2016 Convening Speakers and Panelists
Senior Managing Partner & Founder, Phoenix IP Ventures
Osagie has over 30 years of experience in the field of law, finance, business management, healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. He is a co-founder of Phoenix IP Ventures, prior to which he conceptualized and established GlaxoSmithKline Ventures and was its founding Vice President.
Osagie has held senior commercial and R&D positions within pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, SmithKline, DuPont Merck and Endo, where he was the founding General Counsel and SVP for Corporate Development. Osagie has also been a Price Waterhouse Corporate Finance Partner as well as a practicing attorney with a leading US Law Firm in the fields of corporate, corporate finance, taxation and intellectual property law.
Osagie is a serial entrepreneur and investor. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Iroko Pharmaceuticals as well as Chairman of iCeutica Inc. Osagie was a co-founder and former President, CEO and Chairman of Ception Therapeutics Inc. and the Founding President & CEO of Trigenesis Therapeutics Inc. In addition, he serves on the Board of a number of financial institutions such as StoneRidge Investment Partners and Haverford Trust. Osagie also serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Quoin Capital. Osagie is active within the philanthropic community and serves as an Executive Committee Board Member of both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Osagie is a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and also a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Law. Osagie holds post-graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the London School of Economics and is a member of the New York State Bar and the United States Third Circuit. Osagie is also the 2008 recipient of the Penn Law School Alumni Award of Merit and the 2006 recipient of the Penn Law School Adjunct Teaching Award.
Yasmine Mustafa is a tech entrepreneur, community leader, and advisor. Championing the underprivileged has been a core part of her identity since her family was rescued from the Persian Gulf War.After numerous immigration woes, she graduated summa cum laude with an Entrepreneurship degree from Temple University and subsequently founded her first startup, an affiliate marketing company helping writers monetize their content.
After growing that company, she sold it to a prominent content marketing firm in Silicon Valley.
Yasmine also started the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It, a non-profit focused on providing affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn software and web development. She sits on the board of Coded by Kids, a non-profit that helps inner city youth learn how to code.
Once she received her naturalization status, she embarked on a six-month solo trek across South America which inspired Yasmine to found her latest venture, ROAR for Good, a safety wearable technology company aimed at diminishing attacks against women and addressing the underlying causes of violence.
Yasmine was selected as one of the Upstart 100 most dynamic people shaping business and recognized as one of Philadelphia’s Top 20 Tech Disrupters and Best Philadelphian’s of 2016 for her work empowering women. Her TEDtalk on the birth lottery highlights the challenges (and opportunities) inherent in each life.
Speakers are organized alphabetically by last name.
Regional Director, CASA Baltimore
Elizabeth Alex serves as Regional Director of CASA, the largest immigrant advocacy organization in the mid atlantic region. In her role there she supervises CASAs community organizing, advocacy,civic engagement, and services work throughout Baltimore, Central Maryland, and South Central Pennsylvania. Since beginning as a community organizer at CASA in 2005, Ms. Alex has played a critical role in winning multiple local, state, and national immigrant and workers rights victories, established and grown a comprehensive welcome center in Baltimore to include 10 full time staff serving over 8,000 members, and established a new office in York, PA. She holds a BA from Goucher College and an MSW in Community Organizing and Management from the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Author, Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States
Dan Beaudry is the author of Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States. He has been a guest speaker at events for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the MBA Career Services Council, the HR Planning Society, the International Careers Consortium, the National Association of Asian MBA’s and many universities and business schools across the country. He holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, and an MA in International Relations from Boston University.
Amanda Bergson Shilcock
Senior Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition
Amanda Bergson-Shilcock is Senior Policy Analyst at National Skills Coalition, focusing on immigration, adult basic education and ESOL. She analyzes policies, makes recommendations, and coordinates with National Skills Coalition member organizations to address issues facing adult learners, including immigrant workers. Amanda has authored numerous publications and policy recommendations on immigrant integration, workforce development, and adult education. Prior to joining NSC, Amanda was Vice President of Policy and Evaluation at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. She also served as Policy and Communications Director for IMPRINT. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied American Civilization with an emphasis on minority populations.
Executive Vice President of Regional Talent Development, Greater Des Moines Partnership
In her current role, Bontrager oversees all areas of talent recruitment and development, diversity/inclusion and education relations. Mary first joined The Chamber (now known as The Partnership) in 1992 as Membership Services Manager. She left The Chamber in 1994 to join Savage-Ver Ploeg and Associates as director of marketing and interior design. In August of 1995 Mary rejoined The Chamber staff as Vice President of Business Growth and was named Senior Vice President in 1998.
