Our Mission

Serving Immigrants (SÍ) is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides holistic, trauma-informed, linguistically-competent, and culturally-responsive legal, mental health, and case management services to immigrants of all documentation statuses in the state of Tennessee. SÍ also offers training, resources, and a reproducible model of best practices for providers across the country.

Our Team

Karen Latus, LMSW, President, Clinical Supervisor, and Board Member

Karen is a licensed master social worker (LMSW) with a certification in trauma treatment who has spent nearly two decades working in secondary education, including teaching Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL). By integrating classroom instruction and school social work, she designed and coordinated a bilingual intervention program for undocumented and unaccompanied minors that the American Council for School Social Work recognized as a model of best practice. Karen was named one of 2018’s Top 9 Teachers by the State of Tennessee and honored with the 2019 Community Impact Award by the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare. She serves as a field instructor for the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, an adjunct professor for East Tennessee State University’s social work program, and a SAMHSA-funded consultant for the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Jonah Freed, LSW, Vice President and Board Member

Jonah is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Primary Therapist at Jefferson Center for Mental Health in Colorado, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Peru. He has worked in English and Spanish in both rural and urban settings with diverse populations in Ghana, Mexico, Peru, and the United States in the fields of international development, public health, and clinical social work. Jonah graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Social Work in May 2022 and holds a Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate. While in graduate school, he was a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow and conducted social work research in support of immigrant communities as a Graduate Research Assistant with Dr. Mary Held.

Mary Held, PhD, LCSW, Clinical Director and Board Member

Mary is an Associate Professor and the Assistant Dean of the Nashville campus at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and researcher with immigrant communities. Mary served Latinx clients for nine years before moving into an academic career. Her academic scholarship centers on strengthening knowledge related to risk and protective factors for well-being among Latinx and immigrant communities to inform service provision and policy making. In addition to this research, Mary conducts pro bono mental health assessments for immigrant legal hearings.

Eric Amarante, JD, Secretary and Board Member

Eric is a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he co-directs the Transactional Law Clinic, which supervises law students as they provide free legal advice to nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists. He joined the College of Law in 2017 after teaching at the University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law for four years. Prior to Eric’s work at the University of Nevada, he was the inaugural Whiting Fellow at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Eric received his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas.

Arléne Amarante, JD, Board Member

Arléne Amarante is a professor at Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law, where she teaches, among other topics, immigration and asylum law. She is a first-generation American from the pueblo of San José de la Boca, Tepehuanes, Durango, Mexico, where she spent much of her childhood. Arléne received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and completed her legal studies at the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University. Prior to joining the faculty at Lincoln Memorial University, Arléne served as a clinical supervisor, the executive director of a nonprofit law firm, and a legal aid attorney.

And You?

Our organization couldn’t exist without your involvement. Whether you are a lawyer, a mental health provider, an interpreter, a community volunteer, a donor, or a former client, this work takes everyone! Click here for ways to get involved.

Volunteer Highlight of the Month – Elizabeth Corbett

Elizabeth taught for more than thirty years, with half of those as a high school English as a Second Language teacher in Lenoir City, TN. She welcomed students from all over the world, but with most of her students from Mexico and Central America, she focused her energies outside of school on border immigration and the challenges of living undocumented. Elizabeth traveled to the Arizona-Mexico border for a three-day seminar on border realities and volunteered in the San Antonio bus station with recently released detainees. Closer to home, she took students to Nashville to advocate for the state version of the DREAM Act and organized conversations between local legislators and her immigrant students.

After retiring in 2020, Elizabeth volunteers her time to support the local immigrant community by helping local organizations such as SÍ. She has researched and built relationships on behalf of SÍ with interpreting organizations and continues to provide advice on both interpreting and translation projects. She also contributes her skills as a proofreader in helping SÍ create documents and resources. In December 2022, Elizabeth gathered a donation from her local congregation to directly support SÍ’s ongoing work with the immigrant community. We are so appreciative of her expertise and assistance!