Our Staff

America Ambriz

Pronouns: She/Hers/Ella

Social Worker

B.S., Texas State University in San Marcos; M.S.W., University of California, Berkeley

Direct Line: (415) 780-6332

America is proud to be a daughter of Mexican immigrants and first-generation college graduate. She attended undergrad at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas and graduated with her Master's in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley in May 2022. Over the years America has gained experience working with first-generation college students, youth and Latinx-immigrant populations through mentoring, teaching SEL, and advocating for immigration and education reform. America aspires to open up her own non-profit back home in Texas that serves the Latinx population. In her spare time, she enjoys taking care of her plants, hiking with her highly active dog Joy, live music, thrifting, and trying out new restaurants in the Bay Area.

Fernando Antunez

Pronouns: He/They

Social Worker

B.A., University of California, Los Angeles; M.S.W., University of California, Berkeley

Direct Line: (415) 780-6357

Fernando is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s Social Welfare program and a less-recent graduate of UCLA’s undergraduate Political Science program. They are the youngest of six children (five surviving) to a mother from Guerrero, Mexico and a father from Morelos, Mexico. Fernando has multilevel professional experience in community mental health, program development for system-impacted latine youth, and qualitative research design. Long term, Fernando is deeply invested in reimagining community-based care systems for families and communities experiencing grief. To sustain this passion, Fernando enjoys reading and writing poetry, listening to Marvin Gaye, and trying to recreate their mother’s recipes from memory.

Stephany Arzaga

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Associate Legal Director

B.A., Baylor University; J.D., Golden Gate University School of Law

Direct Line: (415) 780-6352

Stephany graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law in May of 2016 with experience in many fields of social justice work. Born and raised in the border town of El Paso, Texas, Stephany discovered her passion for immigrant rights and justice at a young age. She has pursued her passion for immigration justice through internships at organizations like La Raza Centro Legal, the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at GGU, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and Social Justice Collaborative. Beyond her work at LSC, Stephany enjoys sketching with graphite pencil and painting with watercolors and acrylic paint, reading, dancing, going to concerts, and traveling.

Reyna Burgos

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

DOJ Accredited Representative | Immigration Rights Advocate

B.A., San Francisco State University

Direct Line: (415) 780-6343

Reyna joined LSC in September 2005. She manages the Detained Immigrant Children’s Project. Her main focus is providing direct support for detained Spanish-speaking immigrant youth. Reyna’s professional background includes working as a certified mediator, certified domestic violence counselor, and a suicide hotline counselor. As a mediator and counselor, she assisted adults and youth who faced substance abuse, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS-related issues. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her four-legged child KittyCat, her nephews Giovanne and Issa, and her niece Genevieve.

Tanhya Cardenas Mares

Pronouns: She/They

DOJ Accredited Representative | Community Advocate

B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz

Direct Line: (415) 780-6350

Tanhya joined LSC in June 2015. She graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Sociology. Tanhya’s career aspirations are to become a lawyer working with underrepresented communities. Her passion stemmed from her own upbringing, growing up in a primary economically disadvantaged Latino community who confronted different forms of injustice every day. Her social justice work is driven to bring about a more just society. Working to help give people agency and autonomy in their legal decisions, and empower to continue growing. Outside of work at LSC, Tanhya enjoys dancing, writing poetry, singing, hiking, and spending time with family.

Moisés Cruz

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Operations Director

B.A., University of California, Berkeley

Direct Line: (415) 780-6336

Moisés joined LSC in June 2013. He grew up in Southern California and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Spanish: Hispanic Languages & Bilingual Issues. Moisés is deeply fascinated in languages, particularly with code switching in conversations and literature. In his spare time, he enjoys learning and experimenting with art practice techniques, reading manga and fictional literature, cooking his ama’s recipes, playing badminton, running, and playing mahjong and Blokus.

Jen Daly

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Senior Attorney

B.A., Boston College; J.D., Northeastern University School of Law

Direct Line: (415) 780-6351

Jen joined the LSC team in June 2016. Jen brings 20 years of experience working with youth in various capacities. Jen began her career in 1997 as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working with abused and neglected children. She spent several years working as a counselor for drug addicted teens at Thunder Road Adolescent Drug Treatment Center in Oakland. She left Thunder Road to attend law school at Northeastern University School of Law. While in law school, Jen focused on juvenile justice issues. She has clerked for a Juvenile Court Judge, interned at a public defender’s office, worked as an advocate for women in prison and spent time in India working with refugees. For the nine years prior to joining the LSC team, Jen had a private law practice representing both parents and children in the San Francisco Dependency Court. Jen’s practice at LSC is focused on representing children in abuse and neglect cases and advocating for the rights of foster youth. Outside of work Jen enjoys relaxing at the Russian River, traveling and spending time with her many nieces and nephews.