Director of Applied Research, International Economic Development Council
Emily Brown is the Director of Applied Research at the International Economic Development Council, where she manages research projects, curriculum development, and the work of the Economic Development Research Partners, IEDC’s in-house think tank. Emily has extensive research experience in workforce development, foreign-direct investment, and the economic impact of immigration.
Deputy Director, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
Bahiya oversees the development and implementation of the Welcoming Center’s programs including employment, education and training, and small business technical support; acts as liaison with fellow stakeholders in the arenas of higher education, workforce development, and economic development; and identifies new partnership opportunities.
Kevin Cahill, PhD
Project Director, ECONorthwest
Kevin E. Cahill, PhD is a project director at ECONorthwest and a research economist at the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. He publishes on various topics related to applied microeconomics and is known nationally for his research on labor market transitions using the Health and Retirement Study, a large nationally-representative dataset of older Americans. Kevin presents regularly at academic conferences and workshops nationwide, including the annual American Economics Association meetings and the annual Gerontological Society of America meetings.opportunities.
Tiffany Chang Lawson
Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
After graduating from Dickinson College in 2011, Tiffany began a career with New York Life Insurance Company as a Financial Services Professional specializing in insurance, long term care and retirement planning. In 2013, Tiffany transitioned into a career in Government when she was appointed as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. In this position, Tiffany provides strategic development for the Commission which is comprised of 30 Commissioners that have been appointed by Governor Wolf from across Pennsylvania.
Chief Program Officer, Neighborhood Development Center
Isabel Chanslor is Neighborhood Development Center’s Chief Program Officer, overseeing NDC’s Entrepreneur Training program and Business Services. Previously, Isabel served as a program officer of the Northwest Area Foundation, working with rural Latinos and Reservations. Isabel is a trained community organizer, having worked nationally, statewide, and locally with low-income communities of color utilizing asset-based community development philosophies and principles. Isabel is a Veteran, having served eight years in the U.S. Army.
Lina Chowdhury Duffy
Communications Manager, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
Lina is a corporate communications professional with government and non-profit experience. She is particularly fascinated by the space where communications and technology meet. Currently, she volunteers as Communications Manager at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.
Executive Director, Immigration & Innovation Initiative, St. Louis Mosaic Project
Betsy Cohen is Executive Director for the regional Immigration & Innovation Initiative, the St. Louis Mosaic Project. This initiative is a joint collaboration of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, the Regional Chamber and leaders of 27 organizations on the Steering Committee. Betsy is on Welcoming America Leadership Advisory Group for national immigration integration. She is on the Advisory Board of the St. Louis University Cook School of Business, the St. Louis Crisis Nursery Advisory Board and the Washington University Council for Sustainability. Betsy received her BA from Wellesley College and MBA from the Harvard Business School. She worked with international colleagues in her previous role as a vice president at Nestle Purina. At Purina, she also launched and led a St. Louis regional coalition.
Program Director, Up Start Business Development Program, Centerstate CEO
Dan Cowen manages and develops the incubation platform and services for Up Start, a collaborative business development program that connects existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs to the tools and networks that help them thrive.
President & CEO, International Institute of St. Louis
Anna Crosslin has led the IISTL since 1978. Founded in 1919, the IISTL is the region’s Welcoming Center for new Americans. More than 7,500 immigrants from 80 countries receive services including English classes, refugee resettlement, job placement, business development, and career path services. In June 2015, she was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for World Refugee Day.
Community Relations Manager, US Together Inc.
Danielle Drake is a native of Buffalo, NY and graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a BA in Communication. She spent a decade in sales, training & real estate before relocating to Cleveland OH in 2008. In 2011 she moved to the non-profit sector working at a refugee resettlement agency. She obtained an adult ed. teaching permit and an advanced TESOL certificate from Cambridge University. She oversees housing and community relations at Us Together Inc., is the Public Affairs Chairperson for the Refugee Services Collaborative of Cleveland and serves on the housing committee.
Manager of Training & Education, Welcoming America
Jennifer Driver, Manager of Training & Education with Welcoming America, oversees the organization’s training and education strategy. Previously, Jennifer was with The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She spent ten years in the Public Health field and has a focus on health disparities and equity. She has experience working with federal policy makers, schools and community-based organizations.
