Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy


Panel Discussion

Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room A, 123 S. Linn Street
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 7:00 PM


  • Rene Rocha

    Rene Rocha

    Department of Political Science, University of Iowa

    Rene R. Rocha is Assistant Professor of Political Science. His current research focuses on racial/ethnic politics, public policy, state and local politics. He has published in journal outlets such as Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, American Politics Research, Policy Studies Journal, Review of Policy Research, as well as in edited volumes. He is currently completing a project on the implications of recent immigration enforcement policies.


  • Natalia Espina

    Natalia Espina

    Healthy Kids Health Clinic

    Natalia Espina is a proud long-time Iowa City resident and Chilean immigrant advocate and activist. She emigrated from Chile to the U.S. as a toddler in the early 1980's and has been working with underserved populations in and around the Iowa City area since 2007. She became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 2015.


    Natalia is employed as the Program Manager for the Healthy Kids School-based Health Clinic, a free clinic based out of the Iowa City Community School District which serves the primary and mental healthcare needs of uninsured and underinsured youth in Johnson County. She’s deeply committed to community volunteerism, engagement and strives to live in a collective and compassionate world. She strives at working within new environments and seeks constant challenge in order to be well and grow. She enjoys a balance of independence and collaboration with others.


    In early 2017 Natalia and a team of area activists created a non profit called the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project. She serves as the board of director's community engagement chair. The project’s mission is to provide bail funds to Eastern Iowa’s vulnerable immigrant neighbors so they may access due process within our immigration justice system. The project believes in family unity for all and that socioeconomic status should not be a barrier to accessing due process. She also co-led the Iowa City Community School District's support for immigrant students initiatives which began in November 2016. Natalia's past volunteer highlights were as Local Foods Connection board member, interpreter at New Iowans Legal Advice Clinic, retail clerk at the Iowa City Bike Library, and interpreter at Free Medical Clinic.


    She has her B.A. In Spanish and Communication studies and a certificate in Non Profit Management. She’s looking to seek her Master's in public policy or social innovation with a focus on the intersections of education, immigration, and health. She’s community engagement chair for LULAC Council 308 and a member of 5224Good’s philanthropic giving circle.

  • Jorge Guerra

    Jorge Guerra

    Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing

    Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Jorge Guerra received his B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing at California State University/ Long Beach. He is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was a Dean's Graduate Research Fellow.  His research includes the Guatemalan Coup D'├ętat of 1954, US-Cold War involvement in Guatemala/Latin America, the disappearances of Guatemalans during the Guatemalan Civil War, and Central American immigration in the United States. He finished his short story collection and is currently working on a novel on the outset of the Guatemalan Civil War.

  • Dan Vondra

    Dan Vondra

    Cole and Vondra, PC

    Dan Vondra is a 2004 graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law.  Dan graduated “Order of the Coif,” the law school’s highest academic honor, and was admitted to the Iowa bar on September 20, 2004.  Dan is proficient in Spanish and approximately 60% of his clients are Spanish-speaking only.

    His practice focuses on family-based immigration, removal defense, criminal defense, and the special circumstances involved in criminal cases for immigrants. He also litigates family law cases involving domestic violence.


    Dan’s recent successes include the following:

    * Won a jury acquittal for a woman accused of forgery for possessing a forged “green card.” The jury found the defendant “not guilty” because the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the card was forged.

    * Successfully argued to the BIA that the Immigration Judge erred by finding a Mexican man removable for a conviction of an aggravated felony.  The “conviction record” in the case was not sufficient to support the government’s claim that the man’s crime was an aggravated felony.

    * Won an asylum case for the adult son of a high ranking military officer from Guinea. Dan successfully argued that the immigration judge erred by denying the asylum application.