About RAICES

 

Our Mission

We defend the rights of immigrants and refugees, empower individuals, families and communities, and advocate for liberty and justice.

Our Vision

We envision a compassionate society where all people have the right to migrate and human rights are guaranteed.

RAICES is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.

Founded in 1986 as the Refugee Aid Project by community activists in South Texas, RAICES has grown to be the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. With offices in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, RAICES is a frontline organization in the roiling debate about immigration and immigrants in the world. As an organization that combines expertise developed from the daily practice of immigration law with a deep commitment to advocacy, RAICES is unique among immigration organizations. A diverse staff of 240 attorneys, legal assistants, social workers, advocates, and support staff provide consultations, direct legal services, representation, assistance and advocacy to communities in Texas and to clients after they leave the state. In 2017, RAICES staff closed 51,000 cases at no cost to the client. Our advocacy and commitment to change are driven by the clients and families we serve every day as our attorneys and legal assistants provide legal advocacy and representation in an immigration system that breaks apart families and leaves millions without pathways to legal status.

Officers

Jonathan Ryan, CEO / President
San Antonio, TX
Jonathan Ryan has served as the Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) since 2008. RAICES provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas. Previously, he worked as a staff attorney at American Gateways where he helped to establish the Legal Orientation Program for adults in DHS detention. Jonathan received his B.A. from Columbia College in New York and is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law.

Erika Andiola,  Chief Advocacy Officer
Phoenix, AZ
Erika Andiola is the Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES and former Press Secretary for Latino Outreach for Bernie 2016. She started her community organizing experience when she co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. She then served in the National Coordinating Committee and the Board of Directors for the United We Dream Network. Her personal struggle as an undocumented woman herself, with an undocumented family, has given her the drive and the passion to keep fighting for immigrant and human rights.

Brendan Colthurst, Chief Technology Officer
Los Angeles, CA
Brendan is a graduate of Columbia in New York City and has worked for a number of digital agencies including Organic Inc. and VSA Partners. Brendan was the CTO and technical co-founder of Wine Direct, a SaaS e-commerce and logistics business, and the managing partner of Disposable Television, a digital video production company.

Liz Dunn, Chief Development Officer
San Antonio, TX
Liz brings a career in non-profit fundraising to RAICES, with experience both as a consultant and as an in-house development officer. Most recently as an Executive Director with CCS Fundraising in NYC, Liz worked with the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, the Child Mind Institute in NYC, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington D.C. Liz has also served as Vice Chair of the Board for the Forum for Equality, a New Orleans-based non-profit founded to promote and sustain the equality of all people in Louisiana. Liz graduated from Louisiana State University with a B.S. in Business Management and a Master’s in Public Administration.

Sara Fairley, Chief Social Programs Officer
Fort Worth, TX

Michelle Garza, Chief Legal Programs Officer
Dallas, TX
Michelle Garza has worked at RAICES since 2010. As a staff attorney at RAICES, Michelle’s practice was divided between the Children’s Program and direct representation of unaccompanied minors, as well as some affirmative practice before the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services. She became Director of RAICES Children’s Program in December of 2012 and Associate Executive Director in 2015. Before joining RAICES, Michelle obtained her B.A from the University of Texas at Austin in Mexican American Studies with a focus on Public Policy and received a J.D from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2010.

Julia Harvell, Chief Administration Officer
Bastrop, TX

Nathan Johnson, Chief Financial Officer
San Antonio, TX

Directors

Bryan Carmel, Interim Director of Video
Los Angeles, CA
A graduate of Columbia University and USC Film School, Bryan is a documentary producer with a long track record as a media executive. He has developed and produced series for HBO, Comedy Central, SyFy, Discovery, History, Bravo, Nickelodeon, and MTV. Bryan co-wrote and produced The Democracy Handbook With Bassem Youssef and the cult documentary Kumaré, winner of the Audience Award at SXSW. Bryan was VP of Development for Fusion – Univision’s English-speaking multi-platform network for young, diverse, inclusive Americans.

