Andrea Dell’Amore Santos
Senior Immigration Attorney
Andrea is an immigrant, born in Brazil, and part of a family of immigrants from Europe. She moved to the United States in 2000 where she raised her three children and where she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Houston in 2007. Andrea is licensed to practice law in both Texas and California. In law school, Andrea fell in love with immigration law and soon started working at the Immigration Law clinic. After graduating from law school, she moved with her family to San Diego, California. There she started working as an attorney at a non-profit where she ultimately became the Children’s Program Director. Before joining the UURISE team, Andrea took a hiatus to help her children navigate college prep and applications. She is passionate about her work at UURISE and loves having a healthy life and work balance. Andrea loves to meet and talk to people from all walks of life and from different cultures. It is one of the reasons she speaks three languages fluently and can have basic communication in two other languages. Andrea enjoys traveling, classical architecture, and long walks.
Immigrant Justice Coordinator
The Sheehy family can be traced back to Dingle, Ireland. However, much of Ann’s personal cultural influence comes from growing up in New Hampshire where the small town way of life and her large family helped to define her outlook on life. Ann received her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, concentrating on Social Justice Studies and minoring in Spanish and African American Studies.
Ann grew up in a family of givers, passing on the idea that our life is meant to be in service of others. Combining this philosophy with a love of learning about people and their cultures led Ann to a career path of social justice non-profit work. In her free time, Ann can be found exploring a new city, eating at new restaurants, and going to the zoo (especially to see the koalas and elephants)!
Gladys Guzman Guizar
Gladys is a first generation Mexican-American from a mixed-status family. She was raised in San Marcos, California. Gladys received Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and in Criminology and Justice Studies from California State University San Marcos. The legal support her parents received prior to obtaining lawful permanent residence in 2018, and Gladys’ involvement with centers designed to support undocumented and mixed-status students at her campus were a catalyst that led her to embark on her own journey of discovering allyship and advocacy. On this journey she became adept at connecting different immigrant communities with resources beyond legal support. As a recent graduate, Gladys aspires to continue her education in hopes of strengthening her support for immigrant justice. In the meantime, what she most enjoys is spending quality time with her friends and family.
President & CEO
Katia’s family hails primarily from Northern Europe. Her worldview was shaped by the personal experience of trying to maintain connection and communication with her family in Lithuania in spite of the authoritarian Soviet Occupation. The challenges of this separation fueled Katia’s interest and passion for immigration and human rights.
Katia has worked exclusively in nonprofits for over 30 years, primarily with immigrants and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, including anti-trafficking work in Lithuania and Thailand. Katia received her Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law. She has been with UURISE since its inception in 2007, first as a founding member of the Board of Directors and then as staff in 2010. Katia transitioned into the position of CEO upon the retirement of UURISE founding President & CEO Daniel Stracka. This is Katia’s dream job, and she is thrilled to have a place where she can blend her education and experience in social work and law for a career that makes her heart sing. Katia enjoys visiting family in Lithuania, listening to live music, fantasy and superhero movies, and singing every chance she gets.
Kim is a second-generation American. Her ancestors were laborers in the mining industry in northern England, Scotland and Ireland. She received her M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary, studying spiritual formation. Kim has worked within the event production industry for non-profits for more than a decade and served as Minister of Congregational Life at a Unitarian Universalist church in Los Angeles. The development department in a non-profit saw her event work and asked her to produce fundraising events–this led to donor relations and the joy of engaging people in the gratifying activity of supporting their favorite non-profits with financial gifts. Kim enjoys people and entertaining as well as doting on her three children and cat.
Immigrant Rights Advocate, Department of Justice Accredited Representative
Lane has a mixed Northern-European cultural background. She was born in Philadelphia, and raised mostly in California. Lane received a Juris Doctor and an LLM degree in Tax Law from the University of Denver College of Law. Lane’s strong curiosity and passion for stories and culture began early in her life, influenced by her parents and grandparents, who were avid world travelers. Lane’s father sponsored medical Fellows from numerous countries to train in the US, and her mother taught English to women who had immigrated to the US and helped them acclimate to their new country. Lane’s volunteer efforts include working for years with a refugee family fleeing the violence in Sudan. Lane loves making artistic creations with fused glass, snorkeling with colorful fish, traveling to other countries, and sailing.
