Bettina Mok, M.A., Executive Director comes to The Legal Clinic with over 20 years of non-profit management work experience, most recently as a development consultant for other non-profit organizations in Honolulu and the Bay Area. The daughter of two first-generation immigrant parents (Chinese and German), Bettina was born in Bangkok, Thailand and came to the US at the age of six. She has worked for youth-serving organizations, workforce development initiatives, environmental conservation groups, cross-cultural training initiatives, foundations, and international exchange programs. She is inspired by the power of collective action in the pursuit of justice for all.
Esther S. Yoo, Esq., Senior Staff Attorney is a dedicated, long-time advocate for immigrants. Prior to her work at TLC, she was Director of the Academic Success Program at the University of Maine School of Law and an adjunct professor of legal methods and legal writing. Before joining the law school, she was a litigator in private practice, where she represented pro bono asylum clients who had been persecuted for various reasons, including their political opinion, race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, and membership in a particular social group. She also assisted pro bono clients in preparing their applications for naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Early in her career, Esther served as a law clerk for the Honorable Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Shortly before and during the clerkship, Judge Gee decided two landmark cases involving the rights of immigrant detainees: Franco-Gonzales v. Holder, which recognized a right to legal representation for mentally incompetent immigrant detainees, and Flores v. Johnson, which enforced a consent decree outlining the standards for the treatment of minors in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The experience of clerking for Judge Gee confirmed Esther’s interest in immigration law and commitment to immigrant rights. She is now excited to help meet the legal needs of Hawaii’s immigrant community. Esther has served in other public interest roles, including developing after-school programming and conducting educational outreach in underserved communities in Los Angeles for the University of California, fundraising and communications for the education advocacy and social work programs of the Massachusetts juvenile public defender’s office, and advocating for benefits on behalf of transition-age foster youth in Los Angeles. Esther received her A.B. from Harvard University. She attended UCLA School of Law, where she was an editor of the UCLA Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif.
Kara Teng, Esq., Staff Attorney received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (’12), and her law degree from William S. Richardson School of Law (’17), where she was Technical Editor for the University of Hawai ‘i Law Review, President of Lawyers Against Sexual Violence, Vice President of Advocates for Public Interest Law, a member of the Filipino Law Student Association, and received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for the highest grades in Feminist Legal Theory and Civil Rights. She also externed at Hawai‘i Immigrant Justice Center, the Honolulu Immigration Court, and was a research assistant for Professor Mari Matsuda. As part of Professor Matsuda’s Organizing for Social Change class, Kara helped re-establish the law school’s Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic. Prior to joining TLC, she worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Rhonda I. L. Loo of the Second Circuit Court of the Hawai‘i State Judiciary, and as an Attorney Advisor for the San Francisco Immigration Court. She has advised immigration judges on complex matters involving asylum, cancellation of removal, waivers of inadmissibility, and adjustment of status. As a passionate defender of immigrants’ rights, she is thrilled to bring her experience in immigration law to TLC.
Lia Nakao, Legal Assistant (left) and Brissa Romero, Program Coordinator (right) joined the TLC team in 2020
Lia Nakao, Legal Assistant was thrilled to start her career in the legal field at The Legal Clinic. Before working at TLC, she graduated with a B.A. in History from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and worked as a Group Service Specialist for the Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association (HMSA) for four years. While Lia was working at HMSA, she completed the Legal Education Certificate Program at Kapiolani Community College where she received a Certificate of Achievement – Paralegal. Lia was born in Los Angeles, California, and was raised in Hawaiʻi. Like many people, Lia has been surrounded by immigration stories. Her mother’s side of the family emigrated to the United States from the Philippines her father’s side emigrated from Japan. She feels privileged to work for an organization that strives to provide others with the same opportunities she has had all her life.
Brissa Flores, Program Coordinator first joined The Legal Clinic –originally as a volunteer–in 2019. Brissa is currently enrolled at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, with the intention of becoming an immigration attorney. Her drive to serve others comes from her own experiences as an immigrant, having emigrated to the U.S. with her family at the young age of 5. When filing her initial immigration paperwork, she experienced firsthand the financial and mental toll that legal processes can have on low income, non-English fluent, immigrant families. Now at The Legal Clinic she leads outreach efforts to the immigrant community, promoting TLC’s services and leading a naturalization initiative. She guides and serves families like her own and is eager to help immigrant families in a greater capacity in the future. She is honored and proud to work at an organization that understands the needs of immigrant families and seeks to alleviate their struggles through affordable legal services and advocacy.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Corey Park, JD (President)
Lowell Chun-Hoon, Esq (Vice President)
King Nakamura & Chun-Hoon
Kelley D. Settles (Treasurer)
Certified Non-Profit Accountant
Roman Leverenz (Secretary)
Retired Social Worker
Amy Agbayani, PhD
Emeritus Vice Chancellor for Student Diversity
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Shanty Asher, JD
City & County of Honolulu
Dr. Ismail Elshikh
Muslim Association of Hawai‘i
Clare Hanusz, Esq.
Immigration Attorney / Founder
Susan A. Li, JD
Agnes Malate, PhD
Director of Health Careers Opportunity Program
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Government Relations Director Laborers’ International Union of North America – Local 368
Liza Ryan Gill, MA Immigrant Rights Advocate & Co-Chair , Hawaiʻi Coalition for Immigrant Rights
Rev. Amy Wake
Trinity United Methodist Church
Susan Chong Wong, JD
Rev. Thomas Choi, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Honolulu
John Robert Egan, Esq. Immigration Attorney; Director of the Refugee & Immigration Law Clinic-Univ. of Hawai’i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law