AS DIVERSE AS OUR CLIENTS

OUR TEAM

GAIN’s dedicated staff works every day to execute our mission to protect and empower immigrant survivors of crime and persecution. Our program team provides direct services to our clients, oversees the screening and placement of referred cases, and provides training and supervision for our volunteer attorneys and partners. GAIN staff members hold expertise in the areas of asylum, human trafficking, and humanitarian-based immigration, and we are proud to say that our staff is reflective of the communities we serve.

GAIN LEADERSHIP

Alpa Amin
Alpa AminExecutive Director

Alpa Amin is the Executive Director of Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN), having previously served as GAIN’s Director of Legal Services. Ms. Amin began her work with GAIN in 2008 as a Law and Policy Assistant, and in 2009 with the support from Greenberg Traurig and King & Spalding, she was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to establish GAIN’s Victims of Violence Program. Ms. Amin oversees all aspects of GAIN’s work, including the provision of pro bono legal services through GAIN’s Asylum and Victims of Violence Programs. She works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement and is a frequent guest speaker on issues affecting vulnerable immigrants. Ms. Amin is Chair of the Georgia Immigrant Working Group, a past chair of the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, and a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Leadership Buckhead, and the Anti-Defamation League’s Glass Leadership Institute. She has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s Top 40 Under 40 and is the recipient of the Atlanta Bar Association’s 2018 Rita A. Sheffey Public Interest Award. Ms. Amin is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Adriana Heffley
Adriana HeffleyDirector of Legal Services

As Director of Legal Services for GAIN, Adriana Heffley’s mission is to provide collaborative, empowering legal support to survivors of trauma. Having worked with survivors of gender-based violence for over ten years, she has focused her legal career on humanitarian immigration, with experience both as a volunteer while working in business immigration law, and as a nonprofit attorney serving survivors in Georgia. Before moving to the nonprofit sector, Adriana worked pro bono on cases with GAIN, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Raksha, and Tahirih Justice Center. As a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, she has prioritized motivating pro bono service, community investment, and collaboration across local organizations serving survivors.

Adriana graduated from Georgia State University College of Law, where she was an evening student, Law Review Associate Student Writing Editor, and Graduate Research Assistant. During law school, she served as an Extern for Atlanta Legal Aid, where she represented domestic violence survivors seeking protective orders.

Prior to joining GAIN, Adriana volunteered for GAIN’s Project Ally, where she helped lead efforts to file humanitarian parole applications for Afghans fleeing the Taliban and to develop clinics supporting Afghan parolees with their asylum applications.

Bill Hoffmann, Jr.
Bill Hoffmann, Jr.Senior Counsel

William Hoffmann is Senior Counsel at GAIN. Until his retirement in 2012, he served for five years as the pro bono partner at the law firm of King & Spalding, an 800 lawyer firm with eight offices in the United States, five in Europe and four in Asia. He was responsible for the pro bono programs throughout the firm. Prior to being named pro bono partner, he was a litigation partner at King & Spalding.

While working with GAIN, Mr. Hoffmann has successfully represented over 20 asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and Haiti, most of them in proceedings in Atlanta Immigration Court. Mr. Hoffmann’s has also served as independent amicus curiae for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

He is the recipient of awards for his pro bono work from GAIN, Emory University, The College of William & Mary, The State Bar of Georgia and the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. He is a frequent guest lecturer on human rights issues at Emory University, the College of William & Mary, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the College of Charleston.

Before practicing law, Mr. Hoffmann was Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from the College of William & Mary, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Georgia.

Kate McNeely, CFRE
Kate McNeely, CFREDirector of Development

Kate McNeely is a Certified Fund Raising Executive, and she is proud to serve as the Director of Development at Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network (GAIN). In this role, she administers fundraising initiatives and works alongside the Board of Directors to guide strategies which enable GAIN to help more clients with quality immigration legal services. Ms. McNeely joined the GAIN staff in 2018 with 10+ years experience in nonprofit fundraising, administration, and marketing. She most recently served Planned Parenthood Southeast (2015-2018) and Woodruff Arts Center (2005-2015). Ms. McNeely is a graduate of Leadership Buckhead, Class of 2020, and serves as VP, Education on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Atlanta Chapter. She was born and raised in Buckhannon, WV, and received her B.A. from Guilford College, where she was later honored as a co-recipient for their first Community Cares award. Kate volunteers to help other nonprofit organizations whenever she is able, and is grateful for GAIN’s volunteer attorneys who dedicate their time and talent to ensure GAIN’s vision of safety, freedom, and opportunity for all.

