Marielena Hincapié is the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, the main organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants in the U.S. Under her leadership, the Center has grown and today plays a lead role in the nation's most important legal and policy issues affecting immigrants, including spearheading the legislative campaign for the DREAM Act, increasing immigrants' access to education and health care, and leading the litigation against anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama, Utah, Indiana, Georgia, and South Carolina. Ms. Hincapié has led the Center to more strategically use a combination of litigation, policy, communications, and alliance-building strategies to effect social change for everyone striving to fulfill their full human potential.
Ms. Hincapié is highly respected for her legal and political strategies as well as her ability to connect with both Spanish- and English-speaking communities. Seen as a bridge builder within the immigrant rights field as well as across broader social justice sectors, she is committed to supporting community and labor organizing efforts. Ms. Hincapié also is a frequent lecturer at national and international conferences addressing issues of migration, and works closely with emerging leaders in the social justice movement. Ms. Hincapié began her tenure at the Center in 2000 as a staff attorney leading the organization's labor and employment program, and then served as Center's director of programs from 2004 and 2008. During that time, she successfully litigated law reform and impact litigation cases dealing with the intersection of immigration laws and employment/labor laws, such as Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Ins. Brokerage, Inc., Singh v. Jutla, et al., and Rivera et al., v. NIBCO, which have established important precedents in this area. She served as co-counsel on the lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security's rule relating to the Social Security Administration's no-match letters: AFL-CIO, et al. v. Chertoff, et al. Ms. Hincapié is the first Latina and first immigrant to lead the National Immigration Law Center.
Before joining the Center, Ms. Hincapié worked for the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco's Employment Law Center, where she founded the Immigrant Workers' Rights Project. She holds a juris doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law, served on the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, and is currently a member of the Jobs with Justice Board of Directors. An immigrant from Medellín, Colombia, Ms. Hincapié is the youngest of 10 children, and grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island.