CIRC is grateful for an incredible team that enacts our mission to build a unified statewide voice to advance and defend justice for immigrants and refugees in Colorado.
Staff members are listed below by alphabetical order of last name:
Hameeda Abdul Kadir – Development Coordinator
Hameeda Abdul Kadir is a Somali-American who has called Colorado home since 2004. As a refugee she understands the plight and struggles of coming to America and uses that perspective to create change. Now a senior at Metropolitan State University of Denver as a student of the Human Service department with a concentration in Youth. Hameeda started her journey in change making as a participant of the Building Bridges MEUS (Middle East US) year long program 2013 cohort which focused on connecting through conflict by bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and American young women for a two week summer intensive. This sparked her awareness of global issues but also brought out the issues that we have right here in Colorado, motivating her to zoom in. This introduction to justice work fueled her to built those muscles for over 6 years and spoke out about what marginalized people face in Colorado as well as raise funds for inclusive programming. Since the age of 16 Hameeda has committed to the work of transformation by playing many roles at Building Bridges as a facilitator, a fellow, a recruiter, and now a Finance Committee member on the board. Today she serves at CIRC as our Development Coordinator and is excited to use her previous knowledge and to learn more about how to better serve Colorado immigrants and CIRC in creating long lasting change.
- Office: (303) 922-3344
Nayda Benitez – South Regional Organizer
At the age of seven, Nayda immigrated to Colorado with her mom and younger siblings from Puebla, Mexico. From an early age, Nayda knew that her and her family were undocumented. Growing up in Colorado Springs, she witnessed the exploitation, criminalization, and discrimination that her parents were often subject to as undocumented immigrants living in a politically conservative city.
In 2014, Nayda became the first in her family to be admitted to college. While she was a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), Nayda fought fiercely for educational and institutional equity for immigrant students. In early 2017, she founded UNIDOS, the first-ever undocumented student organization at UCCS. Later that year (in response to the Trump’s administration repeal of DACA), she also founded Springs Dream Team, a grassroots advocacy group for young undocumented people in Colorado Springs.
After graduating from college in the summer of 2018, Nayda worked as a paralegal in removal/ deportation defense work in Denver while continuing to organize for immigrant rights. In September of 2019, she eagerly joined CIRC as their new South Regional Organizer. Besides community organizing with and for marginalized people, Nayda is also passionate about tacos, literature, and Korean pop music.
Victor Galvan – Director of Federal Campaigns and Engagement
Victor is a Rocky Mountain native, born in Chihuahua, Mexico and a graduate of North High School in Denver. He began organizing in the immigrant community in 2008 at age 16 through Padres Y Jóvenes Unidos. In 2012, Victor joined the CIRC team to help mobilize Latino and immigrant voters in the general election and was instrumental in the campaign to win ASSET in-state tuition equity in 2013. Victor’s voice helped to ensure that ASSET included state-funded scholarships for undocumented students. Victor is a directly impacted member of the CIRC staff and proudly calls himself a DREAMer. Victor dreams of one day finishing his college education, as he qualifies for ASSET.
Nelly García – West Slope Regional Organizer
Nelly F. Garcia Olmos moved from Mexico City to United States when she was 12 years old. She has lived in Grand Junction, Colorado since 2000 and graduated from Colorado Mesa University with a BA in Spanish Applied Professional and Spanish- Literature and Language. Nelly volunteered with the Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP), CIRC member organization in the west slope, which works toward a just and equitable society. She joined HAP board of directors in 2012, where she served as secretary. In the same year, Nelly also joined CIRC board of directors, serving as the secretary her first yar and the second year as the vice president.
Nelly has supported CIRC’s priority campaigns like Unite Colorado, as she represented HAP at the steering committee. She supported the work to repeal SB 90 and supported the work towards passing SB 13-251, which allow undocumented immigrant to obtain a state driver license. Nelly has travel to Washington DC, to advocate for immigration reform and Dream Act. When DACA passed in 2012, she worked in educating her community about the executive action and joined immigration attorneys in the effort to process DACA applications. Four the past 4 years, Nelly has worked for Migrant Education Program, enrolling families and providing instructional/support services for migrant families in 29 school district across the western slope of Colorado. She joined the team in 2018 as West Slope Regional Organizer.
