SDIRC Leadership

Lilian Serrano, Chair (Alianza Comunitaria)

Lilian Serrano was born and raised in the Tijuana-San Diego border region. She spent her teens in Oxnard, California, a small agricultural town in Ventura County. After graduating high school, she moved back to San Diego County. As an undergraduate at California State University, San Marcos, Lilian began actively working with grassroots organizations focused on immigrant rights. Her expertise and knowledge has allowed her to build and maintain strong ties in North County San Diego with community members who are impacted by immigration policies and organizations that work closely with farmworker families. 

Lilian is a member of Alianza Comunitaria, a coalition of human rights grassroots organizations who have worked with community members to create an alert system to inform community members about the presence of driver’s license checkpoints and immigration raids in the North San Diego County area. Lilian is dedicated to promoting social justice all around her and strongly believes that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is her third year serving on the SDIRC Advisory Board, and second year as chair.

 

Pastor Jean Elise Duradisse, Faith Representative (Christ Ministry Center)

Jean Elise Durandisse has served as Pastor of the Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego for the past 10 years. The church became the processing hub for the recent mass influx of Haitian immigrants, providing shelter and humanitarian services for more than 5,000 people since May 2016. He has been doing immigrant and refugee work since 2010, following the devastating earthquake in his home country of Haiti. He has partnered with Safe Harbors, Catholic Charities, International Rescue Committee, Alliance of San Diego among others to address the needs of the community he serves. 


Pastor Jean Elise is a student at Apostello Academy (San Diego School of Religious Studies) and is a candidate to become an Elder by the California Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church. He currently resides in San Diego, CA and is married with one child. His other passions include social activism and music.  He serves as one of two lead singers of a gospel group, “Louange a Dieu” (Praise to God). ‎ For more information, visit HaitiSD.com.

 

Ian M. Seruelo, Labor Representative (Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance – San Diego)

Ian M. Seruelo is an active member of the Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) – San Diego Chapter, and has represented the Chapter in SDIRC for several years now. APALA, which is under the AFL-CIO, is a national organization of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that works to defend and advocate for the civil and human rights of immigrants and all people of color.

Ian is an activist and community organizer from the Philippines who migrated to the United States in 2005 to join his family in San Diego. Here in the US, he has been active in social and economic justice issues and campaigns. He is an advocate for victims of labor trafficking particularly those trafficked from the Philippines.

As an immigration and employment law attorney, Ian runs his own law firm and also works with different non-profits including the Pilipino Workers Center, the Somali Bantu Association of America, and has volunteered hundreds of hours to the Employee Rights Center, Alliance San Diego, and other organizations.

 

Gabriel Urias, Legal Representative (San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association)

Gabriel Urias was born and raised in the rural, San Joaquin Valley, farm community of Shafter, California. His parents are campesinos who taught him the importance of hard work, family, and community involvement. He attended UC Berkeley, California, from 2000-2004 where he began his studies as a Civil Engineer before transitioning to Philosophy.  During his time at Cal, Gabriel was the President of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity (2002-2004) and was heavily involved in the Latino community.

Gabriel practices immigration law and removal defense. Prior to this, Gabriel was an Associate Attorney at Jan Joseph Bejar Law Corporation, and Kraus Law Corporation. In addition, Gabriel worked at the ACLU on the implementation of the landmark class action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson. Throughout his legal career, Gabriel has committed himself to serving immigrant communities with the care, compassion, and dignity they deserve.

Gabriel earned his Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law in 2013 and passed the February 2014 California Bar Exam. He currently works in the field of Immigration Law where he helps good, hardworking people just like his parents to remain in the United States everyday. He hopes to continue expanding his knowledge in immigration law and eventually write policy that will positively affect immigrant communities for decades to come.

 

Ricardo Gallego, Community Representative (San Diego LGBT Center)

Ricardo Gallego is director of the Department of Latino/a Services at the San Diego LGBT Community Center -- the largest such department in the country. 

Ricardo earned a Master's degree in counseling in 2001, and has graduate professional training in both ethics and clinical chaplaincy. He has completed numerous HIV- and STD-related certification programs, as well as training programs on sexual orientation and sexual education, and training workshops on death, dying and grieving. 

