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Programs:

Staff

DIRECTORS

Executive Director
Benjamin E. Johnson

Policy Director
Beth Werlin

Legal Director
Melissa Crow

Cultural Exchange Director
Lois C. Magee

Finance & Operations Director
Wilma Linares

Communications Director
Wendy Feliz

Fundraising & Development Director
Megan Hess

STAFF

Legal 
Melissa Crow, Director
Emily Creighton, Senior Staff Attorney
Leslie Dellon, Business Litigation Fellow
Lindsay M. Harris, Legal Fellow
Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney
Kristin Macleod-Ball, Staff Attorney
Catalina Restrepo, Legal Assistant

Policy
Beth Werlin, Director
Guillermo Cantor, Deputy Director of Research
Walter Ewing, Senior Researcher
Tory Johnson, Policy Assistant

Cultural Exchange
Lois Magee, Director
Colleen Tomlinson, Cultural Exchange Program Manager.
Moksheda Thapa,  Cultural Exchange Program Specialist
Joanna Quiambao, Cultural Exchange Program Associate 

Community Education 
Claire Tesh, Senior Manager
Sara Burnett, Education Associate

Fundraising and Development
Megan Hess, Director
Claudia Ornelas, Development Associate

Communications
Wendy Feliz, Director
Eric Gibble, Online Communications Associate 

BIOGRAPHIES:

Benjamin E. Johnson, Executive Director

Benjamin Johnson is the Executive Director of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C. He has studied and worked in the immigration field for more than 20 years. He has written extensively on immigration law and policy and has presented testimony on immigration issues before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. From 2003 to 2007, he served as the founding Director of the Council’s Immigration Policy Center which is one of the four programs housed at the American Immigration Council and also includes the Legal Action Center, International Exchange Center and Community Education Center. A native of Arizona, Johnson has managed several state-wide political campaigns in that state and also spent six years as the co-founder and legal Director of the Immigration Outreach Center, a legal clinic serving low-income immigrant communities in Phoenix. He earned a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law and studied International and Comparative Law at Kings College in London.

Wendy Feliz, Communications Director
202-507-7524 or wfeliz@immcouncil.org

Wendy Feliz is the Communications Director at the American Immigration Council. Previously, she worked as a consultant for New America Media, a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic news service and as a communications officer at the Open Society Institute’s DC policy office, where she helped shape their communications and media strategy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University where she teaches a course in advocacy communications. Wendy holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New School University and an M.A. in Public Communication from American University.

Sara Burnett, Education Associate

Sara Burnett is the education associate of the Community Education program at the American Immigration Council. She was a former public high school English teacher in Washington D.C. and Vermont. She has also worked as an editor in educational publishing and developed curriculum with a D.C.-based non-profit on global and social issues. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she taught a service-learning course with undergraduates and recently immigrated high school students. Additionally, she holds a MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont, and a BA in English and Economics from Boston College. 

Guillermo Cantor, Deputy Director of Research

Guillermo Cantor is the Deputy Director of Research at the American Immigration Council's Policy program, where he leads their research efforts. He also currently teaches courses on immigration and introductory sociology at Georgetown University. He has authored several publications on immigrant incorporation in the United States and Argentina. Prior to joining the American Immigration Council, Mr. Cantor served as an investigator on issues related to immigration at Argentina’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research and as a professor at the National University of Rosario and the National University of Entre Ríos. Throughout his career, Mr. Cantor received multiple distinctions including a Fulbright Fellowship, the Urban Institute's Emerging Scholar Award, and the International Development Research Center's Research Award. Mr. Cantor holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Melissa Crow, Legal Director

Melissa Crow is the Legal Director of the litigation and legal advocacy arm of the American Immigration Council.  Ms. Crow has practiced immigration law for more than twelve years, including litigation in the federal courts, immigration courts, and Board of Immigration Appeals.  Prior to joining the LAC, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She was previously a partner with Brown, Goldstein & Levy in Baltimore, Maryland, where she developed a thriving immigration practice and undertook litigation to protect immigrants' rights in the workplace. Before entering private practice, Ms. Crow served as Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy during the 2007 debates on the U.S. Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. She also spent a year as the Gulf Coast Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. Ms. Crow has taught in the Safe Harbor Clinic at Brooklyn Law School and the International Human Rights Clinic at Washington College of Law.  She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Emily Creighton, Senior Staff Attorney

Emily Creighton is a Senior Staff Attorney at the American Immigration Council . She has represented plaintiffs and amicus curiae before the Board of Immigration Appeals and numerous federal courts and serves as counsel in national class action litigation. Ms. Creighton also contributes to practice advisories and administrative advocacy efforts on a variety of immigration-related topics. Ms. Creighton graduated cum laude from American University Washington College of Law in 2006.