Caitlin Fuller

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Intake & Outreach Attorney

B.A., Grinnell College; J.D., University of California College of the Law, San Francisco; M.S.W., University of Chicago

Direct Line: (415) 780-6329

Caitlin joined LSC in 2022 as an Intake & Outreach Attorney after previously interning with LSC’s Detained Immigrant Children Project during law school. Prior to LSC, Caitlin earned both a law and social work degree and has many years of experience in social justice advocacy work across disciplines and client communities. In law school, Caitlin participated in the Refugee and Human Rights and Workers’ Rights legal clinics. After completing law school, Caitlin worked as a workers’ rights attorney representing low-income and immigrant workers. Outside of work, Caitlin enjoys reading cozy mysteries, listening to comedy podcasts, and spoiling her dog and cat.

Ron Gutierrez

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Clinical Director

B.A., Wesleyan University; M.S.W., Columbia University

Direct Line: (415) 780-6341

Ron has been practicing social work at LSC since 1996 and he received his Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential in 1999. He has served in the role of Clinical Director at LSC since 2001, supervising the social work staff and coordinating the overall clinical services. From 1992 to 1994, Ron worked with Episcopal Social Services in New York City as a foster care caseworker serving families with predominantly Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage. Over the years, Ron has accumulated extensive clinical experience serving children and families with a diversity of racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. In 1999, he began presenting on the topics of Latino Identity and Cultural Competence, and has since spoken at numerous conferences and agencies across the country. Ron and his wife, Cherie, are the proud parents of two daughters. Outside of work, Ron is a competitive and accomplished trail runner and bike racer. He also enjoys commuting to LSC daily by bike. Ron identifies as Peruvian American and he is fluent in Spanish.

Cynthia Henning

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Pro Bono Director

B.A., California Polytechnic State University; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center

Direct Line: (415) 780-6346

Cynthia Henning is Pro Bono Director at Legal Services for Children. Her biggest passion is ensuring children have access to quality legal services tailored to their development and needs. Before working with LSC, Cynthia defended Unaccompanied Children (UAC) from immigration removal for six years at Kids In Need of Defense, where she specialized in working with child trauma survivors and representing them in applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Asylum. Cynthia started her legal career as law clerk to the Honorable Hiram Puig-Lugo in 2013-2014 when he was the Deputy Presiding and the Presiding Judge of the D.C. Superior Family Court. Cynthia graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2013 with a certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies from the Institute for the Study of International Migration, School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is currently admitted to the California and Washington DC Bars.

Brian Huttenburg

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Senior Attorney

B.A., J.D. University of Wisconsin

Direct Line: (415) 780-6339

Brian joined LSC in May 2019. Brian has had a variety of experience working with children, and before law school, he was an environmental educator in the Bay Area. He went to law school to support environmental justice, but after graduating, he found himself working with the immigrant community as a staff attorney providing direct immigration legal services. He is excited to be working more directly with youth again. When not working, Brian enjoys long bike rides, climbing, reading, and essentially anything that gets him outside to experience the beauty of the Bay.

Lisa Kalayji

Development Manager

B.A., CLU; M.Sc. & Ph.D., University of Edinburgh

Direct Line: (415) 780-6348

Lisa joined LSC in 2023 as Development Manager with over a decade of experience working in broad-based social equity. She is a sociologist by training, and conducted research and teaching on the intersection between social justice issues, social movements, and emotional life at the University of Edinburgh for six years, alongside organizing advocacy initiatives for immigrant students and workers, supporting workers’ rights through a labor union, pushing for trauma-informed teaching practices, and organizing queer feminist pride events. She most recently managed operations and the grantmaking and scholarship programs at a racial and gender justice-focused foundation in the California central coast area, and served a three-year term as co-convenor of an international research network in the sociology of emotions. Lisa is passionate about transforming the power relationships between adults and children and increasing young people’s sovereignty over their lives, and she is proud to be part of an organization that trusts young people.

Anabel Kingwood

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Senior Attorney

B.A., Brown University; J.D. University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

Direct Line: (415) 780-6338

Anabel joined LSC in January 2019. She brings an intersectional approach to youth advocacy, working across their dependency, education, and immigration projects. Inspired by her parents’ migration stories and divergent experiences with San Francisco public schools, Anabel concentrated in Public Policy and American Institutions with a focus on Urban Education at Brown University and participated in the Critical Race Studies Program at UCLA Law. During law school, she had the privilege of externing for the Honorable Harry Pregerson on the Ninth Circuit and interning with Victor Narro at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center. Prior to LSC, Anabel fought at the state and local levels with youth and families of color for the systematic takedown of the school-to-prison/deportation pipeline and to create welcoming school environments as a Staff Attorney with Public Counsel’s Statewide Education Rights Project and as Policy Director with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth.

