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Working with Domestic Violence Immigrant Survivors: The Intersection of Basic Family Law, Immigration, Benefits, and Housing Issues in California 2019


Speaker(s): Anna Cabot, Catherine Seitz, Cindy C. Liou, Hediana Utarti, Jadma Noronha, Karlo Ng, Kemi Mustapha, Lisa M. Newstrom, Morgan M. Weibel, Nancy K.D. Lemon, Nicole Ford, Protima Pandey, Tanya Broder, Trina Chatterjee, Wendy Lau-Ozawa
Recorded on: Apr. 24, 2019
PLI Program #: 252583

Nicki Ford is a bilingual (Spanish) family law attorney in private practice after over 10 years in the non-profit sector, most recently over 6 years as a staff attorney for Bay Area Legal Aid.

A Bay Area native, she earned her BA and BS from Santa Clara University in 2002 and her law degree from UC Davis School of Law in 2005.  She began her work in the field of domestic violence in Aug. 2004 as a 3rd year law student at UC Davis where she worked at the Family Protection Clinic.

Following graduation, she went on to head the legal department at the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center (SADVC) where she was a certified DV and Sexual Assault counselor before heading back to the Bay Area to work at another non-profit, Family and Children’s Law Center as a bilingual staff attorney.

Finally, she returned home to the South Bay in 2009 when she joined Bay Area Legal Aid in May 2009 before moving on to private practice in Aug 2015.  Her practice currently includes family law, as well as representing victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in criminal court and other civil matters.  She has recently been appointed through the county as a commissioner on the County’s Domestic Violence Council.

When not moonlighting as a lawyer by day, she can be found playing soccer, training for triathlons and Tough Mudders or simply hanging out with friends.


Protima has been an advocate for gender justice and is the newly appointed Director for the Office of Women’s Policy at Santa Clara County. Working for the County Executive, her office works to bring a gender lens to policy decision-making, building a pipeline to leadership, and demand equity in governance. Prior to that, she was the Managing Attorney and Regional Counsel for Immigration at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she started as a staff attorney litigating on family law and immigration cases for survivors of domestic violence, as well as allied legal relief in areas of public benefits, housing preservation, and economic justice. Most recently she co-counseled on a precedent setting case in California, Kumar v. Kumar, a complex immigration and family law cross-over case. She also led the firm-wide post-graduate Fellowship program to shepherd and develop fellowship proposals through the national selection process. She is also one of 17 lawyers nation-wide appointed as a Commissioner to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence to work on issues impacting delivery of legal services to survivors, where she is also a litigation skills faculty. She also serves as faculty for Practicing Law Institute in San Francisco, training on issues relating to housing rights for immigrants and representation of domestic violence survivors in family courts as well as on understanding personal bias, working with diverse populations, and on domestic violence awareness. Being passionate about giving back to the legal profession, Protima has served as the Chair of San Mateo County Bar Association's Diversity Committee (2014), has been integral to the work of BayLegal's diversity initiative, and the Racial Justice Initiative. Prior to joining BayLegal, Protima was the Public Policy specialist for California Partnership to End Domestic Violence in Sacramento, California where she worked on legislation and advocacy on behalf of agencies serving survivors and their families.

Education: Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law, 2001; National Law School of India University Practice Areas: Family Law, Immigration Law, Housing protections for DV survivors.

Bar Admissions: California, 2003; India, 1999

Awards: South Asian Bar Association Northern California Community Impact Award (2014), South Asian Bar Association Northern California Foundation Public Interest Attorney of the year (2012), Woman of Color Scholarship from National Network to End Domestic Violence (2007)


Trina Chatterjee is a partner at MVTC Family Law. She is a certified family law specialist, certified by the California State Bar Association Board of Legal Specialization. Since 2007, Trina has practiced primarily in family law and appears in court regularly in all Bay Area counties, practicing primarily in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Trina conducted a legal clinic weekly for several years at the Alameda County Family Justice Center where she advised clients on domestic violence and family law issues. She is co-chair of the Alameda County Family Law Association. She presents regularly on family law issues for Practicing Law Institute and provides trainings in family law for local legal associations. She was on the Executive Committee for the Solo and Small Firm section of the California Lawyer’s Association. She is a member of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, Alameda County Family Law Association, the Alameda County Bar Association, Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, and California Lawyer’s Association family law division. She is a past board member of Narika (a domestic violence helpline for South Asian survivors of domestic violence) and South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

Trina obtained her J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law and her B.A. from San Francisco State University. She lives with her husband and two children in Oakland, California.