Director, Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of Philadelphia
Enriquez was born in the United States, but spent a good part of her childhood living in several different Latin American countries, including her family’s country of origin, Nicaragua. Prior to joining the Office of Immigrant Affairs, Enriquez served as City Councilman-at-Large Dennis M. O’Brien’s Director of Legislation and Policy where she was instrumental in crafting and passing landmark legislation to protect immigration services consumers in the City. This legislation has since served as a model for other jurisdictions in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Texas.’
Program Director, Michigan International Talent Solutions (MITS), State of Michigan
Annie Fenton works for the State of Michigan as the Program Director of the Michigan International Talent Solutions (MITS) program, which is a professional job search training and coaching program for highly-skilled immigrants in Michigan. She has extensive experience in both immigrant and refugee services and nonprofit capacity building, having previously served as statewide Capacity Building Manager with the Michigan Nonprofit Association. Annie sits on the board of Freedom House Detroit, the Advisory Board of the Welcome Mat Detroit, is a member of the City of Detroit Immigration Task Force and has supported several local initiatives aimed at serving newly-arrived immigrants. She holds a MA in Politics, Ethnic Conflict from Queens University in Belfast, U.K. and a BA in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College in Richmond, IN.
Raquel Garcia Andersen
Director of Partnerships and Community Outreach, Global Detroit
Raquel cultivates support for immigrant integration and economic development initiatives in Detroit such as homeownership, financial literacy, language access, and access to higher education. She serves on the Detroit City Council Immigration Task Force and as secretary for the Detroit Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). Previously, Raquel was an immigrant rights organizer, an electoral campaign organizer, and spent 15 years in higher education in Detroit.
Director of Partnerships and Program Development, WES Global Talent Bridge
Katherine Gebremedhin is the Director of Partnerships and Program Development at WES Global Talent Bridge. She is responsible for developing and strengthening strategic partnerships while designing and collaborating on programmatic initiatives with community-based organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions that work to help immigrant communities successfully integrate into academic and professional settings. Before joining WES Global Talent Bridge, Katherine worked in various capacities in the refugee resettlement sector. She received her BS in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University and her MA in Education and International Development for the University of Leeds. Katherine lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and two children.
President and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
Peter Gonzales is the President and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. Peter has worked as an educator, attorney and community development professional for twenty-years. Peter helps leaders harness newcomers’ skills and energy while shaping the emerging field of immigrant integration as a regional economic growth strategy.
Social Media Specialist, City of Dayton
Tyler has been with the City of Dayton and working with the Welcome Dayton program for the last three years. He brings several years of public relations account management experience to the public sector, having previously coordinated traditional and new publicity campaigns for government agencies, energy developers and commercial retailers. As a fortune cookie once described him, Tyler is “a lover of words” and believes stories of all shapes, sizes and media can have an impact (for the better) in the world in which we live, work and play.
Senior Manager of Workforce Solutions, International Institute of St. Louis
Blake Hamilton is the Senior Manager of Workforce Solutions at the International Institute of St. Louis (IISTL). In this role Mr. Hamilton oversees the job placement services, job training programs, skilled-immigrant initiatives including Career Advancement for International Professionals (CAIP) and the Career Pathways program at IISTL.
Author, Neighbors Together
Mahvash Hassan is an immigrant integration and civic engagement consultant who focuses on collaborative multi-sector initiatives in support of equitable and engaged communities. Her projects include developing and managing a community foundation collaborative to enhance Muslim civic engagement and immigrant integration projects for local governments in California.
Director of Public Affairs, Western Union
Western Union is a leader in global payment services with a combined network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. Mr. Hernández is responsible for the development and implementation of public affairs strategies to reach Western Union’s various constituencies in the U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, including government officials, legislators, diplomats, influencers and immigrant leaders. Mr. Hernández studied Public Administration at El Colegio de México, and received a M. Sc. in Public Policy and Public Administration from the London School of Economics.
City Representative, City of Philadelphia
In 2016, Mayor Jim Kenney appointed Sheila Hess to the role of City Representative. She leads the ceremonial and special events department, which serves as the City of Philadelphia’s events, marketing, promotion, production, public relations and hospitality-tourism arm. Hess has been an effective leader and champion in the community participating in an array of causes benefitting the homeless and children in need.
