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 30 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.

Eskinder Negash
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.

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. 

Amila Merdzanovic
Director of Vermont Field Office, Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program
Amila Merdzanovic joined USCRI/VRRP as a field office Director in April of 2014.  Most recently, she graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, concentrating in International Organizations and Forced Migration.  Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Amila worked at VRRP where, over the course of nine years she assumed progressively more responsibility.  Amila was resettled in Vermont as a refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995.  She holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College.  Her interests span across disciplines including forced migration, human rights and conflict resolution. Amila is fluent in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, and has basic knowledge of Russian. (802-654-1700,

Ashraf Alamatouri
English Language Coordinator
Achraf Alamatouri has more than 12 years of experience as a teacher of English and a teacher trainer. He taught English at Kalamoon University and conducted teacher training courses in multiple regions in Syria. Previous to joining USCRI, Mr. Alamatouri was the Director of the Language Department at the International Center for Human Construction. Mr. Alamatouri is a Fulbright alumnus and holds a Master’s Degree in teaching English as a Foreign Language from Albath University as well as a Master’s Degree in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages from Saint Michael’s College. He holds a B.A in English Literature from Damascus University and teacher training certificates from the University of Delaware and Oregon University. He speaks both English and Arabic fluently, as well as basic French and German. (

Ahmed Alsaeedi
Employment Counselor
Ahmed Alsaeedi is originally from Iraq and resettled to the United States in November 2012.  Ahmed started working for USCRI Vermont Field Office two months after his arrival as an English-Arabic interpreter and translator.  Having previously worked as a pharmacy technician with CVS Pharmacy, Ahmed joined USCRI/VRRP team as an employment counselor in January 2015.  As an employment counselor, Ahmed assists new arrivals with job placement while helping local employers find reliable workforce.  Ahmed holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Baghdad. (802-338-4618,

Kapil Chapagai
Housing Case Manager
Kapil Chapagai was born in Bhutan and spent 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal.  While in Nepal Kapil achieved a BA in Management from North Bengal University, Saint Joseph’s College in North Point Darjeeling, West Bengal, India in 2002.  He then completed one year of a graduate work in Management from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2004.  Following his academic pursuits, Kapil taught mathematics at a private high-school in Kathmandu from 2002-2008. After his arrival in the U.S. in 2009, Kapil passed the TOEFL exam and served as a medical interpreter for USCRI/VT.  To obtain further expertise in the medical field, Kapil became a Licensed Nurse Assistant in 2010.  Kapil was thrilled to join USCRI/VT as the Housing Case Manager.  Kapil is fluent in English, Nepali and Hindi and can speak some Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. (802-338-4632,

Bidur Dahal
Medical Case Manager/Interpreter
Bidur Dahal joined USCRI/VRRP as a Medical Case Manager and Staff Interpreter in December, 2013. Prior to this position, he worked as a para-educator and Multilingual School Liaison for the Burlington School District. Mr. Dahal has been associated with VRRP as an on call interpreter since July, 2012. He provides case management for clients with complex medical issues. He provides health orientation for all new arrivals as well as assists asylees and in-migrants in accessing medical care.  In addition to ensuring that clients are receiving appropriate health services, Mr. Dahal provides interpretation and translation services. Mr. Dahal arrived in the United States as a refugee from Bhutan. He began his career as a volunteer teacher in a refugee camp in Nepal.  During his 19 years as a refugee in Nepal, he worked as a sub-editor, reporter, researcher, teacher, administrator,  and community organizer.  Mr. Dahal has a Master’s of Science in Environmental Technology and Management from the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand. He is fluent in English, Nepali and Hindi and speaks some Dzongkha and Bengali. (802-338-4628,

Eric Duffy
Employment Counselor
Eric Duffy joined USCRI/VRRP in early 2015 as an Employment Counselor.  Eric has a Master's degree in International Politics from Newcastle University and during his time there researched and focused on the political and societal issues in Burma.  Previous to joining the VRRP team, Eric lived and worked in England, China, Japan and South Korea.  As an employment counselor, Eric helps new arrivals prepare for and succeed in the local job force through employment workshops, one on one planning, onsite training and ongoing support throughout their job placement.  Additionally, Eric helps local employers find motivated, skilled and reliable employees to help their business grow. (802-654-1717,

