President & Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
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.
Senior Vice President for Global Engagement
Eskinder Negash currently serves as Senior Vice President for Global Engagement. Prior to joining USCRI, Mr. Negash was appointed by the Obama Administration and served as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), within the Administration of Children and Families, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2009-2015. Additionally, 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). 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 & Chief Financial Officer
Lee Williams joined USCRI as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in August 2009. In this role, he has direct management responsibilities for USCRI’s operations, including programs and services through its Refugee Services and Immigrant Services Divisions, Field Office operations, Development, Communications, Advocacy, and Finance/Accounting teams. Prior to joining, he was the Executive Director of the International Institute of Akron, a USCRI partner agency serving the refugee and immigrant communities of northeast Ohio. Mr. Williams’ early career was in financial services, where he focused on global securities and markets with the Morgan Stanley Trust Company, Deutsche Bank Global Institutional Services, and Capco. 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 Programs
Ms. Berhane oversees USCRI’s national programs that provide services across the U.S. to refugees, asylees, Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants, victims of severe forms of trafficking, and unaccompanied alien children. Previously, Ms. Berhane worked as the Director of Refugee Services Division that included the Reception and Placement, Matching Grant, and Preferred Communities programs. She also worked as a Senior Program Officer serving as the primary point of contact for USCRI's Reception and Placement program and managed the daily activities of the program prior to becoming the Director of Refugee Services Division. She has over ten years of refugee-related experience and knowledge in the areas of overseas refugee assistance, processing, and the U.S. Refugee Resettlement programs. Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Berhane served as the Senior Program Associate with Ethiopian Community Development Council in Virginia, coordinating an annual national conference on African refugees; public education and outreach on refugee issues; and providing grants management and technical assistance to community-based organizations and resettlement sites. She holds a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Marketing from Old Dominion University.
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 Business Development
As the Director of Business Development, Mr. Limón is responsible for developing new business opportunities for the benefit of the USCRI Field Offices and Affiliate Agencies. Discretionary and fee for service programs are vitally important funding sources, which facilitate the delivery of robust and comprehensive services to our clients. Co-branding with business corporations is an emphasis for the business development program, leading to additional job opportunities for refugees and immigrants. Mr. Limón is also involved with negotiating with vendors who provide various services to the USCRI Network. Mr. Limón has over 25 years of experience in business management, investment banking, financial services, telecommunications and customer service. Mr. Limón's previous work experience includes ownership and operation of two businesses, a financial services company, and a hospitality business in San Clemente, California. Mr. Limón has designed and managed several international communications projects in Africa, South America, and Asia.
Director of Management of Information Systems
Mr. Pak is responsible for the ongoing maintenance, development, and support of network and computing platforms and for the design and management of Internet and network security. From 1993 to 1997, Mr. Pak worked as a Network Engineer and System Integrator at various companies including Technology Automation Management Inc., Comstor Inc., and RHI. He completed Local Area Network study at Computer Learning Center in 1994 and has completed various IT training and certifications including MCSE, CNE, CCSA. Mr. Pak studied Music Composition at the University of New Orleans. He previously lived in Seoul, South Korea and speaks English and Korean.
Director of Administration
Ms. Seiler implements the personnel policies and the overall administration of the agency. During her career, Ms. Seiler has served as an Executive Assistant to the International Finance Corporation in Washington D.C., Gulf & Western Engineering and Advanced Technology in Pennsylvania, the United Nations Environment Program in Geneva, Switzerland and Nairobi, Kenya, and The Franklin Mint in London. Ms. Seiler graduated from North-East Essex College. She has lived in Germany and Japan, is a naturalized American, and speaks French and German fluently.
FIELD OFFICE DIRECTORS
Director of Detroit Field Office
In July 2007, Tawfik Alazem joined USCRI as the Director of USCRI’s newly opened Detroit, Michigan field office in Dearborn. Since that time, Mr. Alazem has been responsible for the operational and personnel management of the field office. Mr. Alazem administers the Reception and Placement (R&P), Matching Grant (MG), and Secondary Migration to Stability (SMS) programs and oversees office operations and programs delivery to immigrants and refugees who settle in the greater Detroit, Michigan area. Before joining USCRI, Mr. Alazem held several management positions in finance, marketing, sales, and general business management. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University. He is fluent in Arabic.