Wendy Lau-Ozawa currently manages the Interpretation Technical Assistance and Resource Center (ITARC) at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She is responsible for providing technical assistance and training on implementing strategies and initiatives to ensure Title VI compliance, accessibility and culturally responsiveness for law enforcement, courts, and domestic violence programs. She has consulted on language access policies and plans throughout the country.

During law school, she interned at the D.C. Language Access Coalition in Washington D.C. and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City. Prior to law school, she was the Program Coordinator at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center where she was responsible for managing the Legal Interpreter Project and provided insight in the creation of the nation’s first community interpreter bank in Washington D.C. She was awarded the 2009 Asian Pacific American Bar Association Education Fund’s Robert Wone Fellowship for her commitment to community, making a difference in public policies, and improving the circumstances of those around her.

Wendy is also currently a Women’s Policy Institute State Policy Fellow. As part of this fellowship, she has been instrumental in crafting legislation on issues relating to CSEC training and campus sexual assault.


Karlo Ng is the Supervising Attorney at the National Housing Law Project (NHLP) where she focuses on housing issues impacting survivors of domestic and sexual violence and trafficking; fair housing and civil rights, with a focus on the special needs and housing issues of immigrants and people with limited English proficiency. Before joining NHLP, Karlo was an attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C.  Karlo received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.


Anna is a Senior Staff Attorney at CGRS. Before joining CGRS, she taught in the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law and prior to that, Anna was the Managing Attorney at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, TX. In addition to representing immigrants with myriad claims including asylum, she did a study of the challenges faced by Mexican asylum-seekers for the Center for Migration Studies. Before moving to the border, Anna spent a year in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania as Legal Services Coordinator for Asylum Access, where she assessed the legal needs of the urban refugee population, designed a legal services program, and advocated for individual clients. She also did a year-long litigation fellowship with the ACLU’s National Prison Project. She received a BA in Physics from Amherst College, and her JD from American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. Anna is admitted to practice in New York.


Catherine Seitz is the Legal Director at the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area. She is a former Chair for the Northern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and co-author of the ILRC’s U Visa Manual. Catherine has a J.D. from U.C. Hastings and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from U.C. Berkeley. She has been working in the field of immigration law since 1990 starting out as a legal assistant and then a BIA Accredited Representative before her admission to the California Bar in December of 2001. Before joining the Immigration Institute in February of 2019, she worked at Legal Services for Children as their Legal Director and Bay Area Legal Aid as their Regional Immigration Coordinator where she focused on immigration relief for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Prior to that, she worked at Canal Alliance, the International Institute of the East Bay, and the private immigration law firm of Simmons & Ungar. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.


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. Prior to this role, she served as the Deputy Director of Legal Services at KIND. Previously, she was the Director of the Human Trafficking Project at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, 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 network of over 40 individual and member agencies representing 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, and has contributed to the 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. She previously handled a variety of pro bono cases at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, ranging from asylum to police misconduct cases. Cindy is a graduate from Stanford Law School and the University of Washington.


Hediana Utarti joined Asian Women’s Shelter in 2000 and is currently its Anti Trafficking Program Coordinator/Community Advocate. Her tasks include managing and developing the program, providing direct services/intervention, and prevention/education. She also answers AWS crisis line weekly and involves in AWS’ Community Building programs and in-shelter support group facilitation utilizing Art as Healing to support survivors’ stabilization and recovery.

Previously she lived and worked in Honolulu, Hawai’i where she obtained her Ph. D in Political Science focusing on Culture and Politics. She started her community based anti-violence work in 1995, when she joined Family Peace Center in Honolulu as a Support Group Facilitator for survivors of domestic violence.


