Rev. Deborah Lee
Rev. Deborah Lee ensures that we as an organization stay true to our mission, vision and values and are responsive to our partners and network, and works with Board of Directors to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization.
Rev. Deborah Lee became the Executive Director of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity in 2018. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Rev. Lee served since 2009 as the Program Director for the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (and under its predecessor names: Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and CLUE-CA). In that role, Rev. Lee built up the Immigrant Justice program of the organization, engaging dozens of congregations in Northern California to become Sanctuary congregations and to respond to the wave of migrant youth and families and the detention and deportation crisis. Her work has been recognized as innovative and impactful with awards from the United Nation’s Association of the East Bay, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy,and the national United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministry.
Rev. Lee has worked at the intersection of faith and social justice for over 25 years in popular education, community organizing and advocacy connecting issues of race, gender, economic justice, anti-militarism, LGBTQ inclusion and immigrant rights. She has consistently sought to strengthen the voice and role of faith communities in today’s social movements.
Rev. Lee is the daughter of immigrants and part of the Chinese diaspora that has taken her family through Southeast Asia, Mexico and now the United States. She is a proud parent, partner, soccer player and tai chi practitioner.
Regional Director, Inland Empire
Hilda’s role as faith organizer is to support immigrant community in the Inland Empire through education, direct outreach, and advocacy for policies that transform and empower our most vulnerable communities.
For the past 20 years, Hilda Cruz has been a community leader, organizer, and advocate with a focus on faith, social justice, and the fair treatment of every person. She was drawn to the work at Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity because of her aspiration to work with an organization that represents her values of being an intentional and inter-religious community that is guided by diverse faith traditions to live peaceably, respectfully, and lovingly with every person.
Prior to coming to Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, she worked as the Director of Social Justice and Outreach for St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Yorba Linda. There she helped to form the North Orange County Interfaith Council which engaged congregations of many faiths. For three years, she worked as the Justice for Immigrants Campaign Coordinator for the Diocese of San Bernardino where she connected church leaders with community partners and allies to advance pro-immigrant legislation through outreach, education and action, as well as serving as a steering committee member for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice of Inland Southern California. She is a 2023 Mercy International Global Action Emerging Leadership Fellow.
When Hilda is not working, she hosts care circles: meetings where she shares affirming stories about her experience as a Latina immigrant, encouraging immigrants to embrace their experiences and awaken their God-given personal power.
Rev. Dr. Larry Foy
Regional Director, Los Angeles
The Rev. Dr. Larry W. Foy leads our Justice Not Jails program. He is a public theologian, social ethicist, and community activist. His educational background, training, and life experience has contributed to his development as a Christian scholar and passionate advocate for social justice. He holds earned degrees in theology, ethics, and law. He has taught theology and ethics at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst Illinois, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois.
Larry has served as a community leader in Southern California for the past 25 years. His leadership includes serving as Director of the Union Rescue Mission and the Orange County Rescue Mission; Director of Community Programs, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, Director of Urban Ministries, Southern California/Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ; and as the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for A New Way of Life Reentry Project, located in the Watts community of Los Angeles.
Larry has published several articles, along with writing Hope in Heaven and Faith for Today (2012), a book that challenges Christians to capture God’s eschatological promise of renewal as both calling and challenge toward building a more just and peaceful world in the “here and now.”
Larry is an eternal optimist and realist. He sees the world as full of possibilities and promise and he believes that people of faith are called upon to bear an influencing presence and to play a participating role in shaping local and global affairs. Larry resides in the Crescent Heights community of Los Angeles, California.
Regional Director, Northern California
Gala King supports, strengthens, and builds solidarity capacity among sanctuary congregations and faith leaders in Northern California, primarily though the four Bay Area Coalitions.
For the past 15 years, Gala has been working with communities and organizations in the Bay Area focused on social justice, cultural resiliency, and faith-based organizing, locally and abroad. With a background in public health, she has experience engaging with communities to increase their access to vital data and information, and build capacity to use information to protect their personal and community health.
Prior to joining Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Gala was the Social Justice Program Developer at Buena Vista United Methodist Church, a Pan-Asian congregation in Alameda, where she has been a member since 2008. In that role, Gala led the strategic planning for BVUMC’s justice ministries and community development projects, and led BVUMC’s process to declare itself a “Sanctuary Congregation” in 2017, joining the new sanctuary movement.
As a 2nd generation Filipina-American, Gala and her family are actively involved in a family-based cooperative, Sama Sama, which runs a Filipino-youth summer camp for her children, along with 24 other families. Through Sama Sama, Gala and her family enjoy deepening their cultural and political identity through community-building, arts, and movement.
