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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:

Andrea Cota Avila

Development Manager

Andrea was born and raised in Mexico until she immigrated to Michigan when she was 6 years old. She attended Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in Arts and Humanities. Her exposure to social justice issues during her undergraduate career inspired her to pursue a career in the non profit sector.

Because of her research work with Latinx high schoolers and minor in Chicano/Latino studies, Andrea’s dream has been to advocate and fight for the rights of Latinx communities.Prior to joining CIRC, she worked with a basic needs organization as a Development Associate. She is incredibly excited to join the CIRC team, and looks forward to connecting with donors. In her free time, you can find her hiking the beautiful state of Colorado, practicing yoga or reading.


Nayda Benitez

South Regional Organizer

At the age of seven, Nayda immigrated to Colorado with her family from Puebla, Mexico. From an early age, Nayda knew that she and her family were undocumented. Growing up in Colorado Springs, she witnessed the exploitation, criminalization, and discrimination that her family members were often subject to as brown, undocumented immigrants living in a politically conservative city.

While a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), Nayda fought fiercely for educational and institutional equity for all students, regardless of their immigration status. Her student organizing inevitably became community organizing in El Paso County. Outside of campus, she organized with local community collectives like Springs Dream Team, United We Dream (Colorado Chapter), Pikes Peak Womxn for Liberation, the Immigrant Justice Alliance, and CIRC.

After graduating from college, Nayda worked as a paralegal in removal/deportation defense in Aurora while continuing to organize for immigrant rights. She has been with CIRC since 2019 and is honored to organize among powerful immigrant communities in Southern Colorado. Besides organizing towards liberation, Nayda is also passionate about tacos, books, ferrets, and Korean pop music.


(719) 726-5984

Carolina Diaz

Hotline Coordinator

As a hardworking immigrant, Carolina‘s academic and work experience has been in the social justice field; she has worked with children and families in vulnerable situations fighting for justice and equality. She is passionate about working in the community to defend human rights and building a more equitable society.

Carolina is Colombian and a refugee in the United States. She thanks God for each new dawn, but she thinks that the light does not shine for all people with the same intensity, so she actively works with love and respect to achieve more opportunities for everyone.


Bianey Bermudez

Communications Manager

Bianey Bermudez is a first generation, Denver native with roots in Chihuahua, Mexico. Her family embarked on a journey across the border over 30 years ago in hopes of a brighter future for the next generation. Bermudez is an MSU Denver graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Her passion lies in working for social justice and creating a difference in her community using the power of words and narrative.

Prior to joining CIRC, Bermudez was a Communications Assistant with the ACLU of Colorado and co-funded the mutual aid group The Giveback Colorado in 2020, to address needs in the community through fundraising, organizing volunteers and supporting other mutual aid groups across the state.


(303) 922-3344

Erik Garcia

Director of Organizing and Membership

Erik profile picErik Garcia, originally from Mexico, has been organizing as part of the migrant justice movement combatting detentions and deportations for seven years.

Prior to joining CIRC, Erik was a Policy Advocate and Organizer for ACLU SoCal, where he worked with diverse communities within Orange County and Statewide to build coalitions to advocate for policy changes and expand local infrastructures to respond to detentions and deportations. He previously served on Santa Ana’s Sanctuary City Advisory Board, which advises city agencies and departments on how to comply with the Sanctuary City Ordinance. Erik has been instrumental in the founding and development of the Orange County Rapid Response Network.

Prior to joining ACLU SoCal, Erik organized at the grassroots-level in Santa Ana, a city whose people have always expanded the understanding of what is possible when we organize. The connections he has built with some of the most resilient and creative people this movement has to offer inspire him to continue to do what he can to build this movement and to contribute to our collective liberation.


JuanDavid Garza

Legal Services Manager

JuanDavid Garza is a Texas native who moved to Colorado to pursue higher education. He graduated in May of 2020 from the LEEDS School of Business and brings along an immense passion for social justice and equity. Alongside his music career, JD hopes to bring about healing for himself and others with his work at CIRC.


Gladis Ibarra

Deputy Director

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.


(303) 922-3344

Raquel Lane-Arellano

Political Manager

Joining CIRC as the Political 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 has 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.


(303) 922-3344

Clara O'Connor

West Slope Regional Organizer

Clara is thrilled to join CIRC as the Western Slope Regional Organizer! As the daughter of an immigrant, she is eager to begin building connections throughout the region and play a part in making Colorado a more welcoming, immigrant-friendly place.

Clara earned her degree in International Affairs and Anthropology at CU Boulder. As part of her studies, she spent a few months in Nepal and India conducting research while working with members of the Tibetan community. She learned about their efforts to preserve Tibetan culture while being isolated from their homeland and their complicated status as refugees. Throughout this experience she became particularly interested in human rights and continuing to work with diverse populations. After graduating, she lived for several months with her family in Uruguay and then moved to Japan as a member of the JET Program. This provided her with the opportunity to foster intercultural cooperation and strategize improvements to English language education by working with members of a small, rural community.

Now that she is back in the United States, Clara is excited to use her multicultural background and experiences abroad to help bring positive change to her home state from the grassroots level!