Retired Director, The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute
Marcia Drew Hohn, EdD, is a broadly experienced organizational development and adult learning professional with recognized achievements in community based participatory research; systems development; leadership in policy development for immigration integration, and the intersections of literacy, health and health literacy for vulnerable populations.
Executive Director, Adult Community Learning, LaGuardia Community College
John Hunt is the Executive Director for Adult Community Learning in the Division of Adult and Continuing Education at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) in Queens NYC, where he oversees a variety of non-credit programs in ESOL, high school equivalency, integrated workforce development, remedial education, and skilled immigrant career pathways advisement, including via the NYC Welcome Back Center for immigrant healthcare professionals. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, he has developed contextualized ESOL courses around civic and parent engagement, family college awareness, and workforce development in the healthcare, retail, and hospitality sectors, including the USDOL Hotel T.E.A.C.H curriculum. He has presented nationally on such topics as integrated ESOL and career pathways models (“NY-BEST”), immigrant parent engagement and college awareness, and skilled immigrant career advisement.
Director, Immigration and the States, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Adam Hunter directs Pew’s project examining the intersection of federal, state, and local immigration laws and policies and their impact on all levels of government. Hunter provides strategic direction, oversees the development of research products, and manages relationships with external partners. Before joining Pew, Hunter was the acting chief of staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Director of Talent Development, City of Philadelphia Commerce Department
A native Philadelphian, experienced in the field of social services and education administration for over 25 years, moved into the field of workforce development at Philadelphia Works as the Manager of EARN Programs and the Integrated Centers. As of May 2016, she joined the City of Philadelphia Commerce Department to be the Director of the newly formed unit of Talent Development. She and her team work city-wide to provide a skilled and diverse workforce to attract and maintain businesses locally.
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Policy Institute
David Dyssegaard Kallick is a senior fellow of the Fiscal Policy Institute, where he directs the institute’s Immigration Research Initiative. He is the author of numerous reports and articles on immigration in the United States, and has written broadly on globalization, Social Security, income polarization, and Danish political and economic systems. Kallick is also visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Institute’s masters program in City and Regional Planning.
Montgomery County Executive’s Interfaith Community Liaison in the Office of Community Partnerships, MarylandSenior Fellow, Fiscal Policy Institute
He works with the support of the County Council and in partnership with the Directors of County Departments to serve the interests of faith communities and through them improve the quality of life in the greater community. Since his student days the Reverend Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman has been engaged in civil rights, community organizing, ecumenical and interfaith work aimed at connecting all sectors of community life for improving the quality of life for all. The model he created for Theological Education in the Urban Setting was adopted by Harvard, Boston University and Weston Theological Seminaries. His engagement in the Civil Rights Movement included providing security for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and establishing the Blue Hill Christian Center in Roxbury, MA.
Associate Professor of English, Boise State University, and Boise State Project SHINE
Casey Keck is an Associate Professor of English at Boise State University and coordinator of Boise State Project SHINE, a service-learning initiative which aims to assist elder refugees in their efforts to obtain citizenship. Casey’s research has focused on best practices in teaching English to adults in both community and university contexts. Her most recent work calls attention to deficit orientations towards language learners, and she was recognized by the Journal of Second Language Writing for publishing one of the Best Articles of 2014. Casey is a member of the Boise Neighbors United Adult Education Task Force and the Campus-Community Refugee Collaboration Team. She holds an MA in TESOL and a PhD in Applied Linguistics from Northern Arizona University.
Mayor Jim Kenney
Mayor, City of Philadelphia
A lifelong city resident, Mayor Jim Kenney grew up the oldest of four in a South Philadelphia rowhouse neighborhood. His father, a firefighter, and his mother, a homemaker, both worked second jobs to put Jim and his three siblings through parochial school. In high school, Jim delivered the paper in the morning and washed dishes after school, earning his first union card at 17. After graduating from St. Joe’s Prep, Jim worked his way through La Salle University and became the first in his family to graduate from college.
Jim was elected in 1991 to serve as a Democratic City Councilman At-Large. In City Council, Jim stood up for Philadelphia’s working families—fighting for a real living wage, increased funding for public education, and community policing measures. A proud progressive, Jim also led the way on broader protections for LGBTQ Philadelphians, marijuana decriminalization, and a more sensible immigration policy by ending ICE holds that tear families apart.
