Heather L. TaylorExecutive Director, Greater DC
Heather L. Taylor is a human rights and development professional with 15 years of international experience in the NGO and corporate sectors spanning immigration, women’s rights, capacity building, and non-profit management. As the Executive Director of Tahirih’s Greater DC Office, she ensures the delivery of high-quality legal and social services case management, engages regional stakeholders, and oversees the local office’s financial and operational integrity.
Prior to joining Tahirih in 2014, Heather was a Fellow with International Justice Mission in Zambia, where she co-designed, organized, and facilitated training workshops for the judiciary, police officials, and community leaders addressing capacity gaps in the justice system on behalf of indigent women.
In the corporate sector, Heather practiced as a global finance and business immigration attorney at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP and then at Miller Mayer LLP in New York. She also served as pro bono attorney for the Legal Aid Society Haitian Temporary Protected Status Project and received the MFY Legal Services, Inc. Partner in Justice Award. Before law school, Heather worked for several years at the Centre for Development and Population Activities and was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve on delegations promoting women’s participation in democracy and governance in Eastern Europe.
“At Tahirih, I am afforded an opportunity to work with an amazing staff to achieve an honorable mission with global impact, while also realizing my dream to transform lives—one courageous woman at a time.”
Heather is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and University of Iowa College of Law, where she received the Dean’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award and Equal Justice Foundation and Ella Baker Scholarship as a legal intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
Awards and Recognition
- MFY Legal Services Partner in Justice Award
- Pro Bono Attorney, Legal Aid Society Haitian Temporary Protected Status Project
- Former member of U.S. Department of State delegations headed by the Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, representing the U.S. in Women & Democracy Conferences in Eastern Europe
In the Media
- Conviction means safe future for Rhona and and her daughters,” International Justice Mission
- As a fellow with International Justice Mission in Zambia, Heather played a key role conceptualizing IJM’s participation in the “Zambia Cares #BringBackOurGirls” campaign and coordinated participation in the USAID/DFID Stop Gender-Based Violence Access to Justice Project
Maricela LechugaEqual Justice Works Fellow
Maricela Lechuga joined Tahirih in 2016. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Maricela is implementing the Justice for Mother’s Project, which will expand legal representation to mothers and their children recently released from detention centers. Prior to Tahirih, Maricela interned at the Office of Immigration Litigation, Appellate Section and was a Law Clerk at Maggio and Kattar. Her family is originally from Mexico, so as a child, she traveled there about once a year. She also lived in Germany from 2004-2005 as a cultural exchange student and studied abroad in Brazil for three months in 2010.
“Coming from one of the countries with the highest rates of domestic violence in South America I feel particularly touched by the issue of gender based violence. What inspires me the most of Tahirih’s mission is the commitment to empower the many women and girls that we serve, giving them the confidence to pursue a life free of violence and inequalities.”
Education: American University, Washington College of Law, J.D. ; University of California Santa Cruz, B.A.
Languages: Spanish, German, and some Portuguese
Hometown: San Jose, California
Chelsea NaylorImmigration Law Paralegal
Chelsea Naylor joined Tahirih in 2016 as the Immigration Law Paralegal in the Greater DC office. Prior to Tahirih, Chelsea was the Community Outreach Director with Habitat for Humanity of Trenton in New Jersey and FUTURO Program Manager with the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF). She spent the last year living and studying in Costa Rica. During this time, she also worked with Nicaraguan migrants in the coffee plantations, and contributed to upgrading the university’s sexual harassment policy. She has also spent time in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru.
“Tahirih is one of the most truly client-centered organizations I have encountered. This focus on the women and girls we serve, rather than on our own ideas, egos, or plans, is what distinguishes a strong, effective organization from the rest.”
Education: United Nations University for Peace, M.A.; The College of New Jersey, B.A.
Hometown: Northfield, NJ
Amy CheungImmigration Attorney
Amy Cheung joined Tahirih in 2015. As an immigration attorney, Amy provides free legal services to women and girls fleeing violence, mentors pro bono attorneys, and conducts trainings on gender-based immigration relief. Prior to Tahirih, Amy was a staff attorney at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston where she represented unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings and adults applying for asylum. Prior to that, she was the Program Coordinator at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians where she managed a job readiness program. Amy has traveled throughout Latin America, Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Freedom of movement and living a life free of violence are fundamental human rights, and it’s an honor and a privilege to empower women and girls to assert those rights for themselves.
Education: Georgetown University Law Center, JD; University of Pennsylvania, BA
Languages: Spanish and Mandarin
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ
Kathryn FinleyImmigration Attorney
Kathryn Finley joined Tahirih in 2015. As an immigration attorney in the Greater DC office, she provides legal services to women and girls fleeing gender-based violence and advocates for them within the various arenas of federal immigration agencies. Prior to joining Tahirih, Kathryn worked with Catholic Charities Legal Services for Immigrants Program of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. There, she specialized in family-based immigration and represented asylum seekers and immigrant victims of domestic abuse and other violent crimes. While in law school, Kathryn interned and volunteered at numerous immigrants’ rights organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the University of Wisconsin Law School clinical programs, the Community Immigration Law Center of Madison, and Americans for Immigrant Justice of Miami. She has lived, studied, and conducted research on human rights issues in Spain and Latin America.
“I am inspired by the opportunity to instill hope and positive change in our clients’ lives.”
