About Us

Please Note

Because OIRA staff members are working in the office and from at home, we are unable to guarantee that someone will be in the office if you drop in. For all inquiries, we recommend that you first call (206) 727-8515 or email oira@seattle.gov.

 

Disclaimer

PRIVACY ALERT: Any personal information that you send to us through electronic communications (email, text message, social media messenger) can be made available to the public.

ALERTA: Debido a las leyes locales, cualquier información personal que nos envíe a través de comunicaciones electrónicas (correo electrónico, mensaje de texto, mensajería en redes sociales) puede ponerse a disposición del público. Por favor considere llamarnos por telefono.

ALERT: Vì luật pháp địa phương, bất kỳ thông tin cá nhân nào bạn gửi cho chúng tôi thông qua liên lạc điện tử (email, tin nhắn văn bản, tin nhắn truyền thông xã hội) có thể được cung cấp cho công chúng. Hãy xem xét việc gọi  cho chúng tôi. Xin vui lòng  xem xét việc gọi điện cho chúng tôi.

警告:根據當地法律,您通過電子通信(電子郵件,短信,社交媒體信使)發送給我們的任何個人信息都可以向公眾開放。 請考慮打電話給我們。

경고: 현 지방법에 따라 전자통신 (이메일, 문자 메세지, 소셜 미디어 메신저)을 통해 당사에 전송한 개인 정보는 공개될수 있습니다.  그러므로 직접 전화 통화 하는 방법도 고려해보십시요.

DIGNIIN: sharciga awgiis, wixii macluumaad shakhsi ah oo aad noogu soo dirto annaga oo adeegsanaya isgaarsiinta elektiroonigga ah (emayl, farriin qoraal ah, farriinta warbaahinta bulshada) ayaa loo heli karaa dadweynaha. Fadlan ka fikir inaad na soo wacdid.

ማስጠንቀቂያ: በአከባቢ ህጎች ምክንያት በኤሌክትሮኒክ ግንኙነቶች (ኢሜል ፣ የጽሑፍ መልእክት ፣ በማኅበራዊ ሚዲያ መልእክተኛ) በኩል ለእኛ የላኩልን ማንኛውም የግል መረጃ ለሕዝብ መቅረብ ይችላል ፡፡ እባክዎ መደወልዎን ያስቡበት።

 

Mission

The mission of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is to improve the lives of Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities by engaging them in decisions about the City of Seattle’s future and improving the City’s programs and services to meet the needs of all constituents.

Seattle is a Welcoming City. We value inclusion and equity. City employees do not ask about citizenship status and serve all residents regardless of immigration status.

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs was established in 2012 by Seattle Ordinance 123822 with the recognition of the importance and need for a stronger relationship and increased accountability between the City of Seattle government and immigrant and refugee communities.

 

Staff

Click on a name to jump to their bio.

Alessandra (Alex) Roque
Christina Guros
Hamdi Mohamed
Joaquin Uy
Katherine M.L. Cortes
Khalid Mohamed
Linh Huynh (Linh Huỳnh)
Luanda Hassan Arai
Oksana Bilobran (Оксана Білобран)
Peggy Liao (廖思穎)
Rodha Sheikh
Shilpa Salgar

 

Alessandra (Alex) Roque
External Affairs Intern

Headshot of Alex (Alessandra) Roque, External Affairs InternAlex was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and immigrated to Seattle in 2019. She received her associate degree from Seattle Central College in 2022 and is now working toward a B.A. in Law, Societies, and Justice at the University of Washington. As the External Affairs Intern, Alex supports OIRA’s Ethnic Media Program, outreach and engagement programs, and research efforts. She also provides general administrative and project support as needed. Before joining OIRA, she served as a core youth leader at immigrant justice organization OneAmerica. There her work focused on the 2021 Language Access Campaign, where she co-led a research committee whose work was essential to the passing of HB1153, which expanded language access in K-12 schools in Washington State. Alex was previously an intern at the Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray, where she provided constituent services, supported grant work, and conducted research for other staff members.

Her life and work experiences have guided her passion for improving the day-to-day experiences of immigrant and refugee communities and for building genuine, intentional relationships with residents. In her free time, Alex likes to read, watch anime, and try out new restaurants and coffee shops. She also considers herself a “baby audiophile” and frequently tests audio equipment with her loved ones.

