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:
Claudia Castillo – Legal Services Coordinator
Claudia is a recent graduate of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and graduated with a M.A. in the International Human Rights program. She also received the Joint Interdisciplinary International Law and Human Rights Certificate from Sturm College of Law. Her passion is to advocate for migrant labor rights, immigrant legal support, and immigration reform. Claudia is a retired US Army Intelligence Officer with service in the United States and abroad, including South Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, Germany, and Honduras. She received a Masters of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University and an undergraduate degree in Business Management from Jacksonville State University, Alabama. Her advocacy work includes interning at the Migrant Farm Worker Division, Colorado Legal Services conducting outreach conducting “know your rights” training in northeast Colorado. She also worked as a surveyor for the “Just Wages Project”, which investigated day laborers’ work and wage theft experiences in the Denver area to understand the wage theft climate. Claudia has participated in projects for the Human Trafficking Center, Korbel Asylum Project and the Korbel Immigration Research and Action Collective while in school. She is now a part of the CIRC team and looks forward to helping and advocating for immigrant rights.
Lorena Fuentes Ibáñez – Northern Colorado Regional Organizer
Lorena is a proud immigrant, born in Mexico City and raised in Thornton, Colorado. At a young age, Lorena’s mother brought her to the enormous 2006 March for Immigrants rally. It was then that Lorena became aware about the complexities, dehumanization, and barriers of immigration; closely intertwined within her community and personal life. This was a monumental moment that made her realize she wanted to work with communities, organize, and rally for a more just country in her lifetime. During her time in Thornton High School, she went on to work with the Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA) and state representatives to help push for the passing of the ASSET Bill in Colorado. Lorena later went on to attend Colorado State University. During her undergraduate she was able to work under Dr. Eric Ishiwata in Fort Morgan, building profound relationships with immigrant and refugee students and community members. She has seen the strength and power of the communities in Northern Colorado. Lorena cares deeply for these community members and is passionate about working closely with them. Lorena was conferred two degrees in Ethnic Studies, with a concentration in Women’s Studies, and Sociology. Lorena’s biggest passion is working through an anti-oppression framework, having historical knowledge of systems of oppression, and contextualizing it into the present to make real change with the communities she works with.
Victor Galvan – Director of Membership 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.
Ali Gordon – Development & Communications Manager —
CIRC Action Fund
Raised in Colorado from the time she was 4 weeks old, Ali Gordon calls the Rocky Mountains home. She studied Communications, Political Science, and Philosophy at Colorado Christian University as a Daniels Fund Scholar. Her curiosity, thirst for knowledge, and tendency to question everything led her to study abroad at the University of Oxford and to spend all 4 years of college traveling across the U.S. on her university’s speech and debate team.
Motivated by a variety of experiences that challenged her conservative, religious upbringing, Ali began understanding privilege and systemic injustice in deeper ways. Her experiences eventually drove her to co-lead her university’s student body in initiatives encouraging administration to ensure equity, transparency, and opportunity for students across identities–especially with a focus on racial and gender justice. Through the lens of racial justice, Ali became more involved in activism in Denver–including the fight for immigrant rights; Ali eventually found her passions and skills aligned with the mission, values, and work of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
When she’s not traveling, reading, or exploring the great outdoors, Ali enjoys taking photos, painting, and discovering new coffee shops in Denver. She is also especially passionate about womxn’s rights, LGBTQ+ justice, and equity for people without homes in Denver. The fight for justice and compassion is a lifelong commitment, and Ali hopes to support CIRC in making her home state a more welcoming, loving, and just space for all people. As one of her favorite quotes reads: “There’s some good in this world…and it’s worth fighting for.”
Brendan Greene – Campaigns Director
Brendan Greene graduated from Denver East High School before going on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Latino American and Latino Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Following college, he worked for three and a half years directing a national boycott against PictSweet Mushroom Farms in Oxnard, CA for the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. After the signing of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with PictSweet, Brendan moved to North Carolina and began organizing with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO with H-2A “guest worker” tobacco pickers.
In 2004, he was a part of a historical organizing drive that succeeded in pressuring the North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA), the nations largest H-2A recruiter, into signing a CBA representing 7,000 H-2A tobacco pickers. This represented the first time in the nations history that guest workers had successfully organized to win a CBA. As a part of this victory, Brendan was sent to open an office in Monterrey, Mexico to oversee the extremely complex recruitment system of the H-2A program and ensure worker protections were enforced on both sides of the border. Brendan’s experience as a “transnational” organizer has given him a unique insight into some of the intricacies and problems facing the guest worker program and comprehensive immigration reform. Brendan is responsible for strengthening CIRC’s base by developing and mobilizing members in strategic issue campaigns.
Kyle Huelsman – Policy and Advocacy Manager
Kyle Huelsman was born and raised in Jefferson County Colorado, and moved to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado. Raised by two Kansas farmers, Kyle was a first generation college student where he pursued degrees in Economics and Ethnic Studies. In 2010, Kyle organized with local immigrant rights activists to fight for Colorado ASSET, mobilizing a diverse university student coalition to garner CU Regent support for the legislation.
Prior to joining CIRC, Kyle co-founded the statewide nonprofit Food Rescue Alliance. He consulted food security organizations in Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs, and also worked with national food retailers to develop tax credit legislation for fresh food donations. During the 2015 legislative session, Kyle worked as the legislative aide for a Democratic state representative, supporting policy issues around equal pay and economic justice. Most recently, he held a position with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, developing health equity policy for Colorado Medicaid.
As the Policy and Advocacy Manager with CIRC, Kyle manages the legislative and advocacy components of the strategic campaigns, including coordination with our contract lobbyists and elected officials, developing policy related materials, and overseeing the annual advocacy day at the state capitol and national delegations to Washington D.C.
Gladis Ibarra – Hotline Manager & Denver Point Person
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.
Mateo Lozano – Mountain Regional Coordinator
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 – South Region Organizer
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.
Cristian Solano-Córdova – Communications Manager
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.
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.