THe HRI TEAM
Bill Holston – Executive Director
Kavita Khandekar Chopra– Deputy Director
Sara Wahl – Attorney, Crime Victims Program
Anna Rupani – Attorney, Children’s Program
PILAR FERGUSON – Attorney, Asylum Program
Zainab Ellis – Social Services Director
Elisandra De la Cruz – CHILDREN’S PROGRAM CASE MANAGER
Kristina Morales – CASE MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR & LEGAL ASSISTANT
Zeyla Gonzalez – CASE MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR & Legal Assistant
CAROLINA PINA – CASE MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR & LEGAL ASSISTANT
LAYNE FAULKNER – Volunteer Coordinator
Maryam Baig – Marketing & Special Events Coordinator
Elean Martinez– Client Intake Manager
An Alabama native, Bill began practicing Business Law with Sullivan and Holston law firm. Bill, also an avid human rights advocate, Bill joined HRI’s team as a pro bono volunteer attorney, where he litigated multiple asylum trials in Immigration Court. In 2005 Bill was awarded the Angel of Freedom Award by Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. Bill’s favorite hobbies are hiking, especially in Big Bend National Park, and reading. His most influential book is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘Cost of Discipleship’, while his overall favorite is ‘Brothers Karamazov’.
See Bill’s Full Bio
Kavita Khandekar Chopra
Kavita, though Texas-born, was raised in California where she earned her Bachelors in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. While completing her Masters in Social Work at UT Austin, Kavita found Human Rights Initiative during her final intern semester. For her, HRI was the perfect combination of her passion areas: immigration, domestic violence, and law. When she’s not at work, Kavita enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, and playing with her two dogs.
Attorney, Crime Victims Program
Sara is a Minnesota native and received her B.A. magna cum laude from St. Olaf College, her M.Ed. summa cum laude from Vanderbilt University, and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Minnesota. Sara worked for HRI for many years as a pro bono attorney before joining the staff in 2017. When not working, SARA enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, and watching Broadway musicals.
Attorney, CHILDREN’S PROJECT
Anna Rupani is the Children’s Program Attorney at Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. Prior to this role, Anna was employed at Mosaic Family Services, where she started off as a staff attorney and worked her way up to Legal Program Director. In her role, she worked to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
Even prior to her legal career, Anna has been dedicated to public service. During her tenure in law school, Anna created a program with high school youth in inner-city schools, to help ignite their ambition in law, and pushing towards change, while allowing themselves to see a successful people of color – people they could relate to. For her creation and work with this program, Anna was awarded the Judge Reginald C. Lindsay Public Service Law Book Award by the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.
Prior to her role as an attorney, Anna obtained her Master of Social Work at Florida State University, concentrating on working with women and children. It is evident that Anna is and will continue to be dedicated in empowering those who have been oppressed; Anna finds passion in giving a voice to those have had their voice stifled.
Anna obtained her Juris Doctor at New England Law | Boston, where she was awarded the ultimate public service award at her graduation. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, Human Resources and Marketing, with a Minor in Studio Art Painting at Boston College.
Anna is very involved in the legal community as she is the Co-Chair for the Lawyers Against Domestic Violence Committee of the Dallas Young Lawyers Association (DAYL), and a Board of Director for DAYL. She was recently awarded the Rising Raggio Award by the Dallas Women’s Lawyers Association. However, when she isn’t lawyering, you can find Anna reading, watching sports, hiking, cooking, or traveling. She also loves being an aunt to her wonderful, yet sassy nieces, and active little nephew.
Asylum program attorney
Pilar is a california native and received her b.a in political science, magna cum laude from the university of arizona, and her j.d. from the university of california, irvine school of law. prior to joining hri, pilar worked at kids in need of defense in los angeles, first as an equal justice works fellow and then as a staff attorney, when not fighting for justice, pilar loves attending concerts, hiking, and exploring dallas.
