About

We advance the rights and lives of those who have been forcibly or voluntarily uprooted. For over 100 years, the unwavering commitment of our leadership, team, network of service providers, and advocates has helped redirect the destiny of countless vulnerable lives.

OUR VISION

Immigrants, refugees, and uprooted people will live dignified lives with
their rights respected and protected in communities of opportunity.

OUR MISSION

To protect the rights and address the needs of persons in forced or
voluntary migration worldwide and support their transition to a dignified life.

Leadership

ESKINDER NEGASH

PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Eskinder is a recognized Senior Executive leader and brings nearly 40 years of proven non-profit management experience, working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and managing non-profit social service agencies. He served as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the largest government funded refugee resettlement organization in the world, from 2009-2015. With a budget of over $1.5 billion, the ORR 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 served 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 USCRI.

LEE WILLIAMS

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Lee Williams has direct management responsibilities for USCRI’s domestic Refugee, Anti-Trafficking and Unaccompanied Children programs and Field Office operations. Prior to joining USCRI, 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 in the U.S. and Europe. He 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. in Arabic from Georgetown University.

Directors

SABA BERHANE

DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS

Saba oversees USCRI’s national programs that provide support and new beginnings across the United States to refugees, asylees, Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants, victims of severe forms of trafficking, and unaccompanied immigrant children. 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 has fifteen years of experience working on behalf of refugees and immigrants.

STACIE BLAKE

DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS

Stacie rejoined USCRI in 2014 after having previously led the USCRI Vermont field office from 2002-2005. A passion for justice guides her career in this sector with leadership positions at the state and national level in Vermont, Florida, and now DC. Prior to rejoining USCRI, she led a Florida program to end discrimination and the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture where she developed and launched the National Partnership for Community Training, a research based collaborative to share best practices for communities with torture survivors. 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.

WONY PAK

DIRECTOR OF MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS

Wony plans, coordinates, directs, and designs all operational activities of the MIS department, as well as provides high availability and security solutions that enhance mission-critical business operations and continuity. He has over 22 years of information technology experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining USCRI, 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 and has achieved various IT training and certifications including CNE, MCSE, and CCSA. Mr. Pak holds B.A. in Music Composition at the University of New Orleans.

CECILY RODRIGUEZ

DIRECTOR OF REFUGEE HEALTH SERVICES

Cecily manages USCRI’s refugee health programs, including the health benefits plan and medical screening. She serves as the subject matter expert on healthcare policy, data management, and Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards. She also serves as USCRI’s Privacy Officer. Cecily has been developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and services that seek to reduce health disparities for underserved communities for more than twenty years. She is a Qualified Bilingual Staff trainer, a facilitator for the National Hispanic/Latino ATTC Cultural Elements in Treatment Workshop, a certified facilitator for the QPR Refugee Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention and an administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. She has a Master of Public Administration; certificate in the Bridging the Gap Interpreter Program and was included in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Limited English Proficient Peer Expert Directory.

MICHAEL WILES

DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND COMPLIANCE

Michael is responsible for the Finance and IOM departments. He has more than 15 years of experience working as a government contractor, as well as in the corporate and non-profit sectors. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and a licensed CPA and CGMA.

PREETI KANODIA

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Preeti oversees strategic partnerships and is responsible for USCRI’s development priorities. Preeti brings sixteen years of experience working on behalf of underserved and vulnerable populations.  Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Kanodia served as a Congressional Liaison for the Administration for Children and Families’ child welfare, anti-trafficking, homelessness, unaccompanied children and refugee portfolio.  Ms. Kanodia began her career with community health center development, focused on supporting primary health services for the uninsured.  Ms. Kanodia holds a M.H.S. in Health Policy from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a B.A. in Psychology and Bioethics from the University of Virginia.

TAWFIK ALAZEM

DIRECTOR, DEARBORN, MI OFFICE

In July 2007, Tawfik joined USCRI as the Director of USCRI’s 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, Matching Grant, Healthy Marriage & Relationship Education, Individual Development Accounts, and Preferred Communities programs. He also 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. Mr. Alazem holds a Bachelor of Science degree and is fluent in Arabic.

