The UURISE Team

Katia Hansen, J.D. President & CEO

Katia Hansen

I provide leadership and oversight to our dynamic organization as we make a life-saving impact in the lives of immigrants and refugees through legal empowerment. Our clients are equal partners as we access justice together. I have extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations in San Diego County, and in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. I have worked on issues related to immigration and human rights, including anti-human trafficking work in Lithuania and Thailand.

I am 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 I represents UURISE on the Advisory Board of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.

I have 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.

I have been able to blend my education and experience as an attorney and social worker with my passion for social justice, empowering people, and advocating for systemic change. This deep and demanding work is incredibly meaningful and I am honored to work with my team toward furthering justice in our world.

katia@uurise.org

 

 

 

Andrea Dell’Amore Santos, Immigration Attorney

I oversee the many diverse and challenging projects that UURISE undertakes. I am the immigration attorney at UURISE. I am  responsible for handling family-based petitions, naturalization, DACA, acquired and derived citizenship, U-visas cases, and many others.

I have 5+ years of in-depth experience as an immigration attorney and I aim to handle cases with diligence and in a personable manner. I earned my J.D. from the University of Houston, Texas, and I am admitted to the State Bars of California and Texas.

I am proud to work with UURISE, an organization grounded in Unitarian Universalist principles which include a passionate vision to affirm and promote “a respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and has been a leader in the sanctuary movement and repudiated the doctrine of discovery.

 

Victor Garcia, Immigrant Rights Advocate

My personal journey of immigrating to this country defines and guides me. I came to this country undocumented when I was about seven years old; escaping poverty and a country with no opportunity to advance and succeed due to the lack of money. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I was an “AB 540” student (an undocumented student who qualified to pay in-state tuition rates due to Assembly Bill 540) and know firsthand the fear of being separated from family.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Human Development with an emphasis on Counseling Services. Around that time and after years of waiting, I obtained my “legal” status: I know I am fortunate for this, as millions of others are still waiting or have not pathway to obtain it and therefore my passion to advocate for an immigration reform. After graduating college, I began my career in social services: I served as an advocate for victims/survivors of domestic violence for close to five years at a domestic violence shelter, after this I worked directly with homeless youth and youth who aged out of the foster care system, and before joining UURISE I held a position with the County of San Diego in their social services for children.

I am devoted in merging my social work experience and skills with the current work that I do at UURISE by being an ally to marginalized, underrepresented and oppressed communities, including families (both documented and undocumented), DREAMERs, and by treating our clients with dignity, respect, and genuine care.

 

Lane Hammond, Case Manager

I partner with you regarding your case.

My strong interest in immigrants and other cultures began early, influenced by my parents, who were avid world travelers. My father sponsored Fellows from numerous countries, and they became family friends. My mother worked with immigrant women, helping them learn English and adapt to living in the USA. I have lived for a time both in Western and Eastern Europe as well as Mexico. My volunteer efforts included working for years with a new immigrant family fleeing the violence in Sudan. When I retired from a 35-year career as a business attorney, I decided to pursue my interest in helping immigrants more actively. I am pleased to use my legal skills to work toward becoming a Department of Justice Accredited Representative so I can be an even more effective advocate.

I find special fulfillment in assisting immigrants to become United States citizens, understand their legal rights and stay in the USA.

 

Alexa Cojtin, Scheduler

I am often the first point of contact for people who are connecting with UURISE, hoping for a way to better their lives.

I am the first generation in my family to attend college, thanks to my mom, brother and aunts. Being a part-time student at Mira Costa College with mechanic classes has been invigorating.

I have watched several of my relatives struggle with attaining their goal of becoming US citizens. Therefore, I have a deep appreciation for the difficulties and risks of being undocumented. I have had a long-standing interest in immigration and human rights. I have been a active member of Amnesty International.  My work at UURISE furthers my service to and compassion for people that seek a better future for their families.

