Vilda Vera Mayuga
Vilda Vera Mayuga was appointed Executive Director of the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs (DIPA) in February 2011. She comes from the New York State Office of the Attorney General, where she was an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau. She managed a diverse caseload of civil rights cases and handled every stage of litigation. Vilda tried and settled numerous immigration services fraud cases that resulted in multimillion-dollar judgments. As a result, she received the 2009 Special Award from NYS Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo for achievement in the Immigration Fraud Initiative. Prior to her appointment as Assistant Attorney General, Vilda served as an Agency Attorney and investigated Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints within the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). She also conducted on-site inspections of FDNY premises, such as firehouses and EMS stations, to ensure compliance with the FDNY EEO Policy. Vilda also worked at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, where she analyzed, processed and monitored requests for evidence from foreign countries.
Vilda graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor in Arts in International Relations from Boston University in Boston, MA. She completed her law degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and is a member of the New York Bar. She speaks English and Spanish.
Jeanette Castagnola Lazelle is the New York State Employment Services Monitor Advocate. Previously, she worked for six years in the Division of Labor Standards, where she was a Spanish-speaking labor standards investigator. As an investigator, Jeanette conducted farm inspections and investigations, ensuring compliance with New York State labor laws. In addition, she worked closely with the US Department of Labor, Department of Health and other agencies to make sure seasonal migrant farm workers received the same protections as other workers in New York State. Jeanette also advised employers on how to follow the NYS labor laws. In her position as Monitor Advocate, Jeanette monitors, evaluates and employs the complaint system for all employment service applicants. As an advocate, Jeanette helps develop practices to ensure that migrant and seasonal farm workers are offered the full range of services available from the New York State Department of Labor.
Jeanette was born and raised in Brooklyn. She speaks English and Spanish. She graduated from the University at Buffalo School of Law in 1998 and is a member of the New York State Bar.
Community Relations Officer
As a DIPA Community Relations Officer, Geovanny reaches out to workers, and collaborates with faith-based groups, community organizations, and government representatives on behalf of immigrants and limited English proficient workers. His territory includes western, central, and upstate New York State. He speaks English and Spanish.
Geovanny has been a Community Relations Officer since July 2007. Before joining DIPA, Geovanny was the Outreach Coordinator for the Workers' Rights Law Center of New York, and before that, held a similar position at the Farmworker Law Project, a statewide program of the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York. Both are non-for-profit advocacy organizations that educate, counsel, and represent indigent workers regarding labor and civil rights matters.
In his current position, Geovanny continues to educate workers about labor rights and available nonprofit and government services. He partners with organizations to improve the Department of Labor's accessibility and responsiveness to workers, with a focus on low-wage and immigrant workers, and he collaborates on inter-organizational initiatives to assist members of New Yorks vulnerable workforce.
Carmen Z. Calderon
Community Relations Officer
As a DIPA Community Relations Officer, Carmen reaches out to workers, and collaborates with faith-based groups, community organizations, and government representatives on behalf of immigrants and limited English proficient workers. Her territory includes New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland Counties. She speaks English and Spanish.
Before joining DIPA, Carmen worked at various community organizations, including at the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health as an Immigrant Safety & Health Specialist, where her work was dedicated to assisting immigrant workers who helped in rescue, cleanup, and recovery efforts after 9/11. She also worked at Latino Justice as an intake and outreach worker/paralegal, and co-founded its 9/11 program, Proyecto Ayuda. She has worked extensively in the areas of social services and civil rights, advocating for equal justice in the Latino and immigrant communities, including as the chair of the Williamsburg/Southside Fair Housing Committee for Equal Justice. She has also served on many boards and helped co-found organizations such as El Puente, Habitantes Unidos para Preservar a Williamsburg, Trinity SRO, Trinity/Transfiguration Church Homeless Shelter, Casa Bethsaida, Musica against Drugs, and La Cocina.
