EBSC has a vibrant team of lawyers, paralegals, advocates, and volunteers who help advance our mission.

Our Staff

Michael Smith,
Refugee Rights Program Director

Michael co-founded EBSC’s Asylum Program in 1992. He has mentored thousands of law students and pro bono attorneys over the years. An expert on the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Guatemala during the civil war, he is author of two books and numerous articles and was honored by the Dalai Lama.

Email Michael.

Kaveena Singh,
Managing Attorney

Kaveena started as a legal intern at EBSC in 2003. After earning a BA from Brown University and a JD from UC Hastings, she clerked at the LA Immigration Court through the Attorney General’s Honors Program and was a staff attorney at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. As Managing Attorney, she supervises all aspects of EBSC’s legal program.

Email Kaveena.

Lisa Gano,
Associate Director

Lisa  joined EBSC in 2018 and brings a wealth of experience in program and organizational management. Her background is in planning and operations in the  international humanitarian sector and she is delighted to be providing operational and administrative support to EBSC.

Email Lisa.

Manuel De Paz,
Coordinator, CDE Program

A Salvadoran refugee, Manuel joined EBSC in 2006. He organizes free informational workshops on a range of immigration topics and provides referrals for housing, jobs, and education. He also directs our organizing efforts. For an excellent article on Manuel, click here. Manuel became a U.S. citizen in 2008.

Email Manuel.

Lisa Hoffman,
Development Director

Lisa is passionate about supporting community-based organizations to obtain funding and support for their vital programs. Lisa started as a volunteer at EBSC and began working as Development Director in 2017 and ASV Director in 2018. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and speaks Spanish, Russian and French. 

Email Lisa.

Nadya Alexandra Mendoza,
Office Administrator

Nadya graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2018 with a BA in English Literature. Formerly employed at Brightlight Behaviour Group LLC providing in-home care for children on the Autism Spectrum, she joined EBSC in 2022 to continue to help people and provide support for those who feel underserved and lack proper representation. She looks forward to the knowledge and experience that working at EBSC will bring. 

Email Nadya.

Miriam Henneberger,
Financial Manager

Miriam, a native of Guatemala, joined EBSC in 2016 as a contractor providing support in bookkeeping, administrative and financial planning staff and Board of Directors. She is proud to serve an amazing organization and its dynamic employees, whose hearts are in helping the immigrant community.

Email Miriam.

Cynthia Coronel Borboa,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Passionate about immigrant and civil rights, Cynthia received her BA at UCR with a major in Philosophy / Law and Society. She received her paralegal certificate from SFSU and began interning at EBSC in 2018. She has been the Office Administrator and paralegal since April 2019. She loves to dance, run, and spend time with her family.

Email Cynthia.

Juan Enriquez,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Juan came to EBSC in 2019 as office administrator and currently works as a paralegal. Born in Mexico, Juan received asylum in 2019 with EBSC’s help. Committed to LGBT advocacy, Juan has been active in the OLAS LGBT Sanctuary Project, providing community-building support to LGBT asylees.

Email Juan.

Veronic B. Granillo,
Staff Attorney

Veronica started volunteering at EBSC back in 2013 as a volunteer attorney. As an immigrant herself, she can relate to the anguish and struggle that a lot of immigrants face trying to obtain legal status in the United States. She currently works on affirmative and defensive asylum cases, U Visas, DACA/DACA renewals, family petitions, residency, and naturalization. 

Email Veronica.

Alexander Kristallis,
Staff Attorney

Alex started volunteering at EBSC in 2016 while completing his Law and Politics degree at Queen Mary, University of London. He then joined EBSC in October 2019 after completing an MA in international human rights law at Georgetown University. He primarily helps clients apply for affirmative asylum, residency and citizenship applications.

Email Alex.

Angela Fitzsimons,
Staff Attorney

Angela has been a staff attorney at EBSC since 2015.  She represents asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors.  She is very grateful to work with the supportive and dedicated staff at EBSC and to serve the immigrant community.

Email Angela.

Jaime Ross,
Staff Attorney

Jaime received his JD with honors and a public interest law concentration from JFK University School of Law. He was awarded a fellowship with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and practiced as a tenant attorney before moving into immigration law. Prior to joining EBSC, Jaime was a pro-bono attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative.

Email Jaime.

Shiori Akimoto,
DOJ Accredited Representative

Shiori, an immigrant from Japan, began volunteering at EBSC in October 2012 while working on her bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. At EBSC, Shiori coordinates our DACA and Public Charge programs, organizes free citizenship processing workshops, and works on family petition cases.

Email Shiori.

Cristina Ceballos,
Coordinator, LGBT Asylum Program

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Cristina’s passion for immigrant rights came from bearing witness to the obstacles her own family faced. Cristina joined EBSC in 2017 and works primarily with LGBT asylum seekers. She also coordinates the OLAS-LGBT Sanctuary Project. Cristina started as a volunteer in 2013 while attending UC Berkeley, where she earned a BA in Sociology.

Email Cristina.

Esmeralda Perez,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Esmeralda began volunteering at EBSC in 2018 while working on her Paralegal Studies certification at San Francisco State University. In early 2019, she joined EBSC as a paralegal assisting asylum clients. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations at San Francisco State University.

Email Esmeralda.

Brenda Gomez Vazquez,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Brenda began volunteering at EBSC in 2016 and joined as a staff member in 2017. In 2018 she received her bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare and a minor in Spanish Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Brenda is a DACA Recipient and is very grateful to be able to co-coordinate the DACA program at EBSC. She’s also the Coordinator of the Naturalization Program and works with beneficiaries of Asylees.

Email Brenda.

