Meet Our Team

Our Senior Leadership

Rebecca Shi
Executive Director

Rebecca Shi

Rebecca Shi is the founding executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), a bipartisan coalition of 1200 CEOs, retired CEOs, donor class, employers, and business associations across the country, from Texas to Maine, Florida to Idaho. ABIC’s mission is common sense immigration reform to grow the economy, create jobs, and keep families together. ABIC’s niche is delivering business support to hard-hitting national, state, and local campaigns that benefit the undocumented. ABIC understands the necessity of Right – Left coalitions and alliances to win concrete victories. ABIC’s victories include winning driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, healthcare equity, access to justice across red, purple, and blue states; inclusive PPP and small business community navigator recovery programs in Washington working with Republican and Democratic Members of Congress.

Rebecca immigrated from China when she was ten years old; graduated from the University of Chicago with high honors and selected graduation speaker; and is tri-lingual in English, Mandarin, and Spanish. She has worked as a leader and organizer in the immigrant rights movement for 12 years, in part because her mother had a final deportation order for 19 years.

Rebecca was honored as “20 in their 20s” by Crains’ Business Chicago; is an Asian American Community Leadership honoree; and an Illinois Governor Jim Edgar Fellow. Rebecca’s work has been featured in the WSJ, Washington Post, New York Times, Texas Tribune, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Politico, and Axios, among others. She has testified before Congress multiple times.

Michael Deheeger
Campaign Director

Michael Deheeger

Michael Deheeger has juggled organizing, communications, political and fundraising roles on a range of domestic and international issues, in both advocacy and electoral settings, including years of advocating for immigration reform with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. He is a graduate of Colby College and received a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife and two children.
Deputy Campaign Director

Violeta Gomez-Uribe

Violeta Gomez-Uribe is a DACA recipient and the new Deputy Campaign Director at ABIC. Most recently she served as the Deputy Director of Outreach and Organizing in the New York City  Mayor’s of Immigrant Affairs, where during the height of the pandemic, she supported the efforts of COVID-19 emergency response as well as COVID-19 vaccine outreach efforts, while centering the needs of the most disfranchised immigrants. She has dedicated the past two decades to advocate for policies and laws that better the lives of immigrant communities. Violeta holds an Associates Degree in Business Administration and Accounting as well as a  Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Urban Studies.
Operations Director

Angelene Winn

Angelene Winn is a seasoned professional with a wealth of expertise in operations management, human resources, and compliance. Currently holding the position of Operations Director at ABIC, Angelene plays a crucial role in the organization by overseeing ABIC’s operations budget, managing human resources, and ensuring compliance with regulations.

With a combined experience of over 15 years in operations management, executive leadership, and compliance, Angelene brings a depth of knowledge and strategic insights to her current role.

Before joining ABIC, Angelene served as the Director of Operations for a lobbying and education consulting firm based in Washington DC.

Angelene is an active contributor to her community. She serves as the Vice Chair on the fashion committee for a small non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women to achieve economic independence and thrive in both their professional and personal lives. Through her involvement in this organization, she supports initiatives that foster growth, self-confidence, and financial stability among women.

Born in Korea and raised in Japan, Angelene’s background and personal experiences have shaped her deep dedication to her work at ABIC.

Our Staff

Juan Carlos Cerda
State Director, Texas

Juan Carlos Cerda

Juan Carlos Cerda is a DACA recipient and the Director for the Texas chapter (TBIC). Prior to joining ABIC, Juan Carlos organized immigrant communities at the Texas Organizing Project and taught kindergarten through the Teach for America program. He was also an ambassador for, a bipartisan political advocacy group working for immigration and criminal justice reform, and currently serves on the Bishop’s Immigration Task Force for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. Juan Carlos graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2015. He lives in Fort Worth with his wife.
State Director, Carolinas

Yahel Flores

Yahel Flores is the Director for the Carolinas and a DACA recipient. Born in CD Juarez Chihuahua and raised in Winston Salem, NC. Prior to joining ABIC he was in the supply chain industry handling international imports for multiple corporate companies. After high school and during college, he started a few businesses to self-fund his education while attending Guilford College. While at Guilford, he was active with the Soy Un Lider conference to help high school seniors navigate the college application process. He was also a part of Hispanos Unidos De Guilford.
Midwest State Director