Ian Pham

Campaign Manager

Ian was born and raised in Houston, Texas and in 2012 moved to Denver to attend the University of Denver to study Political Science and Business. While attending DU, Ian started to become active in various student groups to address the issues of systemic inequity on campus as well the discrimination he felt being an openly queer transman. This is where he found his passion for social justice.

Ian has interned in the Colorado House of Representatives and has worked on various political campaigns to elect progressive champions into office. Before joining CIRC, Ian worked as the Digital Organizer for United for a New Economy – an organization fighting for economic and housing justice. During his time at UNE, Ian worked on organizing folks from across Colorado to fight for Paid Family and Medical Leave for all workers and in 2020, Coloradans were able to pass this initiative on the ballot.

Ian is extremely proud to be a part of CIRC advocating for all Coloradans, no matter their immigration status.


Q.C. Phan

Denver Regional Organizer

Q.C. is the Denver Regional Organizer for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC). She started her work in intersectional justice around the age of 18, focusing on anti-Blackness in AAPI communities, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights. She lobbied with a national quaker organization for clean energy and climate change policies, and immigrant rights which started her journey in this movement. Q.C. 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. In her off-time, she likes to have dinner conversation around decriminalizing sex-work, abolishing US imperialism, and watching true crime with the family.


(303) 922-3344

Siena Mann

Campaign Manager

Siena profile picSiena has been active in justice movements since graduating from Haverford College with a B.A. in Spanish Literature in 2014. First trained 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 became an active local organizer in Colorado Springs in the deportation resistance movement. She helped found the Colorado Springs Sanctuary Coalition and was an active member of CIRC’s member group Grupo Esperanza. Siena joined CIRC as the South Regional Organizer from 2018-2019. As one of CIRC’s Organizing and Campaign Managers, Siena work now focuses on making improvements to the SB251 Driver’s License for All program, coordinating the I Drive/Yo Manejo Coalition and fighting for data privacy for all.


For questions related to SB251 Driver’s License:   Email

Laura Peniche

Hotline Manager

Originally from Puebla, Mexico, Laura has been calling Denver home since age 13. With an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Writing/Directing for Film & Television from the Colorado Film School, her documentary film debut: “No One Shall Be Called Illegal” showcased at the 2011 Denver International Starz Film Festival. In 2017, Laura was a Producer for the documentary film: “Five Dreamers”, which aired on Rocky Mountain PBS and National PBS. Laura has been an active community member with Together Colorado since 2016 and in the year 2018 became the Project & Engagement Manager for Motus Theater’s UndocuAmerica Project, where she continues to work as an UndocuMonologues performer. Laura is now working for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition as Hotline Coordinator for the ICE incident report hotline.


(303) 922-3344
Colorado Rapid Response Network Hotline: 1-844-864-8341

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.


(830) 832-4330

Laura Segura

Mountain Regional Organizer

Laura Segura was born and raised in Mexico City. At an early age and being the only girl from a family of 9, she learned not only to stand up for herself but also for other women in her family and community. At the age of 16 she immigrated to California. It was an opportunity to advocate for her family, to improve their lifestyle and start a new culture in social justice.

Laura understood that life is tough; as she says, “we are already survivors and it is time for us to learn how to live our best life.” When she witnessed all the irregularities in the system and the privilege of already established  organizations, she got into action and then the leader in her took action. She founded her own nonprofit organization, Grupo Vive, in the mountain region. Thanks to CIRC and her role as a Mountain Region Fellow, she is excited to be part of the change for social justice.

She believes that “we all deserve to become the best version of ourselves.”



Miriam Ortiz

Northern Regional Fellow

Miriam was born in Jerez, Zacatecas. She immigrated to the U.S. with her mother when she was just two years old. She grew up in Aurora, Colorado. During her time in public schools, Miriam began to notice issues of inequity and oppression. Although at the time she did not have the language to name them, she knew that those experiences carried deep meaning for her life and for the members of her community. She decided to attend Colorado State University in pursuit of an Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies degree. Miriam is grateful to have had the chance to work closely with professors in each department whose guidance helped her continue to shape her passion for social justice work.

Through her work with her professors, she came to understand issues of social justice at the structural, interpersonal, and personal levels. She believes that healing is an important part of the work that must be done to address these issues at all levels and is interested in how healing practices can move communities from modes of survival/existence to a state of living and flourishing. She hopes to work with communities to find ways of healing through social justice work.


Valentina Pons

Southern Regional Fellow

Originally from Montevideo, Uruguay, Valentina settled in a small town in Southern Colorado with her parents and older brother in 2002 at the age of 4.

While attending a fairly small school here in Colorado, she was discriminated against because of her family’s immigration status. After transferring schools, she then realized what it meant to be undocumented but she didn’t associate with politics because in her words, “it was not her cup of tea.” That was until the Trump Administration threatened to remove DACA in 2017 where she knew she could not stay quiet any longer. She began sharing her story about being a recipient with local newspapers, at CSU-Pueblo organizations alongside other DACA recipients and recently worked with Young Invincibles to help pass Senate Bill 21-077 in the house and senate.

She recently obtained her BS degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish from CSU-Pueblo and plans on receiving her master’s degree in the next upcoming years. She hopes to become an elementary school counselor.

For fun, Valentina enjoys working out with very loud music, spending quality time with friends & family, or just reading a good book, preferably her bible.