2015 Convening Speakers and Panelists

Keynote Speakers

Felicia 180x180-01Felicia Escobar

Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council

As Special Assistant to the President on Immigration Policy, Felicia develops the President’s strategy for building a 21st century immigration system. This work involves coordinating efforts across the Executive branch to strengthen the current system and working toward passage of meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Felicia previously served on U.S. Senator Ken Salazar’s legislative team, working with him to develop his legislative agenda on a host of issues including labor, civil rights, judicial nominations and immigration. Felicia advised Senator Salazar during the comprehensive immigration reform debates of 2006 and 2007 in which Senator Salazar was a key member of the bipartisan group pressing for reform.

Prior to this, Felicia was Associate Director of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. In this role, Felicia helped cultivate relationships between Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and key stakeholder groups, including Latino, immigration and education advocacy groups. Felicia started her career as a State Policy Analyst working for the National Council of La Raza. She represented NCLR and its network of affiliates in the Texas State Legislature, testifying before legislative committees to advocate for education, immigrant access to benefits, and hate crimes legislation. Felicia is a native of San Antonio, TX. She received an undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law.

Kallick 180x180-01David Kallick

Director of FPI’s Immigration Research Initiative, 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 Graduate Center for Planning.

Speakers are organized alphabetically by last name.

511DE84BA9356B9BB30E7A7807CC451B34A98478E2FF931FC1Donna Albanese

ABLE Program Manager, Ohio Board of Regents 

Donna Albanese works at the Ohio Board of Regents/Ohio HigherEd, as an Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) Program Manager. She has a master’s degree in Adult Education from the Ohio State University. Donna developed the Ohio ABLE ESL for Healthcare Professionals course using a contextualized healthcare curriculum that is modeled after the national Welcome Back Initiative. What started as a pilot project with one program four years ago has expanded to four ABLE programs throughout Ohio. Through the many lessons learned on this project, the classes have transformed over the years to meet the diverse needs of the immigrants and employers.

RGA 180x180-01Raquel Garcia Andersen

Director of Partnerships and Community Outreach, Global Detroit

@raquelgarciaand, @globaldet

Raquel is the Director of Partnerships and Community Outreach for Global Detroit where she cultivates support for immigrant integration and economic development initiatives. She works to grow community awareness about Global Detroit’s revitalization initiatives and is passionate about personally connecting with and empowering Detroit’s people and neighborhoods.  She believes that outreach in the community is critical to understanding the changing pulse that drives individuals. She also believes passionately that outreach works best by meeting people where they are, meeting them face to face and at their door. She serves on the Detroit City Council Immigration Task Force and is the 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 focused on voter registration, education, and turnout for a national campaign, and spent 15 years in higher education in Detroit.

Originally, from San Antonio, Texas, Raquel visited Detroit in 1992 and never left. She likes to say that she is a very proud Texan-Detroiter. She is a Wayne State University Alumni with two Master’s degrees, and is passionate about leadership development in the young Latino and LGBTQ communities. She lives in southwest Detroit wit her son, Gabriel, and pitbull rescue, Kelly.

Dr. Kim Barrett 180x180-01Dr. Kimberly Barrett

Vice President, Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement, Wright State University

Dr. Kimberly Barrett currently serves as Vice President for Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement at Wright State University. Barrett has more than 25 years’ experience providing services to college students as well as working with faculty, governing boards, community members and others to promote learning, student development, social justice and diversity. Prior to joining Wright State, Dr. Barrett served as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Montevallo (Alabama).

Dr. Barrett has also held a number of other administrative positions; such as Vice Provost at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada and founding director of the Women’s Center at Murray State University in Kentucky. Dr. Barrett has presented at regional, national and international conferences, taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels, published articles in newspapers and professional journals and served as a diversity consultant. She holds graduate degrees in Psychology and Higher Education.

Throughout her career she has been active in a variety of community organizations in a number of states (and Canada) whose goals relate to achieving social and economic justice.

