Board of Directors
Chair, Nadia Hewka is the supervising attorney in Community Legal Services' Employment Unit, where she represents low-income Philadelphians, including immigrants, in employment disputes. The child of Ukrainian immigrants, Nadia has worked with PICC since 2003 on immigration reform and immigrant workers' rights issues.
Vice Chair, Shamaine Daniels is an attorney with the Disability Rights Network of PA (DRN) since 2009. She assists individuals with disabilities as they assert their rights under the various federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. In addition, she helps coordinate resources at DRN to ensure that individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) as well as hearing and visual impairments can access services offered by the organization. Prior to working for DRN, Shamaine worked for the Community Justice Project where she represented LEP clients in seeking enforcement of Title VI obligations.
Treasurer, Javier Garcia Hernandez immigrated to the United States in 1997 from Mexico. He lived in Seattle for 10years before moving to Philadelphia. Javier currently works for PhilaPOSH as a community organizer and trainer on workers rights around health and safety on the job. He is also a candidate in the international relations program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Secretary, Nancy MacEoin has worked as an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia since graduating Temple Law School in 2003, representing low-income clients in criminal cases. She works on the Immigration Project at the Defender Association, giving her a unique perspective on how the criminal justice system impacts not just criminal defendants, but the larger immigrant community as well. Prior to attending law school, she worked for five years as a paralegal at Nevada Legal Services in Las Vegas, Nevada, representing low-income individuals, including immigrants, in landlord/tenant matters, public housing, public benefits and unemployment claims.
Dr. Nina Ahmad, a native of Bangladesh, moved to the United States as a young adult. She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and works in the biotechnology field as a scientist and small business owner. She is active in the Asian American community of Philadelphia and the Tri-state area. She works to further democracy amongst underrepresented groups at the local, state and federal levels. She was one of the founding members of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, a grassroots, internet-empowered, national network. In January 2009, Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia appointed her as the Chair of the newly reconstituted Commission on Asian American Affairs, which has 25 members and functions as a conduit between the City Government and our rapidly growing Asian American population.
David Bennion is a staff attorney at Nationalities Service Center, providing legal representation for low income immigrants. After two years in the corporate sector, during which he represented immigrants through Legal Aid’s pro bono program, Dave worked as an immigration attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. He began blogging about immigrant rights in 2006 and continues to engage in online advocacy on various websites. He is currently working with local students to support their efforts to use online organizing to build a local chapter of the national, youth led DREAMActivist network.
Liz Chacko is a second-generation American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India. Liz is a Staff Attorney at Friends of Farmworkers; for the past three years she has represented low-wage immigrant and migrant workers with employment-related issues, mainly in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. Liz is especially interested in strengthening PICC’s ties in Central PA. Formerly, she spent three years working for a legal services organization in Boston, representing many immigrants in family law and domestic violence matters, with a focus on the Dominican and Cambodian communities. She is an active member of the South Asian Bar Association and South Asian Americans Leading Together.
Hirotoshi Nishikawa is the grandson of Japanese immigrants that came to the United States in the late 1890s. He has grandchildren who are gosei, or fifth generation Americans of Japanese ancestry. He is an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League at the Philadelphia chapter level as well as the National Board level. In the last ten years, he has become increasingly interested in immigration reform issues, drawing on the history of internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two. In 2007, he participated in the Dreams Across America campaign, joining PICC colleagues in Philadelphia and traveling to Washington, DC.
Don Pak is the Managing Partner of the Pak Immigration Group, Inc. He has been practicing immigration law since 1999 assisting individuals with their visa applications and representing foreign nationals in their removal and deportation court hearings. He also represents clients in their investment visas, better known as Eb-5 Immigrant Investor. Mr. Pak is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in Philadelphia, PA and New Jersey Chapters. Mr. Pak is bilingual in Korean and English. He aregued in front of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which later became published and has won a non-published Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case. Mr. Pak has also worked as a law clerk for a judge for two years in Philadelphia, PA.
Maripat Pileggi has been a public benefits attorney at Community Legal Services since July 2007, representing low-income clients at the Department of Public Welfare and Social Security Administration. She spends Wednesday evenings working at a medical clinic in Chinatown, helping patients navigate complex healthcare systems in order to get the care they urgently need. Maripat has worked with PICC’s Healthcare Committee on issues of access and to expand interpretation and translation services provided at medical clinics throughout Philadelphia. Prior to law school, she taught English as a second language to adult immigrants at NSC.
Meredith Rapkin is the Acting Director of the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic at Villanova University School of Law. Prior to that, she served as a public interest immigration attorney at HIAS and Council Migration Service, in part through a fellowship from the Independence Foundation of Philadelphia. She holds a law degree from Temple University as well as Bachelors and Masters Degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Meredith works primarily with Spanish speaking communities, and she has developed expertise in immigration law for immigrant children, immigrant victims or witnesses of violent crimes, and immigrant women experiencing domestic violence. Meredith co-chairs PICC’s Public Safety Committee.
Jorge Salazar is a member of DreamActivist Pennsylvania and La Puerta Abierta. Jorge was a volunteer organizer for the "Day Without an Immigrant" events that happened from 2006-2007.
Marla Soffer has been in practice in excess of twenty years and is associated with the law firm of Weinstein, Schleifer & Kupersmith, P.C. For the past ten years, she has conducted programs in Spanish, and served as an advisor to the constituents of the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia, in workers’ rights and general personal injury matters. Marla works as a pro-bono attorney and volunteer for various non-profit organizations.
Vleidmy Velarde-Duffy joined HIAS Pennsylvania in August of 2008 to help provide legal services to the Latino immigrant community in Philadelphia. Born in Venezuela, Ms. Velarde-Duffy came to the United States in 2001 as a student and earned her Master's in International Legal Studies and American Law from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2007. Prior to joining HIAS Pennsylvania, she worked as a legal interpreter and a legal assistant at a boutique immigration law firm. Ms. Velarde-Duffy graduated in the top third of her class as an attorney from the Law School of Universidad Catolica de Tachira, Venezuela in 2000. She practiced business, corporate, employment, and family law prior to taking a position as the Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel for a private hospital in Venezuela. Since joining the legal services department at HIAS Pennsylvania, she has become an Accredited Representative and is responsible for an outreach program to the Latino Community. In May 2011, she co-authored with Judith Bernstein-Baker an article about a case that was published in the Philadelphia Bar Association titled "A New Citizen Become a Proud Marine."
PICC's Board of Directors is elected by the membership at our Annual Meeting. Each director serves an initial term of three years, and is then eligible for re-election.