Sofia Casini brings to this volunteer service over 15 years professional experience working with immigrants, refugees, and victims of trafficking. She also brings deeply personal experience, with her own father suffering detention and deportation 10 years ago due to unjust immigration policies.
Sofia’s dedication to ensuring immigrants are welcomed and supported stems, in part, from growing up as an Italian-American in Tennessee’s Deep South amongst much prejudice and misunderstanding. As an adult, Sofia completed her BA in Cultural Anthropology, then moved to New York City where she worked as a Community Organizer for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and volunteered with local African and Latino community agencies. She went on to pursue her MA in International Migration and Development in The Netherlands, then moved to West Africa, where she worked in partnership with the UNHCR and U.S. Embassies to help refugees escaping conflict resettle to the United States. Her responsibilities included conducting interviews capturing persecution testimonies and leading immigration officers on field missions throughout the West and Central African sub-region adjudicating refugee resettlement cases. Sofia returned to the U.S. there years later, coming to Austin in 2007 to serve as Affiliate Director of Refugee Services of Texas. In 2010 she transitioned to Executive Director of AVANCE, a non-profit that works primarily with undocumented Latino women and children.
Desiring to have a more direct impact, last year Sofia began volunteering with women in the Hutto Detention Center and with grassroots political immigration campaigns. She also chose to leave her E.D. position for a sabbatical in Colombia, Latin America, where she improved her Spanish and worked with internally displaced refugees. Sofia now works part-time with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and as a freelance grant-writer, providing the flexibility of time and energy needed to dedicate herself fully to social justice issues facing undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers locally.