Director of International Institute of Erie
Prior to joining the International Institute of Erie in April 2012, Dylanna served as the Director of Community Assistance and Refugee Resettlement for the Northern Area Multi-Service Center (NAMS), and as Director of Refugee Resettlement and Educational Programs at the International Institute of Akron (IIA). Throughout her career, Dylanna has carried out a broad range of administrative functions, including grant-writing, program evaluation, fiscal management, volunteer management, and program development. Dylanna earned her BA in English from Kent State University, where she also received certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and completed post graduate coursework in conflict management. She is proficient in Spanish and intermediate in Turkish.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director of Raleigh Field Office
Kevin began working with people who are displaced in 1979 when thousands of refugees fled Vietnam by boat. Initially, he worked for the American Council for Nationalities Service (ACNS) in Indonesia and then for the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) in the Philippines and in Japan. Subsequently, Kevin worked as ICMC's Joint Voluntary Agency Representative in the Sudan where he processed applicants for U.S. resettlement from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Kevin next joined for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Thailand and then served as IRC's first Representative to Costa Rica where he assisted people who were displaced from Nicaragua. Upon returning from overseas, Kevin worked for nearly three decades with people who are displaced from their homes in the United States, initially in Yonkers and New Rochelle, NY and then in his native Massachusetts where he directed two non-profit agencies - one in Springfield and another in Amherst. In 2010, Kevin served briefly as a consultant to USCRI in Haiti, and in 2014 began directing USCRI's NC Field Office in Raleigh. He also speaks Spanish.
Director of Albany Field Office
Ms. Peckenpaugh is the Director of USCRI's Albany field office, which resettles approximately 400 refugees annually, arriving mainly from Burma, Iraq, Bhutan, and various African nations. Prior to joining USCRI, Jill was the Director of Program Management at Cross-Cultural Solutions, an international non-profit volunteering organization. Ms. Peckenpaugh has over 20 years of experience in organizational development, specializing in multicultural populations in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors; this experience serves her well in leading a diverse team of 12 staff members managing seven different federal and state-funded programs. She holds a M.S. in Training and Development from Lesley University, and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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).
Abdirahman “A.J.” Ahmed joined USCRI in May of 2010 as Matching Grant Program Officer. Prior to joining, A.J. worked for the Catholic Family Center in Rochester, NY as a Job Counselor and most recently as a Matching Grant Program Specialist in charge of all MG cases in the agency. He lived in Cairo, Egypt, for over nine years, and spent time in East Africa and the Middle East. A.J. holds a Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus on Informatics from the University at Buffalo and two certificates from Millard Fillmore College in System Design and Analysis, and Network Management. He is fluent in Arabic and Somali.
Program Officer - Matching Grant
Travis Barnwell joined USCRI in February of 2015 as a Matching Grant Program Officer. He was previously the Extended Services Coordinator at the Suburban Washington Resettlement Center in Silver Spring, MD. Travis holds a Master of Social Work degree from The Catholic University of America, and his professional background includes public school education and clinical social work practice in various urban settings. Travis' international experience comes through service with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and with Jesuit Refugee Service in Nairobi, Kenya.
Program Officer - Reception and Placement
Katherine Berube joined USCRI in March 2014 as a Reception and Placement Program Officer, with a focus on Cultural Orientation. Prior to joining USCRI, Katherine served as an Education and Employment Specialist for Lutheran Social Services’ Refugee Resettlement Program in New Hampshire. Katherine also worked as a Resettlement Case Manager for the International Institute of New Hampshire, and as an ESOL Instructor for The Adult Learning Center. She received a Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Springfield College. She has also received certifications in Immigration Counseling and Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Associate Director – Community Integration
Ms. Bracy works as the Associate Director for Community Integration overseeing USCRI’s Matching Grant and Preferred Communities programs. Prior to working in this capacity, Ms. Bracy worked for two years as a Senior Program Officer in the Matching Grant program, and two years as a Program Officer in USCRI's Reception and Placement program. Before joining USCRI, she worked for the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH) where for over four years she served in multiple positions - Site Director, Director of Resettlement and Social Services, and Employment Coordinator. While employed at IINH, she served on multiple advisory boards and committees, and received the “40 under Forty” award for leadership. She holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of New Hampshire and has completed Master's level coursework at the School for International Training where she focused on Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management.
