Matthew Alevy is currently Vice President, Real Estate Portfolio for Thomson Reuters. In this role, Matt works across business units to optimize the company’s real estate portfolio and develop real estate strategy that is aligned with workforce planning and business strategy. The real estate team has reduced the number of offices by over 300 since Matt joined the team in 2015, driving down Real Estate costs by over $150 million. Previously, Matt was VP, Finance and VP, Treasury with responsibility for capital strategy and foreign exchange and interest rate risk management for Thomson Reuters. Matt has a variety of finance experience over his 15+ years at Thomson Reuters including investor relations, treasury, FP&A, mergers and acquisitions and acquisition integration. Before joining the Thomson Corporation in 2005, he was an analyst for a boutique technology M&A investment bank and a financial analyst for a cable TV operator. Matt is an avid weather watcher, sits on the board of CARECEN NY and resides in Port Washington, NY with his wife, two children and adopted dog Harry.
Abner was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He studied at the Catholic University of Honduras where, as a member of the university ministry, he supported youth integration initiatives.
Abner arrived in the United States in 2003 and despite being undocumented for nearly two decades, he never let his immigration status hamper his dreams and aspirations. He received an electrical certificate from BOCES, is a licensed real estate agent, and volunteered in post-natural disaster reconstruction initiatives through All Hands and Hearts. His own experiences as an immigrant have strengthened in him a desire to give back to his community, a passion which motivates him in his role as a member of CARECEN's Board of Directors.
Jonathan Cantarero is an attorney and writer based on Long Island. He received his J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law, where he served as the Executive Articles Editor of the CUNY Law Review and as a Graduate Fellow providing research assistance to faculty members. He received his B.A. from State University of New York College at Old Westbury, where he was awarded the Honors Convocation Achievement Award in Philosophy and Religion. During law school, Jonathan served as the Schulte, Roth, and Zabel Legal Fellow for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. Following graduation, he has worked in public and private practice and has published several scholarly articles.
Arriving in the United States from El Salvador at the age of five, Ms. Castillo’s own immigration experience became her motivation to work with the immigrant community. Ms. Castillo practiced immigration law for almost a decade and held several positions as Staff Attorney in non-profit organizations such as The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy in Charlotte, North Carolina, SEPA Mujer and Make the Road NY on Long Island where she represented individuals, youth, and families in a variety of legal matters. Ms. Castillo also served as Director of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET), a non-partisan group working to increase civic engagement in immigrant and working-class communities of color on Long Island and in Nassau County government as a Legislative Affairs Liaison in the County Executive’s Office.
She earned her J.D. from Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 2007, and her B.A. in Political Science from Molloy College in 2003. She is admitted to the bars of New York and North Carolina.
Amy Flores was born in Mineola, New York to immigrant parents from El Salvador. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and later completed the ABA Accredited Paralegal Studies Program at Hofstra University. In 2019, Mrs. Flores was appointed as the Executive Director of the Nassau County Office of Hispanic Affairs, which serves as a bridge between the growing Hispanic community and county government. Under her leadership, the Office worked with county agencies on the research, analysis and implementation of policy to ensure the Hispanic community is afforded equal opportunities, meaningful engagement, and access to the county government.
Mrs. Flores has received numerous honors from organizations across Long Island. In 2019 she was honored by Long Island Business News for her commitment to excellence and support of diversity and equality within our community. Most recently, she was highlighted on the City & State’s 2020 Long Island Power 100 List.
Bill O’Shea is the SVP of Finance at SecurityScorecard, the global leader in cybersecurity ratings headquartered in New York City. Bill joined SecurityScorecard from Thomson Reuters, where he spent over 20 years in various senior level finance positions. Bill has held both operational CFO roles as well as several Corporate Finance and Accounting roles, most recently as Global Head of Enterprise FP&A based in Zug, Switzerland. Bill’s wide range of international experience includes finance transformation, FP&A, business development, strategic finance and decision support. Bill currently resides outside of Philadelphia, PA with his wife (Liz), 2 children (Julia and Ryan) and adopted cat (Casey).
Ruth Silverman is a professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Nassau Community. She attended Harpur College (State University of New York) where she received her BA with honors in Sociology. She received her MA at the University of Wisconsin and completed her doctoral work in Sociology at New York University. She follows in the footsteps of her father, Dr. Benjamin Malzberg, who did ground breaking sociological work on immigrants and mental health. From his position as director of the Bureau of Statistics at the New York State Department of Mental Health, he used the data to refute nativist arguments that immigrants are inferior and bring many social problems with them. When she moved to Long Island, she became aware that those same false charges were being thrown at a new group of immigrants to our community from Central America. She decided to carry on his work by joining CARECEN's Board.
