The Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center (KIAC) has hired a new Executive Director. Sally Hudson Tellekson follows in the footsteps of our founders April Borbon and Martitha May. She began work this week, leading the agency’s efforts to address the growing challenges faced by local immigrants in the current political landscape.
“The need for legal services has skyrocketed since the 2016 election,” says Tellekson. “We currently have over 350 open legal cases and many in removal proceedings, some of whom are children. Hundreds of local immigrants are being held in the Tacoma Detention Center. We’re training new legal assistants and expanding as quickly as possible.”
Community funding has enabled KIAC to expand its resources, she says. “We’ve seen an outpouring of support from Kitsap County residents and organizations who want their immigrant neighbors to get the support they need. We’ve raised enough money to step up our legal defense efforts and will be looking for more ways to fund these costs because the truth is, many immigrants are living in fear.”
Part of Tellekson’s new role will be overseeing the agency’s move to larger Bremerton offices early next year, consolidating family and legal services. Founded in 2004, KIAC has stepped up its services in the past year, serving an estimated 17,000 immigrants in Kitsap County alone.
In addition to legal services, KIAC’s family services offer citizenship workshops, medical and dental clinics and language learning resources. KIAC clients come from over 35 countries of origin and its programs are offered in Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson counties.
“Many of our immigrant neighbors are worried about issues like DACA and deportation. They need legal representation in order to have any hope of finding justice in our courts,” says Tellekson. ”Their families also need community health resources they can’t always afford. My job is to make sure they find this support in the face of rising need.”
Tellekson practiced law in Chicago and brings over 30 years of experience in non-profit management, fundraising and consulting to her new position. She is active in social justice and serves on several community non-profit boards.