Jadma Noronha joined Tahirih in October of 2017. In her role as the Social Services Program Manager, she oversees the delivery of services and development of program. She is pursuing a masters in social work at San Francisco State University and runs a support group, as well as clinical case management to expand mental health support to clients at Tahirih. Jadma is originally from Brazil, where she studied Theater Education until 2004, when she moved to Atlanta, Georgia. In 2005, she started working with immigrant women victims of violence, helping them with interpretation and accessing supportive services, she had accessed herself upon her arrival in the United States. In Atlanta, she worked at organizations such as The Latin American Association, The International Women’s House, and Tapestri. At Tapestri, she was the Anti-Human Trafficking Outreach Specialist and provided direct services to survivors of trafficking while conducting trainings to mainstream service providers, community based organizations and Immigrant and refugee communities. She also led the Domestic Violence Focus Group, a program designed to provide trainings and outreach to nine immigrant communities in the greater Atlanta area. Jadma relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013, when she started working as the Human Trafficking Program Manager for the SAGE Project. In 2016, she earned a BA in Interdisciplinary studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies, focusing her studies in intergenerational trauma. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was working at San Francisco Safe House supporting women survivors of sexual exploitation who face multiple marginalization. In her last position, she routinely engaged staff in conversations about how the program could better support residents, particularly immigrant and transgender women who face additional hurdles to receiving services, and was able to increase the immigrant population served through community outreach.


Kemi Mustapha is a Senior Staff Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal), the largest provider of free legal services to low-income residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her practice is devoted exclusively to representing survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in all aspects of family law litigation, including restraining orders, divorces, and custody matters. She also represents immigrant clients in U-Visas and VAWA petitions.

Kemi completed a two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship at BayLegal’s San Francisco County Regional Office dedicated to expanding and improving the delivery of direct legal services to African-American domestic violence survivors. She spent several years working in BayLegal's Alameda County Regional Office before transferring to the Santa Clara County Regional Office in November 2017.

Kemi received her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. from The University of Chicago.


Lisa Newstrom is Managing Attorney of Bay Area Legal Aid’s Santa Clara County Regional Office.  In her practice, Lisa has represented clients in matters regarding safety-net programs such as SSI, CalWORKS, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal and General Assistance.  Lisa serves on several regional task forces including the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking and the Santa Clara County Public Benefits Task Force.  She has served as faculty at Benchmark Institute and Practising Law Institute (PLI) and trained hundreds of attorneys, advocates, and social services providers on legal issues in public benefits, particularly for youth with disabilities, noncitizens, and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.


Morgan Weibel is the Executive Director at the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national, non-profit organization that represents immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of gender-based violence. Morgan previously served as Vice Chair of AILA’s National Committee on Us, Ts, and VAWA, a member of the Asylum and Refugee Committee and was the AILA Baltimore Immigration Court Liaison Committee Chair for three years. Morgan is a frequent speaker and panelist at AILA regional and national conferences and a guest lecturer at universities and in national webinars aimed at equipping attorneys/advocates with skills to represent survivors of violence. Under the prior administration, Morgan trained incoming classes of asylum and refugee officers on issues related to gender-based trauma. Before joining Tahirih Morgan served as Graduate Research Fellow at the San Francisco based, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies and as a paralegal at the Immigration and Deportation Defense practice of Robert B. Jobe.


Ms. Broder specializes in the laws and policies affecting access to health care, public benefits, education and other services for low-income immigrants across the United States. She writes articles, provides technical assistance, co-counsels on litigation, and presents trainings to legal and social service providers, government agencies, legislative staff, educators and community-based organizations. Before joining NILC in 1996, she worked as a policy analyst for the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County in Oakland. Ms. Broder holds a juris doctor from Yale Law School.


Nancy K.D. Lemon has been a leading authority on domestic violence law for over three decades. A practicing attorney, she has also provided expert testimony in many types of cases. She has worked to craft many pieces of California legislation affecting survivors of domestic violence and their children. Since 1988, Professor Lemon has taught Domestic Violence Law and the Domestic Violence Practicum at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. She authored the first textbook on Domestic Violence Law in 1996, now in its 5th edition. In 2012, she co-founded the Family Violence Appellate Project, where she is the Legal Director.