Program Officer - Post Release Services, Child Advocacy Program
Jenna Cameron is the Program Officer for USCRI’s new Child Advocacy Program for unaccompanied immigrant children. She is responsible for development and implementation of the program and supervises Child Advocates in the following immigration court jurisdictions: Baltimore, Arlington, Miami, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. Ms. Cameron previously served as Senior Case Manager for the USCRI’s Home Study and Post Release Services program, at Mary’s Center for Maternal & Child Care in Washington, DC. Prior experience also includes legal advocacy and community outreach for Spanish-speaking refugee clients with Asylum Access Ecuador, mental health and psychosocial support services for immigrant families at Casa de Salud in St. Louis, and program development and coordination for Sembrando Esperanza in Nicaragua. As part of her BSW program, she interned with the Matching Grant program at USCRI Albany. She holds a MSW in International Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, a BSW from Skidmore College, and is a licensed social worker in MD, DC, and VA. She is fluent in Spanish and has worked and traveled in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
As Office Manager, Ms. Corneliusen provides general office support to all staff at USCRI headquarters by ensuring the smooth operation of all administrative functions. She also serves as Internship Coordinator, managing the internship program for USCRI's headquarters office. Before joining USCRI in 2010, Ms. Corneliusen worked for 10 years in film production in Canada and Germany, primarily as a producer's assistant, documentary researcher and graphics designer. While living in Germany, she also worked for the US Army’s Civilians on the Battlefield program as a translator. While living in Canada, she volunteered with Vancouver Rape Relief. She speaks German as well as basic French and Spanish.
Tatyana Delgado is a Staff Attorney in the Immigrant Children’s Legal Program. Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Delgado served as a Training and Legal Support Attorney with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). She conducted trainings on immigration law, provided guidance on case-specific matters, and engaged in advocacy on behalf of immigrant youth. Ms. Delgado previously served as a Supervising Attorney and Georgetown Attorney Fellow at the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. At the Cabrini Center, she represented unaccompanied children, mentored pro bono attorneys handling asylum cases, and oversaw the asylee, refugee, and citizenship programs. She earned a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park. She speaks Spanish and French, and is a member of the New York, District of Columbia, and Maryland bars.
Pro Bono Coordinator - Immigrant Children's Legal Program
Michelle Dinits serves as Pro Bono Coordinator for the Immigrant Children’s Legal Program at USCRI. She identifies and recruits pro bono attorneys to represent immigrant children nationwide, as well as coordinates and facilitates trainings for attorneys and other service providers. Prior to joining USCRI, Michelle was a fellow in the Client Services Department of Polaris Project, providing comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking. While at the New York Association for New Americans, she provided legal services to clients seeking asylum and those self-petitioning under the Violence Against Women Act. She has also worked with Amnesty International and the U.K. Labour Party. Michelle received her Juris Doctor from Cardozo School of Law in New York, with a concentration in International and Comparative Law. She holds a B.A. from Binghamton University, with a major in Philosophy, Politics and Law, and a minor in International Studies.
Program Assistant - Reception and Placement
Phanuelle is responsible for travel coordination as R&P Program Assistant at USCRI. She previously interned with USCRI’s Immigrant Children’s Legal Program, taught ESL to refugees and immigrants in Michigan, and served as the fundraising coordinator for a Haitian orphanage. Phanuelle earned B.A. degrees in Sociology, Political Science and Spanish from Calvin College in Michigan and completed the Philip G. Hubbard Law School Fellowship Program at the University of Iowa College of Law. She has studied in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, and she speaks French, Spanish, and Haitian Kreyol.
Mrs. Garner focuses on USCRI’s field offices’ financial operation as part of the Finance team. Before joining USCRI in 2001, Mrs. Garner worked at the local television station, WTTG-Fox Channel 5 as the Assistant Account Executive for 6 years. Mrs. Garner has worked in the accounting field in the public and non-profit sectors for over 18 years.
Associate Director of Compliance
Ms. Gesa is responsible for implementing fiscal compliance policies of the agency. Before USCRI, Anne worked in various capacities in audit, general accounting and grant fiscal management in the non-profit and public sectors for over 15 years. Ms. Gesa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Georgetown University, she is originally from Uganda.
