Manne Favor, Executive Director
Manne Favor comes to JFON Houston with an extensive background in nonprofit management, fundraising and ministry. He has over 20 years of experience in leading and developing mid-size non-profit organizations. As an immigrant himself, Manne has first-hand knowledge of the impact of the U.S. immigration system and the difficulties many immigrants face in finding quality legal counsel. Inspired by his own immigration experience, Manne is very passionate about creating programs for immigrants that address not only their legal needs, but also their emotional and spiritual well-being.
The passion Manne has for helping people is contagious. It is the thread that permeates his entire life and career - whether it is his work with the various non-profits that he has been part of, or the ministries that he has led, assisting and empowering others is always at the core of his work. He received his Bachelor of Theology degree from Trinity College of Ministerial Arts in 1994 in Nigeria, West Africa.
Joy Green, Legal Director
Joy Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Policy Studies from Rice University and her Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School. While in college, she spent a semester abroad at the University of Havana in Cuba.
Prior to working with JFON, Joy spent four years in private practice in Dallas with a law firm that exclusively specializes in immigration law. There she gained valuable experience representing individuals across the United States with family based immigration, removal defense, naturalization, and humanitarian relief. During law school, Joy was a legal intern with Immigration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities.
Joy is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. Prior to starting her legal career, Joy was a public school teacher. She is proficient in Spanish.
Marisa Peterson, Staff Attorney
Marisa Peterson leads the Deportation Defense Houston Project. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Utah State University and her Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School. During law school, Marisa studied abroad in a program focused on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, and interned with a UNHCR funded nonprofit serving asylum seekers in Costa Rica. While in law school, she completed two immigration related internships and participated in a clinic program focused on victim rights law.
Prior to joining JFON, Marisa worked with nonprofits in Houston and Corpus Christi where she provided immigration legal services to trauma survivors of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. She has worked with asylum seekers at various stages of the application process, and mentored volunteer attorneys providing pro bono representation. Marisa was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2015 and later joined the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Before law school, Marisa lived abroad, spending 18 months in Northeastern Brazil, and 5 months in Peru. She is proficient in Spanish and Portuguese.
Gabriela Lopez-Compean, Staff Attorney
Gabriela Lopez-Compean received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Hispanic Studies from Rice University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center. Gabriela was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2016.
Prior to working with JFON, Gabriela worked three years in private practice in Houston. She represented clients before immigration services and immigration court. She has experience in a variety of cases, including family based immigration, naturalization, humanitarian relief, and removal defense. While in law school, she participated in both the civil and immigration clinics representing underprivileged clients, who were often victims of abuse.
Because she was born in Mexico and spent her early childhood there, Gabriela has personally experienced the immigration process and understands its toll on immigrant families. She is passionate about helping others successfully navigate the immigration system. She is fluent in Spanish.
Julio Irizarry-Mendez, Staff Attorney
Julio Irizarry-Mendez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Before entering law school, he participated in two internships in Spain at Navarra Business School and Complutense University in Madrid.
He has a Business Administration (B.A.) degree and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) both from the Pontifical Catholic University. Julio is a Trial lawyer with multifaceted litigation experience representing labor and healthcare issues of employee and employer. He also has experience related to immigration, family law and personal injury, and experience in the private sector and with nonprofits as an immigration attorney.
In his free time, Julio enjoys fishing, reading about history and exercising. Julio works as an asylum attorney. He is fluent in Spanish.
Alexandra Santamaria, Legal Assistant
Alexandra Santamaria supports the Deportation Defense Houston Project. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California in 2018. This education culminated in her Senior Thesis titled, “Be a philosopher, but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man: A Resolution of Humean Epistemology.”
After four years spent in contemplation of the ideas that shaped Western Civilization, she emerged ready to give back to her community. Having been interested in immigration issues from an early age, Alexandra moved to Denver, Colorado and began working at a private immigration law firm as a Legal Administrative Assistant. During her time there, she also volunteered at legal and immigrant nonprofit initiatives where she gained experience serving and interacting with vulnerable populations.
Now she is back in her native city, Houston, eager to dedicate her time to immigrant detainees seeking justice.
Laura Hernandez, Legal Assistant
Laura Hernandez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications (2011) and her Masters in Social Work (2019) from the University of Houston-Main Campus. During graduate school, Laura worked with mental and behavioral health providers and abuse prevention agencies.
Prior to working at JFON Houston, Laura spent years in the corporate sector. After taking a sabbatical and spending 18 months in East Los Angeles working with low-income immigrants, she decided she wanted to dedicate her energy in working with organizations whose work focused in serving immigrants and other vulnerable populations. While working with a variety of organizations, she has focused her work in helping survivors of abuse, trafficking, and other trauma.
Familiar with the challenges of the immigrant experience, Laura continues to volunteer across Houston to continue bringing a holistic range of services to many families. She is excited to be part of such passionate legal team. She is fluent in Spanish.
Rachel Weber, Executive Assistant
Rachel Weber comes to JFON Houston from Atlanta, Georgia where she has worked in both the non-profit sector as well as the for-profit sector.
Rachel has a passion and love for working for non-profit organizations due to her love of making sure that all that need something are taken care of. She learned this lesson from her grandmother who spent the last 20 years of her life volunteering for different organizations.
Rachel spends her extra time cooking for her family, writing in her blog and selling cookware. She is enjoying her time with JFON Houston and see what else this organization can do for the community!
Karina Espinoza, Receptionist
Karina Espinoza received her Associates degree in Business Management from Houston Community College, and has worked in the nonprofit field for three years. Karina also serves as Receptionist for the nonprofits, Mission Milby Community Development Corporation and Technology For All, which are all operate from the Mission Milby facility.
Karina has lived in Houston all her life, but many childhood summer vacations were spent in Mexico. Most of her family lived in Mexico, and throughout her life, she has heard many stories about the sacrifices her family made and the struggles it took to come to the United States. She is passionate about assisting immigrants who are looking for a better life here.