On January 4, 2016, Jim was sworn in as the 99th Mayor of Philadelphia. In his inaugural address, the Mayor laid out a vision for an accessible, accountable government that works for everyone in every neighborhood. To make that vision a reality, the Mayor is committed to expanding access to quality pre-k for high-need children, implementing the community school model in Philadelphia, eliminating unconstitutional stop and frisks and investing in our commercial corridors.
Levana Layendecker has been a political activist and professional organizer for over fifteen years. She started out working as a campus organizer and canvass director for a variety of progressive issues. Ms. Layendecker then went on to work on the health care reform campaign in Washington D.C. as the Director of Online Campaigns for Health Care for America Now and obtained a Masters Degree from the Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. She is now working to provide communications and media support to Equality PA to help advance equality and opportunity for all LGBT Pennsylvanians. A resident of South Philadelphia, Ms. Layendecker is an avid cook, and rumor has it that she makes a wicked eggplant parmesan.
Chief Network Officer, Welcoming America
Isha Lee is a non-profit practitioner fluent in external affairs, government relations, and organizational development. She has 10 years of experience at national and local organizations. Her recent roles include Chief of Staff for the national communications team at Teach For America and a founding staff person at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
Central Region Program Director, Upwardly Global
Allie Levinsky is the Central Region Program Director for Upwardly Global, a National nonprofit specializing in the professional integration of skilled immigrants and refugees. Allie has nearly 15 years of experience in program design, execution, and evaluation, including expertise in the customization and utilization of technology platforms to drive program impact and enhance data analytics. Allie is also managing special assignments related to the European refugee crisis. She is working in collaboration with employers and refugee service providers in Europe to better understand how Upwardly Global’s model can be leveraged to support refugee integration on a global scale. Allie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from Grinnell College and completed graduate level studies at the School for International Training.
Welcome Coordinator, Global Cleveland
Jazmin oversees all welcoming activities that engage organizations and communities in supporting and engaging Greater Cleveland’s 115+ various ethnic groups in immigrant integration efforts, including the Welcoming Cleveland, Latino, Asian and African American Initiatives. In her role, Jazmin works to build community awareness of Global Cleveland’s mission to welcome international newcomers in to our Northeast Ohio community. Additionally, she works to establish partnerships that focus on empowering people and neighborhoods through economic development tools. Additionally, Jazmin is the co-founder of the Cleveland Young Professional Minority Women’s Group (CYPMWG), an organization whose mission is to position women of color as assets in their community.
Executive Director, Welcoming America
David is an accomplished social entrepreneur who began his career as an advocacy and organizing director of Latino Memphis. He later founded and became executive director of Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, where he helped to found Welcoming Tennessee, the model for what is now Welcoming America. He was named 2015 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and selected to the first Chronicle of Philanthropy 40 Under 40 list of innovative social change leaders in 2016.
Senior Fellow, Center for Community Progress
Alan Mallach has long been engaged as planner, advocate and scholar with the challenges of urban and neighborhood revitalization, and affordable housing. A senior fellow with the Center for Community Progress, he also teaches in the graduate city planning program at Pratt Institute in New York. His publications include Bringing Buildings Back: From Vacant Properties to Community Assets and many other books, reports and articles.
Community Manager, Generocity
As Community Manager at Generocity.org, Mo’s job is to seek out the latest and greatest in Philly social impact, tell people about it, and convene people around it. It’s an amazing job that affords me the opportunity to meet awesome people.
Assistant Professor of Geography, Kennesaw State University
Dr. Paul McDaniel is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Kennesaw State University, in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. His research focuses on processes of immigrant settlement, integration, and receptivity in cities and metropolitan areas. Previously, McDaniel was a research fellow with the American Immigration Council in Washington, DC and a project researcher with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, also in DC. Prior to his work in Washington, he was at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he worked on community-based participatory research with the Department of Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center and the Mecklenburg Area Partnership for Primary-care Research (MAPPR), the Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, and Crossroads Charlotte. McDaniel holds a Ph.D. in Geography and Urban Regional Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Assistant Director, Immigration, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Sara McElmurry joined the Chicago Council in 2014 as assistant director of immigration. Previously, she was communications manager for the Latino Policy Forum, where she developed media advocacy strategies for the organization’s immigration, housing, and education policy work. She was also a research professor at the Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca in Oaxaca, Mexico. McElmurry earned BA degrees in Spanish and communications from Bradley University and an MA in linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University.
Head, US Digital Communications and Visual Strategy, GSK
Communications pro with a focus on digital storytelling and social media engagement. Militantly anti-jargon and passionately pro-Oxford comma. I write at least one haiku per day.
