Emily Bachman Brock, Esq.
Senior Staff Attorney,
Emily Brock is a 2012 graduate of The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, DC. She received her undergraduate degree in International Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to law school she worked as a paralegal in the legal department of Morgan Stanley in New York. During law school, Emily joined the Families in Law Clinic as a student attorney where she represented low income victims of domestic violence under the supervision of licensed attorneys. Seeking more experience in immigration, she accepted an Equal Justice America Fellowship to work as a legal intern at Ayuda, a nonprofit organization in the DC area that provides legal and social services to immigrants. After graduating from law school, Emily joined Ayuda as a pro bono attorney before moving to Colorado with her husband in April of 2013. Before joining RMIAN, Emily was an Associate at the private immigration law firm, Green and Gardner, LLC. Emily is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is proficient in Spanish.
Jessica Burnett, Esq.
Detained Representation Attorney Fellow
Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund,
Jessica Burnett is a 2016 graduate of Boston University School of Law. During law school, Jessica worked as a student attorney in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic where she represented children and asylum seekers in immigration proceedings. Her experience with the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic inspired her to pursue a career working with immigrant populations. During her last year of law school, Jessica interned with the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project assisting clients with asylum claims and removal defense at the Boston Immigration Court. Jessica was one of eleven members of her law school class awarded a Public Service Fellowship to provide legal aid to disadvantaged communities and spent her fellowship with RMIAN providing direct representation to the immigrant population at the Aurora detention facility, assisting with the Legal Orientation Program, and assisting with pro bono referrals. Through RMIAN's partnership with the Immigration Justice Campaign and American Immigration Council, Jessica served as RMIAN’s Detention Program's Pro Bono Coordinator to increase pro bono representation of detained immigrants who currently have a representation rate of only 9% at the Aurora detention facility. She now provides direct representation to detained immigrants at the Aurora facility through the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund.
Javier Garcia, Esq.
Javier Garcia joined RMIAN in February 2019 as a Children’s Program Fellow. As a Fellow, Javier provides direct representation to children who qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U nonimmigrant status, T nonimmigrant status, and asylum. He also provides “Know Your Rights” presentations and pro se support at the Denver Immigration Court for families and unaccompanied children. Javier developed a passion for representing immigrant families when he volunteered in August 2016 at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. In Dilley, Javier helped women prepare for their credible fear interviews as part of the asylum process. Prior to joining RMIAN, Javier worked at New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, where he represented immigrant families apply for naturalization, U nonimmigrant status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He also worked as a law clerk at Rebecca Kitson Law, where he assisted in applications for stays of removal and asylum. Javier graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico of Law in 2017, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of New Mexico Law Review and was a fellow for the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. He graduated with B.A. in history from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012, where he was a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar. Before law school, Javier taught ninth grade in Las Cruces and Albuquerque, New Mexico. He currently serves a mentor for Denver Kids, Inc., a program that pairs students in Denver Public Schools with adult mentors to help students perform well academically, develop social and emotional skills, and become empowered to positively shape their lives.
Mekela Goehring, Esq.
Mekela Goehring has served as RMIAN’s Executive Director since 2005. She began working at RMIAN in 2003 as the organization’s first detention staff attorney, representing detained clients before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. She is a frequent speaker on issues involving immigration law and policy, and works with numerous committees and groups to expand access to justice for individuals in immigration proceedings in Colorado and beyond. Mekela has served as an adjunct professor for externships at the University of Colorado Law School. Prior to working at RMIAN, Mekela clerked for Judge Casebolt at the Colorado Court of Appeals. Mekela’s passion for working for social justice through the legal system began during fellowships at Community Legal Services in Yuma, Arizona, and Colorado Legal Services in Denver, Colorado. Mekela graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder and earned her J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School. She was admitted to the Colorado bar in 2002. Mekela has been a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 2003. In 2013, the American Immigration Lawyers Association awarded Mekela the Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award for her outstanding service in advancing the cause of human rights. In 2018, the University of Colorado Law School awarded Mekela the Dean’s Choice—Dean Edward C. King Making a Difference Award. In her free time, Mekela enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and all their animals in the Colorado outdoors.
Ashley Harrington, Esq.
