Staff

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant is run by a dedicated staff of more than twenty people. These are some of the faces of EBSC:

sister

Sister Maureen Duignan OSF, Executive Director

A native of Ireland, Sr. Maureen Duignan has been with EBSC since 1984. She has served as Executive Director since 2000. Sr. Maureen has earned many awards for her work supporting immigrants and immigrant rights, including the National Award from the National Guatemalan Council. She lived in Guatemalan/Salvadoran refugee camps from 1982 to 1984. Sr. Maureen speaks Spanish and French. She oversees EBSC’s volunteer program. Email Sister Maureen.

Michael Smith, Refugee Rights Program Director

Michael Smith, Refugee Rights Program Director

Michael and Sr. Maureen started EBSC’s Affirmative Asylum Program in 1992. Since then we have processed more than 4,000 asylum cases and over 97% of adjudicated cases have been granted asylum! Michael is an anthropologist and archaeologist; he has worked on archaeological excavations and projects in California, Chile, Sardinia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Michael has studied and is considered an expert on the treatment of indigenous peoples in Guatemala especially during the Guatemalan Civil War. Michael is the author of two books, Sanctuary Stories and The Nun and the Anarchist, as well as articles in various periodicals and on our Blog. Michael has received awards for his work with refugees from Helen Bamber and the Dalai Lama. Email Michael Smith.

giselle

Giselle Stern, Development Director

Email Giselle.

Manuel De Paz, Director of Community Development and Education

Manuel De Paz, Director of Community Development and Education

A Salvadoran refugee, Manuel has been with EBSC since March 2006. He organizes free informational workshops on a variety of topics, and provides referrals for housing, jobs and education. For an excellent article on Manuel, click here. Manuel became a U.S. citizen on November 5, 2008. Congratulations Manuel! Email Manuel.

Karen Villegas Cisneros, Receptionist

Karen Villegas Cisneros, Receptionist

Email Karen.

Abigail Rich, Liman Fellow

Abigail Rich, Liman Fellow

Abigail joined EBSC in September 2016 as a Liman Fellow. She works with clients seeking asylum and other types of immigration relief and is particularly interested in the intersection of immigration legal services and mental healthcare for survivors of trauma. Abigail previously represented immigrants and refugees in Boston and at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctor. Email Abigail.

Caroline Kornfield, Esq., Emerson Fellow Member of the California State Bar

Caroline Kornfield Roberts, Esq., Emerson Fellow
Member of the California State Bar

Caroline received her undergraduate degree and Juris Doctor from U.C. Berkeley. She worked her first asylum case at EBSC through U.C. Berkeley’s Asylum Representation Clinic in 2009 and continued to intern at EBSC throughout law school. After graduating, Caroline created a fellowship position at EBSC in collaboration with the Emerson Collective. As an Emerson Fellow Caroline works with clients under 30 years of age helping them apply for asylum and U Visas. Email Caroline.

Angela Fitzsimons, Staff Attorney

Angela Fitzsimons, Staff Attorney

Email Angela.

Kaveena Singh, Esq., Staff Attorney Member of the California State Bar

Kaveena Singh, Esq., Staff Attorney
Member of the California State Bar

Kaveena has her undergraduate degree from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from U.C. Hastings. She started out as a legal intern with EBSC in 2003. After completing law school, she clerked at the Los Angeles Immigration Court through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Most recently, she was a staff attorney at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals working exclusively on immigration cases. She is excited to return to EBSC. Email Kaveena.

eastbaysanctuary

Rachel Williams, Esq. Staff Attorney Member of the Florida Bar

Rachel joined EBSC in December 2013 after 3 years working as a public defender in Miami. Rachel was born and raised in the Bay Area, did her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University and got her law degree in 2010 from NYU. She is excited to be back in the Bay Area and works with Maria Elena on EBSC’s LGBT and HIV+ Affirmative Asylum Program. Email Rachel.

Shiori Akimoto, Refugee Rights Advocate

Shiori Akimoto, Refugee Rights Advocate Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative

Shiori began volunteering at EBSC in October 2012 while working on her bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. During her time at EBSC, Shiori has worked on various programs. Currently, Shiori is the Coordinator for EBSC’s DACA program, and Shiori also represents EBSC in the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative which organizes free citizenship processing workshops. Email Shiori.

Maria Elena Paniagua, Asylum Program Coordinator

Maria Elena Paniagua, Refugee Rights Advocate Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative

Maria Elena has been with EBSC since 2002. She is the lead person in the Affirmative Asylum Program and is a co-coordinator of the LGBT and HIV+ Affirmative Asylum Program along with Rachel Williams. She is also in charge of coordinating interpreters and bi-lingual volunteers. In addition, Maria Elena assists clients with citizenship and immigration processes. Email Maria Elena.

Anna Lijphart, U-Visa Coordinator and Refugee Rights Advocate Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative

Anna Lijphart, Refugee Rights Advocate
Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative

Anna has been with EBSC since October 2007. Anna works on a variety of immigration applications with an emphasis on preparing asylum cases and representing asylum seekers at their interviews. Email Anna.

Refugee Rights Advocate Leanna Sac, Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative

Refugee Rights Advocate
Leanna Sac, Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative

Leanna started volunteering at EBSC in 2012 and joined the staff in May, 2014. She currently works part time while attending law school at UC Hastings. Leanna works primarily with indigenous Guatemalans on applications for asylum and other immigration processes. Email Leanna.

kathy

Kathy Brasil, Refugee Rights Advocate

Kathy joined EBSC in 2016. She will be completing her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice at UC Berkeley in Spring 2018. She primarily assists clients with their applications for permanent residency.

Email Kathy.

Viridiana Inguanzo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Viridiana Inguanzo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Viridiana.

Max Lara, Refugee Rights Advocate

Max Lara, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Max.

Jessica Lopez, Refugee Rights Advocate

Jessica Lopez, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Jessica.

liliana

Liliana Macias, Refugee Rights Advocate

Liliana became passionate about immigrant rights while growing up in the border town of San Ysidro. She moved to the Bay Area after graduating from UCLA in 2014 with a bachelors in Political Science and a minor in Spanish language. In 2015 she began volunteering for EBSC as an interpreter helping asylum applicants prepare for their asylum interviews. In the 2016 she joined the team of staff members at EBSC as a paralegal for unaccompanied minors. She helps unaccompanied minors facing immigration proceedings with their asylum and SIJS cases.

Email Liliana.

Yuko Matsumoto, Refugee Rights Advocate

Yuko Matsumoto, Refugee Rights Advocate

Yuko began interpreting for EBSC in 2012 while completing her Latin American Studies master’s program at U.C. Berkeley. As a paralegal, she now assists Unaccompanied Minors from Central America obtain asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. She recieved her undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts at Soka University of America. Email Yuko.

Yessenia Saucedo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Yessenia Saucedo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Yessenia.

Lily Woo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Lily Woo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Lily began volunteering at EBSC in January 2016 and became a part-time staff member in September 2016. She will be graduating UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Geography in Spring 2017. As a DACA recipient herself, Lily is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to work for the DACA program. Email Lily.