Coordinator of the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, Queens. Prior to that, she was the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff and General Counsel to former Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. Christina served as a Fulbright Fellow in South Korea and received a B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College.
New Americans Volunteer Coordinator
As the New Americans Volunteer Coordinator, Kiwi Grady works to engage highly skilled immigrant volunteers in Sandy Recovery efforts in New York City, in addition to supporting general volunteer and community partner engagement in the work of the NYIC. 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. Prior to coming to the NYIC, Kiwi managed student leadership development programs and organizational chapters at GLSEN, and peer education-in-residence and social justice programs at NYU’s Department of Residential Education.
A native Peruvian, Silvia fell in love with nonprofits when she was only 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 charitable work. Silvia holds a BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies from Hunter College. Over 8 years, Silvia has provided administrative support to The New York Immigration Coalition.
Regional Outreach Associate
Francis Madi is the Regional Outreach Associate on Long Island for the New York Immigration Coalition. She coordinates Immigration services and advocates for Immigrant communities in Nassau and Suffolk county. Prior to working with the coalition, she was organizing around Immigration issues for the Arab American Association of NY and La Fuente Inc., in Brooklyn and Long Island. She has resided on Long Island for more than eight years now though she was born in Venezuela.
She holds a B.A from Queens College-CUNY where she also organized around Immigration, LGBTQ and Educational issues. Inspired by the DREAM movement, she also became a speaker and a writer of the Undocumented community on campus. She is the 2014 Recipient of the Uncommon Courage award given by the Center for Ethnic Racial and Religious Understanding at Queens College and has participated on numerous panels and theatre productions involving immigration and the arts.
Special Projects Coordinator
Zelene Pineda Suchilt is the Special Projects Coordinator at the New York Immigration Coalition. Since November 2010, Zelene has held various posts at the coalition in the administration and education programs. Prior to joining the NYIC, Zelene worked with various organizations and coalitions to advance the rights of immigrants in Texas and the US/Mexico border, including, La Raza Youth Coalition, Fronteriz@s de Abajo en Movimiento, and Border Network for Human Rights.
She is also the creator and founder of The Word Around Town Poetry Tour, an annual weeklong poetry and arts event in Houston that has been running since 2006. For her work in social justice and the arts, Zelene was recognized by the Mexican Museum of Art in Chicago and became the recipient of their 2009 Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz Young Visionary Award. In response to the Tucson Unified School District 2012 to ban the use of books written by Latin@ authors in public school classrooms, Zelene joined the Librotraficante Caravan to Arizona as a featured poet in solidarity with Mexican American Studies teachers and students affected by the ban. The Caravan kick-started a movement to collect banned books and create spaces where Latina@ thought can be shared. Her blogs on this experience were syndicated on the NYIC Blog.
DACA Outreach Coordinator
Elizabeth Plum joined the New York Immigration Coalition in October 2013 as the DACA Outreach Coordinator following a tenure in the direct legal services field at Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) in Brooklyn, New York. With one of the highest caseloads in NYC immigration courts, CALA proved a formative environment for Elizabeth to hone her knowledge of immigration policy, federal programs, and advocacy. She sits on CALA's Junior Board as well as the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center’s Leadership Council and Outreach Committee. Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Political Studies from Bard College, a Certificate of International Relations and Global Affairs from the Bard Globalization and International Affairs program, and an M.Sc. in Comparative Politics and Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Juan J. Ramírez
Senior Administrative and Operations Associate
Juan J. Ramirez started with the NYIC in August of 2007. As the Project Associate and Executive Assistant, he works closely with the Managing Director and the Administrative Manager on internal projects and administrative planning. Juan also works on special events and coordinates logistics for the NYIC’s days of action, membership events, and the annual gala. On his off-time, he volunteers with iMentor, an organization working towards empowering students from low-income communities and increasing college readiness, and has volunteered with nonprofits that focus on education.