Ashley Turner Harrington joined RMIAN's Children's Program as a part-time Staff Attorney in February 2014. Prior to joining RMIAN, Ashley worked as an Associate Attorney for over three years at the private immigration law firm, Lichter Immigration. During law school at the University of Colorado, Ashley interned at the Rocky Mountain Survivors Center where she successfully represented asylum seekers and at the Immigrant Legal Center of Boulder County where she represented low-income immigrants. In law school, she earned a full merit scholarship, the Dufford and Brown Legal Writing Award, First Place in Appellate Advocacy Oral Argument Competition, and the Chase Human Rights, Women's Law Caucus, Equal Justice America, and Equal Justice Works Fellowships. Ashley went to law school after working as an advocate for several years with victims of domestic violence at Family Tree Women in Crisis and the YMCA Battered Women's Services. Her commitment to serving victims of abuse endures through her passion for representing immigrants in VAWA, SIJS, U-Visa, and T-Visa cases. Ashley is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is a native of Denver, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is proficient in Spanish.
Kenny Hood first joined RMIAN as an intern beginning in September 2012 and became a staff member in August 2013. He has an MA in International Human Rights from the University of Denver and, as a first-generation college student, a BA from University of Northern Iowa in Mass Communication and Spanish, which he speaks proficiently. After college, Kenny worked with at-risk youth in the rural Midwest; with American students living and studying abroad in the United Kingdom; and at the Voice of America news agency in Washington, DC. He then served three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic where he worked in youth education and community development. While living in the DR, Kenny led two nationwide initiatives aimed at educating young Dominicans about sexual health and life skills and, through living in a majority Haitian community, developed a passion for working with immigrant populations.
Social Service Project Director
Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative (DHS, EOIR, BIA)
Megan Hope joined RMIAN’s staff in October 2011. She has worked with immigrant communities since 1995, including as a staff member of Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas; grant writer and immigration paralegal with Legal Aid of Western Missouri's Migrant Farmworker Project; and board member and activist with numerous immigrant advocacy, workers' rights, and economic justice organizations. For several years she performed program consultations in Latin America and Asia for child sponsorship organizations. Megan has an MSW from the University of Denver, and MA in Latin American Studies and BA in Anthropology and English from the University of Kansas.
Brittany Hurley, Esq.
LOP Supervisory Attorney,
Brittany has worked in RMIAN's Detention since 2011, and she recently assumed the role of Pro Bono Coordinator of RMIAN's Children's Program. Brittany graduated from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, in 2010. While in law school, she was a member of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy and the Spanish-Speaking Lawyers Association. Prior to law school, Brittany worked with immigrant communities in various capacities, including in the education and private employment sectors. Brittany graduated from the University of Denver, magna cum laude, with a dual degree in History and Spanish. While a student at the University of Denver, she was a recipient of two departmental awards, the Excellence in Spanish Language and Literature Award and the Outstanding Academic Performance in the Humanities Award. Brittany has successfully represented clients before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. She especially enjoys working on cases relating to asylum and related protections. Brittany is fluent in Spanish.
Tilman Jacobs, Esq.
Tilman Jacobs is a staff attorney in RMIAN’s Detention Program, providing legal orientations and direct representation to detained noncitizens at the Aurora Detention Facility. Previously, he worked for various immigrants’ rights organizations and represented asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and detainees in California, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Colorado. Prior to joining RMIAN, Tilman taught Immigration Law and supervised the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Wyoming College of Law. He also taught Immigration Law at the University of Colorado Law School as an adjunct professor. Tilman received his J.D. with a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a Legal Research and Writing Teaching Fellow and a Global Teaching Fellow. He also holds a Master's degree in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Sarah Kim, CPA
Sarah Kim has over seventeen years of experience providing businesses and nonprofit organizations with financial services. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Leeds School of Business, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting and a minor in Ethnic Studies. She began her career as an auditor for Ernst and Young, LLP. A few years later, she transitioned to an accounting position at First Data Corporation, where she worked for over three years. Sarah has been a Certified Public Accountant since 2002 and is a member of both the AICPA (American Society of Certified Public Accountants) and the Colorado Society of CPAs. She began working with RMIAN in March 2007.
Laurel graduated from University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a Bachelor's Degree in International Development & Cultural Change, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was honored to receive the Elizabeth Griego Outstanding Student Leader Award. Now, Laurel is pursuing a Certificate of Spanish Interpretation and Translation at the Community College of Aurora. This program led her to RMIAN, as she volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for the Detention Program in 2018. She is proud to now be a part of RMIAN's staff, where she will serve both the Detention Program and the Children's Program as a Legal Assistant. Laurel is both thrilled and humbled to be able to advocate for and stand in solidarity with the immigrant community in her home state of Colorado.
