Our People


Carlos Perea
Executive Director

Carlos Perea is an immigrant rights advocate and Founding Executive Director of the Harbor Institute for Immigrant and Economic Justice. For more than 10 years, his work has focused on building the political power of undocumented immigrant communities in Orange County through community organizing, coalition building, advocacy campaigns and policy change. As a public policy and strategy development consultant, Carlos has supported organizations and local initiatives including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, OC Opportunity Initiative and OC Grantmakers. Carlos is a founding board member and past president of the Orange County Justice Fund. He currently serves on the City of Santa Ana Police Oversight Commission.

Mai Nguyen Do (Đỗ Nguyên Mai)
Research and Policy Manager

Mai Nguyen Do (Đỗ Nguyên Mai) is the Research and Policy Manager for the Harbor Institute for Immigrant and Economic Justice. They are an educator, writer, social scientist, and Ph.D. candidate whose research focuses on Southeast Asian refugees in the United States, immigration, policing and incarceration, and identity. Previously, Mai worked as a researcher with AAPI Data and the Center for Social Innovation on projects exploring civic engagement and political power in communities of color in California and across the country. Mai holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of California, Riverside.

Advisory Board

Portrait of Carolina Sarmiento, a Chicana woman, with a dark brown braid and black dress.

Sarmiento is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the School of Human Ecology and an affiliate with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. She is a graduate from both World Arts and Cultures and Urban Planning from UCLA, where she obtained her BA and MA. She received her PhD from UCI in Planning, Policy and Design. Her research investigates the intersection between urban development, governance, and the creation and destruction of cultural spaces in working class communities of color. Carolina’s research examines the everyday responses of working class communities ranging from community-based planning, transnational development, to the creation of new democratic processes and spaces. Her research is grounded in community practice.


Sameer Ashar has worked with students to defend immigrants in deportation proceedings and low-wage workers in litigation against exploitative employers in clinics at five law schools. He has also worked with students on numerous policy advocacy and community education projects in collaboration with immigrant and labor organizations in California, New York, and Maryland. Ashar writes about law, lawyering, and social movements across multiple subject areas, including labor law, immigration law, and the legal profession. The focus of his scholarship is on how law and lawyering both inhibits and enables collective action against racial and economic subordination. Ashar has published most recently in Clinical Law Review, Law & Contemporary Problems, Fordham Law Review, Daedalus, and UCLA Law Review and is the inaugural recipient of the Stephen Ellmann Memorial Clinical Scholarship Award, given by the AALS Section on Clinical Education.


Alexis has also been organizing for over 10 years and has led campaigns successfully in immigrant rights that has led to the release of dozens of families from ICE custody and was part of the team of organizers and lawyers who made the city of Santa Ana a sanctuary for immigrants and also in the creation of the first universal representation program for undocumented folks facing deportation that cannot afford a lawyer. He was a founding board member of the Orange County Justice Fund, founder of Tenayuca Labor Project (TLP), and currently does digital organizing with OCCORD.


Tracy La is the co-founder and Executive Director of VietRISE, a nonprofit organization committed to advancing social justice and cultural change within Orange County’s Vietnamese and immigrant communities. Tracy’s personal connection to the organization’s mission is rooted in her background as the daughter of working-class Vietnamese refugees. This experience drives her commitment to dismantling interconnected systems of oppression, including mass incarceration and deportation, while advocating for dignified jobs and housing for all. As a campaign strategist and community organizer, she helped pass landmark legislation including Santa Ana’s rent stabilization ordinance and the expansion of the city’s deportation defense fund. Based in Little Saigon, Tracy is dedicated to building the political power of working class Vietnamese people in Orange County. 


S.G. Sarmiento is Campaign Director for the 60-member National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), advancing base-building, workers rights and civil rights campaigns, and legislative strategies for immigrants and Latinos at the local, state, and federal levels.  Prior to NDLON, he was Advocacy Officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights (RFK Human Rights), focusing on improving US aid and policy to Mexico, Haiti, Sudan, Western Sahara, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, as well as the US Gulf Coast.


Sandy Chiang is Senior Program Manager in The California Endowment’s Programs and Partnerships department, working on the South Region team (covering the 5 southernmost counties of the state) and the statewide Justice Reinvestment team.  Sandy was appointed as the Santa Ana Program Manager for the Building Healthy Communities initiative in August 2015 and was previously the Program Manager for the Long Beach site of the initiative. Prior to joining The Endowment in 2007, Chiang was director of the Justice, Advocacy and Compassion (JAC) Ministry for NewSong Community Church where she developed strategies to engage and mobilize congregation members to become involved in social justice advocacy. Chiang worked for Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group and was project director for People Assisting the Homeless (P.A.T.H.) where she oversaw the organizational design and implementation of the PATHHealth Clinic, which provides primary health care services to homeless individuals in Los Angeles.  A resident of Los Angeles, Chiang earned her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from UCLA and her master’s degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University.