Married to a Vietnamese-American, Gala with her partner enjoys raising their two boys, in a multi-cultural, politically-active community in Oakland. Gala also enjoys spending time in nature, visiting family, connecting with community, yoga, slowly jogging, re-learning to ride a bike, and reading.
Manager, Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Teams (NEAT)
Kelly Younger trains volunteer teams from congregations to accompany recently arrived immigrants in our Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team (NEAT) program. She strives to assure that the families and individuals we accompany are supported and spiritually cared for throughout the process of reestablishing their lives here and navigating the US immigration system.
Kelly has a life-long commitment to immigrant justice work. She earned a degree in Latin American Studies and Chicano/a Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked as an advocate for immigrant families navigating the US education system as a high-school guidance counselor. She also worked as a medical interpreter in hospitals, which then motivated her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare with a concentration in Community Mental Health from University of California, Berkeley. Kelly’s leadership style is to practice humility; she works to put herself in a listening position, to learn from other people and alongside them.
In her free time, Kelly has volunteered in housing ministry, has served as a philanthropic advisor, and is managing a local scholarship. She also creates mosaics, paints, and has even made a boat for her niece to play in.
Nadia Tavera Medina,
NEAT Program Coordinator
Prior to joining the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Nadia (they/them/elle) served immigrant communities in Hayward. Providing spiritual support, implementing educational programs for personal development, and creating strategies to improve health conditions and fight food insecurity among immigrant communities during the acute phase of the pandemic.
Nadia was born and raised in Mexico City, holds a degree in Actuarial Science from the National University of Mexico, and worked over 11 years in Business Analysis and Computer programming for the financial industry in Mexico City. From a young age, Nadia has had a sense of justice for marginalized populations and has been an activist for free education and LGBTQ rights. In 2011 Nadia led the first congregation of queer women in their hometown and was the first openly queer chaplain at La Comunidad Teológica de Mexico.
Nadia moved to California to pursue a career in Ministry. In 2021 they earned a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Social Transformation from Pacific School of Religion and currently is Co-Pastor of Ministerio Latino, an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ.
Nadia is passionate about Biblical exegesis and promotes a Gospel for all. They enjoy sitting at the table with people from diverse contexts and backgrounds. You can find them riding their bike on the shoreline, hiking the Bay Area trails, or hanging out with family and friends in their free time.
Bekah Sze-Tung Olstad,
Rebekah (Bekah) Sze-Tung Olstad is a communications strategist, organizer, and community herbalist dedicated to the health and well-being of individuals, organizations, and ecological communities. Bekah has spent the past decade supporting environmental and human rights non-profits through communications strategy and internal culture building. Outside of her work with Interfaith, she is a volunteer organizer with the Run4Salmon to restore salmon and Indigenous lifeways, facilitates cultural gatherings for Asian Americans, and offers herbal classes & one-on-one health support as a community herbalist. In her role as Communications Director at Interfaith Movement For Human Integrity, she oversees all communications in service of amplifying the powerful narrative that all humans are sacred across bars and borders.
Hulissa Aguilar was first introduced to Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity at a vigil outside of West County Detention Facility, the ICE detention center where her father was detained. She began to share her story and advocate for her father’s release. Along the way, she found her passion for advocacy work, especially for immigrant families like her own.
Since 2018, Hulissa has developed her leadership skills through speaking at events and involvement in various projects and campaigns. During the summer of 2021, she interned with IM4HI and took on major roles for the VISION Act advocacy work and the zine, We The Youth. She hosted a VISION Act youth rally in August 2021, which got a lot of important media coverage. She also worked on the communications team during the Pilgrimage for a Better Future. In September 2022, Hulissa went to Washington D.C for the Defund Hate Campaign’s ‘National Day of Advocacy’ and spoke to members of Congress about cutting funds to ICE.
Hulissa is our official Youth Leader and assists with our social media and advocacy for campaigns. In addition, she continues to share her story, being the voice of so many youth and families.
Somdeng Danny Thongsy,
As the Faith Organizer, Danny engages the community and people of faith as a part of a statewide effort to advocate for immigrant rights and to end mass incarceration. He mentors and supports directly impacted community members through advocacy and their reintegration. He is currently studying Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, and his biography has been profiled in the Berkeley News.
