Kristen StrainExecutive 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.”
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 BijpuriaSupervising Attorney
Deepa Bijpuria joined Tahirih in 2012. As a Supervising Attorney for the Baltimore office, 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
Ashley DiIonnoSocial 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
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
Nataly KarimiDevelopment Associate
Nataly Karimi joined Tahirih in 2019. As Development Associate, Nataly assists the Executive Director in cultivating community partnerships and managing fundraising efforts. Prior to joining Tahirih, Nataly served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) in Syracuse, NY. Nataly has lived and extensively studied Arabic in Jordan and Oman.
I am continuously moved by the resiliency and courage exhibited in the clients Tahirih serves, and am proud to be able to work for an organization that tirelessly works to uplift and empower marginalized voices.
Education: The George Washington University, BA
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Amelia NeumayerLegal Advocate
Amelia joined Tahirih in 2020. As a Legal Advocate in the Baltimore office, Amelia is responsible for supporting the interdisciplinary legal team through advocating for clients and providing support and assistance to attorneys representing clients. Prior to joining Tahirih, Amelia worked 17 months at Europe’s southern border collaborating on projects supporting women and children of Moroccan descent in the Spanish city of Melilla (located within Morocco) in navigating the city’s administrative, health, and judicial systems. She previously worked in Washington, DC at Human Rights Watch as the Business and Human Rights Associate.
“I am inspired by the courage of Tahirih’s clients in navigating the legal and social systems, and by the resilience of the team in accompanying them.”
Education: Mount Holyke College, BA
Languages: Spanish, French
Susan PazosOffice Administrator
Susan Pazos joined Tahirih in 2017. As Office Administrator, Susan provides administrative support to the Baltimore office. Prior to Tahirih, Susan worked at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, Esperanza Center as Legal Administrative Assistant providing office administrative support and coordinating the Immigration Legal Services Department Unaccompanied Minor Project. Susan has lived abroad in Guatemala.
“Tahirih’s dedication to help immigrant women and girls fight for justice and equality inspires me to wake up every day ready to make a change in the world by contributing to the fight against gender inequality and violence against women and girls.”
Education: Towson University, B.S
Viviana WestbrookStaff Attorney
Viviana Westbrook joined Tahirih in 2019. As a Staff Attorney for Tahirih’s Baltimore office, Viviana represents immigrant women and children in their immigration cases, who are victims of crime in the United States. Prior to joining Tahirih, Viviana worked for the Esperanza Center for two and a half years where she primarily worked with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. Before working as an immigration attorney, Viviana worked as in-house counsel for SunEdison, Inc. on compliance, litigation, contracts, and employment law matters. Viviana spent four years in her childhood in Saudi Arabia. She grew up in Mexico where she lived from 8-18 years of age. After college, Viviana volunteered in Ireland for a program between Irish and Spanish youth with muscular dystrophy. Immediately afterwards, she backpacked through Europe.
“It is an honor to do such impactful work assisting women and girls in their immigration cases. Knowing Tahirih provides a space where these survivors can be heard, can heal, can begin to find safety through the various services offered, is truly humbling.”
Education: Georgetown University Law Center, JD; Oberlin College, BA
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
AT OUR BALTIMORE LOCATIONPlease call 410-999-1900 during our intake hours from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays.
News from Baltimore
This brief analysis examines the gaps in the immigration, health care, and public benefits systems that make immigrant survivors especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.March 23, 2020
As daily activities have ground to a halt in the United States to slow the spread of COVID-19, Americans have been pushed into an unprecedented state of isolation, unemployment, and stress. For immigrant survivors of gender-based violence, many of whom are living with the effects of trauma or coping with ongoing abuse, this is an especially difficult time.March 19, 2020