Marielena Hincapié is a Distinguished Immigration Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Cornell University’s Immigration Law and Policy Program.
Most recently, Marielena served as the executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF) until November 2022. Marielena began her tenure at NILC in 2000 as a staff attorney leading the organization’s labor and employment program. During that time, she successfully litigated law reform and impact-litigation cases dealing with the intersection of immigration laws and employment/labor laws. She then served as NILC’s director of programs from 2004 to 2008, after which she became executive director.
Marielena is a nationally respected leader, legal and political strategist in the social justice movement, and a leading voice in the national conversation on immigration. She played a key role in supporting youth leaders in the creation and successful implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and cofounded the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) coalition to address the chilling effect the public charge rule had on children and families needing health, nutrition, housing and other safety net programs.
Before joining NILC, Marielena worked for the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco’s Employment Law Center, and previously served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration, and the boards of Jobs with Justice, the Center for Law & Social Policy, and as founding Board President of the Indivisible Project. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Marielena immigrated as a child from Medellín, Colombia, to Central Falls, Rhode Island and grew up as the youngest in a family of 10 children. She earned her juris doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
Our roles as educators, scholars, advocates, and followers of Christ call us to engage in thoughtful dialogue and actively work towards a society that upholds the rights and well-being of all, especially the most vulnerable.VIEW