Danny was a former Yuri Kochiyama Fellow with Asian American Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. He advocated for immigrant rights and for the CA Values Act making CA a sanctuary state. He also co-led a successful anti-deportation campaign for community members and for their successful gubernatorial pardon. He helped form a coalition resulting in the passing of Assembly Bill 2845 to Improve Accessibility and Transparency in the Pardon and Commutation Process. Furthermore, he had advocated with the Human Rights Watch in passing Assembly Bill 1308 Youth Offender Parole Hearing Up to the age of 25. He is a part of the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center Leadership Alumni and was a Coalition Coordinator for the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County.
As a refugee from Laos, Danny loves to celebrate the richness of his culture and roots by cooking traditional Lao food. He loves the outdoors, drawing, and teaching origami folding.
Spiritual Activist in Residence
Maria Legarda, a community and faith leader, was impacted by both the carceral and immigration systems. As a young adult, Maria immigrated from the Philippines. She faced many hardships that led to addiction and contributed to her serving 14 years in one of California’s largest women’s prisons. When Maria was found eligible for release, instead of being welcomed home by her community, she was transferred into ICE custody and detained for 11 months. Maria often shares that her faith is what gave her the strength to survive these harsh systems. Today Maria works in Oakland, helping people coming home from prison, jails, and detention centers establish themselves in the community. Maria continues to fight her immigration case so that she can remain with loved ones and is actively involved in the anti-deportation movement.
Faith Williams is a second-year master’s student in the University of San Francisco’s international migration studies program. She was raised in a small town in East Texas by parents who instilled values of both justice and religion in her, and she has found a lot of meaning in imagining ways that faith can power the world toward healing and joy. She studied sociology as an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University and spent a year doing accompaniment work in Argentina that truly taught her to value relationship-based responses to individual needs. Since then, opportunities to participate in direct aid initiatives at the border, work as a grassroots activist with Friends Committee for National Legislation (FCNL), learn from community organizers, and volunteer in a variety of capacities have affirmed that. As far as her future work is concerned, she hopes to be able to engage with the US political process as a researcher, advocate, and voter to build a more just world, especially for displaced persons. She loves being outside and believes that nature holds wisdom and guidance that we desperately need and can access when we act in harmony with Her abundance. Some hobbies include running, rock climbing, hiking, reading, exploring, and laughing.
Gabriela Riemer, NEAT Intern
Gabi is a fourth-year student at the University of San Francisco, studying Politics, Latin American Studies, and Public Service & Community Engagement. She has a family immigrant background (from Brazil), and is extremely passionate about immigration. She speaks fluent Portuguese and am proficient in Spanish. She has previously interned for an immigration organization based in San Diego, CA (Al Otro Lado), as well as in El Paso, TX where she was responsible for managing two migrant shelters (Annunciation House).
Sharon Hwang Colligan
Director of Operations, Finance, and Technology
Sharon Hwang Colligan is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist lay leader. She holds a bachelor’s degree from New College of California with a focus on Multiculturalism and Religious Education, has recently completed a certificate in Front End Web Development from FreeCodeCamp.com, and enjoys the theology of a healthy organizational infrastructure. In addition to her work managing IM4HI’s finances and operations, she is active as chair of the worship committee in her congregation, serves as board treasurer of a ten-unit low-income housing cooperative in San Francisco’s East Bay, and has provided ongoing support to an Oklahoma Cherokee friend incarcerated on California’s Death Row since 1992. She is also a happily homeschooling mom, fluent Esperantist, relational database design enthusiast, and dabbler in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Spreadsheets obey her, for which we are grateful.
Sara Fread is a third-year student at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley working toward a Master of Divinity and MA in Social Transformation. Prior to beginning her studies at PSR, she received a BA in Religious Studies/Intercultural Studies at Elmhurst College in Illinois. Sara is an alum of the New York Service and Justice Collaborative, a program within the Episcopal Service Corps. During her service year she provided academic and administrative support at the New Life School, a special education setting in the Bronx for youth/young adults age 8-21, where many of her students were immigrants, children of incarcerated parents, or had been incarcerated themselves. Her work in the Bronx showed her the ugly realities of the “criminal” “justice” system daily, and since then her vocational call has been rooted in the flourishing of people who’ve lived behind bars and engaging faith communities in systemic justice work. She believes imaging and building a just future is deeply theological work and the most urgent task of people of faith today. She will be spending her year-long internship supporting the Northern California organizing work and assisting with the development of congregational justice resources.
Sara is a relatively recent Bay Area transplant. She grew up in the cornfields of northeast Iowa and now calls the foggy hills of San Francisco home. When she isn’t studying or working, you can find Sara curled up with a book on her back deck, exploring Golden Gate Park, or admiring the Pacific at Ocean Beach.