 

Christina Guros
Citizenship Program and Policy Specialist

Headshot of Christina Guros, Citizenship Program and Policy SpecialistChristina was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and has spent time living in California and New York. Christina heads the New Citizen Campaign, providing outreach, education, and services, such as large-scale citizenship application assistance workshops, to build a network of stakeholders working to increase the number of Seattle residents who choose to naturalize. She began working in immigration during college by leading service trips to the U.S.-Mexico border. Before OIRA, Christina worked in immigrant and refugee integration and legal services in New York City, at the Legal Aid Society as a BIA-accredited representative and at International Rescue Committee doing national program management. She most recently worked at Amazon in the company’s tuition assistance program. Christina speaks Spanish and enjoys running, salsa dancing, and exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

 

Hamdi Mohamed
Director

Headshot of Hamdi Mohamed, DirectorHamdi Mohamed is a civil servant with more than a decade of experience serving immigrant and refugee communities. Hamdi most recently served as Policy Advisor to King County, where she managed initiatives directing funds and investments in small businesses, community organizations, and COVID-19 responses. Before working for King County, she served as the Deputy District Director for U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Hamdi has also worked for CARE International and the Refugee Women Alliance (ReWA) in roles dedicated to fighting poverty and empowering immigrants.

Hamdi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Societies, and Justice and a Master’s Degree in Policy Studies, bothfrom the University of Washington. She has also earned a Global Business Certificate from Harvard Business School. In 2021, Hamdi won a historic race, becoming the first Black woman elected to the Port of Seattle Commission and the first Somali woman elected in office in Washington state.

 

Joaquin Uy
External Affairs Manager and Policy Advisor

Headshot of Joaquin Uy, External Affairs Manager and Policy AdvisorBorn in Manila, Philippines, Joaquin Uy immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio in 1981 and has called Seattle home for over 24 years. As the External Affairs Manager and Policy Advisor, he works across departments to help staff integrate effective immigrant- and refugee-focused strategies into communications, outreach, and engagement workplans. His position in the City also includes advocating for immigrant communities regarding policy decisions and long-term planning. He has spent a combined 22 years in community engagement, communications, and fundraising/development, which includes serving as the News and Public Affairs Director at Community Radio KBCS 91.3 FM. As a lifelong community organizer and advocate, he is proud to be one of the founding members of the first overseas chapter of the Filipino American youth network Anakbayan Seattle. You can usually find Joaquin giving an informal tour in Seattle's Chinatown-International District or singing at a local karaoke spot or kayaking through a local waterway.

 

Katherine M.L. Cortes
Finance and Operations Manager

Headshot of Katherine Cortes, Finance and Operations ManagerKatherine M.L. Cortes was born in Tokyo to an American Foreign Service officer father and Vietnamese-born mother and grew up in France, Malaysia, Japan, and the Washington, D.C. area. Her father’s family traces its roots to England, Ireland, and the founder of Rhode Island (!), while her mother’s family largely resettled in California and Colorado after the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam War in 1975. Katherine comes to OIRA from King County, where she served as a senior analyst for the King County Council and previously in the King County Executive budget office. She has also worked locally in homelessness and housing policy. Prior to moving to Seattle in 2006, Katherine worked on criminal justice policy (including prisoner re-entry and mental health system overlaps) for the Council of State Governments in New York City, where she became an avid street hockey player. Katherine lives in North Seattle with her son Julian.

 

Khalid Mohamed
Language Service Coordinator

Headshot of Khalid Mohamed, Language Service CoordinatorKhalid Mohamed was born in Yemen and as a junior high school student, arrived to the United States as a refugee to start his new life with his family in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He's a lifelong community advocate passionate about linguistics and fluently speaks three languages: English, Somali, and Arabic. His career has been rooted in working with immigrant families to achieve language justice and equity in education and health. Khalid graduated from Hamline University in Minnesota with a degree in political science and nonprofit management. He has worked for the City of Minneapolis, the Office of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and several Minnesota nonprofit organizations. Khalid Mohamed moved to Seattle in 2019 and previously worked for Summit Public Schools: Atlas as an operational assistant. These days, Khalid and his wife call West Seattle home, and he enjoys spending time in the outdoors and with his family. 

 

Linh Huynh (Linh Huỳnh)
Administrative Assistant

Headshot of Linh Huynh, Administrative AssistantLinh Huynh came to Seattle with her family as a Vietnam War refugee in September of 1979. Linh supports OIRA staff in ensuring the office lives up to its mission of improving the lives of Seattle's immigrants and refugees. Prior to joining OIRA, Linh worked for Seattle City Council for nearly 10 years as an Administrative Specialist. She has experience helping immigrant and refugee families on issues of domestic violence, orphans, and young people. In Linh's free time, she and her mom go grocery shopping or just hang out at an eatery and cherish the time they have with each other. She is also a proud mom of two sons.