Juan holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
Gillian Rowland-Kain initially joined the New York Immigration Coalition in September 2013 as a Membership and Communications Fellow through the AmeriCorps program, Public Allies. Previously, Gillian worked at buildOn, a youth development organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education, as a Program Coordinator through NYC Civic Corps, an AmeriCorps program run by the Mayor’s Office of Service. Gillian is passionate about ending human rights abuses and is an active member of Amnesty International. Gillian holds a B.A. in International Relations from Connecticut College and a M.Sc. in Human Rights and International Politics from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Oriana Sanchez is the Administrative Associate at the New York Immigration Coalition. Before joining the NYIC in March, 2013, Ms. Sanchez worked as a Legal Assistant with a private attorney in Jackson Heights for seven years. While at the law office, she assisted with immigration matters, helping immigrants adjust their status and naturalize.
Ms. Sanchez is a graduate of Baruch College (2010) with a B.A. in Political Science and Anthropology.
Laurie Smolenski is the Development Associate at the New York Immigration Coalition. Before joining the NYIC in September, Laurie advocated for issues of local and national importance to New York City’s immigrant communities, including comprehensive immigration reform, adult education and resident voting rights. Before moving to New York, Laurie completed a Master’s degree in International Relations with a focus on women’s and immigrant rights from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain through a Rotary Global Grant. Her international field experience includes working with human trafficking survivors in Spain and researching indigenous women in the Solomon Islands. She regularly contributes to Waging Nonviolence.
Manager of Education Advocacy
Kim Sykes is the Manager of Education Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition. Kim joined the NYIC in September 2010 as a Policy and Program Fellow responsible for special projects ranging from research to organizational management initiatives. Her current responsibilities include coordinating the NYIC’s Education Collaborative and overseeing State and City advocacy to related to English language learners, immigrant students and their families. Previously, she was Account Supervisor at Resnicow Schroeder Associates, a leading strategic communications agency for non-profit organizations. In her 7 years there, she led development and implementation of strategic communications campaigns for art museums across the country, evaluated sponsorship opportunities for Ford Motor Company Fund and managed the implementation of sponsored projects.
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 non-profit management.
Training and Membership Associate
Jonathan Vidal is the Training and Membership Associate at the New York Immigration Coalition. He manages logistics for the Training and Technical Assistance program, and handles all administrative process for membership. Mr. Vidal has worked with the New York Immigration Coalition since 2006. He is a graduate of York College with a B.S. in Business Administration.
Thanu Yakupitiyage is the Communications Coordinator at the New York Immigration Coalition. She has worked with NYIC since 2010 and supported the Coalition's communications and media relations capacity. Thanu liasons on the daily with local, state, and national press around issues pertaining to immigrant communities, works with the Coalition's broad programs to get our work and message out, and supports our efforts to grow our technological and social media capacity. In addition, Thanu is the main coordinator for a special NYIC project, the DREAM Fellowship program, which supports the leadership development skills of young undocumented youth in New York's public universities. Thanu has a MA in communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a BA in critical media studies and international development from Hampshire College. She has previously worked for the Applied Research Center, Global Action Project, and the Andrus Family Fund, and has international communications experience in Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Tea Tammistu joined the NYIC team as an Education Fellow at the start of 2014. Before this fellowship she worked for several years in the field of the integration of immigrants in Estonia and the United Kingdom. At the NYIC, Tea advocates for eliminating barriers that prevent immigrant parents from being more involved in their children’s education.
Tea holds a B.A. in Sociology from Tallinn University in Estonia, and is currently an M.A. student in Sociology at the same university.
Immigrant Outreach Fellow
Mary Walle joined the New York Immigration Coalition in January 2014 as the Immigrant Outreach Fellow. Currently a Jesuit Volunteer, Mary lives in the Ella Baker Community in Harlem. A native of Michigan, Mary moved to New York City in August 2013 after graduating with a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan in May 2013. There she focused her studies on United States and Latin American history, researching the social thought and action of Central American Solidarity in Detroit for her Senior Thesis. Mary’s work as a theatre facilitator with the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University continues to inform her advocacy and efforts with the NYIC.