Maureen Gibbons Varela
Program Officer- National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program
Maureen Gibbons Varela is a Program Officer for the National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (NHTVAP). She is responsible for recruiting and maintaining relationships with partner service providers, offering training and technical assistance, and monitoring and oversight of program implementation by partners. Prior to joining USCRI, Maureen worked on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline, fielding crises calls, assessing situations for indicators of human trafficking, and coordinating appropriate responses to tips. Maureen’s background is in human rights, particularly women’s and children’s rights. At the Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA), in Pulau Pinang, Malaysia, Maureen conducted independent field research on the impact of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on the efforts of women’s rights NGOs across the country. At Firefly Children’s Network, Maureen developed an expertise on the political and social factors that contribute to the warehousing of children in Russian orphanages. Maureen earned her B.A. at Boston College, and her M.A. in International Relations at American University, where her thesis analyzed the systematic use of gender based violence during conflict.
Francis Gortaire Valencia
Intake Specialist - Immigrant Children's Legal Program
In her position within USCRI’s Immigrant Children’s Legal Program, Francis is responsible for intake of unaccompanied immigrant children for the purposes of obtaining them pro bono legal representation. The majority of the telephonic intake interviews with the children are conducted in Spanish which is Francis’ first language. She holds bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs, Humanities and Social Sciences from Florida State University.
Human Resource Generalist
LaShawna joined the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in the fall of 2014 as Human Resources Generalist. Prior to joining USCRI, LaShawna spent several years supporting branch personnel in various financial institutions through on-going training and development programs. She has also worked for both private and public organizations supporting various functions in the human resource department. In addition to her professional experience, LaShawna proactively seeks opportunities to give back to her local community. She successfully created and implemented a mentorship program that would help “at risk” youth. She also partnered with local community leaders to develop a career workshop program that would help single parents return to work. LaShawna received her B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Strayer University.
Ankur has expertise in database design and programming including installation, configuration, maintenance, monitoring, and troubleshooting. In addition, he has more than 2 years of experience in SQL Server Development and in developing large-scale, performance critical client/server and web applications using Microsoft Technologies like ASP and VBScript, and solutions with Microsoft .NET using Visual Studio.NET 2000/2003/2005/2008, ASP.NET,VB.NET and C#.NET with SQL Server 2005/2008, Oracle 9i and Access. Ankur previously worked at Dekatron Corporation as .NET Developer, USAC as Software Developer and Conjoint Systems Pvt Ltd as Software Developer. Ankur received a Bachelor of Engineering, Computer Science from Oriental Institute of Science and Technology.
Program Officer – Reception and Placement
Ms. Hailu works as a Program Officer for the Reception and Placement Program. She supervises the USCRI Reception and Placement processing unit, which supports the successful generation of family reunification cases and the resettlement of refugee cases. Prior to joining USCRI, she worked with Doctors Without Borders, first as a logistics administrator and later as a project coordinator. Over the past six years, she has been posted in several South Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Ms. Hailu speaks Tigrinya.
IOM Senior Loan Specialist
A member of USCRI's IOM (International Office of Migration) Loan Collection Department, Ms. Hudgens handles incoming and outgoing collection calls. She assists in educating refugees about how credit works and the importance of establishing and maintaining good credit. Ms. Hudgens previously worked at Woodward and Lothrop for 25 years, in Collections.
Sara Jane Ibrahim
Sara Jane Ibrahim is responsible for strategic, national advocacy initiatives and linking USCRI’s National Network with elected representatives as an Advocacy Officer with the Government & Community Relations department. Before joining USCRI, she served as Advocacy Counsel on Refugee Protection at Human Rights First, Immigration Policy Advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Policy Impact Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, where her work focused on refugee and immigrants’ rights advocacy with the U.S. Congress and executive branch. Her writing on human rights has appeared in the Human Rights Brief, Interpreter Releases, and the American Bar Association’s publication The International Lawyer. Sara earned her J.D. from American University Washington College Law and a graduate diploma in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies from the American University in Cairo. She received her B.A. from The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and served as an intern in the U.S. Congress.
Elvira Ismagilova is responsible for monthly general ledger journal entries, accounts payable and receivable, sub-ledgers and other general accounting duties. Prior to her current position, Elvira worked in the hospitality management industry. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Tatar State University and she is currently completing a Certificate Program in Accounting. Elvira is a CPA candidate and is fluent in Russian and Tatar.
As Development Associate for USCRI, Ms. Koris is responsible for proposal and grant development for field office programs that serve resettled refugee and immigrant populations across the country. Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Koris worked as a Program Assistant for AMAR International Charitable Foundation, providing project management support for gender based violence and women's empowerment programs in the Middle East. In 2010 she served as a community organizer with grassroots refugee and immigrant women's groups in Massachusetts and implemented a women's health education and advocacy campaign for indigenous migrants in the area. She also spent seven months in Lima, Peru and completed independent research on indigenous social exclusion, human rights violations, and urban development in Latin America. Andrea speaks fluent Spanish and has a working knowledge of French. She earned a B.A. in Theology and Peace and Conflict Studies from the College of the Holy Cross.
