Board of Directors
Chair, Shamaine Daniels is an immigration attorney and member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Harrisburg, PA. Prior to opening her own practice she served low-income Pennsylvanians in class-action suits to remedy minimum wage and overtime violations, represented tenants in uninhabitable housing , and challenged the Commonwealth’s special education funding formula which had an adverse effect on low-income Pennsylvanians with disabilities. Daniels is most known for her work as Plaintiff’s counsel in Lozano et al v. City of Hazleton and has trained attorneys in the United States and abroad on effectively representing vulnerable populations. In addition to her legal work, she teaches Women's Studies at New Jersey City University. Her community involvement includes Chairing PICC's Board, Presiding over Harrisburg Area NOW. She graduated with a BA in Political Science, International Relations and Sociology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Cincinnati and a JD from the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law. Daniels is the first immigrant to be elected to Harrisburg’s City Council.
Vice Chair, Sarah Peterson has over 15 years of experience as a social worker serving diverse ethnic communities and programs, including Latina victims of domestic violence, unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children, and immigrants and refugees. Recently, she became the Director of Development for Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a multi-service organization dedicated to helping the Latino community in North Philadelphia. Before joining Congreso, Sarah was Director of Development then Director of Refugee Programs at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Pennsylvania. Under her leadership at HIAS, the refugee resettlement program grew by 600% to resettle about 150 refugees from four different ethnic groups a year. For two years, Sarah coordinated the Pennsylvania Asylee Outreach Project, a statewide project established to connect people granted asylum to available resources and remove barriers preventing their complete integration into the community. Sarah served as a Peace Corp volunteer in Guatemala for over two years, and she taught English as a Second Language in China. She serves as a member of the board on Mount Airy, USA and is a former board member of the Philadelphia Area Peace Corps Association. She has a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Treasurer, Katherine Yun, MD, MHS is a second generation American and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on access and quality of care for children in immigrant families. A board-certified pediatrician, she also teaches students and trainees at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Refugee Health Program and at Puentes de Salud, a community-based health program serving South Philadelphia. She is a member of the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative, a multi-disciplinary group of public health, nonprofit, and academic medical partners who collaborate on issues of relevance to the health of Philadelphia’s refugee community. Prior to medical school, she taught English in Central Asia and supported research on the health of survivors of human trafficking.
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.
Pooja Agarwal is an attorney currently working at the University of Pennsylvania. She spent several years at large international firms in New York and Philadelphia and one year as a legal fellow at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Pennsylvania working with special immigrant juveniles and asylum, U-Visa, VAWA and TPS applicants. She continues her work in immigration law through representing asylum applicants on a pro bono basis.
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 an immigration attorney in private practice in Philadelphia specializing in deportation defense, asylum, and family unification. Previously, he worked at nonprofit legal services organizations in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, New York. David has provided legal support to undocumented organizers around the country.
Liz Chacko is a second-generation American and an attorney at Friends of Farmworkers, Inc. Since 2006, she has represented low-wage immigrant and migrant workers in Pennsylvania on employment-related matters, including wage payment issues, employment discrimination, and human trafficking. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. Prior to joining Friends of Farmworkers, Liz represented immigrant victims of domestic violence in family law matters.
Terry Halbert (J.D., Professor of Legal Studies) has been teaching at Temple University's Fox School of Business & Management since 1981. Her teaching and research is interdisciplinary, focusing on business ethics and public policy. Halbert has developed industry-specific courses on tobacco and on gambling, in which students look at each issue through the lense of history, economics, race/classs/gender, law, ethics, literature and film. In 2005 she taught a course about the controversial plan to site two casinos in Philadelphia neighborhoods; at present she is putting together a cross-disciplinary course about immigration. For twenty years, Halbert has co-authored Law & Ethics in the Business Environment. She has published several articles on employee rights, and a case study, "Coke in Kerala", about protests against Coca Cola for the effects of one of its bottling plants on the water supply of a village in India. As Director of General Education from 2005-2010, Halbert coordinated the transformation of Temple's undergraduate core curriculum, emphasizing experiential learning in Philadelphia.
