Barfonce BaldwinInterim Executive Director, Greater DC
Barfonce originally joined Tahirih in 2000, and re-joined in 2016. As Development Manager for the Greater DC office, Barfonce raises critical dollars needed to fund the Greater DC office by connecting and cultivating local businesses, law firms, foundations and individuals with the extraordinary work of Tahirih. As a relationship cultivator, she connects stakeholders with Tahirih’s message of hope, courage, resilience, and equality by partnering with local workplace giving and charitable campaigns, managing local fundraising events, overseeing DC’s annual signature gala, and building meaningful partnerships with private donors. Prior to joining Tahirih, Barfonce worked in the non-profit field in service to women and families living on the margin in Washington, DC – most notably as Director of Capitol Hill Group Ministry and Administration Director of Central Union Mission.
“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” BershadImmigration and Family Law Attorney
Sasha initially joined Tahirih in Spring 2014 as a legal intern and then in Fall 2014 as a Volunteer Attorney, rejoining Tahirih in 2017. As Immigration and Family Law Attorney in the Greater DC office, she represents and advocates for immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence in immigration and domestic relations matters. She provides advice, counseling, and direct legal representation to clients in asylum, VAWA, T visa and U visa cases, and in family law 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). Sasha was the recipient of the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference (YLC) Significant Service Award for bar years 2015-16 and 2016-17 for her contributions as a Program Chair for the Immigrant Outreach Committee of the YLC. Sasha was born in Moldova and has spent time abroad in London, UK and Antigua, Guatemala.
“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
Cindy Vanessa CruzNewman's Own Foundation Fellow, Paralegal
Cindy joined Tahirih in 2018. As the Newman’s Own Foundation Fellow Paralegal for the Greater DC office, Cindy is responsible for handling legal tasks such as admin work as well as client related work.
Before joining the legal team at Tahirih, Cindy was an educator for the Princeton Blairstown Center in New Jersey where she worked as a summer instructor teaching Social Justice to students ranging from 8-17 years old. In addition, she was also a 7th-8th grade Literature and Social Studies instructor for Higher Achievement in Alexandria VA.
Cindy has lived in Paraguay as a service volunteer with the American Youth Leadership Program. She has also done community service work in Ecuador, Jamaica and El Salvador. In addition, she also lived and studied in Cuba, and conducted research on the African Diaspora in relation to race and equity on the academic level in Havana.
“I am inspired everyday by the fierce, courageous and strong women, young girls, young boys and men that we serve. Their stories and their resiliency is what motivates me to never give up on fighting for the equal equity that all humans deserve.”
Education: Sewanee: The University of the South, BA in Psychology
Languages: Spanish and English
Hometown: Washington DC
Alison DomonoskeDevelopment Associate and Volunteer Coordinator
Alison Domonoske joined Tahirih in 2017. As Development Associate and Volunteer Coordinator, Alison helps build partnerships and manage fundraising efforts throughout Greater DC area. She also trains and coordinates volunteers to support Tahirih’s clients and programs. Prior to Tahirih, Alison worked as an AmeriCorps Economic Empowerment Associate and as a Casework Assistant for the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, VA. Alison has studied and worked in Ecuador, Sri Lanka, and Palestine.
“The survivors we serve and my colleagues’ dedication to them inspire me. As we strive for gender equality and justice, Tahirih’s recognition of our strength in unity motivates my work in building partnerships.”
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BA
Hometown: Harrisonburg, VA
Kathryn FinleyManaging Attorney
Kathryn Finley joined Tahirih in 2015. As managing attorney in the Greater DC office, she supports a team of attorneys, provides legal services to women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, mentors and cultivates relationships with pro bono partners, and facilitates trainings for professional and community audiences. Kathryn also co-chairs Tahirih’s organization-wide race and gender taskforce. Prior to joining Tahirih, Kathryn worked with Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and interned with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Americans for Immigrant Justice. In 2012, Kathryn assumed the lead role in creating and securing funding for the state of Wisconsin’s first ever Immigrant Justice Clinic. 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
Maricela LechugaEqual Justice Works Fellow
Maricela Lechuga joined Tahirih in 2016. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Greater DC office, Maricela leads a legal program, co-designed with Tahirih, called the Justice for Mothers Project, which extends legal services to mothers with gender-based asylum claims. As part of her project she is planning, coordinating, and executing pro se asylum clinics and trainings for professional and community audiences, including know your rights and family preparedness presentations to individuals at risk of deportation. Prior to joining Tahirih, Maricela gained legal experience in the fields of asylum and immigration law through clerkships with: Maggio and Kattar, LLC; U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section; U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation, Appellate Section; Tahirih Justice Center; Casa De Maryland; and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“I feel uniquely positioned to represent the needs of my community and advocate for the most vulnerable population in the US, immigrant women and girls fleeing violence.”
Education: American University, Washington College of Law, J.D. ; University of California Santa Cruz, B.A.
Languages: Fluent Spanish, German, and conversational Portuguese
Hometown: San Jose, California
Adriana LópezSocial Services Program Manager
Adriana joined Tahirih in 2017 as a Social Services Program Manager in the Greater D.C. region. As a Program Manager, Adriana oversees the delivery of culturally sensitive and trauma- informed services and awareness for gender based violence. Prior to joining Tahirih, Adriana served as a Co-leader of the Regional Center of Sexual Violence Prevention at the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. She has lived abroad in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.
“Violence against women and girls is one of the most visible effects of gender inequality, and eradicating it is critical to women’s social, economic and political well-being everywhere. I feel privileged to be a part of an organization that advocates for and provides holistic services to immigrant women and girls, so they can live their lives free from violence.”
Education: University of Michigan, MSW; London School of Economics, MSc in Gender, Development and Globalization; and Saint Mary’s College, BSW
Hometown: Elgin, IL
Chelsea NaylorDOJ Accredited 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
Niku NeshatiSocial Services Case Worker
Niku Neshati joined Tahirih in 2017 as the Social Services Case Worker in the Greater D.C. region. As a Case Worker, Niku connects clients to social services within their communities, while advocating on their behalves to remove barriers to other essential needs. Prior to joining Tahrih, Niku worked as an intern for the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. Before that, she interned at Tahirih in social services, providing referrals and advocacy to Spanish and French-speaking clients. She has studied abroad in Spain.
“Empowering survivors of gender-based violence is at the core of my belief in a compassionate, prejudice-free world”
Education: George Mason University, BA
Languages: Spanish, French, Persian
Anusce SanaiSupervising Attorney
Anusce Sanai joined Tahirih in 2012. As the immigration and family law supervising attorney, she represents clients in matters related to immigration remedies based on gender based violence as well as cases involving domestic relations issues. She has experience with petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), U-Visa and Asylum. In addition, her family law portfolio includes divorce and custody proceedings as well as spousal and child support petitions. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was an associate at Redmon, Peyton & Braswell, LLP and was handling high value real estate settlements while also maintaining her own sole practice as the 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. She lives in Alexandria with her husband and two daughters.
“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 between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. Translation services are available in every language.
News from DC
Members of the Tahirih staff have witnessed first-hand how recent policies are impacting individuals and families seeking protection. Help us ensure our justice system honors our nation’s proud history, enshrined in U.S. law, of offering protection to women, men, and children fleeing persecution and violence.August 9, 2018
Reuters quoted the Executive Director of the Atlanta office, Shana Tabak, about the chaos of providing legal services at the border.July 20, 2018