Napoleon Bell 180x180-01Napoleon Bell

Executive Director, Columbus Community Relations Commission

Napoleon Bell II has dedicated over 21 years of service to the City of Columbus and currently serves as Executive Director for the Community Relations Commission.  He actively oversees enforcement of the City of Columbus Civil Rights Code, The New Americans Initiative, Community Police Relations, and Internal and External Diversity and Inclusion Training.  Napoleon Bell attended Ohio State University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Capital University.  After college he worked for 6 years in sales management.  Realizing his passion for community involvement, Director Bell left the management position to work as a police officer for the Columbus Department of Safety

As a police officer, Mr. Bell dedicated himself to protecting and serving the community for more than 12 years. Successful mediation skills and active community engagement contributed to his promotion with the Strategic Response Bureau where he served as a Community Liaison Officer. During his tenure, he established the Mid-East Area Collaborative and also received the Silver Cross Medal for heroism. Mr. Bell was driven by his desire to more broadly impact communities. In May 2005 he became the Deputy Director for the City of Columbus Community Relations Commission. In February 2009, Mayor Michael B. Coleman appointed Mr. Bell as Executive Director for the Community Relations Commission, where his continuous efforts are focused on improving communities throughout Columbus.

Amanda BS 180x180-01Amanda 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. She has extensive experience engaging state and federal policymakers.

Melissa 180x180-01Melissa Bertolo

Welcome Dayton Program Coordinator, City of Dayton Human Relations Council

Melissa Bertolo joined the City of Dayton as Welcome Dayton Program Coordinator in 2012 as the first full time employee to work on the immigrant friendly initiative. As Welcome Dayton Coordinator, Melissa is responsible for facilitating community efforts to improve immigrants’ and refugees’ successful integration into the Dayton community. Her work includes developing cross-sector strategies to increase Dayton’s ability to be more immigrant friendly and implementing a framework encouraging both native-born and foreign-born participation.

Prior to joining the City of Dayton, Melissa gained national and international experience working on immigration issues. She lived and worked on the US-Mexico border where she researched human rights abuses and the immigration system. She also worked with the International Organization for Migration where she was part of a team that increased access to health care for Colombian refugees living in the northern border region of Ecuador.

Melissa has a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health from New Mexico State University.

BiehlRichardA13Richard Biehl

Director and Chief of Police, Dayton Police Department

Richard Biehl is the Director and Chief of Police of the Dayton Police Department. He was appointed to this position by City Manager Rashad Young on January 28th, 2008, and has spent more than 30 years in public and community service.

Chief Biehl served nearly 25 years as a Cincinnati Police Officer and for the last six years of his career as an Assistant Police Chief. He commanded both the Investigations Bureau and the Administration Bureau. His principle areas of responsibility included Internal Investigations, Planning & Special Projects, Youth Services, Criminal Investigation, General Vice Control, and Intelligence.

In February, 2004, he was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Community Police Partnering Center, a private nonprofit organization created in the aftermath of the civil unrest of 2001 and that worked in partnership with the Cincinnati Police Department to train community stakeholders in problem solving methodologies to address community crime and disorder problems.

Chief of Police Richard Biehl has been a true civil rights champion, particularly in relation to his minority and immigrant friendly policing policies and practices. Prior to his being hired, community members were concerned about racial and ethnic profiling occurring by police officers against minority residents. Community and business members agree that his focus on community policing policies have curtailed this concern and resulted in greater trust between law enforcement officers and the community as a whole. He has been an invited guest at the White House to share his progressive and practical procedures which have resulted with immigrants and Dayton Police Officers co-producing public safety. He has also authored several articles related to immigration and public safety.

Sam Butler 180x180-01Sam Butler

Director or Planning and Technical Programs, Michigan Community Resources

Sam is the Planning and Technical Program Director for Michigan Community Resources, where he leads the organization’s neighborhood planning efforts, providing technical assistance to low-income communities, government entities, and philanthropic organizations. A firm believer in participatory planning, Sam was a founding Steering Committee member of the Lower Eastside Action Plan, a community-driven process creating alternative models for revitalization in response to abundant vacant land and massive depopulation. In 2012, Sam was published in the APA’s Planning Advisory Service Report “Cities in Transition: A Guide for Practicing Planners.” Before joining Michigan Community Resources, Sam served as the Interim Executive Director for the Creekside Community Development Corporation and received a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.