Connor Gallivan

Connor Gallivan is ABIC’s new Midwest State Director who will oversee the organizing efforts in Illinois and Indiana. Prior to joining ABIC, Connor spent a decade working on electoral campaigns across the country where he specialized in campaign management, community organizing, and data analysis. He currently lives around the Chicagoland area with his fiancée and two cats.
Media Relations Specialist

Aleena Haider

Aleena Haider is the new Media Relations Specialist at ABIC. Prior to working with ABIC, Aleena was a freelance writer, editor, and brand strategist. She has volunteered and worked with renowned organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, where she developed a passion for writing to advocate for the empowerment and safeguarding of marginalized communities. She also currently is the Editor-In-Chief of the Dreamer By Night Magazine, a publication dedicated to elevating and amplifying the voices of young artists and changemakers. She is a University of Illinois at Chicago graduate with focused studies in English Media & Rhetoric and Political Science.
Miriam Harrison
Executive Assistant

Miriam Harrison

Miriam Harrison is the Executive Assistant of the American Business Immigration Coalition. Prior to joining ABIC, Miriam served as an Executive Assistant at the University of Vermont. She brings experience in nonprofit administrative support through her work with Vermont Housing Managers Association. Miriam is a graduate of Boston University. Born in the Netherlands and having lived in Massachusetts, West Virginia, South Dakota, Connecticut, Indiana, California, and Vermont, Miriam now happily calls the coast of Maine home with her partner and a bevy of four-legged creatures.
Ken Kimber
Director of Small Business Recovery and Resiliency

Ken Kimber

Ken Kimber is ABIC’s Director of Small Business Recovery and Resiliency and overseas ABIC’s Community Navigator Technical Assistance programs for disproportionately impacted small businesses, focused on maximizing access to COVID-19 relief resources and expanding businesses capacity. Ken brings 10+ years of dynamic campaign management specializing in public policy, advocacy, strategy, outreach, and more recently public grant management with ABIC’s small business grant work.
Senior Development Associate

Nicholas Maio

Nicholas Maio is ABIC’s Senior Development Associate where he will support our overall fundraising strategy, help establish tactics, messaging, and benchmarks. Nick comes to ABIC with experience in grants administration and non-profit management. Nick specializes in organizational, multitasking, and information management. Before joining ABIC, Nick worked at the American Association for Cancer Research, where he assisted in administering multi-million dollar research grants. Nick received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Marist College. Currently, Nick is a first-year graduate student in Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.
Small Business Associate

Mina Mari

Mina Mari is the new Small Business Associate at ABIC, working with disproportionately impacted small businesses in Illinois and ensuring they have access to relief resources. Prior to joining ABIC, Mina worked with several refugee and immigrant organizations in Chicago such as Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America and Devon Oasis. Mina received a bachelor’s in political science and criminal justice and criminology from Loyola University Chicago. Currently, Mina is pursuing a master’s degree in criminology, law, and justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
State Director, Arizona

Enrique Davis-Mazlum

Enrique Davis-Mazlum is the new Arizona State Director at ABIC. Enrique has over two decades of grassroots political campaigns internationally. Most recently, he was the LUCHA Blue Campaign Director in Arizona, where he directed a state campaign to elect progressive candidates and pass proposition 308, In-State Tuition for Dreamers. Additionally, he has taught at different universities, most recently at the University of Arizona. Davis-Mazlum has a Ph.D. in Politics with Equality Focus from “Centro de Estudios Políticos para la Igualdad Sustantiva y la Paridad” (CEPISP) and an Honoris Causa Doctorate from “Claustro Iberoamericano.” He also earned his BA with a triple major in Political Science, Mexican American Studies, and International Studies from the University of Arizona.
Florida Deputy Director

Romy Moreno

Romy is the new Florida Deputy Director, where she’ll focus on building business and community support for immigrants in South Florida to deliver sensible immigration solutions in Florida and at the federal level. She comes to ABIC as a Venezuelan professional whose journey has been characterized by a commitment to human rights advocacy and cultural enrichment. In 2019, amidst challenging circumstances in her home country, Romy made the difficult decision to leave Venezuela. Her passion for fostering international understanding and defending human rights led her to the diplomatic mission of the Interim Government of the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States. She earned a bachelor’s degree in arts from Central University of Venezuela.
James O’Neill
Director of Legislative Affairs

