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Programs:

Staff

DIRECTORS

Executive Director
Benjamin E. Johnson

Director, Immigration Policy Center
Beth Werlin

Director, Legal Action Center
Melissa Crow

Director, International Exchange Center
Lois C. Magee

Director, Finance & Operations
Wilma Linares

Director, Communications
Wendy Feliz

Director, Fundraising & Development
Megan Hess

STAFF

Legal Action Center
Melissa Crow, Director
Emily Creighton, Staff Attorney
Leslie Dellon, Business Litigation Fellow
Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney
Kristin Macleod-Ball, Fellow
Catalina Restrepo, Legal Assistant/Paralegal
Patrick Taurel, DACA Legal Services Fellow

Immigration Policy Center
Beth Werlin, Director
Guillermo Cantor, Deputy Director of Research
Walter Ewing, Senior Researcher
Paul McDaniel, Immigrant Entrepreneur and Innovation Fellow
Mark Noferi, Enforcement Fellow
Amy Grenier, Administrative & Research Assistant

International Exchange Center
Lois Magee, Director
Colleen Tomlinson, Program Manager
Jai Misra, Program Specialist
Moksheda Thapa, Program Specialist

Community Education Center
Claire Tesh, Senior Manager
Sara Burnett, Education Associate

Fundraising and Development
Megan Hess, Director
Claudia Ornelas, Development Associate

Communications
Wendy Feliz, Director
Eric Gibble, Online Communications Associate 

BIOGRAPHIES:

Benjamin E. Johnson, Executive Director

Benjamin Johnson is the Executive Director of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C. He has studied and worked in the immigration field for more than 20 years. He has written extensively on immigration law and policy and has presented testimony on immigration issues before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. From 2003 to 2007, he served as the founding Director of the Council’s Immigration Policy Center which is one of the four programs housed at the American Immigration Council and also includes the Legal Action Center, International Exchange Center and Community Education Center. A native of Arizona, Johnson has managed several state-wide political campaigns in that state and also spent six years as the co-founder and legal Director of the Immigration Outreach Center, a legal clinic serving low-income immigrant communities in Phoenix. He earned a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law and studied International and Comparative Law at Kings College in London.

Wendy Feliz, Communications Director
202-507-7524 or wfeliz@immcouncil.org

Wendy Feliz is the Communications Director at the American Immigration Council. Previously, she worked as a consultant for New America Media, a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic news service and as a communications officer at the Open Society Institute’s DC policy office, where she helped shape their communications and media strategy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University where she teaches a course in advocacy communications. Wendy holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New School University and an M.A. in Public Communication from American University.

Sara Burnett, Education Associate

Sara Burnett is the education associate at the Community Education Center of the American Immigration Council. She was a former public high school English teacher in Washington D.C. and Vermont. She has also worked as an editor in educational publishing and developed curriculum with a D.C.-based non-profit on global and social issues. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she taught a service-learning course with undergraduates and recently immigrated high school students. Additionally, she holds a MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont, and a BA in English and Economics from Boston College. 

Guillermo Cantor, Deputy Director of Research

Guillermo Cantor is the Deputy Director of Research at the Immigration Policy Center, where he leads the Center’s research efforts. He also currently teaches courses on immigration and introductory sociology at Georgetown University. He has authored several publications on immigrant incorporation in the United States and Argentina. Prior to joining the American Immigration Council, Mr. Cantor served as an investigator on issues related to immigration at Argentina’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research and as a professor at the National University of Rosario and the National University of Entre Ríos. Throughout his career, Mr. Cantor received multiple distinctions including a Fulbright Fellowship, the Urban Institute's Emerging Scholar Award, and the International Development Research Center's Research Award. Mr. Cantor holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Melissa Crow, Director

Melissa Crow is the Director of the Legal Action Center, the litigation and legal advocacy arm of the American Immigration Council.  Ms. Crow has practiced immigration law for more than twelve years, including litigation in the federal courts, immigration courts, and Board of Immigration Appeals.  Prior to joining the LAC, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She was previously a partner with Brown, Goldstein & Levy in Baltimore, Maryland, where she developed a thriving immigration practice and undertook litigation to protect immigrants' rights in the workplace. Before entering private practice, Ms. Crow served as Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy during the 2007 debates on the U.S. Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. She also spent a year as the Gulf Coast Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. Ms. Crow has taught in the Safe Harbor Clinic at Brooklyn Law School and the International Human Rights Clinic at Washington College of Law.  She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Emily Creighton, Staff Attorney

Emily Creighton is a Staff Attorney at the Legal Action Center. She has represented plaintiffs and amicus curiae before the Board of Immigration Appeals and numerous federal courts and serves as counsel in national class action litigation. Ms. Creighton also contributes to practice advisories and administrative advocacy efforts on a variety of immigration-related topics. Ms. Creighton graduated cum laude from American University Washington College of Law in 2006.