Blanca A. Villanueva is a Long Island native, growing up in Brentwood, NY. She is a graduate of New York University, where she became a part of student led organizations, such as C-Roots and LUCHA, which strive to educate and unify the NYU community on social and cultural issues. Blanca graduated with a degree in Psychology and American Sign Language and then pursued her Master’s in Public Health at Brooklyn College. She credits her masters studies in truly enlightening her on the important roles policy, environment, and education play in creating disparities and inequities in a community.
She began her community organizing by working with the Alliance for Quality Education on statewide education policy change. Recognizing that education justice is racial justice, Blanca combines advocacy, policy, and grassroots organizing to address the decades of systemic racism in the education system. She now works with the Advocacy Institute supporting the legislative advocacy of social justice and movement-building organizations in New York State, while also serving as the Board President for CARECEN NY.
Luis Vazquez is a true product of Long Island, New York. He grew up in Glen Cove, attended Long Island University, CW Post Campus and graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice as well as a certificate in Paralegal Studies. He subsequently received his New York Real Estate Sales Associate License and was employed by Caldwell Banker Real Estate in Locust Valley before joining Nassau County Government. Currently, Luis Vazquez is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health (NHCCH), whose mission is to improve the health of minority populations through the development of policies and programs that eliminate health disparities and to increase access to quality healthcare.
Luis has received awards for his leadership and community service including the Humanitarian of the Year from the Hispanic Counseling Center (2001) and the Champion Award, Suffolk County Child Care Council (2016). In 2019, Schneps Media recognized Luis as a “King” at their “Kings of New York Awards and Network Event” for his outstanding leadership and contributions to the community. He continues to uphold his dream of bringing the highest quality to the Hispanic and minority community.
Clinical Professor Lauris Wren, a Williams College and Columbia University Law School graduate, founded the Asylum Clinic at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University in 2003. Through the Asylum Clinic, law students represent applicants for asylum. The Clinic has represented hundreds of clients from around the world and has a 100% success rate, despite the severe obstacles faced by clients in the asylum application process. Professor Wren also co-founded the Immigration Clinic at Hofstra University and has received awards from numerous Long Island organizations in recognition of her work on behalf of the immigrant community.
In 2014, Professor Wren founded LGBT Immigrants of Long Island, the first organization on Long Island specifically serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender immigrants. Prior to coming to Hofstra, Prof. Wren was the director of the Refugee Assistance Program at the New York City Bar Association. Prof. Wren has also worked at the New York City Legal Aid Society and on CARECEN's legal team. Prof. Wren has worked with many human rights organizations in Mexico and Central America and has participated in human rights missions in various areas of the world.
ONA Long Island Immigrant Community Navigator
Karla was born in El Salvador and is a first generation immigrant. She is an International Baccalaureate alumni and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in international studies from SUNY Oneonta, where she graduated with department honors and dedicated much of her research to human rights affairs. In the past she has volunteered at the Consulate General of El Salvador where she worked first-hand with the Salvadoran diaspora, in addition she has also interned at the United Nations and has worked as a Dialogue Leader at the office of equity and inclusion at SUNY Oneonta.
In her position at CARECEN, Karla assists the Long Island immigrant community in navigating resources, services and programs available to them throughout the region, with a focus on low-income immigrants who are particularly vulnerable to socioeconomic disadvantages.
Beatríz Aléman Cisneros
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.
Emerson Argueta, Esq.
Emerson was born in El Salvador, emigrated to the United States with his family in the early 1990s, and settled on Long Island. Emerson holds a B.A. from Columbia University, and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. Emerson’s experience working in immigration started in his first year of law school when he volunteered with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. He continued advocating for immigrants through four service trips to the family detention center in Dilley, Texas, and internships with Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) and Human Rights First. Emerson worked with Immigrant Justice Corps’ Adults with Children project where he represented underserved vulnerable women and children facing removal to Central American countries where they fear gang and domestic violence. Emerson continues to serve the Long Island immigrant community as a supervising attorney for CARECEN’s removal defense team.
Gabriela Calahorrano, Esq.
ONA Suffolk Legal Counsel
Gabriela is the ONA Legal Counsel for Suffolk County. In this role, she provides a variety of legal services via direct representation, clinics, and consultations. Gabriela also addresses the need for quality legal information by leading a number of legal information sessions and workshops throughout the year.
