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California Immigrant Policy Center
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Leadership Committee for the California Immigrant Policy Center

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Angelica Cortez
Executive & Development Assistant

Introducing CIPC's Leadership Committee

Over the last few years, CIPC has been evolving. We’re working to develop a structure that supports our sustainability so that we can best support the needs of the immigrant rights movement. We are excited by the policy victories of the last year, achieved alongside our dedicated allies and partners and anchored in the leadership of immigrant communities themselves. We look forward to more transformative victories like these in the years ahead.

We are proud to introduce our new structure– the Leadership Committee.

The new committee will work with me to build up CIPC’s infrastructure, financial resources, and strategic plan, in order to ensure CIPC’s growth and sustainability. This committee is comprised of members from diverse sectors, selected for their expertise and commitment to expanding inclusive policies for California’s immigrant communities.  As we continue to strengthen our internal infrastructure, CIPC will continue to work with our grassroots Steering Committee and Advisory Council to inform and oversee our pro-immigrant policy priorities.

-Reshma Shamsunder, Executive Director

leadership committee members

Isabel Alegria is the Communications Manager for the Immigration Initiative of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The immigration initiative, with the Immigrants’ Rights Project of ACLU,  brings strategic impact litigation throughout the country; provides leadership and legal analysis on constitutional, civil rights and civil liberties issues to immigration advocates, community-based groups and the immigration bar; engages in advocacy and public education and supports the work of the ACLU's affiliates. Previously Isabel was Communications Director for CIPC and Regional Director for the MALDEF Census Outreach and Education Campaign, covering Northern California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Before working in policy advocacy, she was a staff reporter for National Public Radio based in San Francisco and Washington as Editor of Latin File, a daily Hispanic affairs newsmagazine. Isabel was co-founder of the Latin American News Service in El Paso, Texas. She is a native of California with parents from El Salvador and Chile. She currently lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.

Richard Barrera is the President of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees. He was first elected to the San Diego School Board in 2008. A first-generation San Diegan, his father emigrated from Colombia and mother is the daughter of European immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island. After graduating from El Cajon Valley High School, Mr. Barrera received his Bachelors Degree in American History from UCSD, and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. Mr. Barrera has a background as a community organizer, working to revitalize low-income neighborhoods and create networks for parents of pre-school aged kids. He served five years as president of the Consensus Organizing Institute and has also worked for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Comer Science and Education Foundation and as a consultant for the City Heights Community Development Corporation. In the field of labor relations, he has served as San Diego regional organizer for both the United Domestic Workers and United Healthcare Workers. Mr. Barrera serves as a board member of the San Diego Cooperative Charter School, the Greater Golden Hill Community Planning Committee, the San Diego League of Conservation Voters, and the San Diego Unity League, and volunteers for the Urban Corps of San Diego County and as a coach for his sons’ North Park Little League teams. Mr. Barrera's two sons are students in the San Diego Unified School District.

Xóchitl Castañeda is project director of the California-Mexico Health Initiative, a University of California initiative that coordinates and optimizes health resources for Mexican immigrants and their families in California through collaboration, education and training efforts. Castañeda previously served as a professor and researcher for seven years at Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, where she also directed the Department of Reproductive Health. In 1999, she received the National Research Award on Social Science and Medicine. Castañeda has published more than 50 scientific works and has served as a consultant for more than 20 national and international institutions. A medical anthropologist by training, Castañeda was educated in Guatemala and Mexico. She did a post-doctoral fellowship in reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco, and also received training in social science and medicine at Harvard University.