Abdirashid Hussein
Case Manager
Abdirashid Hussein joined the USCRI/VRRP family in October of 2004 as a Case Manager.  He primarily works with the Somali, Somali Bantu, Iraqi, and Bhutanese populations, as well as people native to various African countries.  He works with newly-arrived refugees and secondary migrants from across the United States who move to the state of Vermont.  Mr. Hussein has vast experience working with refugees both here in the U.S. and back in Africa, having traveled extensively throughout the continent of Africa.  A former resident of Maine, he worked with the crisis group formed to dispel the growing tension between the Somali population and the City of Lewiston, Maine in the early 2000s.  Previously, Mr. Hussein worked in Georgia as a Social Adjustment Manager with the Georgia Somali Community and the African Community and Refugee Center, Inc.  Mr. Hussein was born in Somalia.  Educated in Somalia and Kenya, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration.  He is fluent in English, Swahili, Somali, and other African dialects.  (802-654-1707,

Phub Lama
Case Manager
Phub Lama joined USCRI/VRRP as Case Manager in 2011. He works to provide new Americans with the services and assistance they need in their transition period to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. He ensures that clients are getting proper orientation services, healthcare, education and employment opportunities, and housing solutions.  He has volunteered and also has been an interpreter with USCRI/VRRP.  He came to the United States in late 2009 as a refugee. Mr. Lama holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from St. Joseph’s College, University of North Bengal, India. He speaks Nepali, Hindi, some Bengali and Hyolmo.  (802-654-1716,

Sita Luitel
Reach Up Case Manager
Sita Luitel provides Reach Up Case Management services for all eligible clients. Mrs. Luitel is responsible for all direct service aspects of the State of Vermont Reach Up Program, including enrollment, client education and support, job development, and documentation. She first joined USCRI/VRRP in 2011 as Medical Case Manager. Mrs. Luitel arrived in the United States in 2008 as a refugee from Bhutan. She completed two years of college in Bio-Science at Mechi-Multiple Campus Bhadrapur (Nepal). Since her arrival in Vermont, she has become a Licensed Nursing Assistant and worked in this capacity for two years. Currently, she is continuing her education at Community College of Vermont in Nursing. She speaks English, Nepali and Hindi. (802-338-4625,

Noel Mukiza
Case Manager / Program Specialist
Noel Mukiza came to the United States as a refugee in 2007 and was hired by USCRI/VRRP as a Case Manage. He provides case management and interpretation services for refugees and asylees.  Mr. Mukiza is a Burundian who was born in the Republic of Rwanda.  In 1994, he was forced to flee to the Democratic Republic of Congo and in 1996 was again forced to flee to the United Republic of Tanzania, where he lived for ten years.  Mr. Mukiza graduated from high school in 2002 in Tanzania and worked as a teacher from 2002-2007.  He also worked with the International Rescue Committee as a Primary Schools Community Worker Supervisor from 2005-2006 in the Muyovozi Refugee Camp.   Mr. Mukiza was a Master Trainer and Equipment Manager at Right to Play in Mtabila and Muyovozi Refugee Camp. He speaks English, French, Swahili, Kirundi, and Kinyarwanda. (802-654-1174,

Nada Popovac
Receptionist/Administrative Assistant
Nada Popovac works as a receptionist and administrative assistant and provides general office support to all staff at USCRI/VRRP.  She first got involved with USCRI/VRRP as a client herself, as a refugee from Bosnia, in 1998.  By the following year, she started working for the program as a receptionist.  During her tenure, she has taken on the job of an administrative assistant and the assistant for Interpreting and Translating Services.  She also provides basic immigration assistance for USCRI/VRRP clients.  Mrs. Popovac is fluent in Serbo-Croatian. (802-655-1963,