Gabriela is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, and she also completed her M.A. in Sociology at St. John’s University. She chose law school so that she could take a more hands-on approach to helping others in her community. Gabriela also found that having a sociological background affords her a wider perspective on issues of immigration as she practices law in that field.
Jenny Chévez Kessinger
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.
Community Programs Manager
Being raised overseas in Papua New Guinea and adopting two immigrant sons has given Melanie a kinship with the immigrant community. After returning to the United States as an adolescent, she lived in various places in all corners of the United States before moving to Long Island. She has also travelled and volunteered extensively internationally.
Melanie comes to CARECEN with a background working in the nonprofit sector in start-up and program management roles. She has worked with vulnerable and marginalized communities throughout her career. Melanie studied English, theology, and social sciences at Biola University in California and Western Seminary in Oregon.
Melanie finds the greatest joy in her work when supporting immigrants as they assimilate into American life. She serves as the Community Programs Manager for CARECEN.
Elise de Castillo, Esq.
Elise's journey to CARECEN began through her work with marginalized communities in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, India, and Mexico. These experiences led her to the Hofstra University School of Law where she graduated as the Dwight L. Greene Scholar, a full tuition scholarship for minority rights advocacy. Her representation of Central American asylum seekers as the Post-Graduate Fellow at the Hofstra Asylum Clinic inspired her to continue serving this community at CARECEN. She joined CARECEN as a staff attorney in 2012, where she subsequently served as Legal Director before becoming Executive Director in 2020.
In addition to her work at CARECEN, Elise also served 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. Elise is 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.
Marton is CARECEN's Community Educator. Born in Hungary, he came to Long Island at the age of three and has been going back and forth ever since. Marton previously worked for non-profit organizations on Long Island (HWCLI, BEF, NYIC), as well as a human rights observer in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia. Marton was the first Hungarian client that CARECEN assisted in applying for citizenship and he also worked as a contractor for the GOTV campaign during the 2020 elections. Marton was an AmeriCorps VISTA with CARECEN working on communications and volunteer management in 2021-2022.
In his free time Marton enjoys traveling, learning languages and meeting new people. He has lived in Mexico, Senegal and Turkey and has visited 48 U.S. states. He is fluent in Spanish and Hungarian, conversational in French and hopes to learn Brazilian Portuguese next. He holds an MA degree in International Relations majoring in Diplomacy with a Peace and Conflict Studies minor from Corvinus University of Budapest.
Megan Elman, Esq.
Before law school, Megan worked with noncitizen survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Raleigh, North Carolina on humanitarian immigration petitions. This work led her to law school, where, through internships with the Bronx Defenders and Public Defender Service of D.C., she became interested in removal defense and post-final order relief, particularly where criminal convictions are/were the grounds for removal. She believes that no noncitizen, regardless of criminal history, deserves to be deported. As an IJC fellow, she will be working in removal defense and post final order relief at IJC’s Long Island Project.
Mohammad Nasir Erkin
Mohammad Nasir Erkin obtained his Bachelor's degree in Economics at the Kabul University of Kabul Afghanistan and completed an MBA, in Finance Management and Operations Management at ISBM (Final Exam Pending). He comes to CARECEN with a distinguished career in finance, accounting, and project management in the spheres of government, USAID, banking, microfinance, INGOs, and private-sector organizations, totaling over 19 years of experience. His broad-based capabilities include financial management, accounting management, Afghan taxation, cost analysis, project management, recruitment, and capacity building.
Mohammad Nasir Erkin joined CARECEN as the organization's first Finance Director, jumping in to implement financial management strategies in partnership with executive leadership to ensure CARECEN's long-term sustainability, the continued growth of programs and services, and expanding its impact on the communities CARECEN serves.
Rosa Gómez was born and raised in El Salvador. She immigrated to the United States in 2016 with her mom and siblings in pursuit of better opportunities. She graduated from Hempstead High School in 2018 and is currently attending Hunter College, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Religion. Her goal is to become a Social Worker to help those in need. In 2021, Rosa volunteered with CARECEN to give back to the community.
Jessica Greenberg, Esq.
Jessica joins CARECEN as its Managing Attorney from Catholic Charities Community Services where she served as the Director of Bronx Immigration Services. She brings with her more than ten years of nonprofit immigration advocacy -- direct legal services, community outreach, mentorship and supervision, and program building.
