Centro para Refugiados Centroamericanos


Sirviendo las comunidades inmigrantes de Long Island por más de 30 años

Nos sentimos orgullosos de servirles

 Kenneth Lederer 
 Executive Director 


Kenneth was one of the founding members of CARECEN in 1983. He began working as a paralegal and office administrator, assuming the role of interim Executive Director in 1986 and then permanent Executive Director in 1988. He has extensive experience with refugee and immigration-related issues. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer, having served in a health/community development program in northeastern Brazil. Upon his return to the U.S., he worked as a community organizer on Long Island. Kenneth has traveled extensively in Central and Latin America, including as part of special fact-finding delegations to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico.


Kenneth graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University College of Pharmacy in 1963 and a Master of Science degree in Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin in 1966.

 Patrick Young, Esq. 
 Program Director 


Patrick is an immigration attorney and immigrant rights advocate. He has represented thousands of immigrants before the immigration courts, the INS, and the Department of Homeland Security. He was co-counsel on two successful Federal lawsuits and he wrote the winning brief in the United States Court of Appeals case that established the standard of eligibility for political asylum in New York. He is the co-author of the Master Exhibit on Human Rights in Peru published by the U.S. Department of Justice.


Patrick was the founding Chairperson of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance and he served seven terms as the Chair of the Board of the New York Immigration Coalition. He serves as the Coalition’s Executive Vice Chairperson.


Patrick is Program Director at CARECEN and co-founder of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, which works to increase civic activism in immigrant communities.  He is Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University School of Law and in 2012 he was named Co-Director of Hofstra's Immigration Law Clinic. He blogs on Long Island Wins and is a Policy Analyst for the New York State Immigrant Action Fund. 


Patrick is currently writing a history of immigrant participation in the American Civil War.

 Elise S. Damas,  Esq. 
 Director, Pathway to Citizenship Long Island 


Elise S. Damas, Esq. is the Director of Pathway to Citizenship Long Island at CARECEN, a program that provides free citizenship legal services to low income immigrants. After working with marginalized communities in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, India and Mexico, Elise received her J.D. from the Hofstra University School of Law where she graduated as the Dwight L. Greene Scholar. In addition to her work at CARECEN, Elise served as the Post-Graduate Fellow at the Hofstra Asylum Clinic. She also worked as a consultant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the results of her interviews with more than 200 unaccompanied migrant children from Central America were published in the UNHCR's report Children on the Run. In 2013, Elise was honored as a recipient of the national Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing and was named a Top 40 Latino Under 40 by the New York Hispanic Coalition.


 Maureen McCloskey, Esq. 
 Staff Attorney 


Maureen received her J.D. from City University of New York School of Law and brings over 20 years of experience in practicing law to CARECEN.  She began her career in ACS’s Division of Legal Services presenting cases of child abuse and neglect in the Bronx Family Court.  She later served as staff attorney at  Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) for two years.  She worked in El Salvador for a period of years at the Jesuit Central American University (UCA), reporting on human rights abuses and participating in grass roots organizing efforts.  Returning to New York, Maureen dedicated herself to representing clients in State and Federal Courts as staff attorney at Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Law Project and later, at the private civil rights firm of Lansner & Kubitschek.  While at Lansner & Kubitschek, she worked on the trial and appeal of Nicholson v. Williams, a class action lawsuit widely understood to have spurred change in the handling of all matters of child protection cases.  Maureen was a volunteer paralegal at CARECEN in its founding year in 1983.

 Siomara Umaña, Esq. 
 Staff Attorney 


Siomara provides legal assistance to unaccompanied minors in Long Island facing removal proceedings in New York, who have fled Central America due to gang violence, domestic violence and other dangers.  Prior to joining CARECEN, Siomara spent several semesters at the Asylum and Immigrant Rights Clinic at Ave Maria School of Law. There she represented clients before Miami Immigration Court, working specifically on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U-Visa and Adjustment of Status applications. While in law school, Siomara became interested in international human rights law and interned with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Siomara received her J.D from Ave Maria School of Law, is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey and is fluent is Spanish. 
 Ivan Larios 
 Citizenship Services Coordinator 

Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Ivan Larios moved with his parents to Queens, New York as a child. He later attended St. John’s University and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Political Science. Ivan is excited to join the CARECEN where he can continue to serve his community, particularly the immigrant community drawing on the roots of his own immigrant experience.


Ivan’s interest for working in immigration began in college when he began working as a representative and liaison with various congressmen and working with the highest Latino constituency in a congressional district. After transitioning into the non-profit realm, Ivan worked at the Margert Community Corporation and developed an understanding of housing issues while continuing to serve the most vulnerable members in his community. Ivan continued to concentrate on disadvantaged communities while working as a Service Coordinator for the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation by promoting self-sufficiency through vocational training and employment services.

 Jenny Chévez Kessinger 
 Citizenship  Services Coordinator 


Born in Nicaragua, from a very early age Jenny was engaged in her community and exploring her heritage through folkloric dance. As a young adult Jenny worked as a host and tour guide for international relief workers and students of service learning projects for over seven years, which enabled her to attend college at the Universidad Nacional de Nicaragua at León.  Jenny immigrated to the United States in 2010, and was incredibly fortunate to have been warmly supported and encouraged by many in her community.  She strives to return this warmth to new immigrants each day.  Jenny has been an active member of the LGBT immigrant community, including serving as a Coordinator of the LGBT Immigrant Group, a collaborative project between CARECEN and Hofstra University.  In her free time, Jenny enjoys knitting, painting, gardening, attending concerts, visiting museums, and she still loves to dance.