DYLANNA GRASINGER

DIRECTOR, ERIE, PA OFFICE

An expert in the field of refugee resettlement, Dylanna has spent more than 17 years working to help refugees and immigrants throughout the Midwest. 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). Experienced in a variety of direct service and administrative functions, including grant-writing, curriculum design, teaching, program evaluation, fiscal management, volunteer management, and program development, Dylanna combines her commitment to refugees and immigrants with her superpower of simplifying complexity to create strong client-centered programming that works. Dylanna earned her B.A. in English from Kent State University, where she also received certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), as well as her Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton University.

AMILA MERDZANOVIC

DIRECTOR, COLCHESTER, VT OFFICE

Amila came to Vermont in 1995 as a refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina and is the first former refugee leading the USCRI Vermont field office. She brings over 10 years of experience working in refugee resettlement providing direct services, program management, and advocacy on behalf of refugees and asylees in Vermont. Most recently, she graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy. 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.

JILL PECKENPAUGH

DIRECTOR, ALBANY, NY OFFICE

Jill is the Director of USCRI’s field office in Albany, NY, which resettles refugees arriving from Burma, Iraq, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and various African nations. She is has over twenty years of experience in organizational development, specializing in multicultural populations in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining USCRI Albany, Jill was the Director of Program Management at Cross-Cultural Solutions, an international volunteering organization. She holds an M.S. in Training and Development from Lesley University and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

SCOTT PHILLIPS

DIRECTOR, RALEIGH, NC OFFICE

Scott is a native North Carolinian who joined the USCRI North Carolina Field Office as Director in November 2015. Before taking on this role, Dr. Phillips has worked in the fields of Community Development, Civil Rights, and Advocacy for about 15 years. His experiences include serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, carrying out research on marginalized groups in Jordan, Israel and the UK, and promoting greater civic engagement at Duke University. He brings a wide ranging set of skills and experiences to the office of Director. Dr. Phillips, received his Ph.D. in Ethnic Relations from the University of Warwick (Coventry UK), a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University, a Master’s in Political Science and a B.A. in Anthropology, both from Appalachian State University.

CARLY ROSS

DIRECTOR, DES MOINES, IA 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 then served as a staff member for Refugee Support Center Africa (RSC) based in Nairobi, Kenya and for International Organization for Migration (IOM), traveling to refugee camps in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda to conduct screenings under the United States Refugee Admissions Program. A proven leader, Carly owned small business for over six years before joining USCRI as Des Moines Field Office Director in 2014. She is committed to building an inclusive community of opportunity for new Iowans.

KARIN WISHNER

DIRECTOR, CLEVELAND, OH OFFICE

Ms. Wishner is Director of the USCRI Cleveland Field Office, previously known as the International Services Center. She has 40 years of experience working with multicultural groups. Karin traveled to refugee camps in Kenya and Rwanda with the USCRI delegation in 2013. She oversees programs at the USCRI Cleveland Field Office which include Refugee Resettlement, Employability Services, Vocational Training, ESOL, Lifeskills, Citizenship Preparation, Translation and Interpreting Services, Urban Agriculture for Entrepreneurship, Discovering Home Project, Healthy Choices Initiative, Financial Literacy, and Fingerprinting for Background Checks. Ms. Wishner attended the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she specialized in TESL, Spanish, and Bilingual-Multicultural Education.

JESSICA MONTOUR

STATE REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATOR, AUSTIN, TX OFFICE

Jessica Montour leads the USCRI-Texas field office and serves as the Refugee Health Coordinator (RHC) for Texas. Prior to joining USCRI, Ms. Montour served as the RHC for 8 years under the state-administered refugee health program. Jessica works closely with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and is a member of the executive board of the Association of Refugee Health Coordinators. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Relations and East Asian Studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Texas A&M University. Jessica has published several articles and presented at international refugee health conferences. She tutored refugees learning English and has in-country experience in China, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic.

CHELSEY BUTCHEREIT

STATE REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATOR, MISSOURI OFFICE

Chelsey Butchereit leads the USCRI Missouri field office and serves as the Refugee Health Coordinator for Missouri. She brings with her 10 years of experience coordinating community-based programs and most recently was employed as a Health Program Coordinator in the Refugee Health Program at the Utah Department of Health where efforts focused on offering culturally and linguistically appropriate health screenings, health education, and referrals to all newly arriving refugees to the state of Utah. She also previously taught an undergraduate course on refugee and migrant health at Brigham Young University. Chelsey has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Utah State University, a master’s degree in Public Health from Brigham Young University, and a certificate in Forced Migration from the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. For more than a decade she’s volunteered with new Americans in different capacities including as a family mentor, English tutor, and Citizenship tutor.

