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Thanks to those who attended our half-day conference on Friday August 13, 2021 from 8:30AM- 11:30PM CDT to support the health and mental health of former unaccompanied immigrant minors. We were overwhelmed by all the support and the many who joined us working tirelessly in the community to support unaccompanied immigrant minors. Our keynote speaker was Sonia Nazario, award-winning journalist and author of Enrique's Journey. The conference also included an expert panel, information on our published toolkit, and the premiere of our documentary titled: Escúchame: Voices of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children.

Key Note Speaker:

Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of the most intractableissues -- hunger, drug addiction, immigration -- and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes. She was also a finalist for a third Pulitzer, in Public Service. 


Sonia is best known for "Enrique's Journey," her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Published as a series in The Los Angeles Times, "Enrique's Journey" won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003. It was turned into a book by Random House that became a national bestseller, a freshman read at 100 universities, and required reading at hundreds of high schools across the country.


She is now at work on her second book and is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.

Our PaneL speakers:

Stephanie Heredia

Stephanie Heredia is a Research Assistant with MPI’s Human Services Initiative, where she works on issues including refugee resettlement, unaccompanied children’s services, and access to benefits and services for immigrant children and families. Prior to joining MPI, Ms. Heredia worked with the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition as a legal assistant providing legal services to unaccompanied children in ORR custody and once released in the Washington, DC area. She served as the Security Intern for theWoodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Latin American Program and as a legal assistant at L&L Immigration Law, PLLC, where she conducted casework for asylum seekers principally from Central America and Venezuela.

Cindy Liou

Cindy C. Liou, Esq. is the State Policy Director at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a national non-profit working to provide legal counsel to unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children in the United States. She has also previously served as the Deputy Director of Legal Services at KIND, supervising programmatic and services work in all of KIND’s field offices, and building KIND’s Social Services Team. Prior to her work at KIND, she was the Director of the Human Trafficking Project at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and lead of the Anti-Trafficking Collaborative of the Bay Area, where she also co-counseled several civil litigation cases on behalf of human trafficking survivors, and represented survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse. She continues to provide consulting and training on topics ranging from human trafficking, domestic violence lethality, to best practices on how to collaborate in cross-disciplinary teams to support survivors of violence. She is formerly the Co-Chair of the Policy Committee of the Freedom Network to Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons (USA), a national network of providers serving trafficking survivors, and the winner of their 2018 Paul and Sheila Wellstone Award. She is also the recipient of the 2013 San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking Modern Day Abolitionist Award for Policy and Advocacy. Cindy is the co-author of several articles, contributed to the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Task Force e-Guide, and manuals of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center's second edition of Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking, first edition of T Visas: A Critical Immigration Option for Survivors of Human Trafficking, and the fifth edition of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children & Youth. Cindy is a graduate from Stanford Law School and the University of Washington

Sarah Howell

Sarah K Howell is the school social worker at Las Americas Newcomer School in Houston ISD, manages the social work department at Houston reVision and is the founder of STAR (Survivors of torture, asyleesand refugees) Counseling and Consultation and STAR Support, a nonprofit. Sarah co-facilitates the Central American Minors working group in Houston, TX and is an advocate for forced migrant trauma and comprehensive trauma informed practices. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Clinical Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania.

Luana Da Silva

Luana Da Silva (they/she) is an somatic-artist practitioner and consultant. Their work centers on

acknowledging, unpacking and sensing into possibilities for healing from the impact of generational trauma and/or

grief through a decolonial, relational lens. Luana engages in this work in a variety of ways, such as therapeutic

counseling with children, youth and families, full spectrum birthwork, organizational and community dialogue

facilitation and consulting, as well as creative/cultural arts-based community engagements. Luana approaches their

life’s work with humility and acceptance that there is always growth to be made and things to unpack and unlearn;

they are a student of transformative justice principles and practices.

Luana earned a B.A. in Sociology with minors in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Latin

American Studies from the University of Houston in 2013. They then earned her Master’s in Social Work from the

Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston in 2015. Luana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

(LCSW) and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). While they have learned a lot in academic and professional

experiences, their greatest teachers have been and continue to be the many life lessons shared by elders, peers,

community members, clients and their own experience in relationships to self and others, navigating and breaking

deeply ingrained harmful culturally embodied colonial programming.

LisA Ayoub-Rodriguez

Lisa Ayoub-Rodriguez MD is an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech Health Science Center El Paso and works as a Hospitalist at El Paso Children’s Hospital in El Paso, Tx. She is passionate about the border community given its high rates of un-and underinsured along with high rate of poverty that have colored the regions medical milieu. She has been on the front line of the refugee surges over the last decade and has worked to organize local efforts to provide medical care in this vulnerable population.

Mark Greenberg, Moderator

Mark Greenberg is a Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. and directs MPI’s Human Services Initiative. The Initiative focuses on immigration issues affecting children and families and humanitarian populations and on the intersections of immigration with health and human services programs and policies. Prior to joining MPI, Mr. Greenberg worked at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesfrom 2009-17, including serving as Acting Assistant Secretary from 2013-17. Previously, Mr. Greenberg was Executive Director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy; Executive Director of the Center for American Progress’ Task Force on Poverty, the Director of Policy for the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); and a legal services lawyer in Florida and California.

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