Support Staff

Carmen Godinez-Tapia, Program Associate 

Carmen is a paralegal focused on supporting the LA Justice Fund program. Formerly the Pro Bono program associate for the Children’s Representation Project (CRP) and Detained Youth Empower Project (DYEP), Carmen worked directly with unaccompanied minors and with ImmDef’s volunteer attorneys, students, and supporters. Carmen has a range of experience, from student and community activism to her work with non-profits. Among her many activities, she was a summer intern with the CSULA chapter of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social during the 2011 MALCS Summer Institute, where she helped organize workshops and panel discussions. Carmen graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, where she earned a degree in sociology and psychology, with a minor in women’s and gender studies, in 2012.

MariaCarolina Gomez, Paralegal

MariaCarolina Gomez is a recent grad from Loyola Marymount University, where she studied English Literature and Philosophy. She was born in Mexico, grew up in Utah and moved to Los Angeles in 2013. Throughout her undergraduate career she became increasingly aware of the diversity of issues the immigrant community faces. She especially credits her mentors and internship at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic for influencing her passion to one day be an immigrant attorney. She is excited for the opportunity to work at Immdef, where she can continue learning how to fight for immigrant rights through supporting the various attorneys and paralegals. On her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, writing creatively, watching novelas, and baking.

Daniel Gonzalez, Operations Associate

Daniel is the administrative assistant for the operations team at ImmDef. He is glad to be part of an organization that is fighting for a noble cause. When he is not working at Immdef, Daniel is collaborating with College Path LA, an organization that helps first-generation college students realize their goals. In his free time, he likes to attend comedy shows.

Graciela Guebara, Paralegal

Graciela graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a history major. As the daughter of immigrants, she happy to be working at ImmDef and to be able to give back to the community that saw her grow up and help those that are most vulnerable. She volunteered at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project as a translator and, through volunteering, has been made aware of all the help that is needed to be able to represent marginalized communities. In the future, she hopes to become an immigration lawyer to continue helping her community. During her free time, she likes to go on long walks by the beach with her dog, Santi. She also enjoys watching movies and spending time with her loved ones.

Julian León, Comptroller

Julian joined ImmDef in 2015 as the office administrator and has since taken on the role of comptroller. He earned his B.A. from Occidental College, where he studied economics and philosophy and developed an interest in social justice issues. Coming from a mix of immigrant backgrounds, Julian relishes the opportunity to support the immigrant community locally and nationally. Previous to his time at ImmDef, Julian worked in the private sector at a market research firm before taking time to work and travel through Central and South America.

Eva Leiva Partnoy, Program Coordinator 

Eva is daughter and sister to refugee survivors of the Argentine dictatorship and genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. Her activist parents and family experience fire her passion for social justice and protection of children. Eva graduated from Loyola Marymount University’s College of Communication and Fine Arts with a focus in theater for social justice and children’s theater. While there, she interpreted for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel at PeaceJam, a school event. After graduation, Eva worked as adoption coordinator and then Director of Rescue and Adoption at Animal Rescues. She also volunteered at KIND conducting intakes and interpreting for minors in asylum cases. Eva applies her bilingual/bicultural skills as a member of the DYEP team. She is a dog lover and a known puppy whisperer. In her free time, she goes on sunset walks with her beagle Illy, fosters puppies at home, and indulges her aerial arts endeavors. 

Arlette Lozano, Paralegal

Arlette is a paralegal for the Children's Representation Project. Her personal experience as an immigrant has shaped her work immensely. Arlette has plenty of experience with community activism and has worked alongside the UCLA Dream Resource Center, MANA of Orange County, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. Arlette graduated from UCLA, where she earned a degree in anthropology and global studies/international development. Arlette’s passion for social justice has led her to pursue law school in hopes of increasing legal services to low-income communities. Arlette’s interests are subaltern studies, anthropology, foreign films, reading, and Ethiopian food.

Aiko Marcial Rivera, Paralegal

Aiko is a paralegal for the Children's Representation Project. Aiko is a recent graduate from UCLA where she doubled majored in Sociology and African American Studies and minored in Labor and Workplace Studies. Before joining ImmDef, Aiko was a youth organizer for five years working with youth in Orange County and Los Angeles. Her focus has been providing leadership skills to undocumented Black and Brown youth to empower and advocate for themselves. Aiko aspires to someday become a racial justice movement lawyer.