Social Services Director
Zainab is half Middle Eastern, half white, and 100% Texan. She has a BA in International Studies from the University of North Texas, with concentrations in Politics & Diplomacy, the Middle East, and Arabic, and is in the process of working on her Masters in Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. She began working at HRI in 2011 through Americorps VISTA, managing the volunteer program. After learning that her heart is in the social services field, Zainab returned to HRI to head the Social Services department in 2012. When she’s not helping clients, Zainab loves spending time with her family and traveling.
Elisandra De La Cruz
IMMIGRANT CHILDREN’S PROGRAM CASE MANAGER
Elisandra settled in Dallas, TX after living in Arezzo, Italy and graduating from the University of Oklahoma with her Bachelors in Political Science and International Relations. She has a vast amount of experience working with immigrants, most notably in the International Rescue Committee. While there she was drawn to economic empowerment for refugee women in the DFW area and immigration relief for various immigrant populations including refugees, asylum seekers, and minors from Central America. When Elisandra is not serving our clients, she can be found traveling or speaking one of the five languages she knows.
CASE MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR & LEGAL ASSISTANT
Kristina is Dallas texas born and raised. She graduated from The University of North Texas Where she RECEIVED her Bachelor of Arts in General Studies in 2007 and Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Emphasis in Women’s Studies in 2010. Kristina has always known that her heart is in non-profit work, and has served HRI Clients since the Fall of 2012. Kristina loves taking long walks with her dog, LuLu, and enjoys going to rallies and events that promote social justice.
CASE MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR & LEGAL ASSISTANT
Zeyla, a Texas native, is a graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton where she studied International Studies and Spanish. before joining the team in 2013, Zeyla was a committed HRI volunteer and translator. When she’s not ASSISTING HRI’s lawyers and clients, Zeyla can be found immersed in the arts–having trained in ballet and modern dance for 15 years.
CASE MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR & LEGAL ASSISTANT
CAROLINA, a Texas native, EARNED HER BACHELOR’s DEGREE IN POLITICAL SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FROM TEXAS A&m COMMERCE. SHE KNEW THAT SHE WANTED TO WORK WITH IMMIGRANTS BECAUSE HER FAMILY ARE ALSO IMMIGRANTS . WORKING FOR A NONPROFIT LIKE HRI GIVES HER THE CHANCE TO GIVE BACK AND FULFILL HER DREAM OF HELPING CHILDREN. WHEN SHE’S NOT HELPING THE CAUSE, YOU CAN FIND HER TRAVELLING AND GOING TO THE BEACH.
born and raised in Austin, tx, layne attended the university of Texas at Austin. she received her ba in applied learning and development. during her career as an educator, Layne dedicated herself to underserved communities and taught numerous refugee and immigrant students. Layne was a regular volunteer at hri before joining the staff in 2018. outside of hri, layne’s passions are reading, painting, and spending time with her husband.
MARKETING AND SPECIAL EVENTS COORDINATOR
Born and raised in Pakistan, Baig received a B.A in Political Science and English Literature, and a B.A in Art and Performance/MFA in Arts and Technology at UTDallas. Baig focuses upon Gesture, Memory and Performance in Storytelling.
Baig is a founding artistic member of The Drama Club and a co-founder of Mutations Art Collective. She wrote and directed BAN THE TAL for Project X, a multimedia performance art piece about the birth, rise and ideology of the Taliban, and BEXCHANGED at University of Texas at Dallas, a performance piece documenting nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan behind the curtain of war in Kashmir.
Baig is on Advisory Board for Deep Vellum Publishing and Artistic Advisory Board for Theatre Three Inc., Dallas. In 2015 she was named Silver Debater, Defense College – Pakistan, Distinguished Alumna, UTDallas and Fellow of D Academy. Baig volunteers for causes that include: literacy – Big D Reads, advocacy for the homeless – Dallas Street Stories, racial equity – Community Conversation, cultural equity – ArtEquityNow!, public transportation infrastructure – ReImagine DART, and enhancing Dallas – Coalition for a New Dallas. Baig also volunteers for non-profits arts organizations serving minorities, emerging artists and young non-profit arts organizations through her own art-centric company, Baig Communications.