My Lo Cook
Director of Development
My Lo Cook brings over a decade of experience working with diverse stakeholders across disciplines and sectors with institutions like The Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, and Polaris to address the world's most pressing, violent, and complex issues, ranging from torture rehabilitation to refugee protection and human trafficking. She emphasizes grassroots leadership development, intelligent use of technology, and systems thinking to design capacity building programs and human systems that lifts up indigenous innovation, leverages existing government infrastructure, and engages the private sector. She has extensive experience building coalitions to catalyze social movement and to create systemic change, including cultivating like-minded funders to support long-term strategies and objectives. As Director of Development for RMIAN, My is responsible for the strategic engagement of donors and partners to advance the rights of immigrants and refugees in Colorado. She currently lives in CO and enjoys the outdoors with her young family.
Laura Lunn, Esq.
Laura Lunn is the Detention Program Managing Attorney at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) where she practices removal defense for noncitizens detained in Aurora, Colorado. While her caseload varies, her primary focus is providing court-appointed legal representation to individuals determined to have limited competency through the National Qualified Representative Program. Additionally, Laura teaches an Asylum Law & Policy Practicum as an adjunct professor at the Sturm College of Law - University of Denver. Directly before starting at RMIAN Laura served as the interim Managing Attorney for the CARA Pro Bono Project at the South Texas Family Residential Facility in Dilley, Texas. Previously, Laura was an Associate Attorney at Lichter Immigration, PC, in Denver, Colorado as well as Immigration Law Group, PC, in Portland, Oregon. Laura's efforts as a pro bono volunteer attorney for the family detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico were recognized when she and other attorneys involved in the project received the Oregon AILA Pro Bono Award for 2015 and the 2015 AILA Michael Maggio Pro Bono Award. Following law school, Laura clerked as an Attorney Advisor for the El Paso Immigration Courts through the U.S. Attorney General's Honors Program.
Shaleen Morales, Esq.
Detained Representation Attorney Fellow
Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund,
Shaleen joined RMIAN in January 2019 as the Detained Representation Attorney Fellow through the Denver Immigrant Legal Defense Fund. She is a 2013 graduate of the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico and a 2017 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. While in law school, Shaleen worked as a student attorney representing migrant farm workers, survivors of domestic violence and the elderly. Shaleen's passion of serving indigent communities and advocating for social justice has been largely inspired by the oftentimes difficult but profound stories of past clients. Prior to joining RMIAN, Shaleen worked at the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at St. Louis representing incarcerated individuals. Shaleen is admitted to practice in Missouri and a native Spanish speaker.
Lucia Ornelas, Esq.
Lucia Ornelas joined RMIAN in September 2019 as the first recipient of the post-graduate Detention Fellowship from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Lucia is a first-generation college graduate and received a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film and a B.A. in Mexican-American Studies with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. Lucia was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship at DU Law. This program awards a limited number of full-tuition scholarships to students with a demonstrated history of excellence in scholarship and public service. She graduated from DU Law in May 2019. During law school, Lucia externed with the Detention Program at RMIAN and worked as a student attorney in the Civil Litigation Clinic and the Immigration Law & Policy Clinic (ILPC). As an extern at RMIAN and student attorney in the ILPC, Lucia provided legal orientations and direct representation to detained noncitizens at the GEO Aurora Detention Facility. She also successfully represented an ILPC client before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Lucia was the recipient of the Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award for the Mountain Region. Each year, the EJW National Advisory Committee presents eight law students throughout the country with a Regional Public Interest Award for their innovation, impact, and commitment to public interest law. Lucia was one of the eight students selected for providing extraordinary service through clinics, volunteer work, internships, and more. Lucia is originally from Dallas, Texas, and enjoys competing in 48-hour film festivals with her brothers, which involves shooting, editing, and submitting a film within 48-hours.
Natalie Petrucci, Esq.