Manoj Govindaiah,Director of Litigation
San Antonio, TX
Prior to becoming the Director of Litigation, Manoj was the Director of Legal Strategy and Training at RAICES, and prior to that was the Director of Family Detention Services where he oversaw RAICES’ work at Texas family detention centers. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2006. He has spent his career working at non-profit legal services agencies in immigration, civil rights, juvenile justice, and education. He is fluent in Spanish, and is admitted to the bars in Texas, Illinois, and Florida

Whitney Hampton, Families Together Director
Dallas, TX

Mayra Jimenez, Director of Children’s Program
San Antonio, TX
Mayra Jimenez is the Children’s Program Director at RAICES. She has been dedicated to the Children’s Program and the work of unaccompanied minors for over 4 years. She attended Baylor University for her undergraduate studies where she received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Economics and International Business and went on to graduate from St. Mary’s University Law School. Prior to joining RAICES, Mayra clerked at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid specializing in family and property law. She also worked at the Bexar County Courthouse District Court Division clerking for Civil County Judges.

Alexandra Minnaar, Director of Community Immigration Services
Austin
Alexandra Minnaar is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. Alexandra began working at RAICES in September 2008 with detained asylum seekers and unaccompanied children. In November 2013, Alexandra initiated the expansion of RAICES general immigration services at the Austin office. Prior to working at RAICES, Alexandra was a federal law clerk for the Honorable Judge Diana Saldana at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Laredo, Texas.

Barbara Peña, Director of Strategic Partnerships
San Antonio, TX

Brian Schaeffer, Pro Bono Legal Director
Houston, TX

Ulises Soler, Director of Commercial Partnerships
San Antonio, TX

Andrea Meza, Director of Family Detention Services
San Antonio, TX

Managing Attorneys

Jennifer de Haro, Managing Attorney
Fort Worth, TX
Jennifer graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 2012, where she was a student attorney in the Immigration Clinic. As a student attorney, Jennifer worked with detained immigrants and victims of crime, which solidified her career choice to work with vulnerable immigrant populations. Before starting with RAICES in December of 2015, Jennifer practiced as an immigration attorney with Catholic Charities, focusing on relief for victims of crime, removal defense, and family-based petitions. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys attending live music events, traveling with her husband, and spending time with her dog, Murphy. She also volunteers her time with NEED YPO, where she coordinates various service and educational events regarding poverty in Fort Worth.

Carrie Chavez Thompson, Managing Attorney
Corpus Christi, TX
Carrie graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she was selected as a member of the Moot Court Honor Board, a fellow with the Ohio Innocence Project, and an associate member of the Immigration and Nationality Law Review and where she co-founded the Immigrant Community Legal Advocacy Project. She received her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, graduating with distinction. Before joining RAICES, Carrie practiced immigration law, both as a solo practitioner and as an associate attorney with an immigration focused law firm. From 2008 to 2016, Carrie was the Director of Immigration & Refugee Services with Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, Inc. where she supervised legal services and refugee resettlement work. In addition to her experience in immigration law, Carrie has served as a prosecuting attorney and judicial law clerk for the Southern District of Missouri. Carrie is licensed to practice law in the states of Texas and Missouri, and in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas.

Felix Villalobos, Managing Attorney
Dallas, TX
Felix Villalobos is the managing attorney at the RAICES Dallas office. Felix is a graduate of the South Texas College of Law in Houston. Prior to that Felix graduated from Brigham Young University in International Relations. Before joining RAICES, Felix was a staff attorney with Mary Elizabeth Cedillo-Pereira at her Immigration Boutique law firm in Dallas that specializes in Immigration and was heavily involved in removal defense. Felix was also an intern with Catholic Charities Dallas. Felix serves on the boards with the City of Dallas Judicial Commission, Alumni association, and local clergy leadership of an international church. He also has three children that serve as his inspiration.

Hannah Zimmermann, Managing Attorney
San Antonio, TX
Hannah is the managing attorney of the North Flores RAICES San Antonio office. Hannah is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, where she was a student attorney in the Immigration Clinic. She has been committed to working with immigrant communities since volunteering on an asylum case in college in Lancaster, PA. Prior to joining the San Antonio office, Hannah was supervising attorney of the unaccompanied children’s program in RAICES’ Corpus Christi office. She was a post-graduate fellow at American Gateways in Austin, Texas, working with refugees and immigrant victims of crime, and has interned with the Equal Justice Center and the ACLU of Texas in Austin, Texas.