Members of the US Board of Directors
Vida Digna is supported by a Board of Directors in the United States, dedicated to supporting the important efforts of Vida Digna in Guatemala and to enhancing collaborations with the Guatemalan community in the United States.
Randi Mandelbaum is Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law and Annamay Sheppard Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. At Rutgers, she is the founding director of the Rutgers Child Advocacy Clinic, where she designed and developed this unique clinical program aimed at comprehensively addressing the needs of low-income children and their families.
Randi began her legal career as a staff attorney at the Child Advocacy Unit of the Legal Aid Bureau in Baltimore, representing children in matters involving child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, custody, visitation, public benefits, special education, and foster care placement. She then went to the Georgetown University Law Center where she co-founded a clinical program addressing the legal needs of families living in poverty. Prior to coming to Rutgers, she was an associate clinical professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she taught in the Civil Justice Clinic, Hastings’ clinical program. Randi earned a Bachelor of Science from Brandeis University, a juris doctor from American University, Washington College of Law, and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.
Joanne Gottesman is Clinical Professor of Law and Chair for Clinical Programs at Rutgers University, where she directs the Immigrant Justice Clinic, a student staffed law office that engages in direct representation, community education, and advocacy on matters at the intersection between immigration law and state law.
Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2002, Professor Gottesman worked as a Kirkland & Ellis Public Service Fellow in the Immigration Unit of the Legal Aid Society of New York. For her fellowship project, Professor Gottesman provided information and representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings as a result of Youthful Offender adjudications or first offenses, and to immigrant children in foster care. After her fellowship, she remained at the Legal Aid Society, practicing in the housing and immigration law fields. She later served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Edmund V. Ludwig in Philadelphia. Joanne received a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a juris doctor from Columbia Law School, where she was a James Kent Scholar. Before attending law school, Joanne spent three years working and studying in China.
Lauren Heidbrink is an anthropologist and assistant professor in human development at California State University, Long Beach. She has worked with the Guatemalan community since the late 1990’s at a torture treatment center in Chicago and in community-health in Momosetango.
She published an ethnography on unaccompanied child migration and detention entitled Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State: Care and Contested Interests (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). Her second book Migranthood: Youth in a new era of deportation (Stanford University Press 2020) examines the migration and deportation of indigenous youth to Guatemala. She is co-founder and editor of Youth Circulations, a site tracing the real and imagined circulations of global youth. She is a recent recipient of an American Council of Learned Society fellowship and the Fulbright Schuman 70th Anniversary Scholar Award to conduct comparative research on child migration in Greece, Italy, Belgium, and UK. Lauren received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia-Charlottesville, a joint Masters of Arts and Sciences in International Public Service Management from DePaul University, and a Master of Arts and a doctorate in anthropology from Johns Hopkins University.
Wendy Julissa Lum was born in Guatemala, raised in the DC Metropolitan area, and currently resides in the state of Hawai'i with her husband and son. She maintains close family ties in Guatemala and is a strong advocate for human, immigrant, and refugee rights. She is honored to serve as a Board Member contributing any experience and perspective she can offer as a social worker, educator, and immigrant. .
Currently, she is a faculty member and Field Education Coordinator with the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UH Mānoa).
Her past social work experience includes social service delivery, program management and development and legislative advocacy. Wendy earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mary Washington, a Master of Social Work from George Mason University, and is pursuing a Masters of Education at UH Mānoa.illo.
Adriana López is the Program Manager at the Tahirih Justice Center, where she oversees the delivery of psychosocial services to immigrant women and girls who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and female genital mutilation in the Washington, D.C. area.
Prior to joining Tahirih, Ms. López served at the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, the New York State Department of Health. Ms. López also served as a Project Manager at Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) in Washington, D.C., where she worked with unaccompanied children migrating to the U.S., provided technical assistance to organizations on reintegration programming, and oversaw delivery of social services to unaccompanied children facing deportation to Guatemala. Ms. López earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Saint Mary’s College, a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and an Master of Science in Gender, Development and Globalization from the London School of Economics and Political Science.