Gladis Ibarra – Campaign & Hotline Manager
Gladis Ibarra, born in Zacatecas, Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 8. From Boulder to Broomfield, she grew up in Colorado and graduated in 2008 from Vantage Point High School. Gladis has been an active volunteer with CIRC since 2012. In September of 2017 DACA was threatened and rescinded by the administration, Gladis participated in the massive Denver Public School walkouts where students marched to Metro State University. This year she joined the staff as a fellow for the Denver Region for 3 months. She is now joining the team full time as the new Hotline Coordinator and Denver Region Organizer support. As a DACA recipient, Gladis’ passion is the main thing that drives her in this fight to protect her family, her community. She is excited to be able to dedicate her time and energy to fight and defend people like herself.
Gladis Ibarra born in Zacatecas, Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 8. From Boulder to Broomfield, she grew up in Colorado and graduated in 2008 from Vantage Point High School. Gladis has been an active volunteer with CIRC since 2012. In September of 2017 DACA was threatened and rescinded by the administration, Gladis participated in the massive Denver Public School walkouts where students marched to Metro State University. This year she joined the staff as a fellow for the Denver Region for 3 months. She is now joining the team full time as the new Hotline Coordinator and Denver Region Organizer support. As a DACA recipient, Gladis’ passion is the main thing that drives her in this fight to protect her family, her community. She is excited to be able to dedicate her time and energy to fight and defend people like herself.
Raquel Lane-Arellano – Political Manager
Joining CIRC as the Policy Manager is a dream come true! Ever since Raquel had her first taste of grassroots organizing as a high schooler on Obama’s campaign in 2012 to protect friends and loved ones who had just applied for DACA, she have been eager to help grow our pro-immigrant policy and political power here in Colorado. As a first-generation college graduate and Chicanx/Latinx major, she moved back to Colorado after college to empower her community and increase access to opportunity for all in our state.
In the 2018 midterm election, Raquel worked as a Family Defender Field Coordinator with CIRC leading CIRC’s civic engagement efforts in Aurora to promote sanctuary city policies and energize immigrant and POC voters. She looks forward to growing with CIRC and the immigrant rights movement in Colorado to continue crafting better realities and futures for our community together.
Mateo Lozano – Mountain Regional Organizer
Originally from Bogota, Colombia; Brought to the USA when he was four years old. His family escaped from a country torn apart by a millennia of destabilization; A national history with roots stemming with endless imperialist abuses. FARC is holding his family’s country hostage to this very day.
Thanks to DACA, Mateo is a Colorado Mountain College graduate from Breckenridge, Colorado. He received his associate’s degree in psychology and will continue pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Communications and a minor in psychology in Metro State University. DACA has allowed him to involve himself with the Civic Engagement campaign during the 2016 elections, and has had the honor to involve himself with the HB-1206 license campaign as a DACA spokesperson and state coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
Mateo Lozano currently has the honor of being the Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; Assuring that the mountain regions of Colorado have safeguards and strong communities to defend against ICE.
Siena Mann – Campaign Manager
Siena has been active in justice movements since graduating from Haverford College with a B.A. in Spanish Literature. First educated in the OCCUPY movement in Philadelphia, Siena became deeply invested in immigrant rights issues while working in Mexico City at Casa de los Amigos, a non-profit focused on issues of immigrant and economic injustice. There, she worked in a coalition dedicated to addressing some of the root causes of forced migration: the failures of U.S. imperialism and neoliberalism. She then moved to El Paso, Texas where she worked supporting Annunciation House in their emergency migrant shelter program.
Siena moved back to Colorado to work at Joseph Law Firm, an immigration law firm, as a paralegal. Siena become an active local organizer in Colorado Springs in the deportation resistance movement. She helped found the Colorado Springs Sanctuary Coalition and is an active member of CIRC’s member group Grupo Esperanza. She joins the team at CIRC as the South Regional Organizer and is so excited to build a powerful movement in Southern Colorado for immigrant justice on local, state and national level!
