For the Promotion of Social Justice and Legal Empowerment of the Immigrant Community

Centro de Apoyo a la Communidad Inmigrante


Promote social change, development, and Immigrant Rights through legal empowerment activities and programs.


1. Engage the immigrant community of North Carolina in the implementation of the programs aimed to achieve the organization's mission through community organization and leadership activities.

2. Implement educational programs aimed to instruct the immigrant community in knowing their rights and the process of exercising these rights;  prepare the immigrant community to confront abusive actions and to protect their rights; and encourage immigrants to formulate their own development initiatives. 

3. Provide legal services at low cost and pro-bono according to the immigrants' needs. The main goal of service is to fill the gap between immigrant rights and the ability of the immigrant community to exercise these rights effectively. 

 4. Build and strengthen relationships with governmental agencies, private sector, media, faith-based and civil society organizations.

Board of Directors


Estefania Cavallo,  President

I'm from South America, Uruguay. I came to this country in 2004 graduated in Athens High School, in Raleigh North Carolina. I'm a very perseverant and positive person who is always willing to help others and specially in our Latino community. I know that we are here in this country for an important reason and that is to grow and have a better future. For some of us it has been really difficult to be here and we keep on pushing but all that matters is that we never give up and we will keep fighting for our dreams.


Johanna Kelley, Esq., Vice-President

Johanna was born in Colombia and came to the United States in 2005. She studied law in Colombia and graduated in 2001. Johanna is a dreamer and a very passionate woman who believes in empowering vulnerable communities through education and social justice. In Colombia, she represented and supported victims of the internal conflict. In the United States (US), she has served the immigrant community for about 10 years, and the US government for about 16 months. In the US, Johanna went to Duke University and graduated from the Sanford School of Public Policy, MIDP'12, and Duke Law School, LL.M'13. She has a license to practice law from the State of New York.  Johanna is married to an U.S. Army Officer and they have two children together. She is living in Virginia where she has a law firm and is practicing only immigration and international law. Johanna was the founder of DEAR and former Executive Director from November 2013 to July 2016. 

Our Team:


We are dedicated to serve the immigrant community in North Carolina. Our team believes that education is the key to development and social change, and that legal empowerment promotes and protects our rights.  We have a combined thirty years of experience working with the under-served population and serving the community.

Since December 2017, DEAR is being managed by the board, the attorney and the office manager. The organization is taking time to make a determination about hiring a new Executive Director and the future of the agency.


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Steve Monks, Esq

Director of the Legal Program and Senior Staff Attorney

Steve received a BBA, Marketing,  from University of Houston in 1984, and his JD from South Texas College of Law in 1987. He has license to practice law in Texas and in North Carolina. Steve is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, American Association of Immigration Lawyers (AILA), Wake County Bar Association and the 10th District Bar. 

Steve enjoys working with the immigrant community in North Carolina, and he was very excited to have the opportunity to work with DEAR protecting immigrant rights.

He has been at DEAR since February of 2017. Currently, he is part of the management team. 



Elizabeth Arias

Raleigh Office Manager.
I am from Colombia, South America. I am an educator by trade as I have spent most of my career as an elementary and middle school teacher. Upon my arrival to the United States, I wanted to take a more active role in helping the immigrant community. As the office manager, I manage all appointments, provide administrative assistance, and manage supplies. I take an active role in promoting education to our community members who visit the foundation.

Flavio Pelaez

Paralegal -  
Flavio has been working for DEAR since August 2017.

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Hernando Cabeza

Volunteer -  
Hernando is from Colombia, South America. He is a businessman and salesman by trade as this constituted most of his experience in Colombia. Hernando is an extrovert and he loves interacting with people.

He was an employee from November 2013 to December 2017. He used to work at the Foundation's office in Burlington. He managed all appointments, provided administrative assistance and information to the community.

Due to DEAR's financial difficulties, Hernando left the agency as an employee in December 2017, but he decided to stay as a part-time volunteer. During his free time, Hernando assists DEAR's personal by helping to answer the phones, providing general information to the community and performing some administrative duties.