Board of Directors

Darwin Hamilton's picture
Darwin Hamilton

Darwin is a 5th generation Austinite and graduate of LBJ High School. He was recently featured in the 2015 #IAMBLACKAUSTIN interactive campaign by the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Darwin’s great great grandfather, Thomas Dedrick, was a former slave and freeman who was among the first to settle in East Austin after Emancipation where he built the historic Dedrick-Hamilton house on 11th St. The House is the site of the African American Heritage & Cultural Center and home to the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Darwin’s first legal battle was in representing his family and property rights in an eminent domain lawsuit filed by the City of Austin.

He works to shift the attitudes of society and those who work within the criminal justice system by strategically telling his story and example of success. Since 2012, Darwin has actively been engaged in criminal justice reform, education and re­entry advocacy. He currently serves on the executive committee of the Austin/Travis County Re-entry Roundtable and as co-chair the Re-entry Advocacy Project.

Barbara Hines's picture
Barbara Hines

Barbara Hines is a former clinical professor and founder of the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic. She directed and co-directed the immigration clinic from 1999 to 2014.  She is an active member of the RAICES/CARA Karnes Pro Bono Project that provides legal services to and advocacy around the detention of mothers and children at the Karnes Detention Center.  She has litigated many issues relating to the constitutional and statutory rights of immigrants in federal and immigration courts including the lawsuit leading to the closure of the Hutto immigrant family detention center.

Hope Mustakim's picture
Hope Mustakim
Governance Chair

Hope is a recent graduate of the Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, where she earned a Master's of Social Work degree with a concentration in Community Practice. She is the Executive Director and Lead Organizer of the Waco Immigrants Alliance. Since March 2011, Hope Mustakim has been a member and co-leader of the community-led advocacy group, when her husband was unexpectedly detained and nearly deported. Through Hope’s relentless grassroots organizing, her husband's case was dropped and he returned home after 10 months of detention in a for-profit detention facility. Through this experience, Hope was thrown head-first into the world of immigration and criminal justice policy, and has since been an active members of Grassroots Leadership, Detention Watch Network, and other coalitions and organizations. 

While learning the detailed stories of hundreds of fellow immigrants along their journey, (and the hundreds of thousands of families devastated each year), a passion was born in Hope for community organizing, specifically around immigration and criminal criminal justice reform. Hope is a passionate voice and activist for justice and reform in the Heart of Texas region while also filling the role of doting parent of her and Nazry's two young (human) children and one fur child. In her free time, Hope enjoys dancing, reading, hosting friends, and frequenting the parks and river front spots in their "hometown" of Waco, TX. Hope was honored to join the Grassroots Leadership Board in mid 2016, and she currently serves as the Governance Committee Chair. 

Gislaine Williams's picture
Gislaine Williams
Finance Committee chair

Gislaine leads the administrative support team for the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. She previously worked as a program manager for a non-profit organization serving international refugees in Houston, TX. Before that, she served as a state-wide field organizer for the ACLU of Texas criminal justice and youth rights campaigns.She became involved in the issue of for-profit detention as a student organizer at Rice University and the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. A native of Honduras, Gislaine grew up in Houston and has participated in a number of grassroots campaigns related to immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, and death penalty abolition.

Gabriela Benitez's picture
Gabriela Benitez

Gaby was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated with her family to Memphis at age 6. Living most of her life as an undocumented student and with her family currently facing the deportation of her father, Gaby has a strong commitment to immigrant community organizing. Gaby was a co-founder for Youth for Youth, an undocumented immigrant youth group in the Memphis area, and served the West Tennessee Organizer for the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).  She currently serves as the Domestic Worker Program Coordinator for Latino Union of Chicago and is a member of Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) a project of Undocumented Illinois that works on stopping deportations of individuals in the state.  She is a graduate of the University of Memphis. 

Topeka Sam's picture
Topeka Sam

Topeka Sam is the founder of The Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM) whose mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women and girls transition back into society through education, empowerment and spiritual development. Topeka is also a member of The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls also known as “The Council.” She is pursuing her Certificate in Christian Ministry at New York Theological Seminary, is a Beyond the Bars 2016 Fellow and a Justice­In­Education Scholar at Columbia University.

While in federal prison, Topeka began to develop and envision the concept for the organization. She established the program only a few short months after her release in May of 2015 with the help of The Eleanor Moody­Shepherd Resource Center for Women in Ministry and has gained considerable awareness for the organization. Topeka has participated in several panel discussions including #FreeHer Justice Advocacy Conference, which was held at Harvard University in Aug. 2015. As organizer of the Real Women Real Voices Symposium, she continues to take the conference nationally to bring awareness around advancement in policy for women in incarceration.

Zenén Pérez's picture
Zenén Jaimes Pérez

Zenén Jaimes Pérez is the Communications Director with the Texas Civil Rights Project. A native Austinite, Zenén became heavily involved in social justice movements through his personal experience growing up in a mixed-status immigrant family and seeing firsthand the effects of the private prison system. Previously, he worked on advocacy and policy with United We Dream, the Center for American Progress, and Advocates for Youth. Always passionate about demystifying policies and laws for his community, Zenén is a first-generation college graduate from Georgetown University.

Kevin Foster's picture
Kevin Foster

Dr. Kevin Michael Foster is a University of Texas at Austin professor with appointments in Black Studies, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration and Anthropology. Through ICUSP, the Institute for Community, University and School Partnerships, which he founded in 2006, Kevin directs student programs, and coordinates professional development activities for schools and community. He is the Executive Producer of BlackademicsTV, an Emmy-nominated television program. Dr. Foster has authored dozens of publications. Dr. Foster lives in Austin Texas and Washington D.C. and has two teenage children, Marlee and Malcolm.