Founder & President, FINANTA
Luis has been a pioneer in economic and housing development for over 30 years. In 1996, Luis founded FINANTA, a $15+ million nonprofit mission-driven lender facilitating access to capital for entrepreneurs, first-time home buyers and consumers in the Philadelphia region. FINANTA has a substantial track record in business, homeownership, and consumer counseling, as well as, a $45+ million history in micro/small business, mortgage, consumer, and nonprofit lending. Prior to founding FINANTA, Luis created and directed the CoreStates Community Development and Financing groups, a $66 million economic, housing, social, and cultural investment program of CoreStates Bank, NA. This program was unique and among the nation’s first non-profit community development arms of a commercial banking institution. A native of Costa Rica, Luis holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Executive Director and Co-Founder, VietLEAD
VietLEAD empowers the community through youth empowerment and organizing through a lens of social justice and anti-violence, health promotion and navigation, civic engagement, and community building projects. Ms. Nguyen has six years of experience being first the Branch Manager and then the Executive Director of BPSOS-Delaware Valley, a non-profit that provides services to the Vietnamese immigrant and refugee community. She has served on the board of Freedom, Inc. a grassroots Southeast Asian organization from 2005-2007 and on the Advisory Board of 1Love Movement, a national organization working to end deportations in the Southeast community from 2012-2013. In 2014, she was presented with the Catherine Bachrach Award, presented by the Philadelphia Coalition of Victim Advocacy, for significant contribution to the lives of victims in the City of Philadelphia. In 2015, Ms. Nguyen was presented the Women of Distinction Award by NOW (National Organization of Women), Philadelphia Chapter.
Director, Maryland Refugees and Asylees
Augustin Ntabaganyimana is the Director of the Maryland Refugees and Asylees. He has over 12 years of experience working helping immigrants achieve integration in their U.S. communities. Mr. Ntabaganyimana started working with refugees in 2004 as a Case Manager in Concord, New Hampshire and quickly progressed to positions of greater responsibility in recognition of his ability to mobile diverse stakeholders toward helping individuals and families achieve their full potential. Prior to joining the state government position, Mr. Ntabaganyimana was Deputy Director at the International Rescue Committee, an International Development Organization focused on helping people displaced by conflicts, disasters, and wars rebuild their lives.
Director, Global Enterprise Hub, The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
Herman Nyamunga, MBA is the Director of Global Enterprise Hub, The Welcoming Center’s Small Business Development and Incubation program. He has been working for the last 10 years providing technical assistance to both immigrant and native born entrepreneurs on issues ranging from navigating business structuring, incorporation, city licensing process, business planning and growth, accessing financing and business operations.
Partner Success Manager, Mission Asset Fund
Alyssa joined MAF in 2014 and serves as a Partner Success Manager to provide technical assistance and program guidance to Lending Circles partner providers. Prior to joining MAF, Alyssa worked in Washington, DC with the Smart Campaign of Accion, a consumer protection initiative to embed ethical standards into global microlending practices.
President and CEO, Union Packaging LLC
Michael Pearson started Union Packaging in 1999 with the goal of being bringing jobs and greater economic opportunities to the greater Philadelphia region. Union Packaging employs and develops people from Metro-Philadelphia’s African-American, Asian-American and Latino neighborhoods. Non-profit partnerships have resulted in career opportunities for public school graduates with learning differences, ex-offenders, and documented new arrivals from more than fifteen nations.
Deputy Director, Michigan Office for New Americans
Karen is the Deputy Director of the Michigan Office for New Americans. She has been working in immigration law for over 20 years. Karen serves on a variety of boards and committees related to the issue including Board Chair for Global Detroit; Chairperson for the Global Michigan initiative; Steering Committee member for the WE Global Network; and, advisory board member for the Global Talent Retention Initiative, Welcome Mat Detroit, and Welcoming Michigan. Karen is very active in promoting the benefits that immigrants have on the economy, and making Michigan a more immigrant-friendly state. Karen has a B.A. in Anthropology from Michigan State University.
Director of Refugee Resettlement, International Institute of Buffalo
Regional Manager for the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, Welcoming America
Christina Pope is regional manager for the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic at Welcoming America. Christina’s background is in community development and international education, including prior roles at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the immigrant community-based organization CASA in Maryland, and at K-12 schools in Recife, Brazil as a Fulbright grantee.
