USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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Our Staff

Lavinia Limón
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

Lee Williams
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.

Stacie Blake
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. 

Yasir Al Imami
Case Manager
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 Bradburn
Case Manager
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.

Melissa Defeo
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. 

Hser Htoo
Case Manager
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
Reception and Placement Case Manager
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
Matching Grant Case Manager

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.

Mak Suceska
Reception and Placement Case Manager
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.

Maha Swadi
Job Developer

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.

©2011 USCRI
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