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Houston Staff

Anne Chandler

Executive Director, Houston

Anne Chandler is the Executive Director of Tahirih Justice Center’s Houston office. Tahirih Justice Center is a national, nonprofit organization that protects courageous immigrant women and children who refuse to be victims of violence. Since Tahirih opened its doors in Houston in 2009 Anne has provided the Houston office with strategic direction. With the goal of providing life-saving services to survivors of human trafficking, she serves as a member of the Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking and the Mayor’s anti-trafficking task force. Anne also serves on the Board of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the Board of Houston’s Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. Her lifetime work of marshaling pro bono attorneys to represent human trafficking survivors and others fleeing horrific violence has been recognized by the State Bar of Texas and the Christian Science Monitor, “Help for Female Immigrants Fleeing Violence Is this Lawyer’s Calling.”

Prior to joining Tahirih in August of 2009, Anne was a Clinical Professor for the University of Houston Law Center where she served as the Interim Director of the Immigration Law Clinic. Prior to joining the University of Houston Law Center in 2003, she was the Director of Immigration Legal Services for the YMCA International Services of Greater Houston.

Anne is the proud mother of two high school boys.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s mission because I care deeply about working towards a society where violence against women is intolerable.”

Education

Anne is a cum laude graduate of the University of Houston Law Center where she received a Distinguished Service Award, and won the Joan Glantz Garfinkel Scholarship for civil liberties research, served on the Houston Law Review, and was the President of the Public Interest Law Organization, focusing on provision of services to children detained in Harlingen, Texas. As a strong believer in the legal profession’s ability to implement innovative approaches to eradicate human trafficking in Texas, Anne teaches Human Trafficking Law and Policy as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

Awards and Recognition

In the Media

Photo credit: Brandy Stoez

Ana Teresa Castellano

Operations Associate

Ana Castellano joined Tahirih in 2016. As the Operations Associate, Ana provides critical operational and administrative support to the Houston office, including day-to-day office administration, development, and financial duties. She also supports our client services and conducts preliminary screenings of service seekers, assists with client referrals, and supports our volunteer program. Before moving to the United States, she served as the office administrator at a law firm in Lima, Peru.

“Injustice occurs in many places in the world, and I am honored to be part of an organization that empowers women and children to overcome past trauma and access the justice they have previously been denied.”

Education: Escuela de Post Grado Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, MA; Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Katharina Dechert

Legal Advocate

Katharina Dechert joined Tahirih in 2016. As a Legal Advocate, Katharina conducts pre-screens and intakes with potential clients, provides legal advocacy, organizes legal clinics, and provides administrative support to the legal team. She also assists the Managing Attorney with administering Tahirih’s Pro Bono Network. Prior to Tahirih, Katharina was the Policy Advocacy and Leadership Associate for Asylum Access Ecuador. Before that, she was an intern at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands and was a Human Rights Accompanier in Guatemala. Katharina has lived in Australia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and in the Netherlands.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s commitment to empowering immigrant women and girls to reject violence and seek justice so that they can freely rebuild their lives safe from persecution.”

Education: University of Queensland, MIS; Wellesley College, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Laramie, WY

Samantha Del Bosque

Senior Staff Attorney

Samantha Del Bosque joined Tahirih in 2012. As a Senior Staff Attorney in Houston, Samantha represents women and girls in front of the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration Court. An active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), she currently serves on the National Refugee and Asylum Committee and serves as the Asylum Office Liaison for the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico Chapter. Samantha is admitted to practice in Federal Court (Southern District of Texas). Prior to Tahirih, she worked as a Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities and a Student Attorney at the Immigration Clinic at University of Houston Law Center. She is recipient of the University of Houston Law Center’s Dean’s Scholarship, Public Interest Fellowship, Equal Justice Works Summercorps Fellowship, Buick Wynne Environmental Law Scholarship, and Joseph Hensley Memorial Award. Before Law School, Samantha taught Spanish to disadvantaged and at risk children in the Houston area. Samantha was born and raised in France and has traveled extensively.

“Empowering women to live their lives as they choose. Growing up in a western country, I was privileged enough to dream of what and whom I wanted to be, and more importantly, I was able to follow that dream. This is not the case for the vast majority of women in the rest of the world. Working at Tahirih helps redress this injustice.”

Education: University of Houston Law Center, JD; University of Houston, BA; Universite de Bordeaux, France

Languages: French and Spanish

Hometown: Bordeaux, France

Liz Dewey

Development Associate

Liz Dewey joined Tahirih in 2015. As Houston’s Development Associate, Liz assists the local Development Manager in raising critical funds for the Houston office so that Tahirih can continue its lifesaving work. She manages constituent and volunteer relationships, drafts tailored communications for fundraising campaigns, and assists with event planning and execution. Prior to Tahirih, Liz was an Executive Assistant at a Portland-based interior design firm. She has traveled extensively, spending time in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, South America, and China.

