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Board of Directors


CIPC has developed a structure that supports our sustainability in order to best support the needs of the immigrant rights movement. We are proud to introduce this structure– the Board of Directors. This committee works to build up CIPC’s infrastructure, financial resources, and strategic plan, in order to ensure CIPC’s growth and sustainability. This committee is comprised of members from diverse sectors, selected for their expertise and commitment to expanding inclusive policies for California’s immigrant communities. As we continue to strengthen our internal infrastructure, CIPC will continue to work with our grassroots Steering Committee and Advisory Council to inform and oversee our pro-immigrant policy priorities.

Meet the CIPC Board of Directors!

Richard Barrera

Richard Barrera is the President of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees. He was first elected to the San Diego School Board in 2008. A first-generation San Diegan, his father emigrated from Colombia and mother is the daughter of European immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island. After graduating from El Cajon Valley High School, Mr. Barrera received his Bachelors Degree in American History from UCSD, and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. Mr. Barrera has a background as a community organizer, working to revitalize low-income neighborhoods and create networks for parents of pre-school aged kids. He served five years as president of the Consensus Organizing Institute and has also worked for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Comer Science and Education Foundation and as a consultant for the City Heights Community Development Corporation. In the field of labor relations, he has served as San Diego regional organizer for both the United Domestic Workers and United Healthcare Workers. Mr. Barrera serves as a board member of the San Diego Cooperative Charter School, the Greater Golden Hill Community Planning Committee, the San Diego League of Conservation Voters, and the San Diego Unity League, and volunteers for the Urban Corps of San Diego County and as a coach for his sons’ North Park Little League teams. Mr. Barrera’s two sons are students in the San Diego Unified School District.

Xóchitl Castañeda

Xóchitl Castañeda is project director of the California-Mexico Health Initiative, a University of California initiative that coordinates and optimizes health resources for Mexican immigrants and their families in California through collaboration, education and training efforts. Castañeda previously served as a professor and researcher for seven years at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, where she also directed the Department of Reproductive Health. In 1999, she received the National Research Award on Social Science and Medicine. Castañeda has published more than 50 scientific works and has served as a consultant for more than 20 national and international institutions. A medical anthropologist by training, Castañeda was educated in Guatemala and Mexico. She did a post-doctoral fellowship in reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco, and also received training in social science and medicine at Harvard University.

Katharine Gin

Katharine Gin is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC). Kathy is the proud descendant of Chinese immigrants, who first came to the U.S. in the 1860s to work in the gold mines of California and later during the restrictive Chinese Exclusion Acts. She was born and raised in San Francisco, and received her BA from Yale University and MFA from the University of Oregon. For nearly 20 years, Katharine has worked to enhance arts and education opportunities for low-income and minority youth. She has developed innovative programs in schools, housing projects, and detention facilities. Her artistic and educational work with youth has been exhibited and published widely in college textbooks, literary anthologies, magazines, and national newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Harvard Educational Review. She is frequently invited to share her experiences working with undocumented students at education and immigration conferences around the country. Outside of her work with E4FC, Katharine serves as Advisor to the Nelson Fund at The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, where she has overseen the fund’s philanthropic investments in arts and education since 2001.

Ritu Goswamy

Ritu Goswamy is an immigration attorney with her own law practice in San Jose, CA. Her firm focuses on removal/deportation defense, family-based visas and green cards, immigration consequences of crimes, citizenship and naturalization, consular processing, deferred action for childhood arrivals, U visas for victims of crime, hardship waivers/provisional waivers, and preparation for new immigration laws. Ritu’s model of service delivery is “holistic,” which means that each client is treated as a whole person. Ritu and her staff inform clients of every step in their cases. Before starting her own firm in 2008, Ritu worked for several non-profit organizations in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. She holds both an MSW and JD from Boston College since 2000 and a BA from Barnard College. She is licensed to practice law in California. Ritu is also passionate about health and wellness. She is a certified yoga instructor and currently studying to become an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor. She is also an avid gardener and hiker/backpacker. For Ritu, balance of body, mind, and spirit are crucial for social justice work.

Reshma Shamasunder

Reshma Shamasunder consults with philanthropy, advocacy and grassroots partners on policy campaigns and issues that benefit low income, immigrant, and vulnerable communities. Reshma served as Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center from 2003 to 2015. Under Reshma’s leadership, CIPC helped to spearhead many successful campaigns at the state level, including placing limits on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, preserving important health and human service programs, winning driver’s licenses for all Californians, and furthering important immigrant integration efforts. Reshma served on the boards of Health Access California and the South Asian Network in Los Angeles and was an inaugural fellow with the Rockwood Fellowship for a New California, a leadership program for California’s immigrant rights leaders. Reshma has also received numerous awards for her leadership on immigrant issues. She was previously Director of Benefits Policy and Government Affairs at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and also worked for several years on child labor issues in India. Reshma holds a Bachelors Degree from UCLA and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Hector Villagra

Hector Villagra is executive director at the ACLU of Southern California, a post he has served since February 2011. Hector launched the Orange County Office of the ACLU of Southern California in September 2005 and served as its director until October 2009, when he became legal director for the affiliate.

Before joining ACLU SoCal, Hector served as regional counsel for the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) from 2001 to 2005 and as a staff attorney at MALDEF from 1999 to 2001. He has led numerous civil rights cases involving such issues as educational equity, religious discrimination, immigrants’ rights and voting rights.

Hector received the Daniel Levy Award for outstanding achievement in immigration law from the National Lawyer’s Guild in 2008. In 2012, he received the Attorney of the Year Award from the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County, the Excellence in Leadership Award from the National Latina/o Law Student Association and the Latino Law Students Association of Columbia Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Hector graduated from Columbia University and Columbia University School of Law, where he received the Jane Marks Murphy Prize, awarded to students who show promise of a professional career applying the highest standards of the lawyer’s craft to service of the public interest. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert Wilentz, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Tom K. Wong

Tom K. Wong is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. Professor Wong’s research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant illegality. As these issues have far-reaching implications, his work also explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity. He is the creator of the CIR Blog, which predicts support and opposition to comprehensive immigration reform among all 535 current members of Congress. He is the lead researcher on one of the first nationwide surveys of undocumented youth. He also recently completed a book manuscript, which analyzes the immigration control policies of twenty-five Western immigrant-receiving democracies, and is beginning another book on the politics of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S., among other projects. Wong¹s research has been used by policymakers both in the U.S. and in Mexico, as well as by organizations that serve immigrant communities. Wong and his work has been covered by ABC News/Univision, Fusion, NPR, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo News, and by Univision in Mexico. His most recent publication is the first nationwide analysis of the Obama administration’s policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides relief from deportation for undocumented youth.