Nadia Montenegro, Paralegal/Program Coordinator

Nadia is a paralegal with the Adult Representation Project (ARP). Previously, she worked as an administrative assistant and then paralegal at ImmDef with the Children's Representation Project (CRP), helping six attorneys with a variety of support activities. Before that, she worked as a receptionist in the law office of Hale A. Antico, where she organized the transition to a paperless system. She received her B.A. in Legal Studies at Brandman University in 2012 and obtained a paralegal studies certificate from CSU Dominguez Hills.

Laura Olmos, Program Associate

As Program Associate, Laura coordinates ImmDef’s external resources: pro bono attorneys, volunteers, Guardian Ad Litems, and solicits in-kind support for all ImmDef’s projects. She received her B.A. in History and Chicana/o Studies, with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies, from California State University, Northridge. Her areas of interest are immigration, gender equity, mental health advocacy, and affordable housing. Laura joined ImmDef in 2015, after a decade of experience in conventional real estate, affordable housing management, and most recently, social service provision for homeless women in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Laura is an avid writer, runner, and color-coding enthusiast. 

Alejandra Quintero, Case Management Coordinator

Alejandra started as a Paralegal for the Children’s Representation Project before transitioning to case management coordinator. After receiving her B.A from University of California, Berkeley, she went on to study abroad in “Facultad de Derecho" at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City where she also worked with the non-profit organization Fundacion para la Justicia. Alejandra later went on to work as the head paralegal at El Rescate Legal services in Los Angeles before joining the IMMDEF team. A child of immigrants, Alejandra has dedicated her career to helping the unrepresented communities. An advocate for universal human rights, Alejandra hopes to continue her career researching the crisis of unaccompanied child refugees. She hopes to become a human rights lawyer after attending law school.

Alejandra Quintero, Case Management Coordinator

Alejandra started as a Paralegal for the Children’s Representation Project before transitioning to case management coordinator. After receiving her B.A from University of California, Berkeley, she went on to study abroad in “Facultad de Derecho" at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City where she also worked with the non-profit organization Fundacion para la Justicia. Alejandra later went on to work as the head paralegal at El Rescate Legal services in Los Angeles before joining the IMMDEF team. A child of immigrants, Alejandra has dedicated her career to helping the unrepresented communities. An advocate for universal human rights, Alejandra hopes to continue her career researching the crisis of unaccompanied child refugees. She hopes to become a human rights lawyer after attending law school.

Nathan Romine, Case Management Associate

Nathan Romine is a case management associate for the Children’s Representation Project. He graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, with a BA in International Affairs, specifically focusing on trafficking in Latin America. Before ImmDef, Nathan worked at the Ankura Consulting Group and spent the remainder of his free time volunteering as an ESL teacher and teaching kids how to climb. When he’s not in the office you can find him pebble wrestling or playing bass.

Jessica Ruvalcaba, Paralegal Coordinator

Jessica is a paralegal coordinator with the Children's Representation Project (CRP). Prior to joining ImmDef, Jessica participated in Public Allies, a leadership development program through which she was placed at CARECEN as a legal assistant. Jessica believes in working to empower members of the Los Angeles community in which she grew up. She enjoys photography, ice cream, and spending time with her 14-year-old turtle, Daisy. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley. Already fluent in Spanish, Jessica is currently brushing up on her Danish.

Dalila Valdez-Renteria, Program Associate

Dalila is a Program Associate for the Detained Youth Empowerment Program (DYEP) where she works directly with detained children and youth. Before joining the DYEP team, Dalila worked for the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center and dedicated to her time to serving survivors of sexual assault and helping to end gender based violence by facilitating middle school and high school Be Strong groups on a weekly basis. Dalila obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Plant Biology from the University of California, Riverside in 2016 and during her time in college was a strong advocate for survivors of sexual assault and undocumented immigrants. Outside of ImmDef, Dalila is working on completing her Master’s Degree in Public Policy and serving as the Southern California IGNITE Fellow.  

Alma Zazueta, Paralegal

Alma graduated from California State University Fullerton in 2013, where she earned a B.A. in communications and minored in Spanish. While attending school, she often volunteered at non-profits and local schools. Before coming to ImmDef, Alma worked as an outreach assistant for Good Docs, where she helped distribute documentaries promoting social change and human rights. At ImmDef, she hopes to make her own contribution by educating clients about their basic rights and helping attorneys in the fight for equal representation.

Find us:

634 S Spring St, 10th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Riverside, CA

(solo atendemos clientes con cita; by appointment only)

2121 North Tustin Ave.

Santa Ana, CA 92705

(solo atendemos clientes con cita; by appointment only)

Call us:

(213) 634-0999

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