Associate Directors

ARTELIA DAVIS

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – HUMAN RESOURCES

Artelia is a leadership and organizational development professional with over 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She is responsible for managing various human resources functions  and implementing human resources management and administration strategies that enable the organization to hire and retain talent.  In her role, she develops and implements onboarding, training, performance management, benefits management, and employee relations policies and strategies. Artelia holds a Master of Arts in Non-Profit Management from Notre Dame of Maryland University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Towson University in Maryland. She has studied in Guanajuato, Mexico and is proficient in Spanish. She has worked at USCRI since 2008.

MEGAN BRACY

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – COMMUNITY INTEGRATION

Megan manages five federal grants: Matching Grant, Preferred Communities, Iranian Refugee Parolee, AmeriCorps, and Refugee Marriage Strengthening Programs. She has over ten years of non-profit experience working with refugees and immigrants, and Master’s level education in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Organizational Management from the School for International Training. Prior to working at USCRI, she served as the Resettlement Director at the International Institute of New Hampshire. She has extensive knowledge of issues and trends in refugee resettlement, trauma-informed approaches to case management, women’s empowerment, and workforce development. Megan is fully committed to USCRI’s mission and is passionate about supporting USCRI partner agencies in their efforts to effectively support refugees on the path to integration. Originally from New Hampshire, Megan has worked at USCRI since 2009.

CLARISSA AREVALO

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – LEGAL SERVICES

Clarissa oversees USCRI’s Legal Services Program at USCRI’s Headquarters and Albany, Des Moines, and North Carolina field offices.  She also manages USCRI’s national recruitment and mentoring program for pro bono attorneys representing unaccompanied immigrant children. Prior to joining USCRI, she was a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Staff Attorney at Ayuda where she represented low-income immigrants in domestic violence and family law proceedings before the D.C. Superior Court. Clarissa previously served as an Immigration Legal Fellow at Ayuda representing clients in family and humanitarian based immigration matters. She earned a J.D. (cum laude) from American University Washington College of Law and a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine. She speaks Spanish, and is a member of the California and District of Columbia bars.

MATTHEW HAYGOOD

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – CHILDREN’S SERVICES

Matt is responsible for the oversight of USCRI’s Children’s Programs including Post Release and Home Study Services for Unaccompanied Children. These programs connect children, who have arrived in the United States without their parents or guardians, to vital services that facilitate the successful integration into their new communities across the country. Matt is a clinical social worker who has been working with refugee and immigrant youth for more than 13 years in the areas of behavioral health, youth development, and child welfare. Having worked as a PRS case manager himself, Matt is dedicated to supporting the national network of case managers serving vulnerable unaccompanied children. His professional career has been driven by the belief that serving children and youth can have the greatest impact on the well-being of communities. Matt served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and received his Masters of Social Work from Columbia University. He has been working at USCRI since 2016.

MARIESTELLA FISCHER VELEZ

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – TRAFFICKING VICTIM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Mariestella manages and supports the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program, providing service provision oversight across the network and overseeing USCRI’s response to human trafficking. This includes coordination with local, state, and federal governmental and law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations, community partners, and agency staff to help survivors access appropriate services and supports. Mariestella comes to USCRI with a wide range of service work and volunteer experience across sectors, most recently advancing refugee and immigrant integration at the federal level. Her expertise includes: advocacy and coalition building; strategic partnership and organizational development; as well as outreach and policy initiatives aiming to promote civic engagement, champion diversity and inclusion, facilitate integration, and increase access. Mariestella is an ASC Critical Criminology and Social Justice Awardee, and a former Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. Her alma maters include Fordham University (B.S., Psychology), and Temple University (M.Ed., Urban Education).

TANISHA ELIZAIRE

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – REFUGEE HEALTH SERVICES

Tanisha oversees USCRI’s Refugee Health Services Program and serves as the HIPAA Privacy Officer.  She brings more than 15 years of experience managing an array of health and mental health programs, including HIV medical screening and education; psychological preparedness training for military personnel; counseling programs to Unaccompanied Children and victims of human trafficking; and coordinating the multi-state Refugee Medical Assistance program.  Prior to taking the position at USCRI, Tanisha was the Assistant Director for a child welfare agency where she led a multidisciplinary team of group home managers, behavioral health specialists, HIV medical screening specialists and frontline team members, who were responsible for overseeing the health and mental health of youth in care.