He has received numerous (city, county, state and federal) recognitions for his HIV-prevention work, and for programs he has developed with and for Latino/a LGBTQ persons and their families, and also with and for Latino/as affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

 

Dulce Garcia, Community Representative (Border Angels)

Dulce Garcia grew up in Logan Heights, a community that is predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American. Dulce is undocumented and found it impossible to find financial aid after high school. So, she attended community college at night, and worked as a paralegal in a law office during the day. Oftentimes, she held other jobs including waitressing, parking cars, tutoring, selling flowers and retail. She paid her way through school, and subsequently transferred to the University of California San Diego where she received her bachelor's degree in Political Science. She attended law school at Cleveland Marshall College of Law where she received her Jurisprudence Doctorate with a concentration in Civil Litigation.

Dulce opened her private practice in 2016 and has provided hundreds of free consultations and dozens of Know Your Rights workshops to inform community members of their rights. She also volunteers to represent low income clients in court in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate and various nonprofit organizations. In 2017 Dulce and other DACA recipients formed San Diego Border Dreamers to advocate for more humane immigration laws and policies. In September 2017, Dulce also sued Trump and the administration after the termination of DACA. As a result of those efforts in court, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are able to renew their DACA status while the case is in litigation. Dulce was in the Supreme Court on November 12, 2019 defending DACA.

Dulce is the Executive Director of Border Angels, a nonprofit organization that conducts humanitarian work along the US-Mexico border. Border Angels promotes a culture of love through advocacy and education, by creating social consciousness, and engaging in direct action to defend human rights.

 

Flower Alvarez-Lopez, (Universidad Popular)

Flower Alvarez-Lopez is an undergraduate student studying sociology and ethnic-Chicanx studies at California State University San Marcos. She coordinates the Internship and Volunteer program at the National Latino Research Center (NLRC) where she facilitates engagement in community-based research and education projects in the areas of educational equity, youth empowerment and criminal justice. As a lider comunitaria, she supports individuals and their loved family members who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. 

Flower co-founded Homie Universidad Popular (Homie UP), an initiative promoting education for individuals who are or have been incarcerated. She directed the award-winning documentary film, Homie UP: Stories of Love and Redemption (2015), a film that features stories of families who have loved family members incarcerated and shares how mass incarceration affects individuals and families. Additionally, she oversees implementation of the Homie UP curriculum that offers a culturally relevant Chicano/Chicana and Ethnic Studies course to individuals who are incarcerated in prisons across the country.

 

Pedro Rios/Adriana Jasso, Southern Border Communities Coalition Representative -- Ex Officio (American Friends Service Committee US/Mexico Border Program)

Pedro Rios serves as the director of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) U.S./Mexico Border Program and has been on staff with AFSC for 14 years. A native San Diegan, Pedro has worked on immigrant rights and border issues for over 20 years. He oversees a program that documents abuses by law enforcement agencies, collaborates with community groups, advocates for policy change, and works with migrant communities. He holds a masters degree in Ethnic Studies.  Pedro has also previously served on the SDIRC Advisory Board as Chair.  

 Adriana Jasso is the Program Coordinator of the AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program.  She has worked at AFSC over a decade, advocating for the demilitarization of the border region and the humane treatment of all members of our communities.  Adriana holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature, and a Master of Education degree from the University of California, San Diego.  In her spare time, you can find Adriana practicing yoga, and spending quality time with her family and the world’s most beautiful German Shepherd, Leo.  

 

Laura Moreno, Former Chair -- Ex Officio (UNITE HERE Local 30)

Laura Moreno was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, and moved to San Diego in 2007 to study at San Diego State University.  While in college, she was involved in MEChA and Union del Barrio, and has continued her activism after college in her community. As a child, Laura witnessed first hand her family being separated and saw how her community was affected by unjust immigration laws.  Now as an adult, she is committed to motivating her community to be engaged, get informed, and make the best decisions for their future regarding immigration. Community and family are what move Laura, and that is why she has proudly served on the SDIRC Advisory Board since 2016.  Laura currently works as an Immigration Coordinator at UNITE HERE Local 30.