Prior to law school, Jessica spent a year interning with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Jerusalem, Israel, working primarily with West African asylum-seekers. This sparked her desire to meaningfully "fight the good fight" for individuals seeking protection and/or the right to live freely in the United States.
Mayra was born and raised in El Salvador. She immigrated to the United States to pursue better opportunities. She obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Legal Science from St. John's University. She has since tried to give back to her community by assisting immigrants applying for various forms of relief. She first joined CARECEN has a paralegal and helped to process different immigration applications. Working at CARECEN is one of her biggest pleasures because she enjoys working in the legal field but understand the importance of addressing the community's other needs beyond legal assistance.
ONA Suffolk Legal Counsel
Born in Mexico City and raised in New Jersey, as an immigrant himself, Pablo has always been passionate about advocating for immigrants rights. Having grown up in an immigrant community, Pablo witnessed the negative way in which low-income immigrants of color are treated by the U.S. immigration law system. Pablo received his B.S. degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. After graduating from John Jay, Pablo completed a year of service through AmeriCorp, serving as a success mentor to H.S. students in the Bronx. Pablo later attended Albany Law School, eventually graduating cum laude. While in law school, Pablo interned at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY for two consecutive summers, serving as a rural summer legal corp fellow his second year of law school. Pablo also participated in Albany Law School’s immigration law clinic where he helped low income immigrants living in the Capital Region with various legal matters.
Roshii’s passion for equity, diversity and empowerment was ignited by her first teaching experience with refugees at the IRC. She furthered her interest in the role of motivation & engagement in ELT, presenting at local and international teacher conferences TESOL and NYSTESOL. After earning her MA TESOL degree from the New School, Roshii Jolly taught ESL at various adult community programs in New York City for underserved communities. For 8 years she was the TESOL Outreach Coordinator of the New School University, which began as an on-campus program serving refugees and asylees, that she successfully transitioned it into a virtual global program offering free English classes to adult learners stranded overseas, guiding and supporting both teachers and students. She earned the “Marhaba” award at an international airline for her work in supporting her clients and team. Her goal is to use her skills to guide and support educators and institutions that advocate for and empower marginalized English language learners. Her motto is “the privilege of an education is the ability to give back to others who cannot afford it.” As an immigrant herself, she understands the plight of newcomers to the US. Being a part of CARECEN NY is a dream come true.
Karen Andrea Krokowski
Karen Andrea Diaz (Krokowski) is a graduate of the School of Law at the Universidad de las Americas in Ecuador and completed a Master's Degree in Justice and Protection of Rights with a concentration in Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law in Bogotá at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She studied Introduction and Techniques of Criminological Profile at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Universitarios en Abierto in Spain. In 2020, she obtained a Diploma in Teaching Techniques at Universidad de las Americas in Ecuador. She has more than nine years of experience as an attorney in Ecuador and four years teaching as a part-time college professor. She has complimentary professional experience as a Management Coordinator at the Free Legal Assistance Center of UDLA, and Academic Coordinator of Universidad de las Americas Law School from August 2018 to February 2020. Currently she is developing her legal career as a paralegal in the Berkeley College paralegal program and at Kingsborough Community College, where she is studying as an advanced paralegal and Notary Public in New York. Defense of women's rights and vulnerable groups has always been her guiding spirit and motivation in life. Her profession has always been focused on service.
Gianela Liendo Fuentes
Social Work Intern
Born in Peru and raised on Long Island, Gianela is proud to be a first generation immigrant. She is passionate about advocating for meaningful immigration reform/rights and was a DACA recipient during her educational career. Gianela received her B.A. degree in Psychology and Sociology from SUNY Stony Brook University.
During her undergraduate studies, Gianela volunteered as a crisis counselor for RESPONSE crisis center and was a psychology research assistant. Her experience in these roles and a six month trip abroad to Peru, was what impassioned her to pursue her Master's Degree in Social Work at Fordham's Graduate School of Social Service, and lead her to complete her field placement as a social work intern with CARECEN this year.
Growing up in North Carolina, Austin has always been eager to explore the world and get to know those who have had different experiences than his own. His passion for learning/teaching languages and travel started at an early age, and drove him to pursue a B.A. in Spanish at UNC Wilmington. After graduation, Austin relocated to New York to complete pre-service training as an ESOL Fellow with the NYC Teaching Fellows.
He returned home to North Carolina, where he began his career as a Middle School Spanish teacher. He has developed classes for Spanish and Portuguese speaking students that focus on literacy in their first language and empowering students to find pride in their heritage. He comes to CARECEN with knowledge of second-language acquisition and experience in education advocacy for non-English speaking students. Austin enjoys traveling, reading, and learning about others. He currently speaks Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, and has a list of other languages that he would like to learn.