James O’Neill

James O’Neill is the Director of Legislative Affairs for ABIC specializing in building out chapter potential in the Midwest Region and relationship building in the Agriculture sector. Prior to joining ABIC and during college he was a summer intern for IBIC, and after graduating, he worked briefly as a constituent services caseworker for then-Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) before coming on as the Director of Suburban Outreach for IBIC. James graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy and two minors in Philosophy and Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy.
Deputy Director of Communications

Karen Ottoni

Karen Ottoni is the Deputy Director of Communications for ABIC. Prior to joining ABIC, Karen worked for NBC Universal Telemundo Tampa as a News Reporter and Weather Anchor where she received the Edward R. Murrow Award and was also nominated to the Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards. Karen began his career as a journalist in Telemundo Lubbock & Telemundo Nuevo México where she led both news stations as the Managing Editor. Karen grew up in Cali, Colombia and then moved to New Hampshire to earn her degree in communications at Southern New Hampshire University.

Yoselyn Ovalle
Social Media/Digital Manager

Yoselyn Ovalle

Yoselyn Ovalle is the Social Media/Digital Manager at ABIC. Prior to joining the team, Yoselyn was the Associate Manager, Democracy Initiative at Forefront, Illinois’ state association serving nonprofits and grantmakers. At Forefront, Yoselyn led the 2020 Census efforts for Illinois. Working collaboratively with nonprofits, foundations, and government officials/entities, her efforts resulted in Illinois losing only one congressional seat rather than two as previously predicted. Yoselyn has worked in nonprofits for almost a decade and on multiple issues ranging from reproductive justice to democracy. Yoselyn graduated and received her bachelor’s degree in communications from DePaul University.
Junior Enrique Sanchez
Intermountain State Director

Enrique Sanchez

Enrique Sanchez is a graduate of the University of Utah, holding a degree in Political Science and a degree from Salt Lake Community College in Criminal Justice. Enrique spent time in Washington D.C. completing an internship with the Ibarra Strategy Group. A long-time Utah resident, Enrique worked as a Community Specialist with a local police department and local government for almost five years prior to joining ABIC. Enrique is a board member of the Park City Youth Football Ute Conference and the Park City Community Foundation. Prior to making strides in the Utah leadership realm, Enrique spent time in Courchevel, France as part of a foreign exchange program. As a proud DACA recipient and activist, Enrique is excited to bring his perspective as a Utah-raised Latinx immigrant to the table and is passionate about ABIC’s mission to promote sensible immigration reform.
State Director, Florida

Samuel Vilchez Santiago

Samuel Vilchez Santiago is ABIC’s Florida State Director. He is originally from Venezuela, and came to the U.S. as a political asylee at an early age. Prior to joining ABIC, Samuel was the Human and Civil Rights Manager at ActBlue and the Florida Campaign Manager at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella coalition of national civil rights organizations. Samuel obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a Master of Public Policy at the University of Oxford. He is a recipient of President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award and the Congressional Youth Award.
Grant Writer

Katherine Scarpitta

Katherine Scarpitta is ABIC’s grant writer where she works with the Development Team to manage all grant applications, reports, and prospective opportunities for funding. Katherine loves telling the story of an organization’s accomplishments and making connections along the way. Prior to joining ABIC, Katherine worked in grant management and fundraising at Catholic Charities of Long Island and Educational Alliance. She received a bachelors degree in cultural anthropology from Boston University.
Finance Manager

Tarsha Small

Tarsha Small is the new Finance Manager at ABIC where she brings over 25 years of experience in accounting, with 21 years dedicated to nonprofits. She began her career working in government, and then saw a greater need in her community and decided to join the nonprofit sector. Tarsha has written, supervised and oversaw several grants in nonprofits, as well as performed a full cycle of organizational accounting procedures (HR, Finance, Accounting and Operations). She holds an MBA with a focus in Finance from University of Maryland and a bachelor of science in accounting from Southeastern University. Recently, she acquired her CPA.
Director of Development

Scarlet Watts

Scarlet Watts is ABIC’s Director of Development, where she works closely with ABIC’s Deputy Director to provide strategic leadership to grow fundraising revenues from foundations, corporations, government sources, individuals, and events. Prior to coming to ABIC, Scarlet served as Development Director for the New York Immigration Coalition, as well as for HELP USA, an organization serving people experiencing homelessness, and for the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention services to LGBTQ youth. Across her fifteen-year nonprofit career, Scarlet has worked on issues such as food sustainability, empowerment for girls with disabilities, wildlife conservation, and universal health care access.