Katia Hansen, J.D. President & CEO
Katia Hansen has over 19 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations in San Diego County, and in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. For 15 of those years she has worked on issues related to immigration and human rights, including anti-human trafficking work in Lithuania and Thailand. Katia has been with UURISE since its inception in 2007, first as a founding member of the Board of Directors, transitioning to Program Manager in 2010, and to Director of Programs & Development in 2013. In each of these positions, Katia is thrilled to be able to blend her education and experience as an attorney and social worker with her passion for social justice, empowering people, and advocating for systemic change. Katia is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love Creative Advisory Team, the Social Justice Coordinator for the FarmWorker CARE Coalition, and she represents UURISE on the Advisory Board of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.
Abeba “Abby” Habtamariam, Attorney
Abeba “Abby” Habtemariam is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural attorney who, as an immigrant herself, understands firsthand the importance of having access to quality services and legal status. Informed by her own experiences, Abby makes it her priority to ensure clients are heard, that they understand the process, and they are given proper guidance and support. Her undergraduate education in Economics and her world travels have helped her develop analytical skills that come in very handy in problem solving sessions for complex and unique cases. At UURISE, Abby advocates for those who cannot advocate for themselves whether it is because of language barriers, educational limitations, or lack of economic resources. Abby has a degree in Economics from the University of California and a law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Maria Chavez, Attorney, Of Counsel
Maria is the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants. She joined the UURISE team in September 2013. Originally from the East coast, Maria came to beautiful San Diego due to her husband’s military service. She graduated from the University of Maryland, School of Law in 2009 where she was the Vice President of Membership of the Immigration Law and Policy Association. Maria’s passion for immigration law began during her youth when she saw family and friends battle with the unjust immigration system, often with no safe place to turn. It pains her to see immigrants fall victim to notario fraud and other unscrupulous acts. Through her work with UURISE Maria is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others and helping them live the American Dream.
Board of Directors
Blanca Arias, Secretary
Blanca Arias, LCSW is a first generation Mexican American born to immigrant parents. She has also worked with immigrants from Mexico and Central America giving her a firsthand understanding of the obstacles and challenges immigrant families endure. She has heard first hand accounts of the challenges immigrants and refugees have experienced in order to come to this country to escape poverty, starvation and domestic and state sponsored violence. In her role as consultant for Survivors of Torture International and through client stories she learned of the atrocities and violence that refugees seek to escape. Her work with Survivors of Torture, Inc. afforded her the opportunity to conduct psychosocial forensic evaluations and provide testimony for immigration court. Blanca is honored to serve on the Board of UURISE because of the valuable, honest and affordable services that are provided to the underserved immigrants of North County San Diego. As a member of the UURISE Board, she hopes to advance the mission and expand services particularly to the Latino immigrant community.
Judith Faulkner’s first immigrant experience was obtaining a student visa that allowed her to attend Wroxton College in England as part of an undergraduate foreign study program. She and Daniel Stracka, and 43 other young Americans, had the privilege of being legal guests in a friendly country, help obtaining all the proper documentation, and the freedom to return to a welcoming home country when the adventure was done. Since joining UURISE she has learned that today’s immigrants to America face a very different fate. She is happy to work with old friends and new to help UURISE fulfill its mission. She has operated a consulting business for many years, dealing with a major regulatory department of New York City. The experience taught her how regulations work, why we need them, and why the public and the bureaucrats need to work with each other, not against each other, to build the safe, stable society we all want.
Daniel Stracka, Ph.D., J.D.
Daniel Stracka is an attorney who specializes in immigration and refugee law. He has worked in nonprofit legal immigration and refugee programs as a volunteer and/or an attorney since 1980. He is dedicated to assisting migrants in knowing their legal and human rights. He is an advocate for justice for those who would not have access to legal immigration representation if not for nonprofit agencies. He has worked to assist immigrants and refugees reclaim their dignity and integrity, and to become self-sufficient. Dr. Stracka has served as faculty for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, has taught immigration and nationality law at the University of Connecticut School of Law and Quinnipiac School of Law, and conducted seminars at Yale University School of Law. He currently chairs the Immigrant Justice Action Team of the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California. He is called on frequently by national and international, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and immigrant and refugee service agencies for his advice and expertise.
Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson
Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson has served as the minister of Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship since 2004. She serves as president of board of Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, and as president of Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry. She is active in interfaith and social justice causes including climate action, environmental justice, peace actions, immigration rights, marriage equality, and animal rights. Rev. Beth is a graduate of Claremont School of Theology where she received her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry with an emphasis on process philosophy. Beth’s call to Unitarian Universalist ministry was the result of her desire to link spiritual growth and theology with social justice.
Utpal Parikh, B.S.
Utpal (Paul) Parikh spent his youth in India and came to the United States at the age of 18, shortly after finishing High School. In 1986, Paul began working for Pitney Bowes. He attended the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut where, in order to support himself and his family, he worked 2-3 jobs in addition to his studies. In 1995 Paul graduated from University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. After graduation, he continued working for Pitney Bowles in various capacities until 1999 when he moved to California. Paul started his own .com company before expanding and pursuing other business opportunities. He currently works as Account Executive for New Horizons Computer Learning Center. He also owns a Postal Annex, rental properties, and multiple gas stations. Paul is a Notary Public and holds a California Real Estate License with which he has been practicing for over 10 years. Paul brings a wide variety of business and people skills and personal experience as an immigrant to share with the UURISE Board.
Stacy Carlson, Treasurer
Stacy Carlson has lived in North County for most of her life and is dedicated to this community.
She has been a long-time advocate for poor and working families and believes in living her values. She is an active member of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice so you are likely to see her in marches for worker rights, income equality, raising the minimum wage, compassionate immigration reform, and actions on climate change. She is currently hosting a refugee family seeking political asylum in the U.S. She serves on the Board of Friends of MEChA Latino student organization. She is a mentor for foster youth that have “aged out” of the system and is currently fostering a 2 year old little girl. She has been a volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a camp counselor and fundraiser for over 15 years. She has both worked and volunteered for Labor Unions for the last 5 years to champion the rights of all workers to earn a fair wage, have the right to form a union, and have the right to due process. She has a 7 year old daughter, Brianna and is a volunteer in her classroom.
Stacy was elected to the San Marcos School Board in November 2014.
She is honored to serve on the Board for UURISE and is passionate about empowering people through education and advocacy.
- Kathi Anderson
- Gary C. Bond
- George Christian
- Charlie Clements
- Alessendra Colfi
- Denny (Denise) Davidoff
- Dick Eiden, Esq.
- R. Neil Emory, Esq.
- Patricia Gamza, Esq.
- Dolores Gascon
- Rev. Olivia Holmes
- Burton Johnson
- Timothy Lavin
- Michele Strickland