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Greater DC Staff

Barfonce Baldwin

Executive Director, GDC-Baltimore Region

As Executive Director of the GDC-Baltimore Region, Barfonce brings to bear fifteen years of executive level experience in the non-profit sector. At Tahirih, she leads the development and execution of strategy and implementation of Tahirih’s immigration, family law, and social services in the Greater DC-Baltimore Region. Barfonce ensures the delivery of high-quality legal and social services case management by engaging regional stakeholders, and overseeing the local office’s financial and operational integrity by nurturing and leading exceptional teams. From her previous roles in leading Tahirih’s development and fundraising across the region, she has built collaborative relationships with donors and funders to accomplish the critical work locally.

Prior to joining Tahirih, Barfonce served as Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM), a nonprofit that provides holistic support to individuals and families facing homelessness in Washington, DC. Prior to CHGM, she served as Senior Director and Chief Administration Officer of Central Union Mission, the oldest non-profit organization in Washington that provides safe shelter and transformative, compassionate care to individuals and families who live on the margin. Barfonce has a demonstrated passion and commitment for the work of Tahirih, having been one of Tahirih’s first supporters from its inception.  Her strategic vision, strong leadership and exceptional management, and commitment to Tahirih’s work will allow the Greater DC office to improve efficiencies and increase its response to the urgent needs of immigrant women and girls in the region.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s unique and unmatched ability to elevate, enable and empower immigrant women and girls press toward transformation and a higher quality of life with dignity and in safety.”

Education: Central Michigan University, MSA

Hometown: Alexandria, VA

Alexandra “Sasha” Bershad

Supervising Attorney

After engagement with Tahirih as a legal intern and volunteer attorney in 2014, Sasha rejoined Tahirih in 2017. As an Immigration and Family Law Supervising Attorney, Sasha represents and advocates alongside immigrant survivors of gender-based violence on their journeys to safety and justice. Sasha provides advice, counseling, and direct legal representation to survivors in affirmative and defensive asylum, VAWA, T visa and U visa cases, and in domestic relations matters such as divorce, custody, support, protective orders, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Prior to Tahirih, Sasha worked as Senior Direct Representation Attorney for Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), where she represented unaccompanied immigration children in removal proceedings. Sasha was the recipient of the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference Significant Service Award for the 2015-2017 bar years for her contributions as a Program Chair for the Immigrant Outreach Committee. While in law school, Sasha represented her first client in an affirmative asylum matter as a student attorney in the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. Sasha was born in Moldova and has spent time abroad in the UK, Europe, Central and South America, and Asia.

“Every day, I am inspired by the courage and strength of the women and girls that Tahirih serves, and the opportunity to empower them to live with dignity, in a world free from violence. Alongside my passionate and dedicated colleagues, I am honored to help elevate the status of women worldwide, by transforming the life of one survivor at time.”

Education: University of California, Hastings College of the Law, JD; University of Maryland, College Park, BA

Languages: Spanish, Russian

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Noelle Boyd

Development Associate

Noelle joined Tahirih in 2021. As Development Associate, Noelle is responsible for assisting the Great DC Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships Manager in implementing mid-level strategies to foster and strengthen relationships with donors, increase Tahirih’s donor base, and effectively monitor the progress of year-round fundraising goals. Noelle will also be working with other Greater DC office staff members to identify and secure sources of potential support for Tahirih’s diverse initiatives. Before joining Tahirih, Noelle held the role of Communications Coordinator with Jerusalem Peacebuilders – a Houston-based, interfaith nonprofit dedicated to peacebuilding work between youth from Israel-Palestine and the U.S. She has also held the title of Volunteer Coordination and Business Development Intern for the Syrian American Medical Society, completed through her Summer 2020 Leadership Scholars program with The Fund for American Studies. During her bachelors degree program at New York University, Noelle participated in the NYU Israel Insights Program – a year-long educational seminar hosted by the NYU Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. The initiative promoted intersectional dialogue and inclusive thought around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, culminating in students’ travel to the Israel-Palestine region for a 10-day, socio-culturally immersive trip. Today, Noelle maintains the title of Global Leadership Director and co-founder of [gather] – a women’s empowerment and community building non-profit, as well as Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for the Redefining National Security working group at Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS). Noelle has lived, studied and conducted research on public health and medical anthropology-based issues abroad in Accra, Ghana, serving in local ministries off-campus and serving as an NYU Accra Site Ambassador on-campus – a liaison between students abroad and the Office of Global Services at NYU New York. Prior to her time in Ghana, Noelle also participated in a summer semester abroad at NYU Paris, completing French language coursework through the intermediate level.

What drew me most about Tahirih’s mission was the inclusivity in its vision and capacity to realize different forms of advocacy through its multi-pronged, trauma-informed and research-based model. It is a mission that, I too, have come to cultivate through my own faith journey and departure point as a Christian. With justice-minded individuals also looking to find their place in a space of diverse and meaningful work, I was drawn to the opportunity to work alongside other people who find the purpose in what they do daily; individuals who find how their story and work contributes to the larger and tireless mission to advocate for, empower and defend immigrant survivors – some of the world’s most vulnerable – whose most important identity will first always be that of a human being.

Education: New York University, BA

Languages: English, French

Hometown: Houston, TX

Clara Driey

Development and Strategic Partnerships Associate

Clara Driey joined Tahirih in 2022. As Development and Strategic Partnerships Associate, Clara is responsible for assisting the Greater DC Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships Manager in implementing new cultivation strategies, strengthening relationships with institutional donors, broadening the base of support through prospecting, and effectively monitor the progress of year-round fundraising goals. Prior to joining Tahirih, Clara served as Special Projects Intern at the Global Fund for Widows where she led a research project on widow’s rights violations in the context of forced displacement. Her passion for fundraising started when she served as Development – Institutional Partnerships Intern at the Center for Civilians in Conflict. Additionally, Clara has several years of experience in sales and customer service, which honed her flexibility and interpersonal skills. She received a B.A. in Public Law and Political Science and a M.A. in International Politics and Transitions Analysis from the Université Lumière Lyon 2, in Lyon, France. Clara grew up in the South of France, and studied abroad at the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 where she specialized in International Relations and Human Rights. She moved to the US in 2019.