Education: University of Wisconsin Law School, JD; University of Wisconsin-Madison, MA; University of Wisconsin-Madison, BA
Languages: Spanish and basic French
Hometown: Wauwatosa, WI
Lee HopkinsSocial Services Program Manager
Lee Hopkins joined Tahirih in 2014. As the Social Services Program Manager at Tahirih Greater DC, Lee provides holistic case management services to a caseload of 15 to 30 clients at a time, supervises a team of case management interns, coordinates logistics and donations for client events and outreach presentations, runs an advocacy project to increase access to medical services for clients, and manages a network of volunteers to provide logistical, cultural, and linguistic support to clients. Prior to Tahirih, Lee worked at the International Rescue Committee serving refugee communities in New York, Maryland and Ethiopia, and at the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation as a DV Advocate. Lee also worked for Habitat for Humanity Guatemala as a program manager for internationally-funded housing projects. Lee spent much of her childhood in Ghana, Burundi, and Russia and is dedicated to working with migrant populations impacted by violence.
“Working at Tahirih motivates me to believe that change is possible. The organization addresses individual needs and institutionalized barriers simultaneously, so that we are not only supporting clients to achieve stability and safety today, but we are also transforming systems and society so that future generations will not face the same violence and oppression. I am humbled to work with such a powerful community of clients and advocates.”
Education: Columbia University School, MSW; McGill University, BA
Languages: French and Spanish
Hometown: Falls Church, VA
Estefania McCarrollBIA Accredited Representative and Family Law Paralegal
Estefania McCarroll joined Tahirih in 2012. As the Immigration and Family Law Paralegal, she assists in preparing U visas, T visas, VAWA, SIJS, and asylum cases. She also assists the family law attorney in preparing civil cases, such as divorce, support, and custody in the Virginia courts. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was an Environmental Technician at a non-profit that protects indigenous land rights in Bolivia. Before that, she was the Administrative Assistance at the Law Offices of Eric A. Shore. She grew up in Bolivia and spent one year in Spain.
“Coming from one of the countries with the highest rates of domestic violence in South America, I feel particularly touched by the issue of gender-based violence. What inspires me the most of Tahirih’s mission is the commitment to empower the many women and girls that we serve, giving them the confidence to pursue a life free of violence and inequalities.”
Education: Paralegal Studies Certificate Program in Georgetown University 2013; University of Alicante, MS; Catholic University of Bolivia, BS
Languages: Spanish and French
Hometown: Cochabamba, Bolivia
Kursten PhelpsManaging Attorney
Kursten Phelps joined Tahirih in 2013. As managing attorney, she supports a team of attorneys in Greater DC and represents immigrant women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence. Kursten works directly with clients to seek immigration legal remedies under U.S. law, including asylum, Violence Against Women Act petitions, U visas, T visas, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was as the Immigration Project Attorney at the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Before that, she was a legal intern at Kansas Legal Services and a law clerk intern at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in San Jose, Costa Rica. She has lived in Costa Rica and Mexico and traveled throughout Latin and Central America.
“I am inspired by Tahirih’s dedication to empowering immigrant women and girls to live in safety and independence from violence and by my colleagues’ commitment to survivor-centered advocacy and respect for the dignity of each woman and girl we are privileged to serve.”
Education: Washburn University School of Law, JD; University of Kansas, BS, BA
Languages: Spanish and Portuguese
Hometown: Manhattan, KA
Estefani PierolaSocial Services Case Worker
Estefani Pierola joined Tahirih in 2016. As the Social Services Case Worker in Tahirih’s Greater DC office, Estefani provides case management to Tahirih’s clients and assists the Social Services Program Manager with outreach and advocacy projects. Prior to Tahirih, Estefani was a Parent Support Case Manager/Adult Instructor at The Family Place in Washington, DC and an Intern at the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Estefani grew up visiting Bolivia, where her parents are from. She has also traveled to Italy, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
“It is an honor to work for an organization that strives to provide a solution to end gender based violence and overall provides legal and social services to its clients, leaving each individual woman with great hope for her future!”
Education: Virginia Commonwealth University, BS; Northern Virginia Community College, AA
Hometown: Fairfax, VA
Anusce SanaiFamily Law Attorney
Anusce Sanai joined Tahirih in 2012. As the family law attorney, she represents clients in matters related to domestic relations, including protective orders, child custody and child support petitions, spousal support, divorces, annulments, and Special Juvenile Immigrant Status. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was an associate at Redmon, Peyton & Braswell, LLP. Before that, she was Owner and Principal of the law office of Anusce Sanai, Attorney at law, PLLC. Before coming to the United States from Italy, Anusce lived in Israel for one year while volunteering at the Bahá’í World Center.
“The women we serve inspire me because they embody resilience, strength, and courage.”
Education: New England School of Law, JD; University of Colorado at Boulder, BA
Languages: Italian and Farsi
Hometown: Lucca, Italy
AT OUR Greater DC LOCATIONPlease call 571-282-6161 during our intake hours from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays.
News from DC
Tahirih and Colleague Organizations File Ninth Circuit Amicus Brief Against January 27 Executive Order
Tahirih and five colleague organizations have filed an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit Court opposing the refugee and visa ban executive order.February 7, 2017
Every single current and prospective Tahirih client will be affected by the recent executive orders on immigration. We must do more, and quickly!February 2, 2017