Community Relations Officer
As a Community Relations Officer for the Agricultural Labor Program under DIPA, Estelle reaches out to workers, employers, and the organizations that support both groups to ensure labor rights are protected and businesses are supported in meeting their workforce requirements. This is primarily done through presentations to agricultural workers and community-based organizations and aiding employers with accessing DOL business services. Estelle supervises the five Western and Central New York Agriculture Labor Specialists, stationed from Syracuse to Buffalo.
She is originally from Washington State. Before joining DIPA, Estelle worked at Cabrini providing Iegal assistance and social services to immigrant populations. Estelle also has experience in Trafficking and Domestic Violence cases through Safe Horizon, and handled wage and hour violations as part of her clinical work. She speaks English and Spanish, and is a member of the New York State Bar.
Catalina Bermudez Rosales
Catalina Rosales graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Arts in Forensic Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies from the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She obtained her law degree from the City University of New York School of Law, where she was part of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic representing clients in removal and asylum proceedings.
Catalina worked as an intern for the NYS Attorney General in the Civil Rights and Executive Bureaus. She also served as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General and worked on case development for immigration service fraud investigations and prosecutions.
Prior to joining DIPA, Catalina worked as a Housing Attorney at the Goddard Riverside Community Center SRO Law Project, where she represented low income tenants of Single Room Occupancy Units and Rent Stabilized apartments in Housing Court.
For over ten years, Catalina has worked continuously with New York immigrant communities as a volunteer and board member of organizations like the Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation/Head Start and Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County, and is currently a member of the New York State Bar. Catalina, a native of Colombia, was raised in Brooklyn, and speaks both English and Spanish.
Christine Tavares is a graduate of Stony Brook University, with a degree in Sociology and Women's Studies. Before joining DIPA, she worked as a hotline specialist for the New York State Spanish Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Hotline. Prior to that, she was a bilingual domestic violence counselor for Help R.O.A.D.S., a non-profit organization in Brooklyn, NY. At the hotline, she was responsible for developing and administering the database. She handled 300 crisis calls per month, and distributed educational materials to state agencies. At Help R.O.A.D.S. she served as a counselor and advocate for 30 domestic violence victims. Christine was born in Brooklyn, NY to Dominican parents. She joined DIPA because she feels that there are so many immigrants, like her parents, coming to this country every day who do not know what their basic labor rights are and who may be abused or taken advantage of by their employers. She is glad to be part of a team that helps make a difference in these people's lives. Christine speaks English and Spanish.
Special Projects Coordinator
Jay Rahman acts as the Special Projects Coordinator at the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs where he organizes events that educate New Yorkers about the tools and services the state can provide. He is a graduate of the City College of New York with a degree in Political Science. Before joining DIPA he worked as an intern on Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2010 and 2014 campaign. He speaks Bengali.
Research and Programs Associate
Carolyn Robledo graduated from New York University, with a degree in Politics. She has a deep commitment to serve the immigrant community knowing the difficulties they face on an everyday basis. As an AmeriCorps Alumni, she has intimately worked with children and parents from low-income neighborhoods throughout the city enrolled in the Jumpstart Program. She was able to help toddlers develop the language and literacy skills they needed to succeed in school.Carolyn has also worked as an intern at the NYC Human Resource Administration assisting the legal department. Born to Colombian parents in Queens and raised in the Bronx, she wishes to positively affect the lives of immigrant workers by accurately informing them of their labor rights and the benefits and services available to them. She speaks English and Spanish.
Nicole HitchcockImmigrant Worker Specialist
Nicole Hitchcock serves as the Immigrant Worker Specialist for DIPA. She joins the Division after eight years in the not-for-profit sector. Her experience includes work with pregnant refugee and immigrant women, low-income populations, and vulnerable teen populations. She developed an interest in working with refugees while volunteering on short term international service trips. As a part of the DIPA staff, Nicole assists the Division in evaluating programs for their efficiency in serving the immigrant population, developing funding streams, and assisting in infrastructure development. This is Nicole's fifth year in Buffalo and she loves the city and her West Side neighborhood. Nicole is a graduate of Nyack College and is currently considering a graduate degree from several Western New York Colleges.
Thanks for the feedback! It will help us improve your experience.