Program Officer - Reception and Placement
Jessica Lilley joined USCRI in February of 2015 as a Reception and Placement Program Officer with a focus on Monitoring and Evaluation. Prior to joining USCRI, Jessica was a Post-Arrival Program Associate at Episcopal Migration Ministries' national office in New York City, where she worked on administration of R&P, Matching Grant, and Preferred Communities programs and development of Cultural Orientation programming. At Church World Service in Lancaster, PA, Jessica served as an Americorps VISTA in the role of Cultural Orientation Coordinator. Before becoming involved in refugee resettlement as an intern case manager in graduate school, Jessica lived in Osaka, Japan for two years where she taught ESL to elementary and middle school students. She hold a Master's degree in Social Work (Administration, Planning, and Policy concentration) and a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Virginia Commonwealth University and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Mary Washington.
Advocacy Officer – Government and Community Relations
Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Lopez worked as a Policy Analyst for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa on issues of gangs and immigration. Ms. Lopez was also a Policy Advocate with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. In 2006 she clerked for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica and served on the ACLU of Southern California’s Board from 2008-2012. She is a volunteer Mexico Country Specialist with Amnesty International USA. Ms. Lopez has a JD from Santa Clara University School of Law and attended the Institut International des Droits de L'homme, in France where she studied human rights law. She has a BA in History from Cal State, Sacramento and is a native Spanish speaker.
Program Officer - Matching Grant
Ruslan Maksutov works as a Program Officer for the Matching Grant program. Mr. Maksutov has been working in the field of refugee resettlement since 2008, in the roles of Case Manager, Job Developer, and coordinator of the Matching Grant Program at USCRI Albany. Prior to joining USCRI, he held positions with international organizations and research institutions, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE) and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), addressing regional cooperation, security and human rights issues. His research on regional security and peace-building efforts in Central Asia was published in 2009 by the Institute of International Affairs Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland. He has management experience as Vice President of a nonprofit organization and Marketing Director of Neotech, Ltd. Mr. Maksutov has a B.A. in American Studies from the American University in Central Asia and an M.A. in Political Science from OSCE Academy. He is an accomplished linguist, speaking Russian, Turkish, Kyrgyz, and Polish.
Junior System Administrator
Jishnu Mangal is the Junior System Administrator at USCRI. Before joining USCRI, Mr. Mangal worked as a System Analyst in the Department of Social Services, Prince Georges County, Maryland. Mr. Mangal holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical and Electronics from SNM Institute of Management and Technology, Kerala, India. He is fluent in Malayalam and Tamil and is also familiar with Hindi and Brazilian Portuguese.
IOM Loan Specialist
A member of USCRI's International Office of Migration (IOM) Loan Collection Department, Ms. Mani handles new, active, and delinquent loans, as well as incoming and outgoing collection calls. She also works closely with customers, replying to all requests. She assists in educating refugees about how credit works and the importance of establishing and maintaining good credit. She speaks fluent Khmer.
Associate Director of Development
Ms. McLaughlin joined USCRI as an experienced grant writer and external relations professional for international organizations. Prior to assuming the role, she was the Development and Communications Manager at an agency focused on citizen diplomacy where she managed federal and foundation grants, sponsorships, external communications, and edited all printed materials. She has also volunteered in camps with refugee women and has researched refugee identity in the West Bank. Ms. McLaughlin holds a B.A. in Theology with a minor in French from Saint Joseph’s University, an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from Arcadia University, and has studied Gender and Peacebuilding at the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. She speaks intermediate French and has studied Arabic.
Program Assistant - Reception and Placement
Mr. Meagher joined USCRI in October 2013. Prior to this Mr. Meagher worked as an Assistant Project Manager and Research Specialist at the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, working primarily on projects dealing with psychosocial programming in the Great Lakes region of Africa. During this time he also held adjunct professor positions at James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University, teaching public policy and political theory. He has also worked as an Allocations Processor for the Refugee Processing Center. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree in 2010 (Concentration: Management in International Nongovernmental Organizations,) and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies (Concentration: Global Policy) in 2008. Both degrees were earned at James Madison University. He speaks intermediate level Spanish.