Maria del Carmen Gonzalez
Maria is a first-generation Mexican-American of indigenous descent, raised in Oceanside, California. Maria received Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and in Criminology and Justice Studies, and a Multiple Subject K-8 teaching credential from California State University San Marcos. She completed multiple internships at and volunteered with UURISE before coming on staff. Growing up, Maria would go with her father to the farm fields to provide daily essentials for the farm workers including food, clothing, and hygiene products. These experiences motivated Maria to continue to help her community and fight for social justice. In her free time Maria enjoys trying new cuisine, traveling, and watching K-dramas.
Rachel is the grandchild of immigrants on both sides of her family. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and a K-8 teaching credential, from California State University San Marcos. Rachel brings her experience in marketing, advertising, and writing to support UURISE with messaging and communication. Rachel is also grateful to be able to live her Unitarian Universalist values in service of immigrants and refugees, and she brings that perspective to the work. Rachel lives with her husband, one child, two dogs, and a noisy parrot. She loves to crochet, read, and explore Southern California with her husband in their travel trailer.
Sandra Alvarado Sanchez
Sandra was born and raised on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico Border. She immigrated to the U.S. side of the border to San Diego at the age of fourteen. Living on both sides of the border has shaped who she is and how she approaches her work. Sandra received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration from San Diego State University and a Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law. Since her first volunteer position as a senior in high school, Sandra began to draw connections between employees’ struggles and their immigration status. She saw some of these struggles and connections during her time at SDSU and this inspired her to pursue immigration law and immigrant rights work going forward. In her free time she enjoys being with friends and family, as well as traveling and attending concerts.
Sandra is Chicana and Indigenous/Native American of Wixarika descent from La Sierra Madre mountain range in Jalisco, Mexico. She was born and raised in San Diego County. Sandra received a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a minor in Psychology from California State University San Marcos. Since her parents were agricultural workers, the family migrated between Mexico and the US in order to survive, as her ancestors did for thousands of years. Her parents eventually became lawful residents through the Amnesty program. This led to her interest in immigration, social justice and identity/cultural preservation. Sandra is a founding member/artist of XoQUE art in motion, a women’s border art collective dedicated to social justice. She is the founder of Calpulli Omeyocan, a Mexica/Native American dance school. In her spare time, Sandra volunteers as an art teacher in the Kumeyaay Community in Baja California, Mexico. Sandra enjoys playing soccer, boxing and dancing.
Sue has been working with the immigrant community for over 20 years. She earned a Master of Science in Counselor Education and recently completed an Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies certificate from Villanova on her journey to become a partially accredited representative with the Department of Justice. Sue’s work with UURISE will allow her to gain the experience she needs to reach that goal. She is a passionate and true advocate, committed to ensuring that those she works with are seen and heard. Sue loves to cook and spend time learning about foods from all regions of the world. She is fascinated by the stories that she hears, as she experiences not only new flavors but the stories and traditions that are passed down from one generation to the next and how food is part of the oral history.
Immigrant Rights Advocate, Department of Justice Accredited Representative
Victor immigrated to the US from Mexico at the age of seven. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology & Human Development emphasis in Counseling Services. After graduating, he began his career in social services in mostly non-profit settings: he has worked with victims/survivors of domestic violence at a domestic violence shelter, with homeless youth and young adults who aged out of the foster care system, and with the County of San Diego in their social services for children. The impact of immigrating to the US, being an undocumented student for most of his undergrad studies, and experiencing first-hand the US immigration system is what ignited Victor’s passion to be an ally to marginalized, underrepresented and oppressed communities. Victor enjoys concerts, hiking, and walks at the beach.