I am inspired by Tahirih’s commitment to center immigrant survivors as advocates in their own lives, families, and communities and honor their knowledge and lived experiences.

Education: Université Lumière Lyon 2, MA and BA

Languages: French (Native), Spanish (Intermediate)

Hometown: Orange, France

Isabel Alejandra Gomez

Immigration Attorney

Isabel joined Tahirih in 2019. As an Immigration Attorney with our Greater DC office, Isabel represents women and girls fleeing gender-based violence before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration Courts, U.S. Department of State, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. She provides advice, counseling, and direct legal representation to clients with asylum, VAWA, T visa and U visa cases. Isabel also assists in trainings and presentations for professionals and the general community. Prior to joining Tahirih, Isabel served as the judicial clerk for the Honorable Julie Breslow and the Honorable Sean Staples of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Before and during law school, Isabel served the Latino immigrant community by working with Ayuda, CASA de Maryland, Northern Virginia Family Services, and the U.S. Committee for Refugee and Immigrants

“I am inspired by the strength and bravery of the women and girls Tahirih serves. I am honored to be working alongside such a dedicated staff to protecting and uplifting women and girls from around the world.”

Education: American University, JD; Virginia Tech, BS

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

M. Shea Lamanna

Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Manager

Shea Lamanna joined Tahirih in 2022. As Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Manager for the Greater DC-Baltimore Regional office, Shea supports Tahirih’s development goals through the management of local partnerships, donor cultivation, and the execution of fundraising events and campaigns. Before coming to Tahirih, Shea was on the Outreach team for the American Bar Association’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) and served as Development Director for DC-based nonprofit- the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington.

Shea is the recipient of the Outstanding Civic Engagement award by Campus Compact. She is a published researcher and novelist. Shea has lived in Germany and Wales while studying and researching European naturalization laws and asylum policies affecting refugee populations. She has solo travelled to 14 other countries in Europe and Asia.

“I am inspired by the story of Tahirih and they ways in which her legacy of courage and resilience are reflected in our team and in the women and girls we serve.”

Education: American University, MA; West Virginia University, BA

Hometown: Germantown, MD

Languages: English, Spanish

Brenda Melgar

Immigration and Family Law Paralegal

Brenda Melgar joined Tahirih in 2019. As the Immigration and Family Law Paralegal in the Greater DC office, Brenda supports our attorneys with important legal tasks like preparing immigration forms and filings; client related work like scheduling and meeting with clients. Brenda comes to Tahirih with fifteen years of paralegal experience. Prior to Tahirih, Brenda was a Senior Paralegal at a private practice, immigration firm, where she gained her passion for helping her immigrant community.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s commitment to serving courageous immigrant women and girls.”

Education: George Mason University, Paralegal Certificate

Languages: Spanish

Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia

Daniela Pulido

Social Services Advocate

Daniela Pulido joined Tahirih in 2021. As a Social Services Advocate in the Greater DC office, Daniela is responsible for providing case management for Tahirih’s clients, including assistance with advocacy and support to secure clients basic needs of housing, medical care, and mental health services. Prior to joining Tahirih, Daniela worked at Baltimore Curriculum Project, connecting Baltimore City Public School students to a customized set of services through collaboration with families, teachers, school staff, and community agencies. Before that, Daniela interned at Tahirih and provided holistic trauma-informed support to clients. Daniela served in Nicaragua as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2016 to 2018 teaching English to high school students. She is a Licensed graduate Social Worker.

“As an immigrant woman, I am inspired by Tahirih’s commitment to advocate for and provide holistic services to immigrant women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence. I am honored to work for and with women and provide the support they need to feel empowered and safe.”

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

Language: Spanish

Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela

Anusce Sanai

Managing Attorney

Anusce Sanai (she/her/ella) joined the Tahirih Justice Center in 2012. Anusce is a dedicated and experienced attorney with 10 years of direct legal services and management work in the immigration nonprofit field. She continues to strive for the advancement of equal rights, social justice and race unity while working with survivors of gender-based violence. At the core of her career is a deep-rooted passion for the eradication of systemic racism and oppressive structures that marginalize vulnerable demographics. As such, her career has been shaped through diversity, equity, and inclusion discourse and trainings to provide culturally competent services.

Anusce’s journey at Tahirih began as a family law attorney, expanding into immigration law while ascending to the role of supervisor to the current position of managing attorney. She represented clients in matters related to immigration remedies under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), U-Visa, Battered Spouse Waiver, T-Visas and Asylum claims. In addition, her family law portfolio includes divorce and custody proceedings as well as spousal and child support petitions. In addition, Anusce serves as a co-chair on Tahirih’s Gender, Race, Anti-Racism, Cultural humility, and Equity Task Force (GRACE).

As an immigrant to the United States herself and as a Baháʼí Iranian woman, Anusce’s identity has contributed to shaping her commitment to social justice and advocacy work.

“The partnership that the Tahirih Justice Center provides to equal rights advocacy work allows me to accompany our clients on the path to social justice and the dismantling of systems that continue to widen disparities, inequalities and injustices.”

Education: New England School of Law, JD; University of Colorado at Boulder, BA

Languages: Italian and Farsi

Hometown: Lucca, Italy