Maria Gabriela Mena
Program Assistant - Post Release Services
Gabriela is a Program Assistant for Post Release Services in the Immigrant Services Division. She provides administrative support at headquarters and to the case managers in the field. She previously interned for The Immigrant Services Division in the legal services program. In addition, Gabriela worked as a Volunteer Legal Assistant at Mil Mujeres Legal Services, Development and Communications Intern at The Hovde Foundation, and interned for the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Gabriela received a dual B.A. in International Relations and French from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is multi-lingual and speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.
Associate Director - National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program
Ms. Moreno is the Associate Director of the National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program. In this capacity, she is responsible for overall management, implementation, service delivery, and reporting for USCRI’s National Human Trafficking Victims Assistance Program across 29 states, including American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Ms. Moreno has a diverse background in law, working in immigration law for the last seven years, with a concentration in human trafficking and related crime victim issues pertaining to immigrant populations and unaccompanied immigrant children. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Incarnate Word College and a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University, School of Law. She is fluent in Spanish.
Interpreter Program Coordinator
Mohanad Najm works with the Business Development team to build and establish the USCRI Interpreter Program. Prior to joining USCRI, Mohanad was a Senior International Student Advisor with the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq - Cultural Office where he advised over 1200 Iraqi graduate students studying and living in the US. Additionally, Mohanad has over seven years experience working as a senior linguist in an active war zone. Prior to moving to the United States in 2009, Mohanad worked as a military linguist and cultural advisor alongside US troops deployed in Iraq, providing interpretation and translation during active combat missions and also training and supervising junior interpreters. Mohanad earned his Bachelor degree in English at Al-Mamon University in Baghdad, Iraq. Mohanad is fluent in both English and Arabic.
Associate Director - Post Release Services
Tiffany Nelms is the Associate Director for Home Study and Post Release Services. In this capacity she oversees USCRI's social service and home assessment program for unaccompanied children nationwide. The program has served over 1,000 children since 2011 and strives to ensure that all children are in safe and stable placements and well-connected in their communities. Additionally, Ms. Nelms has presented on migration prevention and unaccompanied children in the US and Latin America.
Ms. Nelms has worked with unaccompanied children in various capacities including direct service, advocacy, and program management in social service and shelter care settings. In addition to her work with unaccompanied children, she has worked with immigrant survivors (women and children) and perpetrators of domestic violence. Ms. Nelms also spent a year in Venezuela serving at-risk youth through a mobile school and equine therapy program. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Maryland and her B.S.W. from Salisbury State University. She is fluent in Spanish and has traveled extensively in Latin America.
Program Assistant - Reception and Placement
Willis Orlando serves as R&P Program Assistant for USCRI. Prior to holding this position Willis worked as a volunteer refugee mentor, Reception and Placement intern and on-call case aide at USCRI’s Albany, NY field office. He has spent significant time tutoring ESOL students for Literacy Volunteers and volunteering for various causes in Southern Africa. Willis holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the State University of New York at Albany.
Web and Database Developer
Khoi has overall 5 years professional experience in the IT Industry using advanced C#, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, VB.NET, VB 6.0, Classic ASP, Web Services with SOAP, SOA and IIS. In addition, he has extensive experience with database backup routines, maintenance plans, recovery and disaster planning, and maintaining integrity of databases; general server maintenance for database and web servers. Performing system analysis, performance tuning, and optimization on both the server and application levels. Moreover, he has experience in .NET Framework 4.5, 4.0, 3.5 like LINQ, AJAX, WCF, WPF, MVC; professional development of Database application using ODBC, OLEDB, ADO, MS Access, MS SQL Server, Transact-SQL, Oracle 9i and PL/SQL, LINQ. Khoi holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Winona State University, Minnesota and Bachelor Degree in Computer Information Systems from Lotus University, Vietnam. He speaks English and Vietnamese.
Program Assistant - Preferred Communities
Sarah Phillips joined USCRI in January 2014 as a Program Assistant with Refugee Services. Prior to joining USCRI, Sarah served as a consultant at the Youth HIV/AIDS Resource Center in Ekwendeni, Malawi. Her other international experiences include internships with the U.S. Foreign Service in Brussels, Belgium and Milan, Italy, and with the Barenboim-Said Foundation in Seville, Spain. She earned an MBA in International Organizations from the University of Geneva and a Masters of Public and International Affairs in Human Security from the University of Pittsburgh. Sarah speaks Spanish and Italian.