Jessica Lora

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Associate Clinical Director

B.A., University of California, Los Angeles; M.S.W., University of Southern California

Direct Line: (415) 780-6355

Prior to joining LSC, Jessica worked with foster youth in Alameda County. After receiving her B.A., she worked as a case manager in a mental health program. During graduate school, she worked with youth and families at Public Counsel Law Center and was also an academic advisor for high school students in a college readiness program. She was born and raised in the Central Valley, is fluent in Spanish, and is passionate about promoting social justice.

Joyce Lupack

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Development Director

B.F.A., New York University

Direct Line: (415) 780-6345

Joyce joined LSC in 2016 with more than 12 years of experience in donor development, grant management and communications. Most recently she worked at Bay Area Legal Aid and before that at the San Francisco Court Appointed Special Advocate (SF CASA) Program. She also enjoys working with adult learners and has tutored GED students and has taught a “Silver Surfers” class-- internet basics for seniors. Outside of work, she works to promote reform in the domestic adoption industry. She grew up in NYC but now happily lives in the East Bay with her wife, daughter, and dog Whisper, even though she is not a dog person.

Erin Maxwell

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Senior Social Worker

Direct Line: (415) 780-6340

Erin Maxwell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over a decade of experience working with child, youth and immigrant families. At Legal Services for Children, Erin works with detained children and provides clinical case management services to immigrant children residing in the community. Erin was the Director of Legal Services for Children's Detained Immigrant Children's Project from 2014 to 2018. Prior to working at Legal Services for Children, Erin worked for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services advocating on behalf of, and making best interest recommendations for, unaccompanied detained immigrant children and youth and at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project as a Social Services Coordinator. She obtained her Masters of Social Welfare (MSW) from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and has been working with immigrants and refugees both domestically and internationally since that time.

Judy Ovando

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Administrative Coordinator

B.A., San Francisco State University

Direct Line: (415) 780-6331

Judy joined LSC in 2021 after a long career in the hotel hospitality business in her native San Francisco. She graduated from SFSU, with a Bachelors in Humanities, developing her sense of community involvement by tutoring children in the Mission school district and volunteering for Casa de las Madres. A proud daughter of immigrant parents, she immersed herself in her culture and language by traveling every summer, via car, from San Francisco to Guadalajara, Mexico. The experience influenced her social awareness and her passion for working with a culturally diverse community. As a mother of three, she enjoys quality time with her family, passing down her traditions to her sons and daughter through food, dance, art, and music.

Isiomara Paniagua

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Social Worker

B.A. & M.S.W., Louisiana State University

Direct Line: (415) 780-6342

Isiomara joined Legal Services for Children in 2021 as a social work intern, working on the Detained Immigrant Children’s Project. She earned her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees at Louisiana State University (LSU). While at LSU, she collaborated with Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention (LA-AID), visiting people in detention, advocating for humane treatment, and bringing awareness to fellow students on campus. She interned at Louisiana State Penitentiary and worked with offenders on death row, conducting an anger management group and rehabilitation groups. Besides her work at LSC, Isiomara proudly serves in the United States Army Reserve as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). She enjoys visiting local museums, painting, and spending time with her daughter.

Marisol Rubio

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Immigration Social Worker

B.A., University of California, Berkeley; M.S.W., University of California, Berkeley

Direct Line: (415) 780-6353

Marisol Rubio is a double golden bear. She received her Masters of Social Welfare and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Marisol was born and raised in Bolivia and is of Quechua indigenous descent. Marisol is an advocate for immigrant rights and social justice. Marisol is also deeply passionate about abolishing all forms of oppression alongside communities of color, especially low-income Latinx undocumented immigrants.

Marisol's prior work experience includes working at a non-profit organization in San Francisco and Los Angeles, supporting newcomer immigrants navigating the immigration legal system and social services, and advocating for health equity. Marisol's hobbies include painting, playing tennis, and traveling to new places.

Cathy Sakimura

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Executive Director

B.A., Stanford University; J.D., University of California College of the Law, San Francisco

Direct Line: 415-780-6333

Cathy Sakimura joined LSC as Executive Director in June 2022. Cathy previously served as the Deputy Director and Family Law Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She received her J.D. from UC College of the Law in San Francisco and her B.A. from Stanford University. Prior to law school, Cathy has also worked at Gay-Straight Alliance Network, empowering young people to combat harassment in their schools and was a member of the Board of Directors of COLAGE, an organization for people with LGBTQ parents. Cathy is recognized as a national expert in LGBTQ family law, particularly on issues faced by low-income LGBTQ families of color. In 2021, Cathy received the Dan Bradley Award, the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association’s highest honor. She is a co-author of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Family Law, published by Thomson Reuters. Cathy was born and raised in Hawaii and lives in the East Bay with her spouse, two children, two dogs, and three garden cats.