“Working for Tahirih, I hover between feeling very humbled and feeling like I might burst with pride. I’m surrounded by resilient and compassionate people, both the brave women and girls we serve and our tireless staff.”

Education: Portland State University, BA

Languages: French

Hometown: Portland, OR

Javier Arturo Dominguez

Children’s Attorney

Javier Dominguez joined Tahirih in 2014. As Children’s Attorney, Javier represents girls and immigrant children in family courts, juvenile law courts, state courts, and immigration court. His legal representation includes filing applications for gender-based asylum, protecting survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other violent crimes, and ensuring that children qualify for the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Prior to Tahirih, he worked as a staff attorney for Catholic Charities. Before law school, he was the Legislative Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Javier was born and raised in the transnational border region of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He studied abroad in both Spain and Brazil.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s legacy in transforming the lives of countless survivors of abuse and injustice. It has always been my passion to help immigrants and make a difference in their lives. I am thrilled to be working for this prestigious organization and helping to extend its legacy to promote social justice.”

Education: University of Seattle Law School, JD; Brown University, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Guadalupe Fernandez

Children's Legal Advocate
Guadalupe Fernandez

Guadalupe Fernandez joined Tahirih in 2015. As the Children’s Legal Advocate, she works with unaccompanied migrant children, ensuring that their legal and social services needs are met. Guadalupe comes to Tahirih with a wealth of experience working with immigrant children, particularly from her time at Catholic Charities Houston as the Lead Legal Caseworker for the Child Advocacy and Legal Services Program. While there, she conducted intakes, created outreach trainings, and provided legal case management assistance. She also worked with immigrant children in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters.

“I’m inspired by everyone’s passionate commitment to legal and social justice for those who need it the most. It’s amazing to witness.”

Education: Georgetown University, BSFS

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Blue Island, IL

 

Elizabeth Hasse

Staff Attorney

Elizabeth Hasse joined Tahirih in 2014. As a Staff Attorney, Elizabeth represents women and girls in front of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Prior to working at Tahirih, Elizabeth interned at Tahirih’s DC office and at KIND in Boston. She also worked as a student attorney at Boston University School of Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic. Prior to law school, Elizabeth worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jinotega, Nicaragua. In college, she studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, Oaxaca, Mexico, and Cusco, Peru.

“My clients are the some of the strongest women and girls that I have met. By the time they get to us, they have already done the hard part by fleeing violence and traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to get here. I am honored to help them seek protection.”

Education: Boston University School of Law, JD; University of Notre Dame, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Iron Mountain, MI

Nasim Hoomanrad

Social Services Program Manager

Nasim joined Tahirih in 2014. As the Social Services Program Manager in Houston, she supports clients through case management, supportive counseling, and referrals. She ensures that clients’ needs are meet and helps them navigate the social services system in Houston. Prior to joining Tahirih, Nasim was the Manager of Training and Community Education at the Houston Area Women’s Center. Before that, she was the Outreach Coordinator to Underserved Populations at the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. Nasim has spent time in Iran, Panama, and Europe.

“I am inspired by the strength, courage, and resiliency of the women and girls who walk through these doors in search of support, safety, and hope to find their place in this country. Tahirih’s mission empowers, supports, and inspires individuals and communities to stand for justice and believe in the equality women and girls across the world.”

Education: Washington University in St. Louis, MSW; University of Texas in Austin, BA

Languages: Farsi

Hometown: Austin, TX

Jessica Howton

Managing Attorney

Jessica Howton joined Tahirih in 2011. As Managing Attorney for Tahirih Houston, she provides legal representation to clients, particularly minors, mentors pro bono attorneys, oversees the Houston pro bono program, and manages the Houston legal team and its program. Prior to joining Tahirih, Jessica was an intern at Kids in Need of Defense during law school, where she represented unaccompanied migrant children. After law school, she earned a Notre Dame fellowship to serve at Tahirih as a staff attorney. Jessica studied abroad in France, London, and Cameroon. In Cameroon, she worked in protection office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and conducted evaluation missions along the Nigerian border. Jessica currently serves as the co-chair of the Texas Immigration Task Force, where she leads quarterly meetings and presentations on current trends and updates in immigration law.

“I am consistently inspired by my co-workers and the amazing women and children that we serve. It is an honor to work with our clients and help to provide them with the support and strength they deserve as they courageously stand up for their right to live in safety and have access to justice. Our clients are the most resilient women and children I have ever met and the strength, hope, and achievement they show as they fight for their basic human rights is truly amazing.”

