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Leadership

  • ESKINDER NEGASH

    PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

    Eskinder Negash is President and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and  Immigrants (USCRI), an organization founded in 1911 to protect the rights and address the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide and support their transition to a dignified life. Mr. Negash is a recognized senior executive leader and brings nearly 40 years of proven non-profit management experience on behalf of refugees and immigrants.

    Prior to joining USCRI, he served from 2009-2015 as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the largest government-funded refugee resettlement organization in the world. 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.

    Under Negash’s leadership, ORR 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, totaling more than 850,000 people during his six years of service.

    Prior to his appointment by the Obama Administration, Mr. Negash served as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of USCRI for seven years. He also was the Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of the International Institute of Los Angeles for 15 years. Mr. Negash 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 the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

    In 2016, Mr. Negash served in the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee for Public-Private Partnership considering the formulation of U.S. polices, proposals, and strategies for developing public-private partnership that promote shares value with the private sector worldwide. In 2009, Mr. Negash received an “Outstanding American By Choice” award from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security, 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.

  • ANNAMARIE BENA

    VICE PRESIDENT

    AnnaMarie Bena is responsible for overall management, growth, and quality service delivery of USCRI’s programs for unaccompanied immigrant children, including residential care program, unaccompanied minors post-release and home study services; legal services program; and trafficking survivors support programs. Her portfolio includes USCRI’s policy and advocacy unit. AnnaMarie brings over 20 years of experience working on refugee and immigrant issues. Most recently, she served as the Director of Policy in the Office of Refugee Resettlement. She also has worked for UNHCR, the HHS Office of the General Counsel and CLINIC. AnnaMarie holds a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.S. in journalism from the University of Maryland. AnnaMarie served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.

  • KENDRA DAVIS

    VICE PRESIDENT OF STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT

    Kendra Davis oversees USCRI’s strategic communications and development efforts. She has served in leadership positions at a number of non-profit organizations including Refugees International, United Way Worldwide and the American Association of University Women. During a 10-year career at the U.S. State Department, she served as head of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s program division, where she was responsible for the grant evaluation and awards process for $500 million in Congressionally appropriated funds. She also worked at the League of Women Voters where she managed a voter enfranchisement program for 100,000 Bosnian refugees. Kendra holds a BA in Slavic languages and literatures from Princeton University and an MA in Russian and East European studies from the University of Michigan.

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. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 & CLEVELAND, OH 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.

  • KERRI TRUE-FUNK

    DIRECTOR, DES MOINES, IA OFFICE

    Kerri joined the USCRI Des Moines Field Office as Director in 2019. Before taking this role, she worked in sexual assault victim services for over a decade and last acted as Director of Operations and Special Projects for the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Kerri has a M.A. in Human Services from the University of Illinois at Springfield and a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Western Illinois University.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.