Behavioral Specialist, Northwest Human Services
Maria Porteiro arrived in Philadelphia in 2014 from Spain where she earned a Masters Degree in Behavioral Sciences with a specialty working with children affected by Autism and other disorders. Facing her own challenges entering the workforce in the U.S., Maria actively sought out volunteer opportunities with Philadelphia Corporation of Aging, the American Heart Association and the Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs. She is currently employed as a Behavioral Specialist at Northwest Human Services and also she studies to be a Community Health Worker at Thomas Jefferson University. Maria is always open to collaborate with different initiatives like the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians to help educate and empower the communities in Philadelphia.
Director of Civic Engagement, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
Manuel Portillo is a seasoned non-profit leader with a substantive career in community organizing and nonprofit management. He is a 22-year Philadelphia resident who is originally from Guatemala and came to the United States as a refugee during the internal armed conflict of the 1980s that left over 200,000 dead or disappeared. Manuel has worked as a community organizer for many years on issues that include fair and equal treatment for asylum seekers, TPS status for qualifying national groups, access to services for the undocumented, quality City services for everyone, vacant land, public education, and immigration reform.
Director of Policy, Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning
Erin Roth is the Director of Policy for the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning. In this role, she oversees policy and legislation for the Office of Workforce Development, the Office of Adult Education & Literacy Services, and Correctional Education for the State. Erin chairs Maryland’s WIOA Policy Work Group and co-lead’s Maryland’s Skilled Immigrant Taskforce.
Senior Grants and Information Manager, Neighborhood Development Center
Samir Saikali, Neighborhood Development Center’s Senior Grants and Information Manager, is responsible for fundraising from foundations and corporations, as well as for tracking, analyzing, and reporting on program outcomes. Samir, a local imam, also teaches about Islam and Muslims to build bridges of mutual understanding and respect among all people.
Meg Shoemaker Little
Director of Special Projects, Welcoming America
Meg Shoemaker Little directs a range of projects and campaigns at Welcoming America, including facilitating program development and organizational learning. She has 10 years of experience at national and international organizations working to build more welcoming and inclusive communities. Her recent roles include Program Officer and Grants Manager at Unbound Philanthropy, and Program Officer at the Four Freedoms Fund. Meg holds a BA in international studies from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Organizer, Civic Engagement Coordinator
Maria Sotomayor, immigrant from Ecuador, DACA recipient. Leads the Education Justice and Statewide Youth organizing work at the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition.
Senior Inclusion Advisor, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
Mary Stagaman is senior inclusion advisor for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. In that role, she has engaged more than 150 companies and non-profit organizations in Diverse by Design, a regional inclusion initiative to diversify, grow and retain our workforce for the future. Currently, Mary is leading a mayoral initiative to create a portal for integration of immigrants in the life of the region. That project is informed by the WE Global Network and OWIN, a network of Ohio cities engaged in immigrant welcoming.
Director, Global Detroit
Steve Tobocman has been the leading force behind Global Detroit and the Welcoming Economies Global (WE Global) Network. He is a former State Representative from Detroit and former Michigan House Majority Floor Leader. In addition to Global Detroit and WE Global, Steve co-directs the Michigan Political Leadership Program.
Assistant Director of Self-Sufficiency Department, ASIA
Susan Wong has worked in North east Ohio for nearly 15 years on health disparities, social justice, and immigrant and refugee issues. Her efforts focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and other underserved communities. Currently Susan works as an Assistant Director in Asian Services In Action, Inc. (ASIA) the largest health and social services agency in Ohio.
Assistant Director, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Columbus
As Assistant Director of the Community Relations Commission for the City of Columbus and Coordinator of Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s New American’s Initiative, Velasquez has devoted countless hours to promoting educational, economical, professional and personal development through her work in the community. While providing resources and assistance to community members to access city, county and state services, she also serves as an internal resource to city departments as they relate to cultural competency regarding newcomer communities. Creating and hosting “Global Columbus” television program for CTV, she strives to monitor the pulse of all vital information relevant to the diverse ethnic groups living in Central Ohio.
Director of Corporate and Economic Development Strategy, Global Detroit
Gracie Xavier joined Global Detroit in 2015 through the Detroit Revitalization Fellowship Program to serve as the Director of Corporate and Economic Development Strategy. Gracie leads the Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI), which connects highly skilled immigrant talent to Detroit’s corporate community and economic development infrastructure.