Vivian Morales, LMSW
Vivian was born in Colombia, and raised in Spain where she obtained her Bachelor's degree in Social Work, and a Master's Degree in Project Management. Vivian was awarded by the University of Zaragoza, in Spain, to go to Cuba to complete an internship, and to go to Italy to participate in an intensive program to learn about social services in Europe in a multicultural society. Vivian's passion to learn more about different cultures guided her to specialize in International Cooperation, and worked in Peru for 10 months helping people at risk of social exclusion.
Vivian emigrated to the United States in 2012, and obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work at Adelphi University, and is registered to practice in New York State as a License Master Social Worker.
Chief Operations Officer
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 began her English Language Teaching (ELT) career in Daejeon, South Korea, before coming to CARECEN. Becca 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. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Public Administration and Policy from American University. Becca joined CARECEN to help launch a new program, Pathway to English - Long Island, as ESOL Services Coordinator. Since then, she has transitioned into other roles, including development, program coordination for the CARECEN-Hofstra EL/Civics and Citizenship Project, and most recently, Chief Operations Officer. In 2019, Becca graduated from the Advocacy Institute Educator Pipeline, participated in the She Should Run Political Pipeline, has been an outspoken advocate for state and federal adult education/ESOL policy change, and was elected Vice President of Outreach for the New York State TESOL (NYS TESOL) Executive Board.
Monica was a DREAMer and remains a dreamer. After stints in publishing and a startup she landed at Brooklyn Law, where in taurus fashion she tried to "keep an open mind." Working on the Immigrant Visa Assistance Project, interpreting and providing credible fear information to detainees, assisting SIJS applicants at Safe Passage Project—as well as an Asylum applicant at the Safe Harbor Clinic—confirmed what her village had assumed. She is thrilled to be a member of the Removal Defense Team at CARECEN, and to finally get to work.
Andrés Santamaría Cortes, Esq.
ONA Nassau Legal Counsel
As a first-generation immigrant from Colombia, Andrés has been personally affected by immigration issues, which is why he chose to pursue a law degree specifically to advocate for immigrant rights. While obtaining his Bachelor's degree at St. John's University, he interned at the The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York's pro se office and in the Honorable Judge Koeltl's chambers, researching federal criminal and civil cases and attending district court hearings. These experiences lead him to Boston College Law School, where participated in a Pro Bono Spring Break Trip to the National Immigrant Justice Center to assist asylum seekers fill out applications. Andrés enrolled in the Immigration Clinic for two semesters to represent clients in removal proceedings and habeas corpus hearings, and to work as a research assistant for the clinic's Director. As an IJC Fellow Andrés represented Central American families who are seeking asylum in removal proceedings in the New York City Immigration Court. As an ONA Legal Counsel, Andrés represents clients in a variety of immigration issues.
Immigrant Justice Corps - Community Fellow
Born and raised in Queens, NY, Steven is passionate about the rights and advocating for underrepresented communities. He is a first-generation Mexican American college graduate from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology, a Certificate in Dispute Resolution, and an Honors minor in Latin American/Latino Studies. While at John Jay, Steven was a Pinkerton Community Fellow placed at the Center for Employment Opportunities, where he authored and facilitated workshops for young adults leaving the Criminal Justice System. Prior to joining IJC, Steven worked as a Paralegal at the Safe Passage Project. During this time, Steven was able to see first-hand the hardships that unaccompanied immigrant youth face in the immigration system in the United States. At Safe Passage, he gained insight into legal proceedings such as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and Asylum proceedings. His work ranged from translating civil documents, researching country conditions, interpreting asylum interviews, and ensuring proper service was completed for SIJS proceedings. Steven works with the Long Island Project and assists Central American families seeking relief.
Development and Communications Coordinator
Emma is currently pursuing a Master's in International Migration and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a graduate of New York University, earning a B.A. in Global Liberal Studies, with a Concentration in Law, Ethics, and History. She is deeply passionate about social justice and human rights issues, specifically related to immigrants’ rights, women’s equality, and environmental justice. Her undergraduate research focused on international policy solutions to the human rights issues at the intersection of climate change and international migration, which she plans to further investigate in her graduate studies. Prior to coming to CARECEN, she worked in the nonprofit sector in various capacities, such as in volunteer, direct service, and research-related roles. She previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with CARECEN, focused on capacity building, before transitioning to her current role.