Kica Matos is the president of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF). She is also a Distinguished Practitioner at Yale University’s Brady Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. Kica joined NILC and IJF as executive vice president of programs and strategy in January 2023. Prior to this, Kica was vice president of initiatives at the Vera Institute of Justice. She also served as the director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change. She has extensive experience as an advocate, community organizer, and lawyer.
Kica has also headed up the U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights Program at Atlantic Philanthropies. Before joining Atlantic Philanthropies, she was deputy mayor in the city of New Haven, where she oversaw community programs and launched new initiatives including prisoner re-entry and youth and immigrant integration. Kica was previously the executive director of JUNTA, New Haven’s oldest Latino advocacy organization. She also worked as an assistant federal defender for death sentenced inmates and with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Amnesty International on death penalty and criminal justice issues.
She has a B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, an M.A. from the New School and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Albertus Magnus College in 2017 and the University of New Haven in 2019. She is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and in 2021, she was inducted into the CT Women’s Hall of Fame.