Staff

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

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Sister Maureen Duignan, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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Amanda Bhuket, Staff Attorney

Amanda joined EBSC in 2016. She represents asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, and individuals applying for U.S. citizenship. Amanda received her Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of the Law where she earned a Certificate in International and Comparative Law. She has represented individuals before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Email Amanda.

Angela Fitzsimons, Staff Attorney

Angela Fitzsimons, Staff Attorney

Email Angela.

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.

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Brenda Gomez Vasquez, Daca Dapa Outreach

Email Brenda.

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.

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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.

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Cristina Ceballos, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Cristina.

Viridiana Inguanzo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Viridiana Inguanzo, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Viridiana.

Jessica Lopez, Refugee Rights Advocate

Jessica Lopez, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Jessica.

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Yoshira Mendez, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Agueda.

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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.

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Celina Maiorano, Refugee Rights Advocate

Email Celina.

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.

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.

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.

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Farzana Ali, Associate Director

Email Farzana.

Karen Villegas Cisneros, Receptionist

Karen Villegas Cisneros, Receptionist

Email Karen.

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Miriam Henneberger, Financial Manager

Email Miriam.