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William Pugliese – Staff Attorney

William Pugliese is a Staff Attorney for the ActionNYC program at African Service Committee. He represents clients in complex matters before USCIS and the Immigration Court. He also supervises the legal work done by the ActionNYC Community Navigators. He previously practiced immigration law with CUNY Citizenship Now! He also practiced land use law at the New York City Department of City Planning. William has an undergraduate degree in international relations, a Master’s in Urban Planning, and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. William speaks Spanish and French. 

Gabriel Guimaraes – Senior Attorney

Gabriel is a Senior Staff Attorney, who supervises the Legal and Supportive Services for Individuals and Families Living with HIV (LASSIF) and Benefits Counseling programs at African Services Committee (ASC). Through LASSIF he counsels clients and represents clients in Family and Housing Courts, he represents clients before federal, state, and local agencies adjudicating immigration and public benefits applications, in court and on appeal. He designs and delivers group and individual benefits education courses and works with housing and case management colleagues to assist clients in overcoming barriers to their engagement in care. Through the Benefits Counseling program he educates clients who rely on Social Security and other public benefits looking but seek to rise out of poverty either by transitioning back to the work force gradually, or simply increase their income without sacrificing benefits. In conjunction with the Advocacy and Communications departments he has advocated for and provided crucial assistance to the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Campaign to rescind the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Regulations, meant to impose new consequences and bars to legalization on non-citizens who because of poverty or disability are deemed likely to use public benefits. The focus of Gabriel’s work has been to assist clients seeking to legalize and maintain their pathway to U.S. Citizenship while maintaining their access to public benefits without consequences.

Gabriel joined African Services first as a Brooklyn Law School Post-Graduate Fellow, after which he joined the ASC legal staff. He immigrated from Brazil in the early 1980‘s to study orchestral conducting in New York. After an AIDS diagnosis at the height of the epidemic Gabriel divided his time between engagements at leading opera houses in Chicago, New York, and South America, and producing benefit performance through Opera Manhattan, an organization he co-founded to raise funds and awareness for local AIDS Research organizations examining off-label medication for HIV. Over seven seasons he produced 13 American Premieres to international critical acclaim, until the epidemic took both his co-founders and left him unable to continue performing. Opera Manhattan benefits led to FDA approval of a leading drug for HIV/TB co-infection. After relying on public benefits for 12 years, Gabriel returned to school and earned a J.D. with honors from Brooklyn Law School where he was an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Fellow. After an extended internship with the Immigrant Defense Project, he joined African Services Committee. 

Lucia della Paolera

Lucia began working with African Services Committee in 2014 as a Spanish-English legal translator. Since July 2019 she has been working with her own client docket as a Department of Justice Accredited Representative. Beyond ASC, della Paolera is an artist and translator, working across music, performance, film and literature. She is also a Grant Writer, Translator and Special Projects Director for immigrant arts organization ID Studio in the South Bronx. She has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania (2010).

Maura Heron

Maura Heron is Legal Program Manager at African Services Committee where she manages a team of attorneys who assist clients with a variety of civil matters, including immigration, housing, family law and public benefits. She graduated from Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the New York bar in 2016. Prior to law school she worked in the fields of domestic violence and international development.  In addition to her JD, she holds a Masters in Public Administration from Suffolk University and a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies from Lewis and Clark College.  Maura speaks Spanish and some French.