Leslie Dellon, Business Litigation Fellow

Leslie K. Dellon is the Business Litigation Fellow at the American Immigration Council. She has more than 20 years of experience advising small to multinational businesses about immigration strategies. In addition to her extensive business immigration law experience, she previously handled general commercial and corporate matters, including civil litigation. Since August 2011, she has represented clients in her own firm, L. Dellon Immigration Law, LLC. She also has experience as a Trial Attorney in the Federal Programs Branch, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice. She is a past Chair of the AILA Washington DC Chapter and has served on AILA National and DC Chapter Committees. She has a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

Walter Ewing, Senior Researcher

Walter Ewing, Ph.D., is Senior Researcher at the American Immigration Council. In addition to authoring numerous reports for the Council, he has published articles in the Journal on Migration and Human SecuritySociety, theGeorgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, and the Stanford Law and Policy Review. He also authored a chapter in Debates on U.S. Immigration, published by SAGE in 2012. Mr. Ewing received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School in 1997.

Eric Gibble, Online Communications Associate

Eric Gibble is the Online Communications Associate at the American Immigration Council. Eric has a B.A. in Communication from Cabrini College, where he became passionate about the need for humane immigration policies and organized students to lobby legislators for comprehensive immigration reform. Previously, he was a Lobby Associate at NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. At NETWORK, he covered immigration issues and developed social media initiatives for the 2012 Nuns on the Bus campaign. He has also worked with various faith-based organizations to expand their online presence. Eric now manages the Council's websites, social networks, and online communications strategy.

Amy Grenier, Administrative & Research Assistant

Amy Grenier is the Administrative and Research Assistant at the Immigration Policy Center. Amy has a B.A. in History from Hollins University and an M.A. in Migration Studies from the University of Sussex, where she wrote her thesis on federalism, immigration, and state level activism in the United States. She also studied briefly at Ho Chi Minh International University, where a course on the Vietnamese diaspora piqued her interest in immigrant communities in the United States. Previously, she has interned for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, served as a volunteer coordinator for a refugee charity in the United Kingdom, and worked as a legal secretary for a regulatory law firm. 

Megan Hess, Director, Fundraising and Development

Megan Hess is the Fundraising and Development Manager at the American Immigration Council. Megan was most recently the Director of Annual Giving at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Prior to that she served as the National Finance Director for Senator Blanche Lincoln for several years. She was previously the Campaign Coordinator at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and was the Fundraising Director at the New Democratic Network (NDN).

Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney

Mary Kenney is the Senior Staff Attorney with the Legal Action Center.  She has represented amicus curiae or plaintiffs in numerous significant immigration cases, including De Osorio v. Mayorkas, 695 F.3d 1003 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc), cert. granted, 81 U.S.L.W. 3430 (U.S. June 24, 2013); Etape v. Chertoff, 497 F.3d 379 (4th Cir. 2007); Zheng v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 98 (3d Cir. 2005); and Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft, 302 F. Supp. 2d 1076 (D. Minn. 2004).  Prior to joining the Immigration Council, she was the Executive Director of the Texas Lawyers’ Committee, a statewide immigrant and refugee rights project.  She also worked as a legal services attorney in West Virginia.  She received her J.D. from Antioch School of Law.

Wilma Linares, Director, Finance and Operations

Ms. Linares comes to the Council with more than fifteen years of experience in budgeting, financial analysis, financial reporting, project and accounting oversight in an international arena for commercial and non profit organizations, most recently at Casa de Maryland. She also has more than seven years of consulting experience for small and medium sized private companies in strategic and operational planning with an emphasis on financial and operational design, projections, implementation and monitoring. Ms. Linares has held finance and management positions at multiple non-profits overseas, with a focus on women's economic development. As the Council’s CFO, Ms. Linares supervises the entire financial and administrative operations of the organization that include accounting and audit oversight, contract, human resource, IT and site management.

Kristin Macleod-Ball, Fellow

Kristin Macleod-Ball is a Yale Public Interest Fellow with the Legal Action Center. While a law student, she served clients seeking relief in immigration court, applying for benefits with USCIS and challenging racial profiling by local police. Kristin helped to document problematic examples of state and local involvement in immigration enforcement as an intern with AILA. She has also worked with legal services organizations to advocate on behalf of tenants in foreclosed properties and residents of manufactured housing. Prior to law school, Kristin worked with WITNESS, an organization that assisted locally-based non-profits around the world to produce and distribute human rights advocacy videos. She is a graduate of Bard College and Yale Law School.

Lois C. Magee, Director, International Exchange Center

Lois C. Magee was named Director of the American Immigration Council’s International Exchange Center in January 2006. Ms. Magee has been affiliated with a number of citizen exchange organizations including the International Christian Youth Exchange, AFS Intercultural Programs, and the YMCA International Branch. She has worked with and written on J-1 visa programs for over twenty years. Ms. Magee holds a Master's degree in International Administration from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT.

