President and Chief Executive Officer
Lavinia Limón has more than thirty years of experience working on behalf of refugees and immigrants. Prior to joining USCRI in August of 2001, Ms. Limón was Director of the Center for the New American Community, a project of the National Immigration Forum. During the Clinton Administration, Ms. Limón served as the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services, designing and implementing programs to assist newly arriving refugees in achieving economic and social self-sufficiency. She served simultaneously as the Director of the Office of Family Assistance for four years, helping to devise policies and strategies for implementing national welfare reform. Ms. Limón was previously the Executive Director of the International Institute of Los Angeles
Senior Vice President for Global Engagement
Mr. Eskinder Negash is a recognized Senior Executive leader and brings over 35 years of proven not-for-profit management experience working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and managing non-profit social service agencies. Mr. Negash served as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the largest government funded refugee resettlement organization in the world, within the Administration of Children and Families, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2009 - 2015. With a budget of over 1.5 billion, the Office of Refugee Resettlement plays a critical role in providing essential services to a wide range of vulnerable people through the Resettlement Program, Rescue & Restore anti-trafficking campaign, and the Unaccompanied Children's Program. Under his leadership, ORR has served more than 400,000 refugees, 150,000 asylees, 125,000 Cuban and Haitian Entrants, nearly 21,000 Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, 3,200 Victims of Trafficking, over 32,000 U.S. repatriates, and almost 116,000 unaccompanied children. Altogether, that is more than 850,000 people, in six years.
Prior to his appointment by the Obama Administration, he served as the vice president and chief operating officer of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide. Before joining USCRI, Mr. Negash served as vice president and chief administrative officer of the International Institute of Los Angeles for 15 years. Mr. Negash also served as a board member with several non-profit organizations, including two years as chair of the Joint Voluntary Agencies Committee of California, chair of the California State Refugee Advisory Council, and board member of Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). In 2009, Mr. Negash received an Outstanding American by Choice award from DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which recognizes naturalized U.S. citizens who have made significant contributions to both their community and their adopted country. In 2010, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) honored Mr. Negash as one of ten distinguished men and women whose stories of hope and transformation epitomize the refugee journey.
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Lee Williams joined USCRI as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in August 2009. Prior to joining, he was the Executive Director of the International Institute of Akron (Ohio), a USCRI partner agency, for two years. Mr. Williams’ early career was in client services and international banking. He was Vice President of the Morgan Stanley Trust Company, Vice President of Deutsche Bank Global Institutional Services, and Managing Principal of Capco – a capital markets company. Mr. Williams holds a Graduate Certificate of Non-Profit Management from Case Western Reserve University, a Master's degree in International Management from The Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a Bs.L from Georgetown University in Arabic.
Director of Government and Community Relations
Stacie Blake has responsibility for building and maintaining strong and positive relationships with government, elected and community supporters. From 2002-2005 she led the USCRI Vermont field office welcoming hundreds of newly arrived refugees and their families. She was recognized by the Vermont Legislature with a Joint Resolution of Appreciation for her work with refugees and immigrants across the state. She led the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture for three years and developed and launched the National Partnership for Community Training-a research based collaborative to share best practices for communities with limited resources for torture survivors. Prior to rejoining USCRI she was the Executive Director of Community Tampa Bay promoting a vision of ending discrimination. Ms. Blake holds two degrees from the University of Vermont and was elected twice as a member of the Mount Mansfield Union School District. She is a graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute and Leadership Florida.
Director of Des Moines Field Office
A native Iowan, Carly has over fifteen years of overseas experience in Europe, East and West Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America. She holds a B.A. from Carleton College and a graduate degree in International Development and Forced Migration from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand. Carly worked as a resettlement case manager for Lutheran Services in Iowa, overseeing family literacy and refugee medical programs. Carly helped dozens of families start new lives in Iowa, an experience which she values today. Carly worked as a staff member for Refugee Support Center Africa (RSC) based in Nairobi, Kenya and for International Organization for Migration (IOM). She traveled to refugee camps in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to conduct screenings under the United States Refugee Admissions Program. She has over six years of leadership experience managing small businesses and has completed Basic Interpreter Training (BIT).