Nicole Melaku – Executive Director
Nicole Melaku is the Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. Nicole was introduced to organizing and fundraising as a volunteer in Aurora public schools and was inspired to bring her skill set to the immigrant rights movement in 2010. In 2012, she joined the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition(CIRC) where she worked on CIRC’s immigrant integration programming in conjunction with national partners. Prior to taking this position, Nicole was on the staff of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, where she oversaw grant-making and special initiatives including the Colorado Immigrant Funders Collaborative. She is first generation American and granddaughter of immigrants from Chihuahua and Guanajuato Mexico.
Nicole is an alumni of the University of Colorado, Boulder where she studied Latin American Studies and Spanish. Nicole currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and the National Partnership for New Americans. S 2018 fellow of the Transformative Leadership for Change in Colorado, a select group of 19 leaders from diverse organizations working to build a more just and inclusive vision for Colorado.
Chau Phan – AAPI Community Organizer
Chau (Jo) is the Asian American & Pacific Islander Organizer for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC). She immigrated from Vietnam at the age of one and attends the University of Denver. She is working on her Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Computer Science and is multilingual in English, Vietnamese, and Mandarin.
Chau started her work in intersectional justice around the age of 18, focusing on anti-blackness in AAPI communities, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights. In 2018, she lobbied with the Friends Committee on National Legislation for clean energy and climate change policies in both Denver and D.C. She also worked at the Colorado State Capitol as a legislative aide, dedicating most of her time to bill research around the growing homeless community in Colorado. Chau is currently on the Executive Committee for the Rock the Boat Colorado AAPI Leadership Conference for three years running. She works to bring in high school and collegiate students to become civically engaged around (though not exclusively) Asian American & Pacific Islander issues on a local, national, and global scale.
Cristian Solano-Córdova – Communications Director
Cristian is a Denver native, born in Chihuahua, Mexico and a graduate of George Washington High School in Denver. He began working for the immigrant community in 2015 when he ran and won an election to become a student body president at MSU Denver. After his work for undocumented students at Auraria Campus, he worked for immigrant communities at the Mental Health Center of Denver, but yearned for a more direct role. Cristian joined the CIRC team in 2017 as Communications Manager. Having benefited from the ASSET law for undocumented college students that CIRC had a hand in passing, he feels working for CIRC is his way of paying that forward. Cristian is a proud DREAMer and hopes to continue his education and one day becoming a medical doctor after his work for the immigrant justice movement.
Joshua Stallings – North Regional Organizer
Josh’s eyes were opened in 2015 and 2016 while spending a year working at La Sagrada Familia migrant shelter in Tlaxcala, Mexico. He met people who had been his neighbors in his hometown of San Antonio, TX and college-town Lakewood, Colorado and were then migrating back to the US after deportation. Their stories moved him and he realized that his own liberation would be bound to that of his immigrant brothers and sisters.
When he returned to Denver in the Fall of 2016, he got involved in the movement and in deportation resistance. Through work with CIRC’s Docuteam, he has been a part of our push for Virginia’s Law. He is proud of the collective success made to require an advisement of rights and end ICE holds and information sharing without a warrant. Moving forward, he will continue to push to end ICE notifications, inform people of their rights, increase access to legal and community resources, and provide a pathway to citizenship for ALL PEOPLE in the United States!
He is very, very excited to be the new North Regional Organizer! He’s looking forward to building new relationships, empowering movement leaders, and taking big steps toward making Colorado a more immigrant-friendly state as a part of this beautiful coalition. *
Stephanie Tanny – Development Director
Stephanie and her family immigrated from Indonesia to the United States when she was two years old. She grew up in Denver, and double majored in Ethnic Studies and Sociology at Colorado State University. She has been working in the social justice field for 8+ years and previously served on the CIRC Board of Directors from 2012-2015.
Stephanie has helped generate over $1 million for sexual violence prevention and has won national leadership awards including the Top 15 Asian American Women Leaders in 2011. She has been interviewed by MSNBC, the Westword, The White House Project, and has appeared live on C-SPAN. As an international speaker, she has shared the stage with public figures such as President Bill Clinton, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Actor Kal Penn, and John Oliver from The Daily Show.
One of the most comprehensive and intersectional projects that Stephanie has worked on was for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), where she completed a key investigative report (Turning the Page on U.S. Immigration Policy) that documented how current immigration policy affects Asian American women and families. She has worked for organizations such as Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, Organization of Chinese Americans, and Congresswoman Judy Chu.