Education: Notre Dame Law School, JD; Connecticut College, BA

Languages: Spanish and French

Hometown: Bucaramanga, Colombia

Hania Luna

Social Services Associate

Hania Luna joined Tahirih in 2015. As the Social Services Associate, Hania provides case management and brief social services support to service seekers. To help women and girls rebuild their lives free from violence, she assists them with safety planning and connects them with food, medical care, mental health, housing/shelter, and education through referrals. Prior to Tahirih, Hania was a Senior Caseworker at the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore, working with asylees and other immigrants seeking humanitarian relief. Before that, she was an Administrative Assistant at a private immigrant service center in Central California focusing on USCIS petitions and tax preparation assistance. Hania spent one year doing master’s coursework in international human rights law and forced migration at the American University in Cairo.

“Being able to empower women and girls who are in crisis means everything. Every woman should live in dignity and safety.”

Education: Georgetown University, BA

Languages: Spanish; basic Arabic and French

Hometown: Gustine, CA

Kimberly Orellana

Social Services Associate

Kimberly Orellana joined Tahirih in 2016. As Social Services Associate, Kimberly provides case management and brief social services support to service seekers. To help women and girls rebuild their lives free from violence, she assists them with safety planning and connects them with food, medical care, mental health, housing/shelter, and education through referrals. Prior to Tahirih Kimberly has served many survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the Houston area during her time at our local domestic and sexual violence agency, the Houston Area Women’s Center. Kimberly has experience serving people with disabilities and other underserved individuals through one of Houston’s largest mental health provider, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD.

“Tahirih gives people the voice that otherwise wouldn’t be heard and I am grateful to be part of the mission.”

Education: University of Houston, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Guatemala City, Guatemala

Piyu Sen

Volunteer Coordinator

Piyu Sen joined Tahirih in 2016. As Volunteer Coordinator, she manages and expands Tahirih’s network of pro bono attorneys, medical/social services providers, and other skills-based volunteers in the Houston area. She aids the Houston staff with volunteer retention, valuation, and volunteer data integrity. Prior to Tahirih, she taught in a vigorously academic Montessori classroom in the heart of Houston’s Rice Village. She has also coordinated and established the first children’s literary section at the Houston Independent Book Festival hosted by the Menil Collection from 2011-2012, coordinated entertainment at UTHSC’s annual Stroke Prevention Fair in 2016, aided in the development of small fundraisers in the Houston arts community, and has donated her copy editing skills to Nano Fiction, a flash fiction magazine. She was born in Hyderabad, India and has traveled throughout India, Kashmir, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the continental United States.

“I am inspired by Tahirih Justice Center’s simple but essential mission – to ease the struggle of vulnerable immigrant women and girls, and to bring informed advocacy to the public. As a member of the immigrant community, I am proud to be a part of that mission.”

Education: Bay Path University, BA

Languages: Bengali

Hometown: Long Island, New York

Christine Spencer

Development Manager

Christine Spencer joined Tahirih in 2012. As Development Manager in Houston, Christine works closely with community partners to raise critical funds to support Tahirih’s lifesaving work in the greater Houston metropolitan area. She engages with new and existing supporters to coordinate Tahirih’s Annual Houston Gala and Bighearted Attorneys Campaign, in addition to other events and campaigns held throughout the year. Prior to joining Tahirih, Christine served as a Program Aide in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship Program at Texas A&M University and as a legislative Aide for the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Women’s rights are human rights, and Tahirih asserts that both genders have an equal responsibility in creating a world where women and girls enjoy equality. When our clients demand change, they transform not only their own lives, but also of the lives of their children, their community, and future generations.”

Education: Texas Women’s University, MS (in progress); Texas A&M University, BS

Hometown: Portland, Texas

Chloe Walker

Staff Attorney
Chloe Walker

Chloe Walker joined Tahirih in 2015. As a staff attorney, Chloe represents adults and children who have survived sexual assault and need legal assistance to protect their safety. The legal services she provides include preparing asylum applications, VAWA petitions, U visa applications, and family law matters. Prior to Tahirih, she practiced family law at Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. Chloe currently serves as the Houston area’s elected representative on the Board of Directors of the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Chloe has traveled extensively, spending time in Cuba, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and several countries throughout South America.

“I am inspired by the power of Tahirih’s holistic mission that brings together survivors, legal and social services advocates, pro bono professionals, policy makers, and private citizens to truly lift our courageous clients up and allow them to soar.”

Education: University of Houston, JD; University of Houston, MSW; Rice University, BA

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Houston, TX