Juan Valles, President
Juan Valles is a staff attorney at the Children's Law Center of California representing children in the Los Angeles County foster care system. Juan holds a Juris Doctor from the Fordham University School of Law and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University. Prior to his legal career, Juan advised undergraduate students at various California universities. Juan sits on the boards of two other non-profit groups: St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Downey, California, and Tricklebee Café in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Juan and his husband, Raúl, share a home in City Terrace, just east of Downtown Los Angeles.
Jennie Pasquarella, Board Member
Jennie Pasquarella is the director of immigrant rights and a staff attorney for the ACLU of California, which she joined in 2008. She specializes in immigrant rights litigation and policy advocacy. Her work currently focuses on the intersection of immigration enforcement and the criminal justice systems, as well as federal immigration national security policy that discriminates against Muslim immigrants and prevents them from naturalizing or receiving other immigration benefits. Jennie’s current cases include Roy v. County of Los Angeles and Gonzalez v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, both class action challenges to the constitutionality of immigration detainers; Muhanna v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), challenging CARRP, a covert national security program that has unlawfully barred tens of thousands of Muslim applicants from becoming citizens or lawful immigrants in the United States; and ACLU SoCal v. USCIS, a case seeking more information about CARRP under the Freedom of Information Act. Prior to joining ACLU SoCal, Jennie was a legal fellow/staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, both in New York. She is a graduate of Barnard College and Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned her J.D. with a certificate in refugee and humanitarian emergencies and was a Public Interest Law Scholar.
Alyson Parker, Treasurer
Aly Parker is an attorney at the California Department of Justice, where she represents the State in litigation related to health, education, and welfare policy and matters. Before she joined the government, she spent 6 years in private practice in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s Los Angeles office. In that role, she represented clients in general commercial litigation and corporate policyholders in insurance coverage disputes. She was also involved in a variety of pro bono projects. For this work, and for her work on ImmDef’s inaugural board, she was honored as the 2016 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by USC’s Public Interest Law Foundation. Aly also practiced for two years in Tokyo, Japan as in-house counsel for a leading international chemical company. In Tokyo, she held leadership positions on the Board of the Japan In-House Counsel Network, and the Women in Business Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. During law school, Aly served as the Student Bar Association President and gave her class’ commencement address. She also founded the Cross-town Pro Bono Challenge, a competition between USC and UCLA Law Schools to determine which school could engage more students in pro bono work.
Marisa Arrona, Board Member
Marisa is the Local Safety Solutions Project Director with Californians for Safety and Justice where she works with systems and community leaders across California to advance the Blueprint for Shared Safety, a framework of principles and practices that local leaders can use to advance shared safety strategies. By shifting the focus from over-incarceration to investments that focus on balanced approaches to safety rooted in dignity and smart justice, and that can truly make our communities safer, the Shared Safety framework aims to re-envision public safety altogether.
Marisa joined Californians for Safety and Justice in August 2015, returning to California after spending more than five years working on public safety and criminal justice issues in New Orleans. There she was the Program Manager of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy, one of the Mayor’s core initiatives to reduce homicides. As part of the strategy to reduce gang violence in New Orleans, she developed partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as the City’s Health Department, local service providers and community members.
Prior to that, Marisa served as Senior Program Associate for the Vera Institute of Justice (in New Orleans), where she developed local reform initiatives in partnership with criminal justice agencies, policymakers and community organizations. This included launching New Orleans’s first Pretrial Services program and working to develop incarceration alternatives for nonviolent, low-level offenses.
Before her time in New Orleans, Marisa spent three years as Legislative & Policy Analyst to Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel, where she researched, wrote and advanced local policies and programs on adult literacy, job development, public safety, affordable housing and more. She was also an Equal Justice Litigation Fellow at The Impact Fund in Berkeley, working with Spanish-speaking clients and witnesses on employment discrimination cases.
Marisa received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and her B.A. in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. She lives in Los Angeles.
Leila Azari, Secretary & Parliamentarian
Leila Azari is a 2008 graduate of New York University School of Law. At NYU, Leila participated in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, where she represented an immigrant restaurant worker in a wage-and-hour lawsuit and developed a campaign to eliminate collaboration between the New York City police department and federal immigration authorities. After law school, Leila practiced litigation for six years at the law firms of Latham & Watkins and Sacks, Glazier, Franklin & Lodise. At these firms, Leila obtained political asylum for a child from El Salvador fleeing persecution by gangs, as well as an Iranian woman who was persecuted on account of her Christian religion. Leila has been associate counsel at the Writers Guild of America, West for over two years. She practices labor law and enforces an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement on behalf of film and television writers.
Marco Gomez, Board Member
Marco Gomez is a legal secretary with the California Labor Commission. He previously worked doing immigrant rights work at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund. Marco has a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) focused in Finance Law from the College of Business and Economics at California State University, Los Angeles.
Ken Montenegro, Board Member
Ken Montenegro is the director of information Technology at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, where he is responsible for the overall planning, organizing, and execution of all IT functions in the organization. Ken is a Los Angeles native and has been a non-profit technologist for over 17 years. He has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Northeast Valley Health Corporation, Maternal & Child Health Access, Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. Ken is also a board member of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Ken obtained a Juris Doctorate from Peoples College of Law. He also has educational background in history and literature. His poetry translations (Spanish to English) have appeared in three literary journals.
Ligiah Villalobos, Board Member
Ligiah Villalobos is the Writer and Executive Producer of the independent feature film Under the Same Moon, (La Misma Luna), released by Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company. The film was an Official Selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and became the highest sale for a Spanish-language film in the history of Sundance. Made for under $2M, the film has earned over $23M worldwide. More recently, Villalobos won a Humanitas Prize in 2013 for the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Firelight, produced by Alicia Keys and Mary Martin, which aired on ABC. Before becoming an independent writer/producer, Villalobos was a studio executive at The Walt Disney Company, where she oversaw television production in Latin America for five years, launching eight children shows in seven countries and then overseeing the Writing Fellowship Program and the Directors Training Program for one year. She then worked as a Current Programming Executive at The WB, where she oversaw six prime time shows, including the four highest rated shows on the network. Villalobos is currently writing a ½ hour pilot for STARZ titled The Dirty Girls Social Club, based on the NY Times best selling book by the same name. And she is attached to do an English-language adaptation of the film The Other Mother, which was Brazil’s entry to the Academy Awards last year. She also has an animated feature film in production for a Canadian/Mexican co-production titled Chito and the Land of Xo. In addition to the Immigrant Defenders Law Center Board, Villalobos is also on the Board of the Writers Guild Foundation, and on the Board of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.