Do you have a friend in your life who you can rely on for anything? For GAIN, that friend is Tracie Klinke, Co-Chair of our Board of Directors and the owner of Klinke Immigration. Tracie has served on the Board for many years in many capacities; no matter what hat she wears, though, she is a force of thoughtful and positive support for everything that GAIN does.
Even though Tracie is the best-kept secret to GAIN’s success, we feel compelled to share that secret with you.
GAIN: Tracie! Tell us a little about who you are, where you come from, and what you do.
Tracie: I grew up in Wichita, Kansas, which is a far cry from the exotic locations that our clients come from. My family, though, has always had a touch of the international flare to it. I grew-up with a step-dad from Mexico, and when I was 17 I gained a sister from Russia through adoption. In college, I worked in the international student office, which is where I met a boisterous, country-western loving German who is now my husband. Appreciating the challenges that my family members faced – be it cultural, language-based, or legal – has been crucial for preparing me for my career as an immigration lawyer.
I’ve been practicing immigration law for for six years and for the last three years, I’ve had my own practice, Klinke Immigration, in Marietta. I work on family and humanitarian-based cases, very similar to the type of cases that GAIN does on a daily basis. My training through GAIN has been instrumental to how I’ve shaped my practice. I strive to create an environment where clients feel safe, comfortable, and almost as though they are talking with a friend. The office is cozy by design, helping to take the intimidation out of working with an attorney.
G: How did you get involved with GAIN?
T: Right after I took the Georgia Bar exam in February 2009, I wanted to learn more about immigration options for immigrant victims of human trafficking. My employer at the time encouraged me to attend a training that GAIN sponsored and I was hooked. I took a case pro bono and it was the firm’s first T visa case. We then quickly took on a U visa case and from there, the firm’s practice in U visas grew tremendously. Although I’m no longer at that particular firm, they still do amazing work with immigrant victims of violence. A large part of my practice continues to be with U visa applicants, as well. Unfortunately, there is plenty of work to go around in this practice area.
G: Why is GAIN important to you?
T: On a selfish professional note, I found my passion for working with immigrant victims of violence and human trafficking through GAIN. I am so very fortunate to love what I do and to earn a living doing it. So without GAIN, I don’t know if I would be nearly so fulfilled in my professional life.
Without GAIN, though, I wonder who would do all of the work that clearly needs to be done. As an immigration attorney, I see the tremendous need for pro bono assistance in this area. As a private attorney, I cannot offer pro bono services and the non-profits that offer the type of help that GAIN provides are already operating beyond capacity. Having GAIN to refer the neediest of clients to is a true asset. I don’t know what Atlanta would do without them.
G: What is your favorite memory associated with GAIN?
T: I always like hearing the client testimonial at GAIN events. You may think that since I work in this area on a daily basis that I’d get tired of these stories. The truth, though, is that when I’m working on a case, I think about the situation differently out of necessity. I have to analyze the facts, look for weaknesses, and I can’t simply embrace the client’s story of triumph over darkness and despair. Being partially removed from the GAIN client allows me to listen to the story with a fresh set of ears and to once again appreciate everything that these survivors have, well, survived. It’s a reaffirmation of why I do what I do.
G: What would you like to see in GAIN’s future?
T: GAIN has done so much with so little and I’m so proud of everything that Monica and Alpa have accomplished over the years. By adding Madeline this past year, we’ve seen how much more can be done when the right people are brought on board. So I am looking forward to seeing GAIN’s staff continuing to grow in a smart, strategic way. When the right people are in place, working on a cause they care deeply about, the sky is truly the limit.