Border, Immigration, and Refugee Crises

Speaker Schedule

10:00 EST

Overall Event & Keynote Introduction: Priya Mistri

A brief introduction to the day, given by subcommittee member Priya M., on the importance of Immigration and Refugee Rights, especially in the last year, as well as the purpose of dedication this day to this specific issue. Priya will provide an overview of the day, followed by an introduction to the keynote speaker for the day, Denise Bell.

10:10 EST

Keynote Speech: Denise Bell 

Denise Bell, our keynote speaker, will give a 30 minute introduction where she highlights the biggest immigrant and refugee issues of the past year. Her experience researching and working for immigrant and refugee rights at Amnesty International

11:00 EST

“Immigration Realties: A look into Today’s Immigration” Panel & Q&A: Anne Gebelein, Grace Lemire, Katia Daley

This panel aims to bring awareness to immigration issues that are prevalent during these times. Anne Gebelein, Grace Lemire and Katia Daley will discuss issues such as education, healthcare, narratives and labor rights. A Q&A portion will also benefit community members by fostering conversation about immigration issues that affect our very community.

11:55 EST


12:00 EST

William Tong

1:00 EST

Know Your Rights Workshop: Andrea Nunes

This is a Uconn Law School “Know Your Rights” session, Andrea Nunes will discuss ways to handle difficult situations surrounding immigration. This is to educate allies and give those at risk of deportation a way to know the rights they are entitled to.

1:25 EST

Breakout Sessions

Two sessions where attendees may pick a workshop of interest to attend- either the U.S. Citizenship Test, or a Playlist Session which will highlight how activism is brought into forms of art.

2:00 EST

“The Impact of Covid-19 on Refugee Crises” Panel: Chris George, Caroline Sennett

As Covid-19 has affected the entire world, refugees are an especially vulnerable group. This panel featuring Chris George and Caroline Sennett will educate about the unique challenges/risks faced by refugees and asylum seekers in the face of a global pandemic.

2:55 EST


3:00 EST

Asylum Process and Q&A: Valeria Gomez 

Valeria Gomez, co-founder of Volunteer Immigrant Defense Advocates, will give an informational presentation on the asylum process, followed by a moderated Q&A where the community will be able to ask questions to gain further knowledge about the intricacies of the process.


Denise Bell: Senior Researcher, Amnesty International

Denise Bell is a senior researcher for immigrant and refugee rights for Amnesty International. First an attorney advisor on the New York Immigration Court, she has worked as a campaigner for the Darfur Campaign and a Sudan Country Specialist for AIUSA. She has also worked in multiple capacities on forced displacement issues since the 1990s. She is also barred in the state of New York and sits on the City Bar’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee.


Chris George: Executive Director, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services

For the past 15 years, Chris George has been the Executive Director of IRIS, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, Connecticut's largest refugee resettlement agency. Chris was Executive Director of Human Rights Watch – Middle East for two years.  He worked nine years with Save the Children (mostly in the Middle East) and three years with American Friends Service Committee.  Chris began his international career in 1977 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Muscat, Oman.


Caroline Sennett: Director of Immigration Legal Services, Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants

Attorney Caroline Sennett is currently Director of Immigration Legal Services at Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI). She has worked as an immigration attorney and advocate in Connecticut since 2012. Her past speaking engagements have included presentations on the effect of immigration policy on individuals’ access to healthcare and other benefits, on human trafficking, on the vulnerable unaccompanied minor population, and on the refugee resettlement process.


Valeria Gomez: Teaching Fellow, Asylum and Human Rights Clinic

Professor Gomez previously worked in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, as an Equal Justice Works fellow with Volunteer Immigrant Defense Advocates (VIDA), a nonprofit legal services organization she co-founded in 2016. As an attorney with VIDA, she represented recently arrived unaccompanied immigrant children in removal proceedings, mentored new immigration practitioners, and gave frequent presentations to attorneys, law students, and community groups.


Anne Gebelein - Associate Director, El Instituto

Dr. Gebelein received her doctorate, M. Phil., and Master’s in Hispanic Literatures from Yale University Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese. Prior to her position at UConn, she worked as an educational consultant for the Anti-Defamation League and the Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis, and as a translator in health care and law enforcement settings. Anne Gebelein teaches a wide variety of courses in Latino and Latin American Studies, with a focus on migration, human rights, and border studies. She is faculty Co-Chair of Service Learning for the university, the ECE coordinator for Latin American Studies, and she directs community outreach efforts for El Instituto.


Katia Daley - Healthcare Campaign Organizer, CT Students for a DREAM

Katia Daley is the Healthcare Campaign Organizer for Connecticut Students for a Dream and a former HUSKY. She has been involved in different capacities to create empowering space for Latinx and Immigrant voices through civic engagement, public policy, community organizing, and healthcare advocacy. She leads the HUSKY4Immigrant coalition which the main goal is to fight for policies to expand healthcare access to all immigrants regardless of status and open eligibility to the HUSKY health program.


Grace Lemire - Student Instructor, University of Connecticut

Grace Lemire (she/her) is a senior double majoring in Urban & Community Studies and Human Rights and minoring in Social Justice Organizing. In addition, she serves as Senior Resident Assistant, a Trip Director for the Alternative Breaks program, a member of the Fraternity and Sorority community, both in the office and in her own chapter. Grace is passionate about utilizing these roles to build communities that are welcoming, comfortable, and equitable.


Andrea Nunes, J.D. Candidate, 2022, University of Connecticut School of Law

Andréa Nunes is a Connecticut native and 2L at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, CT. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Global Studies from Lesley University and a master’s degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from DePaul University. Andréa has been engaged in immigrant rights advocacy since youth, working and volunteering in a number of capacities for over ten years. Prior to starting law school, she worked as a paralegal at the Catholic Charities of Chicago, assisting immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault applying for U-Visa and VAWA relief. She speaks Spanish fluently and is conversational in Portuguese.