Meet Our Team
Located in Biloxi and Forest, our team works to provide necessary services to underserved migrant communities.
Michael Ann Galliano Oropeza is a native of Clinton Mississippi. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining El Pueblo, she worked for private law firms in the Jackon, Mississippi area and in Pittsburgh, PA focusing on immigration work. In addition, she served as a Director and Divisional Director at Catholic Charities overseeing the immigration program and advocating for immigrant rights. She also worked as a legal support analyst at the ACLU addressing civil rights issues including immigration rights. Michael is accredited to practice as an immigration paralegal by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Michael Ann also serves on the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and she serves on the UMMC Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities Community Advisory Board.
Director of Community Outreach
Yolanda Soto originally from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, is the Director of Community Outreach for El Pueblo. She has served the Forest community for many years, everything from organizing a community soccer league to assisting with ESL classes. Yolanda worked with Mississippi Immigration Coalition and was the lead case/outreach worker instrumental in assisting families with food distribution and disbursement of humanitarian aid in response to workplace enforcement raids.
Case Worker – Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, IA
Carolina Bermudez, originally from Costa Rica, has 12 years of experience working with the Hispanic Community in the grander Scott County area. As a caseworker at El Pueblo, she is informative and helpful to those who need legal or personal help as they navigate living in the United States. She has a passion for serving her community and helping people who are going through difficult times which makes her well-suited for her position at El Pueblo. In her free time, Carolina loves to travel with her family.
Caseworker and Volunteer
Krishna Desai was born and raised in Ridgeland, Mississippi. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2020 where she studied Political Science and Economics. Krishna joined El Pueblo in the summer of 2020 as a volunteer, and soon she became a member of the Forest staff as a caseworker. Her passion for migrant issues and advocacy began in college, where she also minored in Spanish and International Studies.
She is now attending law school where she hopes to study immigration, women’s law, and international human rights and continue the work she started at El Pueblo.
Genesis Valdez is originally from the Dominican Republic. Lived in Forest, Ms for 15yrs. Graduated from Hinds Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Arts. She has medical experience. joined El Pueblo as the new case worker for the victim’s advocate to serve the immigrant community.
Maria Schrupp, originally from Minnesota, is a volunteer for El Pueblo. She is currently a graduate student at Mississippi State University in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures and her graduate research investigates the relationships between migration and climate change. Her work with immigrant rights began in 2019 when she spent a summer in Santiago, Chile volunteering to help Venezuelan immigrants and refugees with immigration and relocation processes.
Mary Townsend is a native of Pass Christian, Mississippi. She began volunteering with the immigrant community in 1998 in Central Mississippi. She established and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Morton, MS, arranged for an immigration attorney to provide low-cost immigration services at the local Catholic Center, organized parenting classes, accompanied people to the doctor, lawyer, court and other appointments as an interpreter and advocate. She also taught ESL classes at Trinity Mission Center of the United Methodist Church in Forest, MS, and at Tyson Foods in Carthage, MS, over a period of 8 years. She helped to establish the Immigration Clinic of Catholic Charities Jackson and was the immigration specialist there from 2002 to 2003. In that capacity, she was accredited to practice as an immigration paralegal by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) of the U. S. Department of Justice. She was a founding member of MIRA! (Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance) and served as an officer and member of the Board of Directors for several years.
Ms. Townsend returned to the Gulf Coast in July, 2006 to work for Hispanic/Latino Ministries of the United Methodist Church as a long-term recovery caseworker for Spanish-speaking victims of Katrina. She helped to found El Pueblo in 2007 and continues to work there providing immigration legal services.
Iveth Diaz is currently working as a caseworker for El Pueblo. She is originally from Mexico City and it was her own immigration to the United States that compelled her to begin work with El Pueblo. She desires to pass on the support and guidance that she once received to the immigrant community of Mississippi.
Yazmin Sanchez is originally from Chiapas Mexico.
She took different short-term courses and studied Public Relations, she has a diploma of excellence in French and 2 more diplomas for having participated in different projects to help in the community.
Yazmin has lived in the state of Mississippi for 2 years and has experience as a patient service.
After organizing textile workers in South Carolina and Georgia he became a member of the Mississippi Bar in 1982 and the North Carolina Bar in 1987. Thereafter he worked in Legal Services in both Mississippi and North Carolina, eventually becoming Mississippi Legal Service’s statewide director of litigation, a position he held until 2012. Subsequently, he worked for the Mississippi Center for Justice for 8 years as an Education Attorney.
Among various other activities Jeremy served on the Consumer Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Board, on the Governor’s Task Force on Child Support, as a monitor for LSC and as the author of a consumer advice column for the Sun Herald.
Jeremy retired from his position as staff attorney at El Pueblo in January, 2022, but has continued to work pro-bono on child custody/guardianship cases for immigration clients since then.
Sophie Melissa Woodruff
Sophie Melissa Woodruff is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Hampshire College on full scholarship, which imprinted on her early a deep value for social justice and respect for diversity. Her studies there led her to a dual Fulbright award to Germany and Turkey, before eventually bringing her back home to Tulane University where she graduate cum laude in 2014. As the child of second-generation immigrants, who made their home in New Orleans, Sophie’s passion continues to be providing affordable, compassionate immigration services to her hometown, the New Orleans community.
Ana Garcia Bisono
Community Health Worker
Ana originates from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her career launched when she began as a Certified Fitness Specialist, on the Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Ceiba, Puerto Rico in 1998. Thereafter she transferred out of Puerto Rico into Gulfport, Mississippi where she started on The NMCBC Naval Station Training Military personnel as a Fitness Specialist. After that, Ana started to expand her knowledge, taking Physical Therapy classes in Pennsylvania.
Ana relocated to Miami, FL where she worked as Fitness Supervisor at the Air Force base in Homestead, Fl, and excelled at Jackson South Hospital as Physical Therapy Technician.
Following that sought an EMT-Paramedic Diploma, advanced variety of Medical Terminology, Kinesiology classes, and various fitness certifications. Ultimately, she chose to settle back in Gulfport Ms.
Finance and Operations Support Specialist
Laurie DeVecca serves as El Pueblo’s Finance and Operation Support Specialist. She helps with bookkeeping, grants reporting, and grants compliance. She has a small farm and raises goats, pigs, and poultry in her spare time. She has 6 dogs and 4 cats and lives a life of happy chaos.
If you are interested, fill out the Volunteer Interest Form or call us for more info!