Pro Bono Coordinating Staff Attorney
Natalie Petrucci first worked with RMIAN as a summer law clerk in 2016. In 2017, she joined RMIAN's Children's Program as a University of California President's Public Service Law Fellow. Natalie graduated from UCLA School of Law with specializations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy. Prior to law school, Natalie served in the Peace Corps in Panama, and advocated on behalf of people in prison with medical and disability needs at the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, CA. During law school, Natalie worked with attorneys at Public Council to represent asylum seekers, conducted legal research to support the ICE Out of LA Coalition, and proudly served as the Co-Editor in Chief of the Chicanx-Latinx Law Review. Natalie also interned with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, and PASE Legal Services, a farmworker rights organization in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Natalie graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Sustainability Studies. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.
Sarah Plastino, Esq.
Pro Bono Counsel / Senior Staff Attorney, Detention Program
Sarah Plastino is Pro Bono Counsel, in partnership with the Immigration Justice Campaign, and Senior Staff Attorney, for RMIAN's Detention Program. Sarah leads the detention aspects of RMIAN’s pro bono program, as well as engaging in direct representation of detained and formerly detained persons. Prior to joining RMIAN, Sarah was an Immigration Attorney in the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) at the Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) in Brooklyn, New York. At BDS, Sarah provided free appointed legal counsel to primarily detained non-citizens in removal and bond proceedings, as well as ancillary matters. Before BDS, Sarah spent three years in the New Jersey office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), as the Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, and later, the Supervising Attorney. Sarah directed all aspects of KIND's work in New Jersey, including supervising all legal work, advocating for the protection of unaccompanied children both locally and nationally, and engaging in impact litigation. Before KIND, Sarah was a Staff Attorney in the LGBT Immigrant Rights Initiative of the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. Sarah's career in removal defense and advocacy began prior to law school when she was a legal assistant at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Florence, Arizona. She holds a JD, cum laude, and a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University Law Center, and a BA, cum laude, in International Studies and Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina. Sarah is admitted to practice in New York. She is originally from Philadelphia.
Detention Program Coordinator
Mayra Prieto joined RMIAN’s staff in December of 2015. As the Detention Program Coordinator she provides support to the Detention Program Managing Attorney overseeing the administrative side of cases and provides paralegal support to attorney representing individuals through the National Qualified Representative Program. Prior to working at RMIAN, she worked at a private immigration law firm as a legal assistant working on family-based petitions. It was by working there that Mayra discovered her passion for working with the immigrant community and realized how essential legal representation can be. Mayra immigrated to the United States as a child and can identify with the struggles of the individuals and families that she works with daily. Mayra is the first in her family to graduate from college, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013. While at MSU, she was a recipient of the College Assistance Migrant Program and Reisher Scholarships.
Interim Pro Bono Coordinator,
Vanessa Saldivar began her immigration legal work in 2010 at Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in Portland, Oregon, where she represented survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault before USCIS as a BIA Accredited Representative. In 2014, she worked for the American Immigration Lawyers Association coordinating a national pro bono legal defense project for Central American women and children detained in New Mexico and Texas. In 2015, Vanessa received the Oregon AILA Immigrant Achievement Award and the AILA Michael Maggio Pro Bono Award for her work with the Artesia Pro Bono Project. Prior to moving to Denver, Vanessa helped start the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of Law, which represents unaccompanied children and families seeking protection. Most recently, Vanessa worked with the Women’s Refugee Commission in Washington D.C. on research and advocacy initiatives related to homeless immigrant youth and the treatment of asylum seekers in the U.S. and Mexico. Outside of the immigration legal setting, Vanessa has worked with vulnerable children and youth in a variety of roles including as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care, a case manager for Latino children impacted by domestic violence and a volunteer yoga teacher for youth survivors of sexual assault. Vanessa holds a Masters Degree in Migration Studies from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.
Cindy joined RMIAN as the Detention Program Social Worker in October 2018. She began her professional career as a high school Spanish and history teacher, working with youth in an alternative learning program. In 2005, Cindy volunteered full-time at the St. Mary’s Health Clinics in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN as a community health educator and interpreter. She moved to El Paso, TX, in 2006 where she volunteered and led educational border trips with Annunciation House, a shelter for recently arrived migrants. From 2009-2015, she served as the Social Services Coordinator and legal assistant at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona. During her time at the Florence Project, she spearheaded the expansion of the social services program, and collaborated with community partners to establish detention visitation, letter-writing, and housing networks. She also contributed to the publication, “What if I’m picked up by ICE in Arizona?: Making a Family Plan”, a guide for immigrant parents navigating the child welfare and immigration systems. She holds an undergraduate degree in high school history and Spanish education and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University. In addition to feeling honored to work alongside courageous and wise individuals in detention, Cindy loves climbing, cooking and baking, and having dance parties with her toddler and husband.