 Marino Morales 


Marino Morales came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1975. His migration to the United States was a life changing event for Marino. He was able to escape poverty and receive an education, ultimately graduating from SUNY Buffalo Law School. His experience as an immigrant motivated him to serve, in any capacity, those communities which have been historically underserved.  He cares deeply for all people who immigrate to this country seeking refuge from poverty and injustice.

 Cassie Chee 
 Immigrant Justice Corps Community Fellow 


Cassie’s interest in immigration stems from being the daughter of a first generation Chinese immigrant.  Her passion for immigrant rights was further sparked during an internship with Kids in Need of Defense, where she worked with unaccompanied minors in deportation proceedings.  After graduating from Furman University, Cassie moved to the U.S.-Mexico border to complete a yearlong service program with Border Servant Corps.  During her service, Cassie worked in several immigration legal services non-profits, including Catholic Charities Legal Services, the Southwest Asylum and Migration Institute, and New Mexico Legal Aid.  She worked on applications for humanitarian protections for immigrants, including U-Visa, VAWA, and asylum applications.  Cassie has been galvanized by the injustices she saw on the border, and is excited to continue advocating for immigrant populations on Long Island.  Cassie has been to six of the seven continents, and in her free time, she loves to travel, run, and watch crime shows.

 Rebecca Reed  
 ESOL Services Coordinator 


A Carolina transplant, Rebecca obtained her Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Culture, Politics, and Russian Studies) at the University of Texas - Arlington, worked in non-profit ministry, volunteered in grass roots political campaigns, and gained valuable experience among other industries before beginning her English Language Teaching career in Daejeon, South Korea. A year later, she returned to Charleston, SC, to continue her ELT journey at the College of Charleston's English Language Institute, Webilang.com, and other private language schools. Rebecca holds an M.A. in TESOL from The New School for Public Engagement as well as a Graduate Certificate in Sociology from Appalachian State University. In June 2016, Rebecca joined CARECEN to help launch the Pathway to English program as the ESOL Services Coordinator. When she's not crushing non-profit life, Rebecca likes to visit museums and art galleries, attend major league baseball games, get creative, explore new places, and kick it with her four-legged friend, Pup Detective Oskar Woofowitz.
 Luz Angela Ochoa Macias 
 Lead ESOL Teacher 


Born in Colombia, Luz Angela came to the United States as a young girl.  As a DACA recipient, she understands the privilege it is to be in the United States, but also the challenges that come with being an immigrant.  She graduated from Nassau Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Education and is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Queens College.  Luz Angela’s background and experiences have developed in her a passion for helping other immigrants. She became involved in her community at a young age, working closely to help immigrant families, especially immigrant children. As an active member of her church, she currently works with immigrant youth to keep them engaged in positive activities and in their faith.
 Samantha Pfaff 
 Immigrant Community Navigator 


A Michigan native, Samantha attended the University of Tampa. During her undergraduate years, her interest in Latin America grew with trips to study and volunteer in Costa Rica and Peru, along with international development based internships, fellowships, and research work in Washington, D.C., Florida,  and other parts of the U.S.

After graduation, Samantha taught English in rural Honduras. Her time in Honduras further motivated her to continue working with Central Americans and other immigrant groups while learning more about immigration after the challenging experiences she heard while living in Honduras. In her spare time, she enjoys bike riding and tending to her indoor garden.

 Marian Mendoza 
 Immigration Counselor 


Mariann came to the United States from her native Ecuador in 1970.  Since her arrival to the United States, her goal has been to help people, particularly her fellow immigrants.  In addition to her membership in various Ecuadoran associations, Mariann served as the President of SEPA Mujer, an organization that provides empowerment and legal defense to immigrant women who are survivors of domestic violence, and is the sitting President of the Metropolitan Lion's Club.  Over her more than twenty years at CARECEN, Mariann has helped thousands of immigrants gain legal status in the United States. 

 Beatríz Alemán 


Beatríz came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 1983. She began her career with CARECEN as a volunteer in 1996 because she wanted to give back to her community. Beatríz has continued to serve the immigrant community ever since. She completes naturalization applications, Legal Permanent Resident Card renewals, TPS renewals, and DACA renewals in our Brentwood office. In her free time, Beatríz likes to go shopping and spend time with her children, grandchildren, and puppy, Milo. 


Addresses / Direcciones


Hempstead Office / Oficina en Hempstead:

91 N. Franklin Street, Ste. 208

Hempstead, NY 11550

Tel.: 516-489-8330


Brentwood Office / Oficina en Brentwood:

2000 Brentwood Road

Second Floor (Segundo Piso)

Brentwood, NY 11717

Tel.: 631-273-8721


 Hours / Horarios


Hempstead Office / Oficina en Hempstead:

Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

lunes a viernes de 9 a.m. a 5 p.m.


Brentwood Office / Oficina en Brentwood:

Monday to Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

lunes a jueves de 10 a.m. a 6 p.m.


The two offices are closed from 1 p.m. to 2p.m.


Las dos oficinas están cerradas de

1 pm. a 2 p.m. todos los días

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