Our Team


Natalie Foote, LCSW

Executive Director, DOJ Accredited Representative

Natalie was part of the team that founded RILA in 2015.  She provides leadership to RILA by developing and administering RILA's programs, and keeping RILA's mission and vision central to its work.  Natalie is also a Department of Justice (DOJ) Accredited Representative, and represents clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A Licensed Clinical Social Worker by training, she is driven by social justice, compassion, and honoring the dignity and worth of all people.  Natalie believes RILA's work is central to the Christian faith, and loves partnering with communities of faith.  A Texan at heart, and an ex-New Yorker, Natalie, her husband, John, and her four children have made a home in Arlington, Virginia.  Together, they love to play music, play sports, travel and drive around in their pick-up truck!



Jason Braun, ESQ

Director of Legal Services

Jason helped co-found RILA in 2015. He was previously in private practice for eight years as a litigator. During his time as a litigator he had a few opportunities to work on immigration issues for juveniles. As his understanding of the challenges facing immigrants and his interest in immigration law grew, he became increasingly passionate about assisting the most marginalized members of our community. As legal director, Jason oversees all case work and court appearances and works directly with volunteer attorneys. Jason lives in Falls Church with his wife and two small children. 



Emily Williams

Legal Advocate & Program Director

Emily started with RILA in September 2018 after spending seven years working in International Development & Aid, four of those years overseas in Albania and South Africa.  Upon returning to the U.S., Emily was struck that the challenges facing immigrant families in the U.S. are very similar to those that she worked to mitigate during her time overseas. Also, the experience of living in foreign countries gave her a lot of compassion for the confusion and frustration of navigating an unfamiliar legal system. Emily values building relationships with clients and RILA's exceptional team of volunteers and seeing the restoration that is possible. Outside of work, Emily enjoys cooking and trying new restaurants with her husband Logan and playing with their rescue dog, Sadie.



Emily Smith

Legal Advocate

Emily has been with RILA since August 2018. She is originally from the Chicago suburbs. Emily first became passionate about refugees in college at Elon University while studying International Relations. She is driven by her faith and the belief that all people deserve to be treated fairly and shown mercy and justice; the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner. And also by her compassion to serve others in difficult circumstances. Before coming to RILA Emily worked in the Legal Department at World Vision US for 3 years and received her Masters degree in Human Rights from the London School of Economics. She loves running and traveling with her husband.



Heather Hall

Administrative Director

Heather has been with RILA since September 2018.  As the Administrative Director, Heather oversees RILA’s internal operations, including finances, human resources, information technology, facility use, and state and federal registrations. She also assists in fundraising efforts and manages all donation data. Heather came to RILA because she wanted to use her corporate professional background, her cross-cultural experiences from living overseas, and her heart's desire to serve those in need as commanded by Christ. She is passionate about humanizing each asylum case as well as pursuing a Christian lens on accurate and unbiased information regarding U.S. laws. Heather enjoys sharing her experiences at RILA with her two young children and her husband, who always asks how her day was at work.  She is thrilled to be back in the professional world, but, this time, supporting an organization that is making a difference.  Thanks be to the Lord and His mercy. 



Carrie Knooihuizen

Intake Coordinator

Carrie has been with RILA since June 2016. She facilitates all client communication and offers our legal team any necessary support needed to complete case work. A true Virginian, Carrie was born and raised here and has always loved being from such a diverse community. She is inspired by our clients who experience great tragedy and their courage to tell their story and fight for their lives and families. She is passionate about RILA's vision to not only advocate for our clients, but to serve them with hospitality and compassion. Aside from her work at RILA, Carrie also cares for her daughter full time. She and her husband enjoy hiking, traveling, board games, and all things Michigan.



Maria Holguin

Interpreter and Case Worker

Maria joined RILA in 2016. As our primary translator and case worker, she serves as a liaison between RILA’s staff and our clients. Aside from translating, she also coordinates services for our clients beyond their legal needs by ensuring they obtain vital support for their day to day lives in a new country. Before joining RILA, Maria worked for Arlington Public Schools for over 12 years. She has also worked for various local non-profits who serve Arlington’s diverse population. Maria is passionate about RILAs mission to serve those most vulnerable, and feels a strong calling to advocate for immigrants forced out of their home countries due to violence and persecution. Originally from Bolivia, Maria has built a life here with her family. She enjoys all things music, dancing and writing.



Board of Directors

Christine Jones, Chairwoman

Rev. David Hanke, Rector of Restoration Anglican Church

Sean Burke, Vestry Member, Restoration Anglican Church

Justin T. Golart, Esq.

Israel Ortega

Susie Wallin

Cindy Willmann