Program Officer - Preferred Communities
Prior to joining USCRI, Lucy managed the Intensive Case Management (ICM)/Preferred Communities (PC) Program for the Oakland field office with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). She has also worked at IRC/RSC Bangkok for the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in 2007-2008 as the first caseworker hired to work exclusively with North Korean refugees since the North Korean Human Rights Act passed in 2004. In 2012-2013, she joined the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) as a team leader to provide educational support in the West Bank city of Hebron in Palestine. Her other social work experiences include working with the elderly and people with disabilities enrolled in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program in Alameda County, California. She graduated with a Master of Science (MSc) in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.
Program Officer - Reception and Placement
Kristin joined the USCRI team in August 2014 as a Reception and Placement Program Officer. Prior to joining USCRI, Kristin served with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ national office in Washington, DC as the Preferred Communities Program Coordinator and a Children’s Services Specialist for UAC and URM foster care programs. Kristin began her work with refugee populations in 2009 at Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, TX, serving as an R&P Case Manager. She learned the resettlement world quickly, providing direct case management and welcoming over 100 new arrivals in her first year at Catholic Charities. Kristin’s passion for refugees and other migrants was developed during a year spent teaching in Thailand. While a proud native of Texas, Kristin has an adventurous and inquisitive nature that has led her to devote her skills to serve her global neighbors. Kristin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Social Work, both from Baylor University.
Ms. Robinson is responsible for managing various human resources functions along with regulatory and legal compliance. Ms. Robinson previously worked for Illume Communications as Project Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee as Program Assistant and The Dalai Group in business development. Ms. Robinson received a Graduate Certificate in Leadership of Non-Profit Organizations from the College of Notre Dame in Maryland. She also received a B.A. degree in International Studies from Towson University in Maryland. She has studied in Guanajuato, Mexico and is proficient in Spanish.
Program Officer - National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program
Andrea Rojas is a Program Officer for USCRI's National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (NHTVAP). She is responsible for recruiting and maintaining relationships with partner service providers, offering training and technical assistance, and monitoring and oversight of program implementation by partners. Prior to joining NHTVAP, Ms. Rojas served as a Referral Coordinator for the USCRI Home Study and Post Release Services program, coordinating home study and post release services for unaccompanied children. Andrea has worked with immigrants and refugees in various capacities including as Post-Release Services Manager for Mary’s Center and Program Coordinator of the Cuban/Haitian Refugee Program for USCRI NC. She managed programs for Exil Center, a non-profit based in Barcelona, designing, developing, and implementing social support programs for refugees and immigrants. Andrea also served as a volunteer coordinator of The Latino Community Empowerment Fund, a non- profit micro finance fund based at the University of North Carolina that provides small business training to local Latino community members. Andrea holds a law degree from the Catholic University of Valparaiso in Chile, a Masters of Criminal Justice from the University Autonomous Barcelona, and a certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University.
Associate Director of Interpreter Services
Cecilia Salazar has 14 years of experience in leading Interpretation and Translation programs for healthcare systems. She lived in the Midwest for 20 years prior to moving to DC and joining USCRI. Ms. Salazar was the Director of cultural competence for a healthcare system where she worked 12 years. She led programs with emphasis on cultural competence as an important part of hospital quality and patient safety. She was born and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico where she studied at the University of San Luis Potosí, BS - Chemistry & Biology and partial studies at the School of Medicine. She continued such combination of linguistics and medicine as a fellow at the Health Research and Educational Trust-American Hospital Association in Chicago for Cultural Competence Leadership fellowship. In addition to her curricula, University of San Francisco Curriculum Development for Cultural Competence in the Health Care. Cross Cultural Health Care Program- Medical Interpreter’s Training of Trainers -Santa Rosa, CA. Cecilia is fluent in Spanish.
Program Officer - Post Release
Amy Schafer is a Program Officer for Post Release Services with USCRI’s Immigrant Services Division. She started with USCRI in 2011 as a Post Release Case Manager with the USCRI, providing services to vulnerable unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States. Prior to joining USCRI, she worked for the State of North Carolina in the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Wake County 4-H Youth Development, and a local nonprofit Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Wake County. Ms Schafer’s work has focused primarily on serving high risk, high need latino families. She worked in under served communities providing workshops to families, informing them of resources to support families, and creating opportunities for the youth to become proactive, productive members of their communities. She has served on the Wake County Gang Prevention Partnership, MentorWake, and Alianza Latina Pro-Educacion en Salud. She has also worked overseas in the Dominican Republic focusing on community health, nutrition, and education. She also speaks Spanish.