 

Luanda Hassan Arai
Community Outreach and Program Specialist

Headshot of Luanda Hassan Arai, Community Outreach and Program SpecialistLuanda Hassan Arai was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, spent part of her childhood in London, and in 1997 moved to the Seattle area as a teenager. She finished high school in South King County and attended the University of Washington, the first in her family to graduate from college. She comes from a mixed-status family and has a lot of personal experience navigating the U.S. immigration system, including being undocumented, adjusting her status to legal permanent residency, and becoming a U.S. citizen. Luanda's career spans the hospitality industry (including growing up working in her family's restaurants), housing, homelessness, workforce development, social enterprise, community and civic engagement, tech, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In her free time, Luanda enjoys exploring cities, staying on top of the local dining scene, seeing live music, being an aunty, and bird watching. She is also proud to have served on the board of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for six years.

 

Oksana Bilobran (Оксана Білобран)
Legal Defense Program and Policy Specialist

Headshot of Oksana Bilobran, Legal Defense Program and Policy SpecialistOksana was born and raised in Ukraine. After receiving her first law degree there, she worked in the area of international environmental law focused on climate change, public participation, and access to environmental information and justice. Oksana moved to the U.S. in 2004, then graduated from the University of Washington School of Law and started practicing immigration law in 2007. Prior to joining OIRA, Oksana has worked at three local nonprofit organizations, where she oversaw legal immigration programs and provided direct representation for people seeking to become U.S. citizens, to adjust status, to obtain DACA status, or to file family-based petitions. Oksana played a leadership role in the immigrant rights community with a wide scope of legal work, including organizing Know Your Rights workshops, facilitating immigration law clinics, and providing consultations to asylum seekers at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. During Oksana's free time, she is raising three children with her husband and enjoys traveling, hiking, visual and performance arts, and poetry.

 

Peggy Liao (廖思穎)
Language Access Program and Policy Specialist

Headshot of Peggy Liao, Language Access Program and Policy SpecialistPeggy grew up in Taiwan and immigrated to the U.S. in 2014 and has lived both in Baltimore and Seattle. She holds a B.A. in business administration and an M.A. in social design. Before coming to the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, she worked for an international shoe company, a foundation for historic preservation, a social service organization, and a communications agency. As a Language Access Program and Policy Specialist, she is committed to supporting every City department in their provision of linguistically-appropriate and culturally-relevant information for all Seattle residents. When it’s sunny out, she enjoys biking around Lake Washington with her husband, Jonathan. When it isn’t, she enjoys a glass of good cider and cuddling with her two cats, Mante and Miel.

 

Rodha Sheikh
Contract and Policy Development Manager

Headshot of Rodha Sheikh, Contracts and Policy Development ManagerRodha Sheikh was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates to Somali American parents. During high school, she moved to the United States where she attended Highline High School in Burien, Washington. Rodha first joined the City of Seattle as a fiscal and policy analyst at the City Budget Office, where she managed the budgets of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Office of Arts and Culture, and Seattle Center. Prior to that, Rodha worked at a think tank in Washington, D.C. where she analyzed federal Medicare, social security, and criminal legal policies. She has spent the last six years focusing on equity and access in various spaces. Rodha has led an outreach course at the University of Washington that made STEM fields more accessible to a local underfunded school. She also worked with the Highline School District in developing a Somali dual language curriculum. Rodha holds a degree in law, societies, and justice from the University of Washington. And in her free time, she rates boba spots across the city in an effort to find the best boba in town.

 

Shilpa Salgar
Special Projects and Policy Specialist

Headshot of Shilpa Salgar, Special Projects and Policy SpecialistShilpa Salgar is a second-generation immigrant born to immigrant parents who arrived from India. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in psychology and law, societies and justice. As the Special Projects and Policy Specialist, Shilpa helps shape policy surrounding significant City projects and mayoral priorities. Her position in the City also includes assisting with outreach projects supporting immigrant and refugee communities. Before joining OIRA, Shilpa served as the Immigration Caseworker for U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. In this role, she collaborated with federal, state, and local departments and leaders to effectively implement initiatives and create solutions for immigrant and refugee populations. As the immigration caseworker, Shilpa helped numerous constituents effectively navigate their concerns with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State and helped constituents impacted by the Afghanistan and Ukraine crises. Shilpa has also served as a campaign manager for a nationally recognized race. She has served in positions where she has overseen the hiring and training of employees, managed budgets, and served as a community liaison.

 

Banner photo credit: Alabastro Photography.