HYATTSVILLE, MD – Closing out the Labor Day weekend, movement powerhouse CASA and Black and brown electoral mobilization organization CASA in Action announce an exciting lineup of new leaders taking charge of the services, advocacy, and administration.

Melissa Guzman

Chief Operating Officer

Melissa Guzman serves as Chief Operating Officer. A non-profit wizard, Melissa has over 17 years of experience creating systems to ensure the highest quality financial controls, programming and compliance. As the COO, Melissa has dived deeply into the internal planning and culture to create the transformative results-driven family of organizations our members deserve. The daughter of immigrants from Puerto Rico and Honduras, Melissa is a Prince George’s native now living in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and two children.

Nick Katz, Esq.

General Counsel

Nick Katz, Esq. is CASA’s General Counsel, overseeing legal work including direct services, litigation, and policy advocacy. Nick advises the organizations’ senior leadership on top issues, campaigns, and political engagements. He has been deeply involved in CASA’s efforts to establish and grow universal representation programs for immigrants facing deportation, as well as the work to abolish immigration detention. Prior to working at CASA, Nick was supervising attorney and administrative relief services coordinator at Make the Road New York (MRNY), overseeing legal services under the Action NYC program. Nick graduated cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Prior to law school Nick was a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in China.

Trent Leon-Lierman

Maryland Organizing Director

Maryland Organizing Director Trent Leon-Lierman is a trailblazing community organizer who has led many fights for civil, immigrant, and housing rights. He heads up Maryland’s largest-ever organizing team, directing a strong outreach program to reach Maryland’s immigrant population. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Trent has been a part of the advocacy work that led to winning the Maryland Dream Act, licenses for undocumented immigrants in Maryland, sanctuary jurisdictions around the state, as well as housing, economic and police reforms. Trent has worked with a plethora of unions to aid in forming unions in workplaces. He has worked for the immigrants rights movement since 2004, beginning his work with No More Deaths in Arizona in 2005. He lives with his life partner, their two kids, and two cats in Greenbelt, MD.

Kandra Nova

Finance Director

Kandra Nova serves as Finance Director. Kandra has over 10 years of experience creating systems to ensure the highest quality financial controls, programming and compliance. As Finance Director, Kandra is responsible for the central coordination of all financial activities and assists with reviewing and analyzing the organization’s financial position and implementing sound financial practices. The daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Kandra is a Prince George’s County native where she currently resides with her husband and three children.

Marcos Pantelis

Director of Information, Systems, and Technology

Marcos Pantelis is the Director of Information, Systems, and Technology. An information management strategist with over 20 years of experience, Marcos works to evolve processes, talent development, and adoption of key technologies in human and social services to tackle difficult socioeconomic challenges. Marcos’ vision at the CASA family of organizations is to advance an information environment in which the members have the smoothest and most enriching experience as their individual and collective journey is supported by our strong advocacy, organizing, services, and electoral teams. Marcos was born in Bolivia and has lived in Brazil, Uruguay, and the US, making immigrant integration and community belonging an important part of his own pursuits. He is happily married, a father of two young adults, and has recently been spoiling his two new grandchildren.

Cathryn Paul

Public Policy Director

Cathryn Paul, Public Policy Director, has spent the last several years advancing CASA’s advocacy campaigns in Maryland producing meaningful victories for Black and brown immigrant families across the state including the ending of private ICE detention, expansion of Medicaid to undocumented pregnant women, expansion of tax credits to ITIN holders, privacy protections for immigrant drivers, and more. In Cat’s new role, she will lead CASA’s federal policy work while continuing to support the advancement of high quality local and state advocacy campaigns. Raised in Montgomery County, by way of Queens, New York, she studied African American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Daughter of immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, she has a particular interest in the advancement and liberation of Black immigrants.

William Renderos, MSW

Director of Electoral Programs

William Renderos, MSW, is the Director of Electoral Programs. His experience in voter engagement outreach has led to developing people-centered political power building programs that value the lived experiences of working families and immigrant communities. As Program Director, William has focused on strengthening internal program development structures and ensuring that all Voter Engagement Managers have the tools and knowledge needed to continue building political power for CASA/CASA in Action members. The son of immigrants from El Salvador, William is a Montgomery County native living in Wheaton, Maryland. He grew up in an immigrant community not far from CASA.

Malik Stevenson

Director of Education

Malik Stevenson is the Director of Education. Originally from Baltimore, MD, he relocated to Prince George’s County after receiving Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish from Xavier University of Louisiana and a Masters in TESOL from Notre Dame of MD University. Currently, he is completing a doctoral degree in applied linguistics from Georgetown University with his research exploring the intersections between bilingual education and gentrification in the DC metro area. Before joining the CASA family, Malik spent nine years as an educator working in primary, secondary and higher education with ESL student populations. He comes to CASA with a strong background in bilingual education, language research and evaluation and now leads all of our education services and advocacy work throughout our footprint. Given his background, Malik focuses on advocating for education policies that are shaped by the voices of and lived experiences of Black and Brown communities.

Shannon Wilk de Benitez

Deputy Director of Education and Services Integration

Shannon Wilk de Benitez is the Deputy Director of Education and Services Integration. She has worked in the field of education for over 15 years implementing culturally responsive programs that recognize and build on the strengths of individuals. Combining her classroom experience with evidence-based instructional models, Shannon has led trainings in equitable adult education practices while developing nontraditional curriculums rooted in the principles of Popular Education. In her new role, she will ensure that the outstanding quality of services centered in movement work upon which CASA has built its reputation is implemented across our growing footprint. Shannon was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is now raising her 2 children in her hometown with the understanding that multiculturalism and diversity is at the core of their community’s success.

Eduardo Zelaya

Virginia Organizing Director

As CASA’s Virginia Organizing Director, Eduardo Zelaya pioneers social justice campaigns for immigrant rights, community development, housing, education justice, labor, and workers rights. This native Salvadoran first joined CASA as a promoter mobilizing Virginians to the national immigration reform march in 2013, the birth of CASA in Virginia. Earning a promotion first to community organizer and years later to lead organizer, his rise at CASA was propelled by his success organizing Virginia’s immigrants. He was part of a tight team that led and supported drivers licenses for all, minimum wage increase, in-state tuition for undocumented students, and increasing the language learners funding policies in the Virginia General Assembly. Always a proponent of health, he is a bodybuilder competitor and football soccer player. All in all, an advocate for better lives, Eduardo Zelaya continues to fight for a better future for immigrant families in Virginia.

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With over 122,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.