Leslie Dellon, Business Litigation Fellow

Leslie K. Dellon is the Business Litigation Fellow at the American Immigration Council. She has more than 20 years of experience advising small to multinational businesses about immigration strategies. In addition to her extensive business immigration law experience, she previously handled general commercial and corporate matters, including civil litigation. Since August 2011, she has represented clients in her own firm, L. Dellon Immigration Law, LLC. She also has experience as a Trial Attorney in the Federal Programs Branch, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice. She is a past Chair of the AILA Washington DC Chapter and has served on AILA National and DC Chapter Committees. She has a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

Walter Ewing, Senior Researcher

Walter Ewing, Ph.D., is Senior Researcher at the American Immigration Council. In addition to authoring numerous reports for the Council, he has published articles in the Journal on Migration and Human SecuritySociety, theGeorgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, and the Stanford Law and Policy Review. He also authored a chapter in Debates on U.S. Immigration, published by SAGE in 2012. Mr. Ewing received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School in 1997.

Eric Gibble, Online Communications Associate

Eric Gibble is the Online Communications Associate at the American Immigration Council. Eric has a B.A. in Communication from Cabrini College. Previously, he was a Lobby Associate at NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. At NETWORK, he covered immigration issues and developed social media initiatives for the 2012 Nuns on the Bus campaign. He has also worked with various faith-based organizations to expand their online presence. Eric now manages the Council's websites, social networks, and online communications strategy.

Lindsay M. Harris, Legal Fellow

Lindsay M. Harris is a Legal Fellow at the American Immigration Council focused on family detention issues. Lindsay previously supervised students representing asylum seekers in removal proceedings at Georgetown Law. She also developed and taught a Refugee Law course at George Mason University School of Law. Following her Ninth Circuit clerkship, Lindsay led the African Women's Empowerment Project at the Tahirih Justice Center, providing legal services to African immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence. She has published on issues related to gender-based and gang-related asylum claims. Lindsay is a graduate of UC San Diego and Berkeley Law.

Megan Hess, Fundraising and Development Director

Megan Hess is the Fundraising and Development Director at the American Immigration Council. Megan was most recently the Director of Annual Giving at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Prior to that she served as the National Finance Director for Senator Blanche Lincoln for several years. She was previously the Campaign Coordinator at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and was the Fundraising Director at the New Democratic Network (NDN).

ToryJohnson, Policy Assistant

Tory Johnson is the Policy Assistant at the American Immigration Council. Prior to joining the Council, Tory worked as a coordinator at the American Health Lawyers Association and as a Young Fellow at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, focusing on immigration and criminal justice policy. Tory has a B.A. in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College and wrote her thesis on the growth of private prisons in the immigrant detention industry. 

Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney

Mary Kenney is the Senior Staff Attorney with the American Immigration Council.  She has represented amicus curiae or plaintiffs in numerous significant immigration cases, including De Osorio v. Mayorkas, 695 F.3d 1003 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc), cert. granted, 81 U.S.L.W. 3430 (U.S. June 24, 2013); Etape v. Chertoff, 497 F.3d 379 (4th Cir. 2007); Zheng v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 98 (3d Cir. 2005); and Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft, 302 F. Supp. 2d 1076 (D. Minn. 2004).  Prior to joining the Immigration Council, she was the Executive Director of the Texas Lawyers’ Committee, a statewide immigrant and refugee rights project.  She also worked as a legal services attorney in West Virginia.  She received her J.D. from Antioch School of Law.

Wilma Linares, Finance and Operations Director

Wilma Linares comes to the Council with more than fifteen years of experience in budgeting, financial analysis, financial reporting, project and accounting oversight in an international arena for commercial and non profit organizations, most recently at Casa de Maryland. She also has more than seven years of consulting experience for small and medium sized private companies in strategic and operational planning with an emphasis on financial and operational design, projections, implementation and monitoring. Ms. Linares has held finance and management positions at multiple non-profits overseas, with a focus on women's economic development. As the Council’s CFO, Ms. Linares supervises the entire financial and administrative operations of the organization that include accounting and audit oversight, contract, human resource, IT and site management.