Nedra Shawler

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Legal Director

San Jose State University; J.D., Georgia State University College of Law

Direct Line: 415-780-6344

Nedra returned to LSC team in February 2022 as Legal Director. Nedra brings over 30 years of experience working with youth in various capacities. Nedra began her career in 1991 as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working with abused and neglected children in Santa Clara County. Upon graduating from San Jose State University, Nedra went to Georgia State University College of Law, wherein she received her Juris Doctorate. Nedra returned to the Bay Area in 1995 and began working with Civil Rights Attorney, John L. Burris. Nedra joined LSC in 1997 as the HOPE Project Director working with children who were impacted and affected by HIV/AIDS. Nedra left LSC and went to work at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a Staff Attorney. She then went to Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, Dependency Unit wherein she represented both parents and children in the Alameda County Juvenile Court. Nedra then transitioned to Alameda County Office of County Counsel and, retired therefrom after 20 years of public service, in February 2022. As Legal Director, Nedra brings a wealth of knowledge which supports several of LSC’s practice areas and attorneys. Nedra is excited to return to the place and clients which holds her heart.

Carly Shortell

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Staff Attorney

B.A., University of Richmond; J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Direct Line: 415-780-6326

Carly joined Legal Services for Children in 2022 as a Staff Attorney working on the Detained Immigrant Children’s Project. While in law school, she had the opportunity to work with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Pangea Legal Services, East Bay Community Law Center, Oasis Legal Services, and the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. She is excited to be working full-time serving immigrants in the Bay. Although she grew up in Massachusetts, she has called the Bay Area home since 2018 and does not miss the winter. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking in the East Bay hills, going to the beach, taking her dog Ziggy on adventures, cooking, and crafting.

Kristine Suarez

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Development Associate

B.A., The City College of New York - CUNY

Direct Line: (415) 780-6327

Kristine joined Legal Services for Children as the Development Associate in September 2021. She received her Bachelors in Psychology from the City College of New York - CUNY. As an immigrant who grew up in New York City, she’s passionate about helping youths in underrepresented communities and believes children should have access to legal and social support. Before working at LSC, Kristine worked as the Committee Associate at the New York City Bar Association and Development Intern at the Migration Resource Center. In her free time, Kristine enjoys hiking, road-trips, reading, and exploring new cuisines.

Beatriz Torres

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Senior Social Worker

B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz; M.S.W., Columbia University

Direct Line: (415) 780-6354

Beatriz is a social worker at Legal Services for Children (LSC) in San Francisco, CA. She has over 10 years of experience working with children, youth, and their families. At LSC, she has worked with detained youth and is now focused on working with youth in the community, providing clinical case management services and leading BEAT (Building, Educating, Advancing, Transforming), a program at LSC funded by the San Francisco City and County: Department of Children, Youth, & Their Families. Prior to joining LSC, Beatriz worked in New York City as a counselor for Esperanza, an alternative to incarceration program for youth, where she predominantly served youth and families of Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. Beatriz works from a stated-interest approach and sees every young person as powerful, talented, and capable. She strongly believes that the world would be a better place if youth were given more leadership opportunities. Beatriz is passionate about her work and enjoys meeting and exchanging ideas with others working in solidarity with youth, particularly BIPOC youth.

Erica West

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Social Worker

B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz; M.S.W., University of California, Berkeley

Direct Line: (415) 780-6349

Erica is a social worker with LSC, working with the Guardianship and Education Teams since October 2021. She began working with systems involved youth in graduate school at UC Berkeley, where she got her MSW in 2018. There, she worked with youth inside Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, doing case management and therapy. From there she worked with youth on probation doing clinical case management in the community before coming to LSC. Before graduate school, she got her BA in Psychology at UC Santa Cruz in 2014 and worked at a domestic violence shelter in San Mateo. She feels passionately about supporting marginalized and system involved youth to access the care and resources they need and deserve. In her spare time, Erica likes to rock climb, watch horror movies with her friends, spend time with her puppy and listen to podcasts and music.

David White

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Senior Attorney

B.A., George Washington University; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center

Direct Line: (415) 780-6337

David began working at LSC in September 2017. Prior to joining LSC, David spent five years in the Public Defender’s office in Massachusetts representing children and parents in the dependency system. David became interested in providing direct legal representation to children during law school while interning with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He went on to intern with the Children’s Law Center providing assistance to children in Washington D.C.’s dependency system and later participated in Georgetown’s Juvenile Justice Clinic providing direct legal representation to children charged with delinquencies. When not at work, David enjoys being outside, reading, and playing soccer.