Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys was born and raised on a small island in the West Indies, St. Kitts. She left in 2008 to pursue studies at the City College of the City University of New York, where she graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and English Literature. She then went on to pursue her graduate degree at the City College in Public Administration. However, after marrying her husband in 2013, she decided to continue her graduate career at Grand Valley State University where she focused on nonprofit leadership and management, receiving a Master of Public Administration degree in 2015. Yah-Hanna currently serves on the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance board of directors and is Co-founder of Women of Color Give, a giving circle with a fund housed at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. Before joining Lighthouse, Yah-Hanna served as the Faith in Youth Partnerships Director at Good Samaritan Ministries. Prior to holding that role, Yah-Hanna was the Development Director at the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.
In 2008, Sarah completed her undergraduate studies at Calvin College. During her time there, she studied abroad, volunteered in Grand Rapids schools, tutored adults in GED programs, and worked with immigrant mothers at Cherry Street Medical Clinic, all the time putting to good use her Spanish language fluency and social work training. Sarah attended the Michigan State University College of Law, devoting herself to the study of immigration and public interest law. Following law school, Sarah, her husband, and young daughter moved to Mexico for a year where her husband completed his doctoral research. In the fall of 2013, Sarah started work at the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Immigration Legal Services, serving as one of two full-time attorneys. She tackled a wide variety of family-based immigration cases and grew accustomed to handling a high volume caseload while still offering high quality legal services. Sarah left the Diocese of Grand Rapids in December 2014 and soon discovered for-profit legal services were not what Holland immigrants needed. And so, she pioneered Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates. In addition to her work at Lighthouse, Sarah is a mother to two young daughters, Evie (10 years old) and Bay (7 years old).
Kiely graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2011. While an undergraduate, she was a member of Hispanic Student High Achievers and a Dean’s Fellow. After she was accepted to the Notre Dame Law School, she was selected to receive an Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity (ICLEO) Fellowship for underrepresented minorities pursuing legal education. During the summer of 2011, she attended the ICLEO summer institute at Notre Dame. While in law school, Kiely was a member of the Hispanic Law Student Association and the Technology Editor for Notre Dame’s Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy. Kiely graduated from law school and passed the bar in 2014. Throughout the years, Kiely has volunteered with various West Michigan community organizations such as Latin Americans United for Progress, Justice for our Neighbors, Migrant Story Hour, St. Francis de Sales Church Hispanic Ministry, Waller Law Office and, prior to being hired, Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates.
Originally from Colton, New York, Julia graduated from Hope College in 2019 with a B.A. in Global French Studies and Political Science. During her time in college, she studied in Rennes, France and Washington, DC, where she worked with C.A.I.R. Coalition, a non-profit which provides legal services to detained immigrants in adult and juvenile facilities in Maryland and Virginia. While finishing up her undergraduate degree, she worked part-time at Lighthouse and transitioned into the Fund Development Officer role following graduation. Julia oversees donor relations, facilitates community engagement, and fosters sustainable growth at Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates. Julia has plans to attend law school in the future.
Born and raised here in Holland, Laura Ramirez graduated from Michigan State University in 2017 with a B.A. in Spanish. During her time in undergrad, Laura studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico and spent two years serving on the e-board of the ETA chapter of Delta Tau Lambda Sorority, Inc. at MSU. Laura began work at Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates in October of 2018 and has been integral part of the team ever since. She leads administrative operations for the Legal Services Team, welcomes clients to our office, and oversees translation work at LIA.