Associate Director - Resettlement
Lindsey Sharp is the Associate Director of Resettlement, serving as the primary point of contact for the program. Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Sharp worked at the U.S. Refugee Processing Center, coordinating a Department of State resettlement benefit program for Iraqi and Afghan recipients of Special Immigrant Visas. She previously worked at the International Rescue Committee in New York as the Resettlement Department Manager. Ms. Sharp holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Peace and Global Policy Studies from New York University, and an M.A. in History from Hunter College. While completing her M.A. thesis, she spent several months in Nicaragua, volunteering and teaching at an elementary school. She has traveled extensively in Central and South America, and is proficient in Spanish.
Anna Rose Siegel
Since 2006, Anna has raised funds for, developed programs for, and advocated on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. Ms. Siegel spent three years in Israel where she worked for the African Refugee Development Center. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, Politics, and Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Mediation from Tel Aviv University. Ms. Siegel also studied in Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand. She speaks Hebrew and has a working knowledge of French.
Business Development Program Assistant
Faye Steinhauser fosters and creates new business opportunities for the USCRI Field Offices and Affiliate Agencies. Additionally, she develops business corporation relationships to create employment opportunities for refugees and immigrants. Prior to joining USCRI, Faye was a development consultant with Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (ASTT) and served as Cultural Orientation and Financial Literacy Instructor at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Additionally, she managed a community literacy program for non-native English speakers and has years of experience in English language tutoring. Before her career in the non-profit sector, Faye managed customer accounts and worked in accounts receivable in a Fortune 500 logistics corporation. Faye earned her Bachelor degree at Penn State University and her Master degree in International Communication from American University. She speaks Spanish and Arabic.
Associate Director – Field Offices
Serban Popescu is the Associate Director for the Field Offices at USCRI. Serban previously worked in USCRI’s Reception and Placement program, first providing support as a Program Specialist in the pre-arrival team by processing assurances, travel notifications, and family reunification applications; later as a Program Officer in the post-arrival team, coordinating monitoring and evaluation activities, developing and providing training webinars, and assisting the Director in the financial management of the program. Serban began employment with USCRI as an Administrative Assistant, coordinating human resources for USCRI headquarters and field offices, and providing primary support to the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining USCRI, he was a Woodrow Wilson International Scholar researching the impact of EU conditionality on fledgling democracies. Serban received an M.A. in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Bucharest. Serban speaks French and Romanian
Eric J. Tijerina
Associate Director - Immigrant Children's Legal Program
Eric J. Tijerina, J.D., M.B.A., is the Associate Director, Immigrant Children’s Legal Program. Prior to joining USCRI, Mr. Tijerina served as Director of Legal Programs at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), with offices in San Antonio, Austin, and Corpus Christi, Texas. He served as chairperson of the State Bar of Texas Crime Victims subcommittee from June 2012 through June 2014 and was a Task Force member of the Alamo-area Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Mr. Tijerina previously served stints as lead attorney for the Legal Orientation Program at the Political Asylum Project of Austin and as a Supervising Attorney and Clinical Fellow at the St. Mary’s University School of Law Immigration Clinic. Prior to commencing a career in law, Mr. Tijerina served for ten years as senior brand manager and business consultant at The Topps Company, Inc. in New York City, where he oversaw the production and profit/loss of several key brands. Mr. Tijerina holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Business Administration from Texas Christian University, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s University School of Law.
Program Officer - Reception and Placement
Virginia Weyer joined USCRI in April 2012 as a Program Assistant with the Reception and Placement Program. She currently serves as a Program Officer with the R&P Program. Before joining USCRI, Virginia worked as an Administrative Assistant with the IRC Resettlement Office in Silver Spring, MD. Before holding this position, Virginia spent nine months volunteering in fundraising and project development in Nairobi, Kenya. She also worked as a Reception and Placement Intern with the IRC and as the Development Assistant at another DC based non-profit organization. Virginia has a B.A. in International Studies from American University.
Durell graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor's of Business Administration in Accounting with triple concentration minors in Finance, Communications, and Marketing. Prior to his current position, Durell worked as a Billing Coordinator for Network for Good and in finance at General Electric. Durell is currently a CPA candidate and Bloomberg Essential Market Certified. Durell is a native of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.