THe HRI TEAM
Bill Holston – Executive Director
Kavita Khandekar Chopra– Deputy Director
Chris Mansour – Appellate & Advocacy Director
Melissa Weaver – Attorney, Women and Children’s Program
Mary Durbin – Attorney, Asylum Program
Marcela D. Evans – Attorney, Immigrant Children’s Project
Zainab Ellis – Social Services Director
Elisabeth Hagberg – Volunteer & Communications Coordinator
Kristina Morales – Legal Assistant
Zeyla Gonzalez – Legal Assistant
Elean Martinez– Client Intake Manager
Elisandra De la Cruz – Casework & Administrative Assistant
De’Jonnae Boyd – Marketing & Special Events Coordinator
An Alabama native, Bill, began practicing Business Law with Sullivan and Holston law firm. Bill, also an avid human rights advocate, 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, a Texas native, was raised in California where she earned her Bachelor’s in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. While completing her Master’s 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.
Appellate & Advocacy Director
Chris, a Minnesota native, received her B.A. magna cum laude in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan. She has over 15 years of litigation experience and has helped in the representation of hundreds of immigrant victims of violence during her 8+ years at HRI. Before going to law school, Chris was a journalist and she now uses her writing and editing skills to lead HRI’s appellate work, which has secured victories for many clients in recent years. When not working, Chris enjoys spending time with her family, running, traveling, and cheering for Notre Dame.
See Christine’s Full Bio
Attorney, Women & Children’s Program
Melissa received her Juris Doctorate from SMU in 2004 and has an undergraduate degree in environmental science and economics from the University of Georgia. During law school she assisted in a landmark human trafficking / national origin discrimination case at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Dallas. Melissa came on board with HRI in 2007 and has since fought for justice on a number of cases ranging from domestic violence, unaccompanied minors, and asylum PETITIONS. When she is not litigating, she enjoy’s spending time with her family.
See Melissa’s Full Bio
Attorney, Asylum Program
Mary is a Dallas native who graduated from the University of Notre Dame (B.A.) and Washington University in St. Louis (J.D.). Since joining HRI in July 2013, she has represented asylum seekers from 26 countries around the world. A lifelong swimmer, Mary had the privilege of being coached by Olympian Jerry Heidenreich from ages 9 to 16.
Marcela D. Evans
Attorney, Immigrant Children’s Project
Marcela is a Dallas native who earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies from UT Austin, and her J.D. from Oklahoma City University. Both Marcela’s career and studies have lent themselves to an international focus, with particular attention being given to community service, youth empowerment, and human rights and humanitarian law. When she’s not fighting for justice, Marcela loves traveling, reading paper books, and playing with extremely furry dogs.
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 Master’s 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 looking for the next best place to eat queso.
Elisabeth Hagberg is a Minnesota native. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors in Global Studies. In 2008 Elisabeth moved to london, england to pursue her Masters Degree in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Through her Previous volunteer experience at the center for victims of torture and after living in madrid, Spain where she volunteered with World Vision and learned spanish, Elisabeth reinforced her passion for human rights work. She joined HRI in 2013 as the Volunteer Coordinator. When she’s not rallying volunteers, Elisabeth enjoys ice skating, learning the piano, church, traveling, and visiting her family in Minnesota.
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.
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.
CLIENT Intake Manager
Elean was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. During her last year at the University of North Texas in Denton, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, Elean volunteered as a translator with HRI. Having a passion for helping others, Elean has found herself right at home. She has joined the HRI team as the Client Intake Manager. When she’s not lending a listening hear to our prospective clients, she can be found enjoying a good craft beer and hanging out with her friends and family.
Elisandra De La Cruz
Casework & Administrative Assistant
Elisandra settled in Dallas, TX after living in Arezzo, Italy and graduating from the University of Oklahoma with her Bachelor’s in Political Science and International Relations. She has a vast amount of experience working with immigrants, most notably at the International Rescue Committee. While there her focused was drawn to economic empowerment for refugee women in the DFW area, as well as immigration relief for various immigrant populations -including refugees, aslyum 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.
Marketing & Special Events Coordinator