Laura Shoaps, Esq.
Immigration Detention Attorney Fellow
Laura joined RMIAN in January of 2019 as the Immigration Detention Attorney Fellow. In this capacity, Laura provides free legal representation to detained clients in their bond hearings, parole requests, credible fear proceedings, and merits hearings. Laura’s commitment to immigrant rights work solidified while working for Centro Legal de la Raza, in Oakland, California. Prior to joining RMIAN, Laura worked with Hernandez & Associates, P.C., where she managed the firm-wide caseload for U visa petitions, VAWA petitions, and related adjustment of status applications. Laura graduated cum laude from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2014, where she earned the Ed Brunet Global Law Scholar Award. While in law school, Laura interned with the International Justice Resource Center in San Francisco, California, the National Crime Victim Law Institute in Portland, Oregon, and the Human Rights Law Network, in New Delhi, India. Laura earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2011, graduating with honors distinction in Sociology and Political Science. Laura currently serves as a co-coordinator of Project Safeguard, where she assists Spanish speaking survivors of domestic violence in preparing petitions to initiate divorce and custody proceedings and she conducts “know your rights” presentations, discussing victim-based immigration relief. Laura is from Lansing, Michigan and she is admitted to practice law in Colorado and California.
Caleb Stewart, Esq.
Anti-Human Trafficking Project Attorney
Caleb joined RMIAN’s Anti-Human Trafficking Project in March of 2018 after four plus years of providing civil legal services to survivors of human trafficking with Colorado Legal Services. Prior to studying law (JD) and public administration (MPA with a certificate in nonprofit management) at the University of Washington in Seattle, he lived in Thailand for five years and traveled throughout South and Southeast Asia for another six months. While in Thailand, he taught in primary schools and coordinated community development projects with the Peace Corps and empowered local ethnic minority groups through sustainable agriculture, Montessori based education, and income generating handicraft projects as the Managing Director of the Khom Loy Development Foundation. He is conversant in Thai, Lao, and Spanish and speaks pieces of a several other languages.
Tatiana Tinsley graduated from the University of Colorado in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. During her time at CU she traveled extensively throughout Central and South America where she volunteered at multiple non-profit and charitable organizations including hospitals serving elderly residents abandoned by their family due to poverty, shelters for the homeless and victims of gang violence, and schools dedicated to advancing childhood literacy in local communities. Her experience working with indigent communities abroad inspired her to pursue a career working with the immigrant populations here in the US. Before coming to RMIAN in February of 2019, Tatiana worked as a paralegal and case manager for a private immigration law firm, The Logan Firm, PC, where she provided excellent legal assistance to attorneys and clients by working on a variety of immigration matters. Her four and a half years in the private sector left her specialized in SIJS, U-visa, VAWA, and Asylum related cases. In her spare time Tatiana likes to read, do yoga, and be outdoors with her husband and her dog Scout.
Yazmin Torres graduated from the University of Denver in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in International Business and minors in Spanish and International Studies. While at DU, she was a prestigious Daniels Scholar and Dell Scholar. Prior to working at RMIAN, Yazmin worked at the immigration law firm of Elkind Alterman Harston, PC. The first in her family to graduate from college, Yazmin's empathy and understanding for immigrants comes from her family's journey. Her excellent written and oral skills in Spanish are an asset for many of RMIAN's clients. Yazmin plans to attend law school in the future to become an immigration attorney so that she can help immigrants obtain lawful status to pursue their dreams, just as her family once was given the opportunity.
Charles Vernon, Esq.
Immigrant Justice Legal Fellow,
Charles Vernon joined RMIAN in August 2018 as Immigrant Justice Legal Fellow to represent detained immigrants pro bono at the Aurora ICE Processing Center in Aurora, CO. Charles graduated cum laude from the University of Arizona, Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. After graduating, he began working as a staff attorney with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Florence, AZ, and later served there as Pro Bono Coordinator and Senior Mental Health Attorney, handling appointments to represent immigrants with serious mental health issues through the National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP). In June 2018 Charles left the Florence Project after nearly seven years in order to move to Colorado with his wife and two-year-old daughter, to be closer to family. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family, reading novels, and rock climbing.