BOARD OF DIRECTORS
RAFAEL MARTINEZ Board Chair
Rafael is expecting his PhD in American Studies in April 2020. He earned a BA in History and Chicana and Chicano Studies in 2012 and an MA in American Studies in 2014. His MA work resulted in a thesis titled “Counter Culture Youth: Immigrant Rights Activism and the Undocumented Youth Vanguard.” Previous professional experience includes serving as Program Manager of the non-profit, Center for Southwest Culture; and Project Director of the statewide oral history media project, “Humans of New Mexico.” His professional association with NMFCIJ began when he was hired part-time as Office Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator in 2017.
AMANDA SERAFIN Board Director, Secretary
Amanda has been with the Rebecca Kitson Law firm since November 2014. Currently she is the firm’s managing paralegal. Amanda has a BA from UNM in Criminology and Spanish, and an MA in Criminal/Social Justice from Lewis University. She loves working in immigration because it allows her to promote change, freedom, and social justice every day. She also enjoys the daily challenges that come with her legal position, which provide her with endless opportunities to learn and grow not only as an individual, but also as an advocate for social justice.
NATHAN SMITH Board Director, Treasurer
Nathan has been volunteering with NMFCIJ for the past few years, from tracking finances to assisting with social media updates to working on fundraising events. He holds advanced degrees in Zoology and Urban & Regional Planning. His work experience includes California statewide transportation planning, including heading up the mass transportation division and planning transportation services for elderly and handicapped people. He volunteers for several organizations, in addition to NMFCIJ, e.g., Valle de Oro, South Valley Academy Science Fair, and the Sierra Club.
KATHLEEN O'MALLEY Board Director, Immersion Program Coordinator
A psychotherapist practicing in Albuquerque, Kathleen is a long-time activist dedicated to international peace work. One of several examples: Kathleen traveled with Christian Peacemaker Teams to Iraq and Palestine; and in 2007 she traveled to Iran as part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She leads nonviolence trainings. One of her areas of expertise is working with people who have suffered trauma. For NMFCIJ, she has led several informative immersion trips to the El Paso/Juarez border and in the Albuquerque area; and has performed pro bono evaluations in detention centers holding immigrant women and children seeking asylum in the United States.
ABBAS AKHIL Board Director
Abbas is a past President of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. He has advised many Islamic refugees as they attempt to adjust to life in the U.S. Abbas is a professional engineer whose career has centered on electrical engineering across the U.S. and overseas. During his career he held positions with the Public Service Company of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories. He has written and contributed to numerous publications about electricity storage. Currently, he is a principal member of Renewable Energy Ventures. Abbas was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2018.
KARLA ARTIÑO Board Director, Community Defense Advisory Board
Karla has a strong history of working with impacted families. From 2009 to 2012 she was a volunteer community organizer with two collaborating organizations in Arizona—organizing neighbors to support one another in the event of detention or deportation. She brought these skills and experience to the Collaborative Support program, training volunteers to support neighborhood groups in a variety of ways. She co-leads the mixed-status immigrant group known as Los Cafecitos. She participates in networking with others in southwestern cities to share information and resources to support immigrant families.
HILARIA MARTINEZ Board Director
Fleeing from violence, Hilaria and her family emigrated from Mexico in 2001. From the first week she was in this country she began volunteering at her daughter’s school, even though she knew no English. In 2017 she went through a family separation when ICE detained her husband. She soon learned that her family had legal rights, and with community support she was able to bring her husband back. This is how Hilaria became a community organizer. She advocates tirelessly at the City Council, County Commission, and State Legislature for just and humane laws for our immigrant community. She now works for one of the organizations that previously helped her. She offers her time to support other families going through the painful and traumatic experience of family separation.
CINDERELLA (ELLA) SAAVEDRA Co-Executive Director
Ella assumed her director role & responsibilities in January 2020. Her first position with the NMFCIJ was as Direct Service Coordinator. She managed the program, trained service volunteers, and developed informational documents and training manuals. The program is now called Collaborative Support to highlight how affected community members are major players in designing the services collaborating volunteers will help to provide. She has also served as a volunteer coordinator. Her background is in mental health and restorative and social justice, and she is thrilled to bring her expertise to work with NMFCIJ. Cinderella is a certified peer support specialist and has worked with the disabled population, as well as immigrants and refugees. Cinderella is of Afro-Peruvian descent and has lived in Albuquerque for 4 years. She is expecting her BA in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Communications in the summer of 2021.
DANIEL VEGA Co-Executive Director
Like Ella, Daniel assumed his director role & responsibilities in January 2020. He has expertise in computers and technology, which he used to develop a website for Presbyterian/Lutheran Church Camino de Vida. Since being with NMFCIJ, he instituted a rapid response program – a much-needed counter to increased ICE activity in Albuquerque. He trained volunteers and expanded the program into what is now known as Community Defense, consisting of rapid response, raid response, accompaniment, and community dialogues. Daniel also coordinated sanctuary efforts when we had two active cases in Albuquerque. He is expecting his B.S. in Computer Science by 2020.
YESSICA LOPEZ Collaborative Support Coordinator
Yessica is a student at New Mexico Highlands University, majoring in Social Work with a concentration in
Bilingual/ Bicultural Clinical Practice. She is also interning at the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council in the Office of Guardianship. For two years, Yessica worked in a behavioral agency’s Comprehensive Community Support Services unit. There she engaged with different age groups with diverse needs. She says what she liked most was working with Hispanic/Latinx families. So when she left that job, she began looking for one where she could continue working with this population and found NMFCIJ in November 2019. As Coordinator, Yessica meets with immigrant individuals and families, and together they develop plans for securing help with some of their most urgent needs.
DIANA ESPARZA Intern
Diana has been an intern with NMFCIJ since the fall of 2019. She is a student at NM Highlands University in Las Vegas working on a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Bilingual/ Bicultural Clinical Practice. When asked why she chose to do her internship with NMFCIJ, Diana described the experience she had in 9th grade when her father was taken from their home and put into detention. At that point in her life, she knew nothing about the resources available to families suddenly separated. Working as an intern with the NMFCIJ has helped her learn about the existence of such valuable resources. Diana says her internship has been a crash course in life. Rightfully shocking to her has been finding out that people are being detained from inside the courthouse.
PAOLA MONARREZ PONCE Intern
Paola has also been an intern with NMFCIJ since fall of 2019 and also a student at NM Highlands University in Las Vegas. She is working on a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Community Organizing/Leadership. She chose to do her internship with NMFCIJ because as a DACA recipient she desired to learn more about working with the immigrant community. NMFCIJ seemed like a perfect fit. After spending the fall in trainings with Ella and Daniel, our co-executive directors, Paola is now enjoying hands-on experience calling volunteers and setting up services for families.
NMFCIJ governing documents, conflict of interest policy and financial statements available within a week upon written request.