Lam Nguyen Ho - Executive Director & Founder

Lam Nguyen Ho is the Executive Director of CALA (Community Activism Law Alliance), which he founded with a Harvard Law School Public Service Venture Fund seed grant.  He is currently an Echoing Green Global Fellow and will serve as a 2016-2017 Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow. 
Prior to founding CALA, he was a staff attorney at Equip for Equality, where he defended the civil rights of people with disabilities. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2008, Lam joined Chicago’s Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) through a Skadden Foundation Public Interest Fellowship. During his time at LAF, he established and ran 10 community-based clinics providing free legal services to youth and their families on the west side of Chicago. He experienced firsthand the challenges of community lawyering and civil legal services, and was inspired to innovatively confront these challenges through the creation of CALA. 
Lam has received awards for his public service work including the 13th Annual NALP/PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award; the Gary Bellow Public Service Award; the Maria, Gabriella, & Robert Skirnick Public Interest Fellowship; the HLS Dean’s Award for Community Leadership; the Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award; the Beinecke Scholarship; the Point Foundation Scholarship; the Sonnenschein Scholars Summer Public Interest Fellowship; the Lenn Thrower ’83 Memorial Fellowship for Research in Queer Studies; and the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Volunteer Award.
At Harvard Law School, he was President of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau—the oldest student-run legal services organization in the country; was an editor for the Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review; and completed over 3000 hours of pro bono legal services. He also worked as a research and teaching assistant to Professor Lucie White, helping Professor White to create a new, community-lawyering focused curriculum for Harvard's Poverty Law course. He holds additional graduate degrees from Brown University, where he completed its 4-year combined M.A./A.B. program, and the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar and Sub-Dean of Wadham College. He was previously Chairperson of the HIV/AIDS Response Review Panel for the State of Illinois. He serves on the Advisory Committee for the Law Project, which provides pro bono transactional legal services needed to strengthen Chicago communities.

 

Chad Baker- Director of Community Partnerships

Chad is excited to join CALA as a staff attorney. He graduated Harvard Law School magna cum laude (’15), where he served as Executive Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the nation’s oldest student-run legal services organization. There, he managed the Bureau’s office and docket, represented low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and staffed a family law clinic at a Boston women’s shelter. Through the Bureau’s strong community partnerships, free legal clinics, and legal support of grassroots organizing, Chad began to discover the power and potential of a community activism lawyering model. During law school, Chad also served as a student advocate with the Tenant Advocacy Project and the Prison Legal Assistance Project and interned at the Public Benefits Practice Group of LAF (formerly Legal Assistance Foundation) and the New York Civil Liberties Union. Chad won the 2015 Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of his commitment to free legal services while in law school. Prior to law school, he served in the AmeriCorps City Year program, where he provided individualized support to students at Marshall Metropolitan High School on Chicago’s West Side. He graduated summa cum laude from DePaul University (’10) with a B.A. in Sociology.  

Deanne Medina - Supervising Attorney

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Deanne Medina comes to CALA with 16 years of federal and state litigation experience, including jury trials and appeals.
Prior to working for CALA, Deanne worked as a Supervising Attorney at LAF and before that was in private practice.  While at LAF, Deanne ran the William J. Hibbler Pro Se Assistance Program, providing help to hundreds of pro se litigants in the areas of employment, police brutality, foreclosure defense, and contract disputes, among other areas.  She later supervised the newly formed Home and Community Ombudsman Project for suburban Cook and Lake Counties while at LAF.  
In private practice, Deanne and her former law partner were able to obtain a $4.2 million dollar verdict in a single plaintiff national origin and religious discrimination case against a large auto manufacturing company in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District.  She and her former partner also secured a $400,000 verdict in a sexual harassment case, also in the Northern District.  They also hold the first plaintiff’s side victory under the Illinois Victim’s Economic Safety and Security Act (which pertains to victims of domestic violence) which was heard at the Illinois Department of Labor.  Deanne has also settled hundreds of cases to her client’s satisfaction.  
Deanne received her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago and her B.A. from Muskingum College in New Concord, OH.  
Deanne is licensed in Illinois, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern and Central Districts of Illinois and in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Deanne is also a member of the Northern District Trial Bar.  She is an active member of both the national and Illinois chapters of the National Employment Lawyers Association, is a former member of the U.S. District Court’s Pro Bono Advisory Committee and has been a mentor attorney with the Chicago Bar Association. 
In her free time, Deanne enjoys advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities as well as musical theater, reading, cooking, hanging out with her family and her dog and walking.  

Antonio Gutierrez- Program Administrator

Antonio Gutierrez is a queer latinx immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico. Antonio has lived in Chicago for 16 years after immigrating to the United States to reunite with family members. Antonio is a graduate from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s of Architecture (B.Arch.). 

After graduation in 2012, Antonio joined the immigrant rights movement as an organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), an undocumented-led organization formed in 2009. Since 2012 Antonio has collectively organized rallies such as the national coming out of the shadows rally, fundraising events, mass marches, national retreats, and civil disobediences.

Antonio currently volunteers as a tenant organizer with the Autonomous Tenants Union (ATU), as a family liaison with Organized Communities Against Deportation (OCAD), and is a board member of the National Committee of the Right to the City Alliance. 

