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Baltimore Staff

Kristen Strain

Executive Director, Baltimore

Kristen Strain is the Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center’s Baltimore office. Kristen, a native of Baltimore, has had a long relationship with the Tahirih Justice Center as a dedicated pro bono attorney, Bighearted Attorney Fundraising Campaign Coordinator, and Baltimore Advisory Council member.

Prior to joining Tahirih in 2016, she practiced law at Baltimore’s largest firm, Venable LLP, for almost 15 years, representing clients in multi-jurisdictional civil litigation, mediation and arbitration, construction law and corporate law, and engaged in extensive pro bono legal representation in matters of women and children’s rights.

Kristen also maintained a substantial Tahirih pro bono practice, advocating for clients before the United States Immigration Court and in administrative proceedings of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Immigration Service for grants of humanitarian Asylum, assisting clients with grants of Asylum in obtaining derivative Asylum status for family members abroad and permanent residence, and representing women seeking temporary and permanent protective orders in domestic violence cases in Maryland state court.

“Tahirih inspires me because our clients are survivors who refuse to be victims of violence. I am honored to work with them to secure the human rights they are entitled to by law and to elevate their voices for the world to hear.”

Education

Kristen is a graduate of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where she was also a member of the Moot Court Team.

Awards and Recognition

  • Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2014 – Recipient of the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award from the Tahirih Justice Center.
  • Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2013 – Recipient of the Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award.

Deepa Bijpuria

Senior Staff Attorney
Deepa Bijpuria

Deepa Bijpuria joined Tahirih in 2012. As a Senior Staff Attorney for Tahirih Baltimore, Deepa represents immigrant women and girls fleeing violence and serves as a liaison to the Baltimore Pro Bono Network. Prior to joining Tahirih, Deepa was the Project Director for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland’s Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence Project where she represented Maryland victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in immigration cases for over five years. Deepa began her career at The Women’s Law Center of Maryland as a staff attorney representing domestic violence victims in protective order proceedings in Maryland Circuit Courts. While in law school, Deepa served on the staff of The Business Lawyer and litigated cases involving political asylum and involuntary servitude as a student lawyer. Deepa is a former board member of the Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition.

I came to Tahirih so that I could expand my practice to new areas in immigration law and represent more women and girls who are demanding a life free from violence. They deserve the same freedom that I take for granted every day.

Education: University of Maryland School of Law, BA; Northwestern University, JD

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Languages: Conversational Spanish

Tara Dhanraj

Development Associate

Tara Dhanraj joined Tahirih in 2016. As Development Associate, Tara is responsible for cultivating of key relationships with stakeholders and raising funds for the Baltimore office. Prior to Tahirih, she was the Program Manager and Monitor at the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.

“Tahirih’s dedication to policy advocacy, information sharing among the community, and most importantly ensuring the rights of immigrant women and girls through direct services is inspiring. I am lucky to be a part of an organization that fights for our clients with unwavering diligence and determination.”

Education: Towson University, BS

 

Ashley DiIonno

Social Services Program Manager

Ashley DiIonno joined Tahirih in 2014. As Social Services Program Manager in Baltimore, she provides support for our clients with basic needs, including housing, counseling, and medical services. Ashley helps them connect to the services they need to be able to rebuild their lives and attain self-sufficiency. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was a Client Services Coordinator at House of Ruth working primarily with immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Before that, she was an assessment specialist and teacher in the Anne Arundel Community College EBS program. Ashley’s education included six months living and studying in Buenos Aires. She is a licensed graduate Social Worker and holds a masters in Social Work from the University of Maryland.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s commitment to empowering immigrant women and girls and to fighting for the justice they deserve.”

Education: University of Maryland School of Social Work, MSW; Villanova University, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Annapolis, MD

Felipe Castellanos Perez

Office Administrator

Felipe Castellanos Perez joined Tahirih in 2016. As Office Administrator at Tahirih Baltimore, he provides operational and administrative support. Further, he supports client services by conducting preliminary screenings of service seekers, assisting with client referrals, and supporting the volunteer program. Previously, he was a Grocery Buyer Specialist for Whole Foods Market. Prior to that, he was a Graphic Designer for Facilitando Cambios: Network of Professionals Committed to Individual and Social Development and worked as an Evaluation Assistant at the Mexican Institute for Family and Population Research.

“Injustice and inequality still persist in the world, and I am thrilled to be part of an organization that is making a great impact on the legal system and on individual lives. The strength and courage of our clients is deeply inspiring.”

Education: Facultad de Ciencias Politicas y Sociales-Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Languages: Spanish, Portuguese

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Daniella Pozzo

Immigration and Family Law Staff Attorney

Daniella Pozzo joined Tahirih in 2016.  As the Immigration and Family Law Staff Attorney, she advocates for immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence in immigration and domestic relations matters. Prior to joining Tahirih, Daniella was a Staff Attorney at Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan where she represented indigent immigrant farmworkers in immigration and employment cases, initiated a targeted advocacy project to expand the representation of workplace sexual assault survivors, and developed a community partners network sensitive to the needs of immigrant survivors of workplace sexual assault. Daniella began her legal career as a law clerk the Honorable Glenn T. Harrell on the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in Maryland. While in law school, Daniella interned for the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Baltimore, Kids in Need of Defense, clerked for a boutique immigration and family law firm, and litigated cases involving wage and hour claims as a student attorney.

“The clients I serve are heroes.  I am privileged to work at an organization like Tahirih that is a pioneer in helping provide women and girls a path to safety and independence.”

Education: University of Baltimore School of Law, JD; University of Maryland, BA

Hometown: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Languages: Spanish

Edith Zarco

Social Service Case Worker

Edith Zarco joined Tahirih in 2017. As Social Service Case Worker at the Baltimore office, she provides case management for Tahirih’s clients, including assistance with support and advocacy to secure mental health care and counseling, among other services and resources. Additionally, she trains and coordinate volunteers to provide needed services for clients. Prior to Tahirih, Edith worked at the Elgin Community Crisis Center in Illinois, providing court advocacy to domestic violence survivors. While attending the University of Illinois at Chicago, Edith also worked as a research assistant for a longitudinal study of female sexual assault survivors and was a circulation desk assistant for the Library of the Health and Sciences.

Education: University of Illinois at Chicago, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois