Staff

Gabriela Marquez-Benitez Membership Director

Gaby amplifies DWN’s work from Chicago by developing and supporting member campaigns to take action to end immigrant detention. Coming from a family impacted by the immigrant detention and deportation machine, she recognizes and deeply appreciates the Network’s commitment to center the work led by those directly affected in order to create meaningful change. In addition to local community involvement, you can find Gaby experimenting with new recipes, spending time with her family in the South or hanging out with her dog, Lager.

Liz Castillo Senior Organizer

Liz Castillo is part of the organizing team at Detention Watch Network, with a focus on family detention and child detention expansion efforts in Texas as well as other southern states. Liz admires Detention Watch Network’s vision of a world without immigration detention centers and is excited to learn and fight alongside members and allies committed to turning that vision into reality. When not working, Liz enjoys stumbling across new artists, curating playlists, and getting caught up in the music with loved ones at karaoke and/or the dance floor.

Itzel Corona Aguilar Organizer

Itzel Corona Aguilar joined Detention Watch Network (DWN) in the summer of 2021 and is responsible for the Northeast and South member regions. In this role, Itzel is motivated by the powerful and creative ways members work together to end ICE detention. Itzel has supported efforts to abolish immigration detention in South Texas and New York and New Jersey. When not at work, Itzel enjoys spending time with their cat, Cholita and cooking delicious food!

Feven Ferai Finance and Operations Director

Feven is responsible for overseeing the internal finances along with managing the day to day operations of DWN. She recognizes and values DWN’s commitment to expose and fight the injustices of immigration detention. Outside of work, you can find Feven spending time with friends and family or traveling.

Jenny Garcia Communications Associate

Jenny provides press support for the Network’s members and helps to execute the Network’s media strategy. In this role, she values the responsibility to strategically advance stories of resistance and community. Prior to joining DWN, Jenny worked with UNICEF’s child migration team. When not at work, Jenny likes to daydream, go on mutual aid runs for her neighbors, and listen to folk music.

Justine Garcia Digital Manager

Justine manages DWN’s digital strategy to expand the organization’s reach. Within this role, she is inspired to dream up new and impactful ways to uplift the important work of staff, members and community who are leading the way to end ICE detention. Prior to DWN, Justine was a video producer for Arizona State University Foundation, a freelance video creator for national and local organizations advocating for migrant justice and worker rights and also led communications for Vice Mayor Garcia for the City of Phoenix. You can usually find Justine hiking in one of the Phoenix-area mountain ranges with her dog Rusty.

Chrissy Gargano Development Manager

Through thoughtful storytelling and relationship building, Chrissy develops and strengthens authentic partnerships between Detention Watch Network and its donors. In this role, she appreciates the opportunity to share DWN’s vision with a broader audience, thus building the capacity of the Network and its members as they work toward abolition. Chrissy values the organization’s commitment to making deep connections and building community amongst the movement. When she isn’t working, you can find Chrissy on the couch with a book, in the kitchen with a new recipe, or outside trying to pet all the dogs.

Setareh Ghandehari Advocacy Director

Setareh manages DWN’s federal advocacy by collaborating with our membership and coalition partners to advance DWN’s goals in Washington, DC. She is inspired by DWN’s bold abolitionist vision and the leadership of directly impacted communities. Prior to joining DWN, Setareh was the Director of the Labor & Employment Committee of the National Lawyers Guild and was previously a Program Associate for the Legal Orientation Program at the Vera Institute of Justice. Outside of work, Setareh loves spending time with her family, hiking, singing in the car, and having impromptu dance parties in the kitchen.

Michelle Gonzalez People and Cultural Specialist

Michelle is responsible for overseeing DWN’s human resources functions and maintaining organizational culture that prioritizes staff. In this role, she is grounded in the work that DWN’s commitment to abolition and immigration reform. Prior to DWN, Michelle was the Human Resource Coordinator for United We Dream. Outside of work, she enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, learning about herbal medicine, and dancing with her beloved pug, Franky.

Marcela Hernandez Organizing Director

Marcela is part of the organizing team working alongside members leading the Communities not Cages campaign in the West. She also engages local communities in Defund Hate campaign efforts. Marcela is inspired by DWN’s commitment to abolition and following the leadership of communities directly impacted by detention. Before coming to DWN, Marcela worked at Public Counsel and organized with OCAD in Chicago, the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition and the Immigrant Youth Coalition in California. During her free time, Marcela enjoys attending herbalism classes and going out dancing with family and friends.

Hillary Li Policy Counsel

Hillary leads DWN’s legislative advocacy work, contributing policy analysis and expertise to advance DWN’s mission to abolish immigration detention. She is grounded in this mission by the experiences of friends and previous clients who have been harmed by the detention and deportation machine, and she enjoys working with other DWN staff and members committed to the same movement for liberation for immigrant communities. Prior to joining DWN, Hillary litigated federal immigrant justice and voting rights cases as the Litigation Staff Attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. Outside of work, Hillary can be found reading and creative writing, exploring mountains and beaches whenever possible, and spoiling her cats.

Kelvin Lopez Organizer

Kelvin is part of the organizing team at Detention Watch Network and works alongside members in southwestern states. He also engages local communities in Defund Hate and Communities not Cages campaign efforts. Kelvin is inspired by Detention Watch Network’s bold stance on abolition and the passion and commitment by its members to shut down immigrant detention in their states. Prior to joining DWN, Kelvin was the lead organizer for Jolt Texas where he trained hundreds of young progressive latinx folks to organize in their communities statewide in Texas. When he isn’t working, you will find Kelvin carefully crafting his next culinary creation or working out at his boxing gym.

Aimee Nichols Managing Director

Aimee oversees DWN’s operations, including finances, fundraising, human resources, and capacity building. She appreciates the Network’s clear commitment to and work towards a world without immigration detention. Prior to joining the DWN team in 2017, Aimee worked on federal immigration reform advocacy, first with the Alliance for Citizenship and then at Community Change, where she was part of a successful unionizing drive. When not at work, you can find Aimee running in Rock Creek Park, reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle, or exploring new restaurants.

Carly Pérez Fernández Communications Director

Carly is responsible for growing DWN’s online base, supporting members communications needs, and crafting the Network’s message. In this role, Carly feels inspired by the many ways members work together to strengthen the fight to end immigration detention. When not at work, Carly enjoys being outside whether it’s kicking around a soccer ball, lingering over a long meal or going on a hike.

Silky Shah Executive Director

Silky works to maximize the reach and impact of the Network. She manages DWN’s program and communications and shares responsibility for shaping its strategic direction. After over a decade of fighting against immigration detention, she deeply appreciates the community forged by the Network and the spirit and resilience of its members. When not living out of a suitcase in D.C., Silky enjoys exploring the mountains, islands and forests of her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jolie Steinert Senior Operations Associate

Jolie supports the finance, operations, and membership teams, as well as Silky Shah, the Executive Director. Jolie admires Detention Watch Network’s bold vision for a future where people can migrate freely without fear of being detained, and appreciates the opportunity to work alongside fierce advocates from all over the country. Prior to joining DWN, Jolie was the Development Associate for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. When Jolie isn’t working you can find her baking (and eating) cakes, playing with her dog Noni, or catching up on the latest TV with a glass of wine.

Luis Suarez Field Advocacy Manager

Luis serves as a coalition builder for DWN members and allies who engage in advocacy work at the national level. He appreciates being a resource for DWN members and folks previously detained while also connecting local communities to Capitol Hill. Prior to DWN, Luis worked as the Policy Coordinator for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. When he isn’t working, you will find Luis doing Crossfit, dancing, and binge-watching TV shows.

Stacy Suh Program Director

Stacy helps guide DWN’s strategic direction and programmatic work to end immigration detention. They enjoy working alongside Network members, whose care, creativity, and commitment drive the work to demand communities not cages. Previously, Stacy executed successful national, local, and state anti-deportation campaigns, including freedom campaigns for criminalized immigrant survivors with Survived and Punished, which they co-founded. Outside of DWN, Stacy enjoys befriending neighborhood cats and cooking meals for their loved ones.

Gabriela Viera Advocacy Manager

Gaby supports DWN’s mission through federal advocacy work and coalition building, while serving as a policy resource for the network. She appreciates DWN’s relentless accountability to a single, unambiguous vision of abolition. Prior to joining DWN, Gaby was introduced to advocacy work in her role as the Program Assistant for Immigration and Refugee Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Outside of work, Gaby will either be found eating new cuisine in DC, screaming reggaeton lyrics on the dance floor, or being babied by her family in her beloved home state of New Jersey.