The Poarch Thompson Team

Cari Preas

PARALEGAL

Cari is our employment-based paralegal and her masterful work demonstrates the pride she takes in a job well-done. A native of Salem, Cari graduated from Roanoke College (B.A., Business Administration) and previously worked as a human resource professional. What Cari loves about her job is her ability to help others enrich their lives and achieve their goals through employment-based immigration. Cari is a wealth of knowledge and kindness. She is the first one to stop what she is doing to answer a question or lend a listening ear. Outside of work, she enjoys attending athletic events, reading a good book, and spending time with her family.

Carolina Garcia

PARALEGAL

Caroline recently graduated from SUNY Empire State College with a degree in sociology and political science. Carolina’s mother immigrated from Colombia to the United States. Carolina was born and raised in Long Island, NY but also lived in Colombia for two years as a child. Carolina is a native Spanish speaker who works with victim visas as a paralegal. She loves to spend time with her family, travel, play tennis, and thrift shop. On her days off, she likes to watch documentaries and new shows, listen to true crime podcasts, and of course, cuddle her cat, Milo.

Dana M. Clinevell

SENIOR PARALEGAL

Dana has been with Poarch Thompson Law since 2005 and while she’s worn many hats, she now manages our entire paralegal team while still working on our most difficult family-based matters. Dana loves what she does, and it shows. Our clients know that Dana is invested in their cases, and she is an integral part of each client’s success. Whether she’s juggling multiple tasks to meet client deadlines, engaging faceless government agencies, or working closely with our paralegal staff and attorneys, Dana is the consummate professional and our clients’ best ally. When she’s not at the office, Dana is likely attending or watching a sporting event, walking her dogs Taz and Harvey, or hanging out with a close-knit group of Clinevell kin.

Danielle Ryan

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO)

Danielle brings 20 years of experience in both public and  private accounting to her work as Poarch Thompson Law’s Chief Financial Officer. A graduate of Mary Baldwin College (B.A., Business Administration), Danielle keeps the accounting and billing operations running smoothly. With grace, humor, and a well-executed plan, Danielle keeps the office sailing smoothly so that the attorneys can focus on clients and casework. A native of Blacksburg, she is a devoted Hokie fan. When she is not attending her son’s sporting events she is either playing tennis or traveling with her husband. 

Elisabeth Bass

BILLING MANAGER

Habla español.

Elisabeth grew up with an appreciation for Latinx culture in her hometown of Miami, Florida, and later, while living in southwest Kansas. She studied Spanish and Leadership at Hollins University and brings more than ten years of customer service to her role at Poarch Thompson Law. As the Billing Manager, she provides administrative support with legal contracts and billing, including implementing online services in an effort to go green. One of the most generous people we know, inside the office and out, she has previously organized charitable drives and events to benefit troubled girls, a local high school, and homeless adults. Elisabeth joined Poarch Thompson Law in 2013 and if there are muffins or a breakfast casserole on the counter at the office, it’s usually courtesy of Elisabeth’s culinary skill. Elisabeth enjoys drinking specialty coffee in her beloved moka pot (and keeps a google spreadsheet of more than 100 roasters she’s tried so far) and running the coffee bar at her church.

Elizabeth Mariana (Liz) Saloma Castañeda

PARALEGAL

Habla español.

When Liz was fourteen years old, she and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico City. Before working at Poarch Thompson Law, Liz juggled several full and part-time jobs while graduating summa cum laude from Kaplan University (B.A. Business Administration). As a paralegal, Liz works on asylum cases. Bright, loving, and determined, Liz inspires the office to work harder, do more, and stay positive. Outside the office, Liz is actively engaged in local immigrant advocacy, reading, watching musicals, baking, or salsa dancing.

Joey Poarch

CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER (CIO)

Though he is known to do a bit of everything (from consulting, to marketing, to resolving technology issues, to playing guitar at office parties), Joey’s role at Poarch Thompson Law focuses on the firm’s business growth. By combining his technology and business experience, Joey orchestrates the tools and processes our office needs to run at its highest and best. He is a Virginia Tech alumnus, a board member of the Salem Educational Foundation, an investor/advisor at Woobot.io, member of the band Chasing Fall, a father to three amazing daughters, and husband to our fearless founder Christine Lockhart Poarch. When he isn’t at work, you’ll most likely find Joey listening to music, enjoying the outdoors, traveling for fun, or spending time with family.

Karina Benitez

PARALEGAL

Habla español.

Born in Honduras, Karina moved to the United States in 2006 with her younger sister. Though she’s been a resident of the Roanoke area most of her time in the U.S., she has also lived in New York City. Karina takes pride in her role as an Asylum paralegal as she helps clients through this elaborate process. Karina relishes the fast-paced work and manages multiple demands on her time effortlessly. When she isn’t at work, Karina spends time with her family, and experiments with fashion.

Katy Benitez

CLIENT SERVICES

Habla español.

Katy brings more than ten years of customer service experience with the immigrant community to her role in Client Services at Poarch Thompson Law. It’s often Katy’s voice that greets you when you call, and her sunny disposition, empathy, and compassion are some of the reasons she’s so well-suited to lead our reception team. Katy is actively involved in a number of Christian ministries and has served congregations in several different local Spanish-speaking churches. She travels extensively with church missions, including to Mexico and Puerto Rico, and graduated from Mizpa Pentecostal University with a degree in Spanish and Theology.

Melanie Burton

PARALEGAL

Melanie grew up in Northern Virginia. She moved to the Roanoke Valley after she married her husband and is now a Salem “transplant” having lived here longer than anywhere else. Melanie has been a family and criminal law paralegal for over two decades. She handles adoptions and special immigrant juvenile status cases while helping Rachel’s husband with his criminal and family law practice part-time. Melanie has an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Virginia Western Community College. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys spending time with her three children and her sister. She also enjoys reading and playing video games.

Ruth Ebel

PARALEGAL

Habla español.

Ruth graduated from Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee (B.A., Spanish) and worked in legal services prior to joining Poarch Thompson Law in 2013. In her tenure at Poarch Thompson Law, she has developed expertise in multiple practice areas, and she now focuses on helping our attorneys secure great results in complex immigration court cases. Ruth’s competencies are most evident in her preparation of cancellation of removal cases and immigration court cases in which our clients seek family-based remedies. She loves exploring other cultures and when she’s not working, she’s likely playing bass guitar, listening to live music or salsa dancing.

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