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Meet Our Team

Leadership

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Lindsay
Toczylowski

Executive Director and Co-Founder

Lindsay Toczylowski is a social entrepreneur whose diligent work to increase access to justice for immigrants is at the forefront of the movement for universal representation—the right to counsel for anyone facing deportation. Lindsay is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), one of the largest non-profit organizations that provides universal legal representation to marginalized immigrant communities. Lindsay also makes frequent trips to the U.S.-Mexico border to get first-hand experience with our nation’s border policies and their effects on migrants and asylum seekers. For the past 15 years, Lindsay has provided legal representation to thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers through her work at various nonprofit organizations in the United States and abroad, including the Immigrant Rights Project for Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Kids in Need of Defense, and Asylum Access. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Asylum Access since 2017, an international nonprofit that fights for the rights of refugees in the global South. Lindsay has appeared in major media outlets, including MSNBC, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and ABC. She is the proud mother of two revolutionaries-in-training, and they are her inspiration to keep fighting for social justice every day.

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Susan
Alva

Associate Director and Co-Founder

Susan was born in New York City to Mexican and Dominican immigrant parents. Beginning her social justice activism while a Los Angeles high school student in the 1960's, she went on to work for the CA Rural Legal Assistance in the San Joaquin Valley before joining the United Farm Workers Union during the height of their state-wide organizing campaign following passage of the groundbreaking Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975.  While in law school, Susan worked for the San Diego Legal Aid Society's Immigration Project, focusing on deportation defense and border work.  Since then, she has worked for several immigrant rights and community-based organizations, including the L.A. Center for Law and Justice, where she played a key role in the implementation of the 1986 amnesty law and the founding of CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. She has been an adjunct professor at Occidental College, a delegate in numerous international migrant rights campaigns, and led the successful campaign to create L.A.’s first Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in 2004.  Susan is a long-time member and past Board Chair of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

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Yliana
Johansen-Mendez

Associate Director 

Yliana is originally from Pasadena, CA. She is the wife and daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the proud mother of two.

As an Equal Justice Works Fellow she did groundbreaking work

with unaccompanied minors, creating the first One-Parent

SIJS Manual for attorneys

seeking predicate orders

before family courts in California.

She joined ImmDef in 2018 after almost five years in government service. Yliana is a fierce

advocate who draws from her experience in government

and removal defense to lead

and train the next generation of immigrant defenders.  

Bhairavi Asher, Managing Attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center

Bhairavi Asher

Directing Attorney

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Devin Chatterton

Directing Attorney

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Martin Gauto

Director of Capacity Building

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Alvaro Huerta

Director of Litigation and Advocacy

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Beanie Bains

Finance Director

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Amanda Schuft

Legal Services Director

Jonathan Barrales, Support Services Manager at Immigrant Defenders Law Center

Jonathan Barrales

Program Director

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Mickey Donovan-Kaloust

Legal Services Director

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Daniel Gonzalez

Director of Information & Technology

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Carlos Olivares

Administrative Program Director

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Katie Siler

Directing Attorney

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Laura Urias

Program Director

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Margaret Cargioli

Directing Attorney Policy & Advocacy

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Cynthia Felix

Directing Attorney

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Kimberly Harbin

Directing Attorney

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Laura Olmos

Operations Director

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Melissa Shepard

Directing Attorney

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Selina Vazquez

Director of Development 

Team Immdef

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