 

Ana Palomo-Zerfas, Program Manager

I provide mission-driven administrative, programmatic and fiscal support to UURISE in order to serve you better.

Both my parents came to the US undocumented; my father was a farmworker under the Bracero program, picked crops throughout the state of California. My mother was a housekeeper for many years in North San Diego County. Both parents became documented through the Amnesty program in the late 80’s.

I earned my BA in Human Development from California State University, San Marcos. My extensive career working in social service agencies in North San Diego County, specifically working with vulnerable populations which include migrant farmworkers and homeless, makes this position with UURISE a great match. Prior to working with UURISE, I worked with Vista Community Clinic’s Health Promotion Center. I thrived with the challenge of leading a grassroots leadership group of community leaders aimed to improve the living and working conditions of the migrant community of North San Diego county.

I am thrilled to serve the underserved and represent the underrepresented to eliminate barriers that impeded access to basic human services to the most vulnerable communities in North San Diego County.

 

Kim Gosney, Development Coordinator

I count it a privilege to engage, support, and empower the UURISE team, the board of Directors and the Development committee through our joint fundraising efforts to offer this critical, life-saving work as partners with immigrants and refugees.

Over the course of my career I have been diving into the fascinating world of philanthropy on behalf of diverse non-profit agencies. I enjoy creating the social links between our shared vision, our shared values and our shared resources. A philanthropist is anyone who gives anything — time, money, experience, skills, and networks — in any amount, to create a better world. We would love to chat with you about how you can grow in philanthropic expression! I also love to carry the stories of this organization out into the community so that you can be a part of our unfolding story of justice.

UURISE is worthy of your support and I am glad to help facilitate your relationship with this great organization!


Anil Das, Board of Directors

 

 


Blanca Arias, Secretary, Board of Directors

Blanca AriasBlanca 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.


Daniel Stracka, Ph.D., J.D., Board of Directors

Daniel_StrackaDaniel 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.

Dan is tireless in his efforts to support and grow UURISE’s reach and scope through many hours of engagement with the work of the organization.

daniel@uurise.org


Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson, Board of Directors

Beth-Johnson-CroppedRev. 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.

Rev. Beth sees UURISE as an important extension of her commitments and hopes to leverage support for the work through her service on the board.


Dr. Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, Board of Directors

Dr. Marisol Clark-Ibáñez is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department and joined California State University San Marcos in 2003. She earned tenure in June 2009. She is currently the Graduate Coordinator for the Master of Arts in Sociological Practice. Her research interests are Latinos in education, childhoods, immigration, and the law. Her book, Undocumented Latino Youth: Navigating Their Worlds, focuses on the experiences of undocumented youth and adults across their educational journey and is based on a 7-year community project (Lynne Reinner 2015). She also publishes in the area of teaching and learning and was the inaugural e-learning faculty fellow for CSUSM. In 2014, she was awarded the CSUSM President’s Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching Innovation & Excellence. Her service to the university echoes a commitment to social justice and diversity. She was Ethnic Studies Coordinator and is on the Chicano Studies Planning Leadership Team.

She has been involved in mentoring programs, student clubs and collaborative research efforts with first generation students, veterans, and students of color. As a Peruvian-American, she is dedicated to social justice issues in the community, especially as they relate to the diversity of experiences for Latinos in the United States. Dr. Clark-Ibáñez is a local leader in community efforts to bring awareness and training about undocumented students and families in North County San Diego.

She is committed to advance the mission of UURISE and readily lends her multitude of gifts to support this work.


Stacy Carlson, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Stacy_CarlsonStacy 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 has hosted a refugee family seeking political asylum in the U.S. She served on the Board of Friends of MEChA Latino student organization. She has been a mentor for foster youth that have “aged out” of the system and has fostered 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.

Stacy was elected to the San Marcos School Board in November 2014 and is currently board president.

She is honored to serve on the Board for UURISE and is passionate about empowering people through education and advocacy.

 


 

Advisory Committee

  • 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

 

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