Paul McDaniel, Immigrant Entrepreneur and Innovation Fellow

Paul McDaniel is the Immigrant Entrepreneur and Innovation Fellow at the Immigration Policy Center. Previously, he served as Project Researcher in the Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities at Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). Prior to his work at CLINIC, Paul was a Researcher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he worked on several community-based research projects with the Department of Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Crossroads Charlotte, Latin American Coalition, and Community Building Initiative. He has worked on reports and presentations about immigrant entrepreneurship, immigrant settlement and integration in new immigrant gateways and destinations, immigrant access to education and healthcare, and community receptivity. Paul recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation in Geography and Urban Regional Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and holds an M.S. in Geography from the University of Tennessee, an M.A. in Educational Leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a B.S. in Geography from Samford University.

Jai Misra, Program Specialist

Jai Misra joined the American Immigration Council in April 2012 and works with the International Exchange Center's J-1 visa sponsorship program. Mr. Misra graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in Globalization Studies, and he spent a year at the American University in Cairo (AUC) where he helped design cultural exchange programs for study abroad students at AUC's International Student Services Office.

Mark Noferi, Enforcement Fellow

Mark Noferi is the Enforcement Fellow at the American Immigration Council.  His research focuses on enforcement, detention, due process, and criminal-immigration connections.  Mark has published in the Michigan Journal of Race & Law and American Journal of Criminal Law, advised an economic cost-benefit study of a national immigration appointed counsel system, and testified to the New York City Council on local immigration representation funding and municipal IDs.   Mark was formerly a fellow at the Center for Migration Studies in New York, and taught civil rights and immigration at Brooklyn Law School and the Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice.  Mark clerked for the Hon. Harold Baer, Jr. in the Southern District of New York.  Mark earned his J.D. from Stanford Law School and B.A. from Boston College.  

Claudia Ornelas, Development Associate

Claudia Ornelas is the Development Associate at the American Immigration Council. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego and a B.A. in International Relations and History from Boston University. Prior to joining the American Immigration Council, she worked at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) in communications, development and event-planning. Before CLINIC, she was a Math, Science, and English teacher in Saraburi, Thailand. She has also worked with other non-profits such as the Trans- Border Institute, Wildcoast/Costasalvaje, and the Council on International Education Exchange. 

Catalina Restrepo, Legal Assistant/Paralegal

Catalina Restrepo is the Legal Assistant at the Legal Action Center. As a student at Tufts University, Catalina studied abroad in Jordan where she participated in a language-intensive Arabic program. She also participated in a student-run sustainable development group on campus, focusing her research on Nicaragua. Between her junior and senior years Catalina served as an intern for KARAMAH in Rockville, MD. Catalina graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. in Arabic and International Relations.

Patrick Taurel, DACA Legal Services Fellow

Patrick Taurel is a Legal Fellow with the American Immigration Council.  His current work focuses on the fair implementation of prosecutorial discretion programs including DACA and challenging abusive CBP practices through litigation and advocacy.  He was previously the Council’s DACA Legal Services Fellow. Prior to joining the Council, Mr. Taurel was an associate attorney with Andrade Law Office in Boise, Idaho, where he represented noncitizens before USCIS, EOIR, federal courts, and U.S. consulates abroad. He graduated cum laude from Brooklyn Law School in 2010 and he received his B.A. in Philosophy from Brown University in 2004.

Claire Tesh, Senior Manager

Claire Tesh is a former public school teacher and served as a Teacher Advisory Board Member for the American Immigration Council before joining the staff full-time as the Senior Manager of the Community Education Center. She holds bachelors degrees in Journalism and Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education and Post-Graduate Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction from George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Ms. Tesh has been the recipient of many grants and fellowships including the Master Teacher Program through the Fulbright Memorial Fund in Tokyo, Japan and the Washington Post Fellowship in Salamanca, Spain. Before entering the world of education, she worked in advertising and marketing.

Colleen Tomlinson, Program Manager

Colleen serves as the Program Manager for the International Exchange Center. Prior to joining the American Immigration Council, she worked at the University of Maryland, College Park for almost 10 years as an International Advisor with F1 and J1 students. Colleen managed the entire international undergraduate population with over 3,000 applications from start to finish. She facilitated the procedure for processing incoming documents for prospective international students. Colleen holds a B.A. in Government and Public Policy and a M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore. She has lived and studied in Jamaica and has travelled to China and Canada. 

Beth Werlin, Director, Immigration Policy Center

Beth Werlin directs the Council’s policy and research program.  Prior to assuming the position of Director of Policy, Beth worked for over 13 years in the Council’s legal department and was involved in nearly every major legal issue the Council tackled over the last decade.  She has worked to protect the rights of noncitizens and ensure that the immigration agencies are held accountable for violations of the law.  She has represented plaintiffs and amicus curiae in immigration litigation in the federal courts and before the Board of Immigration Appeals and is the author of numerous practice advisories.  Beth first joined the legal team in 2001 as a NAPIL fellow and before that was a judicial law clerk at the immigration court in Boston, Massachusetts.  She earned her J.D. from Boston College Law School and her B.A. from Tufts University.