Kristin Macleod-Ball, Staff Attorney

Kristin Macleod-Ball is a Staff Attorney with the American Immigration Council. While a law student, she served clients seeking relief in immigration court, applying for benefits with USCIS and challenging racial profiling by local police. Kristin helped to document problematic examples of state and local involvement in immigration enforcement as an intern with AILA. She has also worked with legal services organizations to advocate on behalf of tenants in foreclosed properties and residents of manufactured housing. Prior to law school, Kristin worked with WITNESS, an organization that assisted locally-based non-profits around the world to produce and distribute human rights advocacy videos. She is a graduate of Bard College and Yale Law School.

Lois C. Magee, Cultural Exchange Director

Lois C. Magee was named Cultural Exchange Director of the American Immigration Council in January 2006. Ms. Magee has been affiliated with a number of citizen exchange organizations including the International Christian Youth Exchange, AFS Intercultural Programs, and the YMCA International Branch. She has worked with and written on J-1 visa programs for over twenty years. Ms. Magee holds a Master's degree in International Administration from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT.

Claudia Ornelas, Development Associate

Claudia Ornelas is the Development Associate at the American Immigration Council. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego and a B.A. in International Relations and History from Boston University. Prior to joining the American Immigration Council, she worked at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) in communications, development and event-planning. Before CLINIC, she was a Math, Science, and English teacher in Saraburi, Thailand. She has also worked with other non-profits such as the Trans- Border Institute, Wildcoast/Costasalvaje, and the Council on International Education Exchange. 

Joanna Quiambao, Cultural Exchange Program Associate

Joanna Quiambao is the Cultural Exchange Program Associate at the American Immigration Council. Joanna has a B.A. in International Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University with a specific concentration in Social Justice Studies. Previously, she served as a Policy Admin Assistant for Tahirih Justice Center providing logistical and programmatic support for the Forced Marriage Initiative, specifically working with the campaign to End Forced Marriage in the U.S.  Prior to working with Tahirih, she worked as a Program Coordinator with the Institute for International Education for the Fulbright Scholar Program

Catalina Restrepo, Legal Assistant

Catalina Restrepo is the Legal Assistant at the American Immigration Council. As a student at Tufts University, Catalina studied abroad in Jordan where she participated in a language-intensive Arabic program. She also participated in a student-run sustainable development group on campus, focusing her research on Nicaragua. Between her junior and senior years Catalina served as an intern for KARAMAH in Rockville, MD. Catalina graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. in Arabic and International Relations.

Claire Tesh, Senior Manager

Claire Tesh is a former public school teacher and served as a Teacher Advisory Board Member for the American Immigration Council before joining the staff full-time as the Senior Manager of the Community Education program. She holds bachelors degrees in Journalism and Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education and Post-Graduate Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction from George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Ms. Tesh has been the recipient of many grants and fellowships including the Master Teacher Program through the Fulbright Memorial Fund in Tokyo, Japan and the Washington Post Fellowship in Salamanca, Spain. Before entering the world of education, she worked in advertising and marketing.

Moksheda Thapa, Cultural Exchange Program Specialist 

Moksheda Thapa joined the American Immigration Council in October 2012 as a Program Specialist. Ms. Thapa was a J-1 visa recipient under the Partnership for Learning Undergraduate Studies (PLUS) program from 2005-2007. After completing her two years residency requirement in her home country, Nepal, she returned to the US in 2009. Ms. Thapa holds a Master of Public Service degree from the University Of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Colleen Tomlinson, Cultural Exchange Program Manager

Colleen serves as the Cultural Exchange Program Manager. Prior to joining the American Immigration Council, she worked at the University of Maryland, College Park for almost 10 years as an International Advisor with F1 and J1 students. Colleen managed the entire international undergraduate population with over 3,000 applications from start to finish. She facilitated the procedure for processing incoming documents for prospective international students. Colleen holds a B.A. in Government and Public Policy and a M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore. She has lived and studied in Jamaica and has travelled to China and Canada. 

Beth Werlin, Policy Director

Beth Werlin directs the Council’s Policy program.  Prior to assuming the position of Director of Policy, Beth worked for over 13 years in the Council’s legal program and was involved in nearly every major legal issue the Council tackled over the last decade.  She has worked to protect the rights of noncitizens and ensure that the immigration agencies are held accountable for violations of the law.  She has represented plaintiffs and amicus curiae in immigration litigation in the federal courts and before the Board of Immigration Appeals and is the author of numerous practice advisories.  Beth first joined the legal team in 2001 as a NAPIL fellow and before that was a judicial law clerk at the immigration court in Boston, Massachusetts.  She earned her J.D. from Boston College Law School and her B.A. from Tufts University.