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 a leading voice in public interest immigration law in the state of Georgia, and serves as the Executive Director of Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN). A graduate of Virginia Tech University and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Ms. Amin has worked with GAIN since 2008, during which time she built and managed the Victims of Violence program serving Georgia’s immigrant survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, and served as GAIN’s first Director of Legal Services before taking on the top executive role. 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, and has led the organization in an expansion of their legal service model to include holistic services, social service needs assessments and referrals, and client-informed 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 a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Leadership Buckhead, the Anti-Defamation League’s Glass Leadership Institute, and a past chair of the Georgia Immigration Collaborative and the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, where she helped to create the groundbreaking Statewide Labor Trafficking Roundtable and Report. She is the recipient of the Atlanta Bar Association’s 2018 Rita A. Sheffey Public Interest Award, the National Association of Asian American Professionals’ 2021 Inspire Award, and was recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s Top 40 Under 40.

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.

Nazem Rabadi
Nazem RabadiDirector of Finance and Operations

As the Director of Finance and Operations at GAIN, Nazem Rabadi is dedicated to driving financial strategy and operational excellence to further the organization’s mission of providing vital support to immigrants and asylum seekers. With a rich background in finance and operations, he brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to fostering positive change. Nazem’s professional journey has been marked by a proven track record in financial leadership. His expertise encompasses financial planning, budget management, and strategic decision-making, ensuring organizational sustainability and growth. With a keen eye for detail and a strategic mindset, Nazem has consistently optimized financial processes and implemented robust systems that align with the mission and values of the organizations he has served.

Prior to joining GAIN, Nazem held key positions where he successfully navigated the intersection of finance and mission-driven work. His passion for social impact is evident in his previous roles, where he spearheaded financial initiatives that contributed to the overall success of the organizations he served. Nazem holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from California State University of Fullerton and a Master’s in Sociology from Arizona State University. Currently obtaining his Certified Management Accounting credentials, Nazem’s commitment to operational efficiency is guided by a deep sense of responsibility and a dedication to making a positive impact on the communities served. In joining GAIN, Nazem is excited to contribute his financial acumen and operational leadership to support the organization’s critical mission. His vision is to drive financial sustainability, streamline operations, and enhance the overall effectiveness of GAIN in its quest to make a meaningful difference in the lives of immigrants and asylum seekers.

Sally Sanko, MSW
Sally Sanko, MSWDirector of Client Care

As the Director of Client Care, Sally Sanko is dedicated to strategizing ways in which GAIN can support clients beyond their legal needs. Having spent years working in refugee resettlement and immigration case management, Sally is passionate about serving clients as whole people and expanding wrap-around services. Sally was born and raised in Central Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas where she began organizing with migrant farm worker unions. This experience inspired her to move to Guatemala to learn Spanish, start farming, and pursue a career in immigration-based social work. She completed her Bachelor’s in Religious Studies in 2012 and her Master’s of Social Work in 2017.

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 Works 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.

Amy Barber
Amy BarberStaff Attorney

Amy Barber is a Staff Attorney, who originally joined GAIN as our Victims of Violence Legal Fellow. She provides assistance to immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and physical/sexual assault in filing T-Visas, U-Visas, and VAWA Self-Petitions/Battered Spouse Waivers. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a B.A. in history and minors in Spanish and liberal arts in 2019, she attended Emory University School of Law, where she received her J.D. in May 2023. During her time in law school, Amy volunteered with the Emory Immigrant Legal Assistance Clinic and served as one of its student administrators from 2021-2023. She gained further immigration experience through externships at the Latin American Association and the Atlanta Office of the Public Defender’s Immigration Defense Unit. This solidified her passion for working in humanitarian immigration relief, which led her to apply for and begin her role at GAIN in March 2023.

Karla Diaz
Karla DiazManaging Victims of Violence Attorney

Karla Diaz is the Managing 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.

Amir Naim
Amir NaimManaging Asylum Attorney

Amir Naim is the Managing Asylum Attorney at GAIN, representing asylum-seekers affirmatively before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and defensively before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”), in addition to appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), and other ancillary forms of immigration relief. 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 BowmanDOJ Accredited Representative

Kole Bowman is a DOJ Accredited Representative and the primary point of contact for GAIN clients seeking immigration relief through our Asylum program. He originally joined GAIN in 2021 as a paralegal. 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-EsquivelVictims of Violence Legal Assistant

Liliana Castillo-Esquivel is the Victims of Violence Legal Assistant at GAIN. Liliana first joined GAIN as a Navigator in 2021, 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. She enjoys traveling and learning from different cultures, spending time with friends and family, cooking, reading and running. Mariana graduated from Universidad del Valle de México with a Bachelor’s in Psychology.

Estela Gasque
Estela GasqueAsylum Legal Assistant

Estela Gasque is GAIN’s Asylum Legal Assistant. She provides administrative, and interpretation and translation support in French, Portuguese, and Spanish for our Asylum team. She has experience providing multilingual interpretation and translation services across several sectors, including international travel, healthcare, and the automobile industry. Originally from Brazil, Estela has lived in several different countries. She is also a visual artist, a dancer, and an animal lover, who enjoys volunteering at local Senior homes.

Manuel Lleras
Manuel LlerasDOJ Accredited Representative

Manuel Lleras is a DOJ Accredited Representative in GAIN’s Victims of Violence program. He first joined GAIN as a paralegal in 2020. 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 experienced 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 D.C. 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. She first joined GAIN in 2019 as the Development and Communications Associate. In her 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 our community partners, volunteer attorneys, and GAIN 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.

Lakeya Simmons
Lakeya SimmonsExecutive Assistant

Lakeya Simmons serves as the Executive Assistant at GAIN, where her educational background and nonprofit experience converge to support the organization’s mission. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology with a Minor in Communication Studies, from West Virginia University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a Concentration in Environmental Health.

Lakeya’s journey into the nonprofit sector was a natural progression fueled by her desire to make a tangible difference in communities. Over several years, she has lent her expertise to numerous nonprofit organizations, offering invaluable support in day-to-day operations, program development, event coordination, and more. Lakeya’s unwavering dedication to supporting nonprofit growth underscores her commitment to fostering positive change and amplifying the impact of mission-driven initiatives.

As Executive Assistant at GAIN, Lakeya leverages her diverse skill set to enhance operational efficiency and facilitate the organization’s efforts in providing essential services to immigrants and asylum seekers in Georgia. Whether she’s coordinating events, managing schedules, or assisting with programming, her dedication and multidisciplinary approach contribute significantly to GAIN’s impactful work in the community.

Vanessa Orduna Zarazua
Vanessa Orduna ZarazuaPrograms Manager

GAIN’s Programs Manager, Vanessa Orduna Zarazua, is a dynamic and dedicated public health professional with a robust academic and “boots on the ground” background and a commitment to addressing health disparities and advocating for vulnerable populations. Holding a Master’s of Public Health from Rollins School of Public Health, Vanessa has developed a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted factors influencing community health and well-being. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wittenberg University, which sparked her interest in immigration law. Her two degrees coupled together have instilled a profound belief that immigration status is a critical determinant of health, affecting access to healthcare, economic opportunities, and overall quality of life.

Vanessa is particularly passionate about leveraging her skills to influence public health and immigration policies that ensure all individuals, regardless of immigration status, have the opportunity to achieve optimal health. She is excited to continue her work alongside GAIN, driven by the conviction that a just and inclusive society is one where every person’s needs are met with justice and equity.