GAIN ATTORNEYS

Zuhra Aziz
Zuhra AzizEqual Justice Works Fellow

Zuhra Aziz is a graduate of Emory University College of Arts and Sciences, where she obtained her Bachelors in Biology and Minor in Spanish. After completing her undergraduate degree, her passion for human rights led her to attend law school at Emory University School of Law. While attending law school, she participated in a number of Emory’s clinics to gain hands-on experience in different areas of law such as the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic, the Turner Environmental Law Clinic, and the International Humanitarian Law Clinic. In her final year of law school, she was selected to become Emory’s 2021-2022 Aaron L. Buschbaum Fellow and was offered the opportunity to work for the Georgia Legal Services Program’s Savannah Office. Zuhra began her relationship with GAIN as a volunteer for Project Ally, a program created as a response to the August 2021 crisis in Afghanistan. She completed intakes, helped file humanitarian parole applications, and served as an interpreter for Project Ally. Her dedication to helping Afghans led her to apply for an Equal Justice Fellowship with GAIN as the host organization. Zuhra now leads the expanded Project Ally program by completing Asylum applications and conducting Asylum clinics for newly arrived Afghans.

Karla Diaz
Karla DiazVictims of Violence Attorney

Karla Diaz is the Victims of Violence Attorney at the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN). In this role, she provides representation both directly and by recruiting and training volunteer attorneys to represent immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and physical/sexual assault who need assistance with filing T-Visas, U-Visas, and VAWA Self-Petitions/Battered Spouse Waivers. Additionally, Karla conducts and participates in community outreach programs aimed at informing partner organizations and the community of GAIN’s services.

Karla received her B.S. in Criminal Justice and her J.D. from Georgia State University. Karla began working at GAIN as a legal extern in the Summer of 2017 and transitioned into the Victims of Violence Attorney role after receiving her J.D. in December 2017.

Serene Hawasli Kashlan
Serene Hawasli KashlanAsylum Attorney

Serene Hawasli Kashlan is an asylum attorney at GAIN, representing asylum-seekers affirmatively before the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and defensively before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”). In addition to direct representation, Serene provides training and mentorship to volunteer attorneys representing GAIN clients seeking asylum. Serene graduated in 2006 from Georgia State University with a Bachelors in Political Science, with a concentration in International Affairs and a minor in Sociology. Serene earned her law degree in 2010 from Georgia State University, College of Law. In 2011, Serene became interested in immigration law after the Syrian conflict began. As a Syrian-American, Serene wanted to help, so she provided pro bono services assisting Syrian nationals applying for Temporary Protective Status (TPS), visa extensions, and asylum. Prior to returning to Atlanta and joining GAIN, Serene practiced as a solo practitioner and independent contractor to a Detroit-based immigration law firm, representing clients in the areas of immigration law, family law, and estate planning. Serene is licensed in both Michigan and Georgia.

Amir Naim
Amir NaimStaff Attorney

Amir Naim is a Staff Attorney at GAIN. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A in history and a minor in Arabic. After college, Amir received the CASA scholarship to study Arabic in Syria. Amir obtained his J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law. As an attorney, Amir has worked for many different organizations, including Access to Law Foundation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Kids in Need of Defense, representing clients before USCIS, the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and in Federal District Court.

GAIN STAFF

Rafaela Alvarez
Rafaela AlvarezOperations Manager

Rafaela Alvarez serves as the Operations Manager at GAIN. With 13 years in non-profit administration and development, Rafaela uses her wealth of experience to oversee GAIN’s operational processes and is committed to improving quality, productivity and efficiency within the organization. Rafaela received her B.S. in Criminal Justice from Kennesaw State University and has since worked in leadership with similar social justice organizations building administrative infrastructures from the ground up.