Htun Sein
Case Manager
Htun Sein serves as a Case Manager for Vermont’s resettled refugee communities.  Previously, he worked as USCRI/VRRP’s staff interpreter – providing Burmese language translation and interpretation for both youth and adults.  Htun Sein has volunteered at Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Before coming to the United States, Htun Sein lived in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border for more than ten years and then lived in Thailand, where he studied English and joined the Tavoyan Youth Organization (TYO).  As a TYO member, he was actively involved in human rights and democracy movements for Burma.  In Thailand, Htun Sein interned at the Office of Human Rights Documentary Unit for Burma – interviewing migrant workers, entering data, and providing interpretation and translation. (802-338-4617,

Laurie Stavrand
Community Partnership Coordinator
Laurie Stavrand connects the local community – including individuals, organizations and businesses – with newly arriving refugees, facilitating meaningful relationships and sharing information and resources.  In addition to growing a dedicated team of volunteers, she organizes community events to build understanding by engaging stakeholders in ongoing, in-depth dialogue.  Ms. Stavrand has over thirty years of experience in the United States and abroad, working closely with clients to understand their needs, solving complex problems, and managing staff and volunteers from different cultural backgrounds.  She holds a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati. (802-338-4627,

Yoga Subedi
Staff Interpreter
Yoga Subedi was born in Bhutan. He left in 1992 and went to Nepal, where he spent 17 years as a refugee. He then pursued his education in India, where he attained a Bachelors of Science with a major in chemistry in 2003 from St. Josephs' College, in North Bengal University, Darjeeling, West Bengal. He came to the United States in 2009 and started working for USCRI/VRRP as an on-call interpreter. He served the local community by interpreting and translating in medical, legal, social services and employment related settings and became a Certified Medical Interpreter via Cross Cultural Communication Systems, Inc. in 2011. Before coming to the USA, he worked for over five years in private schools in Nepal teaching mathematics and science to high school students. Currently his position at USCRI/VRRP is Staff Interpreter. Yoga is fluent in English, Nepali and Hindi. (802-338-4629,

Matt Thompson
Coordinator of Programs
Matt Thompson serves as Program Coordinator, overseeing the Matching Grant, Wilson/Fish, and Reach Up programs administered by USCRI/VRRP.  Prior to working as Coordinator of Programs, he was an Employment Counselor at USCRI/VRRP, developing employment opportunities and assisting clients in obtaining jobs.  Previously, he was a Job Developer at Catholic Charities Refugee Center in Washington, DC, and Case Manager and Housing Coordinator for refugees, asylees, and survivors of torture and severe trauma at the Center for Multicultural Human Services in Falls Church, VA.  Matt has studied the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories and assisted with returning refugees and internally-displaced persons in Burundi.  He speaks French and received an M.A. from American University-School of International Service in Washington, DC, and a B.A. from Earlham College in Richmond, IN, in Peace & Global Studies. (802-654-1705,

Tam Truong
Staff Accountant
Mr. Truong joined USCRI as a Staff Accountant in August 2007.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in professional accounting from the University of Vermont.  He manages finance as well as human resources for the Vermont Field Office and also assists with MIS.  He currently resides in Essex Junction, VT.  Tam is fluent in Vietnamese. (802-654-1733,

Alyssa Vigneault
Coordinator of Interpretation and Translation Services
Alyssa Vigneault joined the USCRI/VRRP team in January 2011 as an Employment Counselor and is now the Coordinator of Interpretation and Translation Services, liaising with area service providers to ensure linguistically appropriate services for the New American communities in Vermont.  Prior to joining VRRP, Ms. Vigneault worked as the Volunteer & Intern Coordinator and as an Employment Services Coordinator with the Bosnian Community Center for Resource Development, Inc. in Lynn, MA.  She also worked as an Employment Services Intern with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston, and assisted in drafting Council of Europe reports on human rights abuses in Lithuania while interning with the Human Rights Monitoring Institute in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Ms. Vigneault hold a Bachelor's degree in International Studies with a minor in non-violence studies from Elon University.  She speaks Spanish and is currently learning Arabic. (802-654-1706,

©2011 USCRI
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