Patience Lehrman is a 2012 recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian award in the United States. She is also the National Director of Project SHINE, an immigrant integration initiative headquartered at the Intergenerational Center at Temple University. Over the past decade, Mrs. Lehrman has developed and led a wide range of initiatives with local and national organizations serving youth, low-income adults and immigrants/refugees. A leader in community service, workforce development and immigrant integration, Mrs. Lehrman received a designation by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for her efforts in promoting immigrant integration. She is a first generation immigrant from Cameroon, West Africa and in October 2013, was inducted into the Temple University Gallery of Success. Patience is a strong advocate for immigrant and refugee rights and has testified before Philadelphia City Council and the Pennsylvania State Legislature against anti-immigration legislation. She frequently presents at conferences sponsored by national organizations such as the National Partnership for New Americans, American Society on Aging, Generations United, and AARP. She is a mother of two and holds three Master’s degrees from Temple University: MSEd ’01, MSAOD ’04, Executive MBA ‘11.
A. Hirotoshi Nishikawa, Ph.D. is a native San Franciscan, who spent his career in biotech pharmaceutical R&D in NJ and PA. Since retiring, he has been involved in racial justice and civil rights at his church and with the Philadelphia JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) at the chapter and National Board level. In the last ten years, he has become increasingly involved in immigration reform issues. In 2007, he participated in the Dreams Across America campaign, joining PICC colleagues in Philadelphia and traveling to Washington, DC. On March 2010 he join other Pennsylvanians with some 250,000 others on the Mall in Washington, DC rallying for comprehensive immigration reform. Since then he has been in many rallies locally as well as lobbying members of Congress.
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. Additionally, he is a liaison to the USCIS Mt. Laurel Field Office. Mr. Pak is bilingual in Korean and English. His law firm has the ability to communicate in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and French. He argued 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 worked as a law clerk for a judge for two years in Philadelphia, PA. He is also "of counsel" to the law firm of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer & Toddy, P.C., and manages their immigration practice with offices in Center City Philadelphia, Jersey City, and Delaware.
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.
Manuel Portillo is originally from Guatemala and came to the United States as a refugee during the internal armed conflict of the 1980s that left over 200,000 dead or disappeared. In his first years in the United States, he traveled the country offering public testimony about the war in his home country with support from the Sanctuary Movement. He has worked as a community organizer for many years on issues that include fair and equal treatment for asylum seekers, TPS status for qualifying national groups, access to services for the undocumented, quality City services for everyone, vacant land, public education, and immigration reform. In recent years, he has worked with communities of diverse ethnic and language backgrounds utilizing institution and faith-based organizing, popular education, digital storytelling and new media approaches.
Victor Rosado is the Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware Political Director for SEIU Local 32BJ. With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 10,000 in Philadelphia and Delaware, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country. 32BJ SEIU has been a longstanding partner of PICC in the fight for immigrant workers’ rights. As the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, Victor has been a long-time advocate of immigrant rights. In 2006, Victor was a leading student organizer for the May 1st Great American Boycott. Victor is a graduate of Providence College and a former W. Burghardt Turner Fellow at Stony Brook University.
Brooke Rothman is an Associate at Branch Associates, a research, evaluation and technical assistance firm that supports nonprofit organizations, foundations, and government agencies. For 3 years, Brooke was a Research Assistant at PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In this role, she worked with a diverse group of families in Philadelphia on parenting support programs that aimed to address barriers to healthcare access, including assistance for parents with limited English proficiency (LEP) and low literacy. She graduated with a Masters in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. She currently works on programs to improve language access for families with LEP, including planning a training for intake staff on communicating effectively with families with LEP using telephonic interpreters and organizing ESL classes for the immigrant community with the Passyunk Civic Square Association.
Marla Soffer is Of Counsel at Galfand Berger, LLP. Marla graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Urban Studies and Spanish. She received her J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law and has been practicing for over 30 years. Marla concentrates her practice in the areas of workers’ rights, safety, compensation and general personal injury and disability law. She also serves as a consulting attorney with the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia.
Numa St.Louis is a devoted public servant, community advocate, educator and mentor. As a seasoned professional, Numa has consulted for humanitarian aid organizations, non-profits and political action committees. More specifically, he has been dedicated to service in the public interest as an advocate for more accessible healthcare, sound educational reform and immigrant rights. He is a former Democratic candidate for State Representative in Pennsylvania and currently, works for LNG Consulting, an interpretation and translation service company. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego in International Studies and received his Master’s Degree from Temple University. Numa is a mediator in conflict resolution and is fluent in three languages. Numa is a member of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Afro-Caribbean Affairs and is a former fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership. He serves on the executive board of Americans for Democratic Action and is an elected member of the Democratic Ward Executive Committee in Philadelphia. Numa is active and engaged with a number of local neighborhood and civic organizations.
Vleidmy Velarde joined HIAS Pennsylvania in August of 2008 to help provide legal services to the Latino immigrant community in Philadelphia. Born in Venezuela, Ms. Velarde came to the United States in 2002 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 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.