Justice at Work Staff
Executive Director Thomas Smith graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2008 and is a member of the Massachusetts and Federal bars. From 2008-2010, as part of a Skadden Fellowship project, he supported Boston-area immigrant worker centers as an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services‘ Employment Unit and was given the Health Tech/Legal Champion of the Year award by MassCOSH. At the start of 2011, he launched Justice at Work. In 2014, the Brazilian Worker Center honored him with the 20th Anniversary Celebration Community Hero Award, and in 2017 he was named an “Up & Coming Lawyer” by MA Lawyers Weekly. Tom is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese thanks to extensive work and travel in Latin America and to his work with migrant communities in the United States. He has a background in teaching and coaching.
Legal Program Coordinator José A. Palma brings a decade of success fighting for social, economic justice and immigrants’ rights to Justice at Work. José was born in Usulután, El Salvador. He came to the United States in 1998 and has lived in Lynn, MA since 2002. José earned his Associate of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies at North Shore Community College in 2011, which included an internship at Greater Boston Legal Services. Before joining Justice at Work, José was the Political and Organizing Director for Neighbor-2-Neighbor, where he led efforts to combine issue organizing with electoral work. Jose has also worked with Centro Presente and the Student Immigrant Movement and has been part of the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform across the country.
Development and Communications Director Katelyn Parady came to Justice at Work in 2017 with a background in grassroots capacity building. A native of Southwest Wyoming, she is an occupational health and safety activist who co-chairs MassCOSH”s Health Tech advisory committee and serves on the editorial board of New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Prior to Justice At Work, Katelyn managed communications and operations for Toxics Action Center, where she helped lead a labor-environment coalition organizing to reduce Boston’s waste incineration and win better conditions for the city’s recycling workers. She previously lived and worked in Phoenix, Arizona.
Skadden Fellow Maggie Gribben graduated from the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School in 2017. At CUNY, Maggie participated in the Community Economic Development Clinic where she worked on a large wage and hour lawsuit. She also engaged in direct representation and conducted Know Your Rights presentations with CUNY’s CLEAR (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility) Project and represented public welfare recipients in termination matters as part of CUNY’s Economic Justice Project (EJP). She interned with the U.S. Department of Labor and was a Peggy Browning Fellow in the Employment Law Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. Prior to law school, Maggie spent seven years in the labor movement, working on campaigns to organize low-wage workers with SEIU USWW in California and with SEIU 32BJ on the East Coast.
Administrative Assistant Maria Mercedes Rudnikas joined Justice at Work on a part-time basis in January 2017, with a background working in her family’s admiralty law firm. Maria is a student at Boston College studying Economics and Environmental Studies and is an active board member of the Boston College radio station. She completed her first two years of her BA at Florida International University in Miami before transferring to BC. Before moving to Boston, she was the intern to BritWeek Miami where she assisted in event organization and operation.
Justice at Work Board of Directors
Ingrid Nava is Associate General Counsel for Service Employers International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, and is a member of the bars of Massachusetts and New York and the Federal District Courts of Massachusetts, Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York as well as the 1st and 2nd Circuit. Ingrid was named an “Up and Coming Lawyer” for 2011 by MA Lawyers Weekly. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Northeastern University School of Law, where she developed and has taught “Lawyering with Spanish-Speaking Clients” as an adjunct professor. Prior to her current position she was an employment lawyer with Greater Boston Legal Services, where she worked on legislative policy initiatives and engaged in direct client representation primarily with unemployment, wage and hour, and FMLA matters. Prior to law school, she was an organizer for SEIU International Union and various Locals.
Omar Angel works with PICO National Network’s DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network. Previously, he was the Policy Advocacy Manager of the Global Workers Justice Alliance, based in New York City and serving Mexico and Central America. He has held several leadership positions with various worker centers and community based organizations in the United States. A Mexican-trained attorney, Omar studied at the University of Veracruz in Mexico and the University of Deusto in Spain. He was an intern with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the U.N. in Geneva and was the Human Rights Program Director for the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus’ Northern Zone in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Board President Rachel Rosenbloom is a professor of immigration law and policy at Northeastern University School of Law. Rachel was a fellow at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College, where she was the supervising attorney for the Center’s Post-Deportation Human Rights Project. She has been widely quoted in the media on the wrongful detention and deportation of US citizens and permanent residents, and testified on this subject at a 2008 congressional hearing before the House Subcommittee on Immigration. Her legal career includes practicing union-side labor law at the Boston firm Segal Roitman LLP. From 2002 to 2004, she served as a law clerk to the Hon. Morris E. Lasker in United States District Court.
Board Secretary Elvis Méndez is the Assistant Director of the Jandon Center for Community Engagement at Smith College. Elvis was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts. He has a bachelor’s degree in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is completing his Masters of Science in Labor Industrial Relations. Elvis has worked as an organizer for the National Guestworker Alliance and Warehouse Workers for Justice. He was also the Coordinator of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative, a coalition of community based worker centers in New England.
Elizabeth Matos is a human rights attorney and staff attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. Elizabeth is engaged in litigation involving solitary confinement practices of the mentally ill, discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing prisoners, draconian classification practices, and lowering exorbitant and monopolistic prison phone rates. She also helps coordinate a prison reform coalition and advocates with the state legislature on the organization’s legislative priorities. Prior to practicing civil rights law at PLS, Elizabeth practiced housing, education, disability and immigration law with South Coastal Counties Legal Services on the south shore. Before law school she was a Fulbright scholar in Mozambique and spent 5 years working as an immigration advocate at the state and federal level. Elizabeth graduated from Brown University in 1999 and from Georgetown Law in 2007.
Board Treasurer Julio Henríquez is an immigration and human rights attorney with Law Offices of Julio Henríquez. He also works with human rights NGO’s as the International Coordinator of Foro Penal and the Director of Refugee Freedom Program. Admitted to practice law in New York and Venezuela, he is holds a LLM degree in Justice and Human Rights from New York University and a second LLM on International and Comparative Law from National University of Singapore. Julio practices immigration with a focus on asylum and removal defense and represents human rights victims before international organizations. Julio previously worked in the labor movement representing workers in grievance procedures and as an organizer for Service Employees International Union.
Justice at Work Volunteers
Justice at Work volunteer Seichelle Vermelho is a Brazilian labor lawyer who began volunteering with Justice at Work in 2016. In Brazil she worked for two years at Ubirajara Douglas Vianna Advogados Associados, where she represented low-wage workers, leading cases on overtime, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Seichelle holds an LL.M. from Boston College Law School (Humans Rights Law), and an LL.B. from the Universidade Castelo Branco of Espirito Santo, Brazil. She is bi-lingual in English and Portuguese.