Katharine Gin is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC). Kathy is the proud descendant of Chinese immigrants, who first came to the U.S. in the 1860s to work in the gold mines of California and later during the restrictive Chinese Exclusion Acts. She was born and raised in San Francisco, and received her BA from Yale University and MFA from the University of Oregon. For nearly 20 years, Katharine has worked to enhance arts and education opportunities for low-income and minority youth. She has developed innovative programs in schools, housing projects, and detention facilities. Her artistic and educational work with youth has been exhibited and published widely in college textbooks, literary anthologies, magazines, and national newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Harvard Educational Review. She is frequently invited to share her experiences working with undocumented students at education and immigration conferences around the country. Outside of her work with E4FC, Katharine serves as Advisor to the Nelson Fund at The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, where she has overseen the fund's philanthropic investments in arts and education since 2001.

Ritu Goswamy is an immigration attorney with her own law practice in San Jose, CA.  Her firm focuses on removal/deportation defense, family-based visas and green cards, immigration consequences of crimes, citizenship and naturalization, consular processing, deferred action for childhood arrivals, U visas for victims of crime, hardship waivers/provisional waivers, and preparation for new immigration laws.  Ritu's model of service delivery is "holistic," which means that each client is treated as a whole person.  Ritu and her staff inform clients of every step in their cases. Before starting her own firm in 2008, Ritu worked for several non-profit organizations in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.  She holds both an MSW and JD from Boston College since 2000 and a BA from Barnard College.  She is licensed to practice law in California.  Ritu is also passionate about health and wellness.  She is a certified yoga instructor and currently studying to become an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor.  She is also an avid gardener and hiker/backpacker.  For Ritu, balance of body, mind, and spirit are crucial for social justice work."

Haroon Boon Saleem currently works as an Executive Vice President of Production and Development at Das Films which is currently in production on a large action film called NOVEMBER MAN, starring Pierce Brosnan and Olga Kurylenko. Previously, he produced the pre-show for the 2010 Stand Up To Cancer telecast and was an executive at Walden Media, where he oversaw The Chronicles of Narnia amongst other features. As a Creative Executive at Overbrook Entertainment he developed such hits as The Pursuit of Happiness, Hitch, I am Legend and Hancock with Will Smith and James Lassiter. He has served on the board of numerous fundraising events around Los Angeles. Boon is a graduate of UCLA. Boon is one of the original founders and leaders of “The 008” which evolved into Generation Obama and Generation for Change. In 2008, his leadership helped the group raise more than $1.6 million for the Obama campaign. The group organized a host of culturally-themed youth political events, produced the official California election night party in Los Angeles attended by over 15,000 celebrants, and were the initial distributor of Shepard Fairey’s iconic “Hope” poster.

Lisa Solinas, M.D., was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She did her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz, where she majored in Community Studies. She helped organize Chicanos for Health Education and chaired the La Raza Medical Association while in medical school at UCSF. She did a pediatric internship at San Francisco General Hospital and then completed a Family Medicine Residency at Nativadad Hospital in Salinas, California, a Maternal Child Health Fellowship in Chicago, IL, served as the Medical Director at Salud Family Health Center in Chicago serving a mostly Black and Latino inner city neighborhood. Currently, she is the Medical Director at Santa Paula Hospital Clinic and Director of the Maternal Child Health Fellowship at the Ventura County Medical Center, which serves a mostly Mexican farm worker immigrant population. Lisa teaches young medical residents, most of whom plan on practicing in rural areas or in the Third World. She is married, with three children.

Tom K. Wong is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. Professor Wong’s research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant illegality. As these issues have far-reaching implications, his work also explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity. He is the creator of the CIR Blog, which predicts support and opposition to comprehensive immigration reform among all 535 current members of Congress. He is the lead researcher on one of the first nationwide surveys of undocumented youth. He also recently completed a book manuscript, which analyzes the immigration control policies of twenty-five Western immigrant-receiving democracies, and is beginning another book on the politics of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S., among other projects. Wong¹s research has been used by policymakers both in the U.S. and in Mexico, as well as by organizations that serve immigrant communities. Wong and his work has been covered by ABC News/Univision, Fusion, NPR, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo News, and by Univision in Mexico. His most recent publication is the first nationwide analysis of the Obama administration's policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides relief from deportation for undocumented youth.

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