Kole Bowman
Kole BowmanParalegal

Kole Bowman is a Paralegal and he is the primary point of contact for GAIN clients seeking immigration relief through our Asylum program. He assists with casework for our asylum clients. Kole graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in International Affairs and joined GAIN with over four years of combined experience as an immigration paralegal and a legal assistant. Prior to working in the field of immigration law, Kole was an English teacher in Morocco and South Korea. Kole is fluent in English and Spanish, and speaks some Portuguese and Arabic.

Liliana Castillo-Esquivel
Liliana Castillo-EsquivelNavigator

Liliana Castillo-Esquivel is a Navigator at GAIN. She assists with intakes and guides our clients’ to solve their non-immigration legal and social service needs. Liliana joins GAIN after dedicating fourteen years at the Mexican Consulate, where she worked directly with migrant children and families affected by violence and abuse. Her experience working with this population gives her an enhanced knowledge of the vast challenges that immigrants deal with. Because she understands how overwhelming the immigration process can be,, she works with enthusiasm and commitment towards treating GAIN clients with utmost respect, empathy and compassion — everyone deserves  the chance to improve their lives. Liliana grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. She loves reading, traveling and walking/hiking outdoors. Liliana graduated from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) with a Bachelor’s in International Affairs.

Mariana Cruz
Mariana CruzNavigator

Mariana Cruz is a Navigator at GAIN, who welcomes the opportunity to promote services for immigrants living in Georgia and facilitate their navigation the immigration process. She has over 10 years of experience working with children and youth, and vulnerable groups including immigrants and survivors of domestic violence. Mariana joins us after working with the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta, where she provided services to Mexican nationals living in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. When she noticed the urgent need for mental health resources for Latin Americans in the U.S., Mariana began volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to promote their programs and resources for Spanish speakers. Mariana enjoys traveling and learning from different cultures, as well as spending time with friends and family, cooking, reading and running. She graduated from Universidad del Valle de México with a Bachelor’s in Psychology.

Manuel Lleras
Manuel LlerasParalegal

Manuel Lleras is a Paralegal at GAIN. Manuel graduated with an M.A. in International Affairs from Marquette University, and a B.A. in History from Saint Mary’s College of Maryland. He’s an experience Paralegal with a demonstrated history of working in the individual and family services industry. In the last few years he has worked on immigrant and human rights organizations, such as the Organization of American States, Glasswing International, Catholic Charities Atlanta, and the Central American Resource Center in Washington DC. Manuel is interested in public policy and would like to get involved with the Foreign Service in the future.

Iris Mahan
Iris MahanGrants Manager

Iris Mahan is Grants Manager at GAIN. In this role, Iris is responsible for the maintenance and growth of GAIN’s institutional giving portfolio of government, foundation, and corporate support. As the daughter of an immigrant, Iris feels very connected to GAIN’s mission, and seeks to translate data-driven reporting into compelling narratives that reach new audiences and deepen existing stakeholder relationships. They bring to GAIN professional experience that ranges across multiple sectors, including free speech, reproductive healthcare, and the literary arts. For the past seven years, they have worked in various fundraising capacities, including grant writing, major gifts, and event management, most recently at PEN America and the Center for Fiction in New York City.

Iris received their BA in English from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and their MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. Born in Dalton, GA, they are excited to be living and working in their home state again.

Adewunmi Oke
Adewunmi OkeDevelopment Manager

Adewunmi R. Oke is the Development Manager at Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network. In this role, she supports the GAIN team through fundraising, special events, and donor relations. She also executes tactics and strategies in marketing communications and outreach in service of GAIN’s clients.

Ms. Oke was part of the 2019 Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Diversity Fellowship Program, which pairs emerging development professionals with mentors. She is a member of the AFP Greater Atlanta Chapter, and a recipient of AFP’s Young Professional Bridge Scholarship. She has over ten years experience working and volunteering in the arts, education, and non-profit sectors. She earned her M.F.A. in Dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her B.A. in Theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi.