Since the Maui fires crisis, our team has been coordinating and mobilizing a multi-lingual volunteer base to respond to immigrant needs identified and yet emerging. Roots Reborn is determined to build a durable organization united with all of Lahaina, ready to meet the structural challenges to immigrant safety, belonging and dignity.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Veronica Mendoza Jachowski
Veronica is a Maui community member who sprang into action in the aftermath of the Maui fires to immediately find and help impacted immigrant families. For years, Veronica has been a pro bono caseworker for Maui Latino immigrants. Previously, she was a program specialist with Enlace Hispano at MEO and General Manager at Scoutware, a recruiting communications startup. She is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and mother to a mixed Mexican Hawaiian `ohana. Veronica holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from DePaul University in Chicago.
Co-Founder and Lead Legal Organizer
Leslee Matthews is the Founder & Managing Attorney for Speak Out & Up Law, LLLC. She is also a Social Worker who is an advocate for social justice and passionate about connecting the community with resources. Leslee grew up on Maui and attended law school at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Leslee has served as a Legislative Attorney with the Maui County Council and a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. She has also served as a Legislative Attorney with Hawaiʻi Senator Rhoads and the Senate Committee on Judiciary. She is the Vice President of African Americans on Maui Association, Immediate Past President of the African American Lawyers Association of Hawaiʻi, Immediate Past President of the Maui County Bar Association, Board Member on the HSBA’s Government Lawyers Section, and a Member of the Women’s Prison Project. Leslee serves as Special Counsel to the Judiciary and a Lecturer for the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Khara Jabola-Carolus is a co-founder of Roots Reborn. She is a proud daughter of an immigrant from the Philippines. Khara served as the Executive Director of the State of Hawaiʻi’s Commission on the Status of Women for over half a decade, recently departing to join the Global Center for Gender Equality out of Stanford University. Khara pioneered a women-centered economic recovery plan during COVID-19 which was heralded by United Nations Women and adapted globally by various nation-states, universities, and NGOs. She has also helmed the Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights and successfully led the statewide legislative campaign to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Khara holds a Juris Doctor with a specialization in Native Hawaiian rights.
Co-Founder and Lead Legal Counsel
Kevin J. Block, Esq
Kevin J Block is a dedicated, experienced and passionate immigration attorney in Maui and the founder of Maui Immigration Law, LLC. The son of an immigrant and the parent of an immigrant, Block is passionate about the positive contributions immigrants make to our Hawaiian community and throughout the U.S. His legal career and long history of service to the community are a testament to his dedication and commitment to social justice.
He currently serves on the ACLU’s Hawaii Affiliate Board of Directors and the Advisory Committee of the Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic at the UH Richardson School of Law. He is on the Board of Directors of The Legal Clinic, which provides high quality immigration services, education and advocacy to low-income immigrants and migrants in Hawaii. Mr. Block is also a consulting attorney to the Mexican Government’s Consul General, Department of Exterior Relations and is one of the founding attorneys of “Roots Reborn” which is a grassroots community organization that arose in the aftermath of the fire to provide services and build capacity in the Lahaina immigrant community.
Mr. Block is married, lives in Kula Maui and is the proud grandfather of three. When time permits, he enjoys paddling for Hawaiian Canoe Club, travelling to Oaxaca Mexico and writing.
Co-Founder and Lead Coordinator
Alejandra Ramirez is a co-founder of Roots Reborn and frontline organizer during the Lahaina fires crisis. She is deeply connected to the community she seeks to both help and empower. Alejandra is a Maui-raised and based daughter of immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico. Alejandra serves as the University of Hawaiʻi - Maui Program Outreach Associate dedicated to assisting first generation immigrants and low income students of the island. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Justice Administration from the University of Hawaii.
Anissa Lynne Marie Casabay is a Maui born & raised, first generation Filipina. Anissa also serves as a part-time media teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate School and is an aspiring photographer. She holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. She is passionate about using her deep technical expertise to advance immigrant and worker’s rights, and to build Roots Reborn into an all-immigrant home on Maui.