Meet Our Staff

Shalaina Abioye - Executive Director - (she/her/hers)

A native of the southern sector of Dallas, Shalaina Abioye has worked in the humanitarian sector for over 15 years. She has extensive leadership, management and direct service experience. Shalaina was introduced to this sector as a volunteer, after spending six years in the semiconductor industry. The first refugee family she met back in 2007, drew her into this work where her passion grew in increasing protection, impact and reach to the immigrant community, as well as in sharing their stories.

Through her various leadership positions at three nonprofits, a research consulting firm, and serving as a graduate faculty member for 8 years, Shalaina brings extensive strategic planning, change management, and operations experience to the organization. She holds a BBA, a Master of Arts in Diplomacy with a focus on International Peace & Conflict Management, and has completed her coursework for a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership/Development.

When Shalaina is away from work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son and loves to travel.

Margarita Alarcón - Legal Assistant - (she/her/ella)

Born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, Margarita earned her law degree from Universidad de las Americas. She recently relocated to Texas with her family and brought with her a strong desire to help immigrant communities and empower them to reach their full potential. Prior to HRI, Margarita practiced intellectual

Property Law in Quito, Ecuador and provided pro bono assistance to vulnerable local communities.

Outside of HRI she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, traveling and writing. She is an avid arts and crafts enthusiast.

Evelina M. René-Bute - Staff Attorney - (she, her)

Evelina is proud to be from the Caribbean and calls Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Thomas home. She recently relocated to Texas with her husband, twin boys, and their cat, Diego, after starting her career in Brooklyn, NY. Committed to a life of public service, she is excited to join the HRI team. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (with minors in Sociology and Criminal Justice) from Seton Hall University and obtained her JD from The George Washington University Law School.

Evelina enjoys traveling, music, trying out new foods and spending time with her loved ones.

Veronica Gonzalez – Social Services Director - (she, her, ella)

Veronica is a Dallas native. She earned her bachelor’s in Social Work and minor in Spanish from Texas State University. From a young age, she knew that her heart belonged to helping others, leading her to dedicate her career to the social services sector. In her free time, Veronica enjoys spending time with friends and family, chasing her dogs, cooking, and watching reality tv.

Zeyla Gonzalez – DOJ Accredited Representative - (she, her, ella)

Zeyla, a Texas native, is a graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton where she studied International Studies and Spanish. Before joining the team in 2013, Zeyla was a committed HRI volunteer and translator. When she’s not assisting HRI’s lawyers and clients, Zeyla can be found immersed in the arts–having trained in ballet and modern dance for 15 years.

Naschaly González Montalvo – Case Management Coordinator & Legal Assistant - (she, her)

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Naschaly attended the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology. In 2019, Naschaly moved to Texas to obtain her Master of Science in Criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas. She’s passionate about advocating for women’s rights and the rights of those who have been wrongfully convicted. Outside of HRI, Naschaly is passionate about animal rescue, and enjoys weightlifting and any activity that requires being physically active.

Richard Lucero - Legal Services Director - (he/him)

Richard is a native of Southern California who recently moved to Dallas, Texas. He graduated from the University of California at Irvine with degrees in economics and political science. He graduated from the Whittier College of Law. For the past 20 years he has practiced immigration law representing immigrants in all aspects of immigration law. He has successfully argued numerous immigration cases before the Federal Court.  Richard has also worked for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles where he supervised the deportation defense department and where he was interviewed on numerous occasions by the media on various immigration issues. For the past twenty years, through community outreach, he has been an informative voice for the immigrant community on immigration issues.

Karla Moreno - Crime Victims Program Case Manager - (she, her)

Karla was born in Mexico and raised in Texas. She returned to Mexico to attend Universidad de Monterrey, majoring in International Marketing, as a way to return to her roots. Karla is a Certified Interpreter for the past 8 years. Passionate about serving the underserved, especially those who have experienced abuse, led Karla to turn her career path towards social services. She loves spending her free time with her husband, their 3 children and 5 dogs.

Christian Piatt - Senior Director of Development - (he/him)

Christian Piatt joins the HRI team with a background in business, nonprofit, and as an author and public speaker. Most recently, Christian has acted as the Founder and Owner/Operator for Brew Drinkery & Bistro (a craft beer taproom, restaurant and event space), as well as Brew Aleworks (a craft microbrewery) over the past four-plus years. Christian served under contract as a Grant Writer for Merchant McIntyre & Associates for two years and, prior to that, worked as the Director of Development and Community Relations for Samaritan House in Ft. Worth. He served as Development and Communications Director at Catholic Charities (Pueblo, CO), Mountain Park Environmental Center (Beulah, CO) and as Director of Volunteer Services at AIDS Interfaith Network (Ft. Worth, TX).


In addition to his nonprofit work, Christian was the Owner/Operator of Square Core Media, an audio production company, and Crowdscribed, a crowdfunding-driven publishing company. He is the author of thirteen books and has been a contributing writer to several publications and websites, including TIME, Huffington Post, Sojourners and Red-Letter Christians, among others. He was a weekly columnist for the Pueblo Chieftain Newspaper for three years, and was a Managing Editor and contributor to PULP, a free weekly independent tabloid in southern Colorado.

Antonio Reyes – Staff Attorney - (he, him)

Antonio is a Texas native and attended the University of Texas at Arlington earning his bachelor’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice. He then worked in Dallas County, which pushed him towards law in order to help people. He attended and graduated from the University of Massachusetts School of Law. When not working, he likes to spend time with his dog and friends, enjoying some live music, or just exploring the city.

Liz Ternes - Director of Volunteer Management and Donor Engagement - (they, them, ella)

Liz was raised in Oklahoma City where they grew up on a steady diet of Woody Guthrie and red dirt. They received their undergraduate degree in Political Science from Hollins University and their Master’s in Theological Studies from Phillips Theological Seminary. Before joining HRI, Liz worked to support refugees, people facing food insecurity, and the LGBTQAI2S+ community. Outside of the office, Liz likes to hit the trail for a hike whenever possible, never saying no to a good road trip.

Stephanie Vazquez - Office Coordinator - (she, her)

Stephanie was raised in Dallas, Texas, and earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in Spanish Interpretation and Translation, with a minor in Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. Through her legal interpreting courses, she had the opportunity to connect and help at HRI, reinforcing her motivation to be an advocate as a way to give back to the undocumented community.

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