Stephanie is passionate about creating more diverse and inclusive communities, and she is looking forward to continuing on her work with CIRC.
Caitlin Trent – Operations Coordinator
Caitlin is from Colorado, where she also received her Bachelor’s in Spanish and International Relations at the University of Denver. After graduating she lived in Peru, working at a development non-profit as a volunteer coordinator. For the following three years, she bounced between working in Breckenridge, Colorado and Latin America. During that time, she worked for Walking Tree Travel as a service guide in Peru, did journalism in Medellin, Colombia, and was a human rights intern at the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Dominican Republic. After the internship with the OAS, she moved to Hawaii for nine months, waiting tables before starting her Master’s Degree. For her Master’s, she returned to the University of Denver and studied International Relations with a concentration in transitional justice and received a Certificate in International Human Rights Law. During her Master’s, she worked in Sri Lanka with a Community Policing program that improves relations between post-conflict communities and the local police force. After graduating, she conducted research in Nepal on diverging agendas between victims, government and civil society organizations in its war-crime justice process. Her research is currently being published by the Sie Center at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. She started at CIRC in August, 2017 as the Operations Coordinator and has loved the team and the critical immigration work that it does in her home of Colorado.
Paola Grimaldo – Federal Campaign Organizer
Paola moved from Michoacan Mexico to the United States at the age of 2 and has called Denver her home ever since. She most recently graduated from the Community College of Denver with an AA in Political Science in 2018. She has started attending the Metropolitan State University of Denver to earn her BA in Political Science with an emphasis on communications.
As a DACA recipient, and daughter of immigrants fleeing extreme poverty in Mexico, Paola has a burning passion for equality of opportunity for all. Paola participated in the 2017 walkouts when the Trump Administration threatened to rescind DACA. This is when she knew she couldn’t stand by anymore, she had to take matters into her own hands and get her feet wet in the political arena. Since then, Paola has worked with multiple campaigns, fighting for abortion rights, climate, and immigrant rights. She is now one of the federal campaign organizers with CIRC and is fighting to get the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 passed so that she and other undocumented youth could live a normal life in the country they call home.
Travis Harris – Data Fellow
Originally from Nebraska, Travis comes to CIRC by way of Los Angeles, where he most recently led the technology team for the veteran founded disaster relief organization Team Rubicon. Prior to working in the technology field, Travis was in the US Army for 5 years where he spent time in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and England. During his time in the Army, Travis received his undergraduate degree in Physics, and is now attending school again for Fermentation Science. In addition to humanitarian/disaster relief technology work, Travis has been a tech advisor for local and congressional campaigns, focusing on data architecture and communications.
Karen Orona – Policy Fellow
Karen is currently a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she studies International Affairs and Political Science. Her family is originally from Durango and Chihuahua, Mexico, two regions devastated by crime, poverty, and corruption. This led her family to find a safer life with more opportunity in the United States. After watching her family struggle in America’s immigration system, Karen began to organize for immigrant and civil rights.
As a high schooler, she was named Diversity Director for the High School Democrats of America and organized minority students from across the country to help them find their political voice. As a 17-year old, Karen focused on environmental justice and helped organize middle school and high school students from different states to demand a Climate Action Plan from their local government. Since then, Karen has focused in on Colorado politics as a canvasser, a Legislative Intern, and now a Policy Fellow for CIRC. Karen is continuously motivated by her family, friends, and community who live in fear everyday because of their immigration status
Jessica Rosero – Federal Campaign Organizer
Jess is a California State University, Northridge graduate with a B.S. in Recreational Tourism and Associates in Paralegal Studies. Jess first got involved with politics in 2018 during Arizona’s Prop. 127 The Clean Energy Initiative. A year later she found herself educating and empowering voters with CIRC Action Fund and Colorado’s People’s Alliance during the 2019 Municipal Elections.
She is extremely grateful to be surrounded by an amazing team, to be happily going to work and loving her job as a CIRC Federal Campaign Organizer. She hopes to see more wins for immigrant community as we all come together and make strides for a better tomorrow.