Adriana Ballines - Staff Attorney

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Adriana Ballines obtained her J.D. from Loyola Chicago School of Law in 2014, where she obtained a certificate in public interest.  At Loyola, she was an articles editor and staff writer for Loyola’s Public Interest Law Reporter, where she wrote about the problematic privatization of immigration detention facilities. She also served as a student attorney with Loyola’s Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, where she represented two unaccompanied children who had fled dangerous conditions in their home countries.  During law school, Adriana also interned with Chicago’s Legal Assistance Foundation, representing domestic violence victims and farm-workers; the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, providing legal support in federal civil rights lawsuits; and with Loyola’s Health Justice Project, representing low income individuals with health-related legal issues. Before starting at CALA, Adriana represented unaccompanied children in removal proceedings as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Justice Fellow.  She also represented asylum seekers in immigration detention as a Public Interest Legal Fellow with the National Immigrant Justice Center. Adriana is a native Spanish speaker and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Perla Tirado - Staff Attorney

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A native of Chicago, Perla Tirado is a graduate of Boston College in Massachusetts with a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology and a concentration in Faith, Peace, and Justice Studies. After graduating from College in 1998, Perla decided to volunteer for one year as a teacher for the Archdiocese of Boston. 

Upon her return to Chicago, she began working at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a residential facility, as a youth advocate and a case manager with youth who were considered “at risk.” As part of a life-long dream she held, Perla enrolled in law school and went on to graduate from DePaul University College of Law, in Chicago, where she obtained her Juris Doctor and a certificate in International Human Rights Law. While she was in law school, Perla travelled several times to Chiapas, Mexico as a human rights advocate and worked with several NGO’s in the region who serviced the indigenous population of Chiapas. In her second year of law school, Perla was chosen as a Sullivan Fellow for the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul. Perla also interned at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica, where she was able to assist lawyers and judges in all aspects of cases pending before the Court. Lastly, Perla interned at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender where, under a special license, she represented clients charged with felony cases, under the supervision of practicing attorneys. 

Perla was later hired as an Assistant Public Defender in Cook County and worked primarily in the Traffic Unit and Domestic Violence Division. A few years later, Perla would go on to open her own law office and focused her work primarily in Criminal Defense and Traffic Law. Finding that several of her client’s were faced with severe immigration consequences as a result of their criminal arrests, Perla began working Immigration Law and now also helps families stay together by filing family-based petitions, Waivers, DACA petitions, VAWA and U Visas, and also represents clients in court facing deportation.

Perla is passionate about advocating for the rights of her clients and serving as their voice in a court system that is very difficult to navigate. She believes that everyone deserves to be treated with fairness and dignity no matter what charges they are facing in court or what their legal status may be. She is passionate about social justice issues and believes that with compassion, hard work, and creativity, it is possible to change the world for the better.Perla Tirado - Staff Attorney

Priscilla Orta - Staff Attorney

Priscilla Orta (Harvard ’05, Columbia Law ’11), has been practicing
immigration law almost exclusively for the past five years, beginning
with her time as a law clerk with the EOIR in Harlingen, TX. However,
Priscilla also is a certified to appear before the VA and has  a long
history of organizing communities to seek alternative solutions to
their problems. Priscilla grew up in Ohio and has close ties to Lake
County, IL, where she currently runs our legal clinic with Mano a
Mano. Her aunt, who helped raise her, was a special education teacher
in Waukegan for 30 years and Priscilla spent many summers there.
Priscilla is a native Spanish speaker, and is looking forward to
becoming an active member of the Latino community in both Lake County
and Chicago.

Gregory Wyckoff - General Counsel

Gregory Wyckoff is an attorney providing intellectual property litigation and counseling services for clients in the technology and media industries, with an emphasis on patent and copyright matters. Mr. Wyckoff has represented clients in matters involving a variety of complex technologies, including content delivery networks, telecommunications, consumer electronics and social media systems.  These cases have spanned U.S. District Courts throughout the country, the International Trade Commission and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Mr. Wyckoff earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a M.Sc. with distinction in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science.  He also holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and B.A. in Economics from Brown University, magna com laude with highest honors.

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Hanan Van Dril – Staff Attorney

Hanan comes to CALA after three years in private practice, where she litigated civil rights cases in federal and state court.  Hanan graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2014 (J.D., magna cum laude) and from the University of California at Berkeley in 2009 (B.A. in English Literature). Prior to law school, Hanan spent two years as an elementary and language arts teacher in San Jose, CA.  During law school, Hanan served as an Editor of her school’s Law Review and as a Teaching Assistant for Legal Writing and Criminal Law. In the spring of 2013, Hanan served as a legal extern for the Honorable Matthew F. Kennelly, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. Hanan received the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship in summer of 2013 for her work at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. During law school, Hanan also worked for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and as a 711 clerk for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. As an attorney and a 711 clerk, Hanan has conducted numerous bench and jury trials and appeals.  Hanan is a Palestinian-American First-Generation immigrant and a native Arabic speaker.

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Jessica Hernandez – Staff Attorney

Jessica Hernández was born and raised in the borderland area of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. As a first-generation American, daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, Jessica has a unique insight in the plight and struggles of the immigrant community. 

With a deep personal commitment to the community, she is dedicated to helping improve the lives of others both through providing legal services and volunteering with charitable organizations.

Before joining CALA, Jessica practiced in private firms based in El Paso, Texas and in Chicago where she practiced heavily in the fields of immigration and family law. Jessica earned her law degree from The Ohio State University and holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas, El Paso. She has lived and traveled abroad extensively, and enjoys working with people of different cultures. As a law student, she studied comparative international law at University of Oxford in Oxford, England as well as human rights in Heredia, Costa Rica.

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