Esmeralda Mendoza,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Esmeralda was born in Guatemala and migrated to the U.S. with her parents in 1997. She grew up in Oakland, California, and is part of the Maya Mam community. Esmeralda faced many obstacles in life due to her immigration status. She now works at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant as a paralegal and Mam interpreter focusing on residency, after starting as a volunteer in 2020.

Email Esmeralda.

Yuko Matsumoto,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Yuko began interpreting for EBSC in 2012 while completing an MA in Latin American studies at UC Berkeley. As a paralegal, she assists unaccompanied minors and LGBT asylum applicants from Brazil. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. She received her BA in Liberal Arts from Soka University of America.

Email Yuko.

Liliana Macias,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Liliana became passionate about immigrant rights while growing up in the border town of San Ysidro. After earning her BA in Political Science from UCLA in 2014, she moved to the Bay Area and volunteered for EBSC as an asylum interpreter. In 2016, she became a paralegal for unaccompanied minors.

Email Liliana.

Jasmine Ruiz,
Refugee Rights Advocate

Jasmine began volunteering for EBSC in 2019 while working on her undergraduate studies. Raised in the Bay Area, she is the daughter of first-generation Mexican immigrants. In 2020, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies and Education Studies at Brown University. As a paralegal, she now works primarily with the DACA team.

Email Jasmine.

Bree Davis,
Development & Communications Associate

Bree joined EBSC as a volunteer in 2019 working with the Amplifying Sanctuary Voices (ASV) Oral History Project. In 2020 she graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Sociology and joined the development and communications team to assist in fundraising and outreach work. Bree is the daughter and granddaughter of two immigrant women and is devoted to serving the immigrant community.

Email Bree.

Owen Thompson-Lastad,
Support Services Program Manager

Owen’s history of working with the Latin American immigrant community goes back to 2002, when was advocating for farm workers in Upstate New York. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2009, he has worked as a program manager for the East Bay Community Law Center and a financial counselor for the Mission Economic Development Agency. In 2021, he received a master’s degree in nonprofit administration, focusing on the use of the trauma-informed approach in nonprofit agencies. Owen is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Brazilian Portuguese.

Email Owen.

Isabel Leon,
Support Services Caseworker

Isabel joined ESBC in 2022 as a Support Services Caseworker. She has years of experience working at other community based organizations where she helped many community members navigate local resources, advocating for them in the educational system, as well as providing therapeutic groups and crisis interventions. Isabel received her BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University in 2012. She strives to be a strong supporter of underserved populations with a focus on immigrant communities.

Email Isabel.

Alondra Garcia,
Support Services Caseworker

Alondra joined EBSC in 2022 as a Digitization Coordinator, and then transitioned into the Support Services Caseworker role. She was born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles in a culturally rich Latine community. She eventually moved to the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Psychology and Education. Alondra has worked with marginalized communities for more than 6 years.

Email Alondra.

 

Catarina Mendoza Ramirez,
Mam Outreach Coordinator

Catarina was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the U.S when she was 4 years old with her parents. She grew up in Oakland, California and is part of the Maya Mam community. Caty faced many challenges because of her immigration status. She started working with the Voces Maya outreach team in 2021 and is helping the Mam community by being their voice. She will keep working hard to achieve all her dreams.

 

Rosalba Lorenzo, Outreach Worker

Rosalba Lorenzo was born in Todos Santos Cuchumatan, Huehuetenango, Guatemala and is part of the Maya Mam community. Her first language is Mam and she spent her childhood in Guatemala. She immigrated to the United States with her family in 2017 and now works with the Voces Maya outreach team and Radio B’alam. 

 

Marta Alicia Mendoza, Outreach Worker

A native of Guatemala, Marta is from the Maya Mam ethnic group and speaks Mam, Spanish and English. She joined EBSC in 2012 as a client while working to support herself, and as a volunteer in 2020. She started working in 2021 as an outreach community leader to give people the right information. She is passionate about helping the Mayan and Latino community with interpretation and other support. 

 

Alondra Torres Arenas,
Outreach Worker

Alondra began volunteering in the Fall 2020 and now forms part of Voces Maya at EBSC. She is a UC Berkeley student planning to double major in Political Science and Chicano Studies. She was raised in Pittsburg, CA, but her real home is in Zacatecas, Mexico, next to the animalitos and the smell of tierrita mojada. Her parents, who are Mexican migrants, and her great grandfathers, who were Braceros, have ignited a passion for pursuing justice for immigrants in and outside the United States. It is her life journey to contribute light and authenticity to the world.

 

Maya Kandell,
Outreach Coordinator

Maya began working with EBSC in early 2019 as a volunteer. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020 and wrote an honors thesis highlighting how Maya Mam community leaders are challenging barriers to language access in immigration courts and nonprofits. Now she works with the Voces Maya team as an outreach and citizenship class coordinator. In this role, she co-teaches community classes in Fruitvale and online, collaborates with community partners to share key information on immigrants rights in Spanish and Mam, and works with an amazing team of community leaders.

Email Maya.

 

Board

  • Bill Balderston – Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
  • Amanda Bhuket, Co-Chair – Attorney
  • Sister Maureen Duignan, Executive Director – Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
  • Minda Hickey – Attorney
  • Pierre Labossiere – Haiti Action Project
  • Eduardo Martinez – Richmond City Mayor
  • Glenda Pawsey – St. John’s Presbyterian Church
  • Ada Recinos, Secretary – Communications Manager
  • Alex Schafran, Co-Chair – Housing and Planning Consultant
  • Angelica Tripp, Treasurer – Attorney
  • Roberta Weisbard, Vice-Chair – Teacher