Prior to his time with USCRI Des Moines, he has extensive volunteer experience with refugee resettlement in Iowa spanning decades. Mak has led various youth projects and has vast knowledge of non-profits in the Des Moines area. He assists refugees through the resettlement process. Mak received his Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa. Mak is fluent in Bosnian and Croatian.
Finance and Operations Associate
Melissa joined USCRI Des Moines as Finance and Operations Associate in May of 2014. Prior to joining the USCRI team, Melissa worked for a number of government bodies serving in multiple general operations functions including human resources, communications, administration, procurement and finance. She received a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in Fiscal Administration from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Elmhurst College. Melissa has extensive volunteer experience with immigration programs in Chicago.
Yasir Al Imami
Yasir joined USCRI Des Moines as Case Manager for the Targeted Assistance Program (TAP) in May of 2014. Prior to joining the USCRI team, Yasir worked as an instructor at Baghdad University in Economics and at Al Mustanseryia University . He also worked as Deputy Program Manager for Nour USA Company for Technology and Communications, completing many projects assisting the Iraqi people. Yasir received his Bachelors Degree from Al-Mustansiriya University in 1997 and in 2002 he received his Masters of Science Degree in Physics from the same University.
Hillary joined USCRI Des Moines as the TAG Program Manager in October 2014. Prior to joining the organization, she interned and volunteered at a refugee resettlement agency in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she instructed classes on the English language and cultural orientation. She received a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Indianapolis and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, French, and Spanish from Indiana University. Hillary speaks French and Spanish.
Hser Htoo arrived in the United States of America, from Burma, in September, 2007. He lived in Syracuse, New York for two years and then moved to Texas. He then lived in Texas for three years and moved to Des Moines in September, 2012. Before joining USCRI, he worked at HP-Hewlet Packards in quality control. Hser also worked with Lutheran Services in Iowa, Catholic Charity and LanguageTech as an independent contract interpreter. During his free time, he was also involved in volunteering by helping families and friends by assisting them receive social services benefits. Hser received his Certified Medical Assistant Diploma from Everest College in Texas, 2011. He then graduated from Eden Valley Academy in 2007, Karen Refugee Camp in Thailand. Hser speaks Karen.
Gopal Khadka began his work with refugees in Nepal as the Secretary of the Goldhap Refugee Camp. Prior to his work at Goldhap, he was a teacher at Blooming Lotus. He has since been certified as a Certified Nurses Aid and an EMT in the United States. He assists refugees through the resettlement process. Gopal is fluent in Nepali.
Mie Mie Napa
Mie Mie Napa joined USCRI as Matching Grant Case Manager in October of 2012. She arrived in the United States in June of 2009 and since that time has been involved in volunteer work with the Burmese community, Bureau of Refugee Service, Lutheran Social Service and Catholic Charities. Prior to her current position, she worked for Des Moines Public School as Community Outreach Worker and during that time she bridged communication between families and the school, motivating parents to get involve in school activities, and assisting students with their academic performance. While at Des Moines Public School, she also worked for its adult literacy program which provided ESL and social adjustment training for adults as well as children. She is currently studying at William Penn University in an Educational Leadership program. Ms. Napa graduated from East Yangon University in 2006 with a B.A. degree in Psychology. In her free time, she volunteers at the Refugee Green Card Clinic, helping with the application process for refugees and immigrants. Mei Mei speaks Burmese and Kachin.
Refugee Wellness Program Coordinator
Rohey graduated with a Bachelor's degree from Iowa State University in Human Development and Family Studies in 2009. Prior to joining USCRI, Rohey worked for two other agencies in Des Moines providing Behavioral Health Intervention Counseling to youth and families. Through her previous experiences, she had the opportunity to work with many refugee families from countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, Liberia, and Nepal. Rohey has been trained in trauma informed care, mandatory reporting, motivational interviewing, and family engagement. She is originally from The Gambia, West Africa. She speaks her native language of Wolof.
Ms. Swadi came to Des Moines Iowa from Iraq in 2008. She has a degree in computer technology. She started working as a substitute teacher for Des Moines Public Schools. In 2010, she started working with children and families in Iowa. Maha graduated from Upper Iowa University with a bachelor of social science in March 2012. Maha speaks English and Arabic. She previously worked as teacher in her home country of Iraq.