Joe Cimperman 180x180-01Joe Cimperman

Councilperson, City of Cleveland


Currently serving his seventh term and eighteenth year on Cleveland City Council, Councilman Joe Cimperman is a senior member of the body and is highly regarded by his constituents, and peers, for his work ethic and ability to build meaningful bridges to tackle important issues relevant to Ward 3 and the City of Cleveland. Councilman Cimperman currently represents the City of Cleveland Ward 3, one of the most diverse wards in the City.

Since first being elected to Cleveland City Council in 1997, Councilman Cimperman has focused his efforts on community revitalization. Having worked diligently, he has created and invigorated of 30 block clubs in order to foster a sense of community for the many neighborhoods he proudly serves. Councilman Cimperman’s vision for Ward 3 and the City of Cleveland is a diverse, interconnected, and self-supported community filled with passion and energy.

Councilman Cimperman has been serving on the Refugees Services Collaborative for almost a year now.

Lisa Cooper 180x180-01Lisa Cooper

Co-Founder, Global Talent Idaho

Lisa Cooper’s career has focused on the intersecting opportunities for business success and positive social impact.  Her work has spanned the for-profit and non-profit sectors, from small local NGOs to innovative impact investment boutiques to the largest Wall Street firms.  For the past two decades, she’s served as a leader in the high-growth field of sustainable and responsible investing, most recently as partner and senior portfolio manager at Nelson Capital Management, an investment advisory arm of Wells Fargo. Over the past year, Lisa stepped away from investing to found Global Talent Idaho, a new initiative to help skilled refugees and immigrants reclaim professional careers, and to retain this global talent in Idaho. Now a year after launch, Global Talent Idaho provides training and career bridging to more than 60 job seekers and has forged strong partnerships with businesses and government agencies across the state.  Global Talent Idaho is a program of the Idaho Office for Refugees.

Paul Costigan 180x180-01Paul Costigan

Director of Program Development & Quality Assurance, International Institute of St. Louis


Paul Costigan has worked at the International Institute of St. Louis since 1999. Currently he serves as Director of Program Development & Quality Assurance which is responsible for ensuring compliance with grants, developing procedures, providing funder reports, programmatic grant writing and conducting staff training. He previously worked as Director of Employment Programs at the Institute.
He received his Master’s Degree in 1991 from the University of Notre Dame in German Literature and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served in Slovakia from 1995-1997.

Betty Cruz 180x180-01Betty Cruz

Manager, Special Initiatives, City of Pittsburgh, Mayor’s Office


Betty Cruz manages special initiatives for Mayor William Peduto where she is charged with overseeing citywide mayoral initiatives such as Live Well and Welcoming Pittsburgh, launched to improve the total health of the city and to foster immigrant integration strategies that build a more welcoming environment for all.

Betty worked with at-risk youth and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA developing after-school programs at the Hispanic American Council of Erie. In 2008, she was awarded the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University. The following year Betty graduated Magna Cum Laude from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in History and became the first in her family to graduate from college. In 2012, Betty graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) with a Master of Public Administration. Early in her career, Betty managed public relations for global brands including program implementation in Latin America for Kodak and US-Hispanic outreach for Crest.

Danielle Drake 180x180-01Danielle Drake

Community Relations Manager, US Together Inc.


Danielle Drake was born and grew up in Buffalo, NY and graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a BA in Communication and a certificate in Linguistics. She spent almost a decade in the field of marketing, sales and corporate training at financial service companies and both commercial and residential real estate before relocating to Cleveland OH in 2008.  Soon after she began volunteering as an ESL tutor for adult refugees and was offered a job at the agency a few months later. She then obtained an adult ed. teaching permit and an advanced TESOL certificate from Cambridge University while continuing to teach ESL full time and coordinate the volunteer and intern program at a refugee resettlement agency.  In January 2014 she moved to Us Together Inc. and was the Resettlement Specialist before being promoted to Community Relations Manager. She is also the Public Affairs chairperson for the Refugee Services Collaborative of Cleveland and serves on the housing committe

SDK-01Susan Downs-Karkos

Director of Strategic Partnerships, Welcoming America


Susan Downs-Karkos is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Welcoming America, where she works with local governments and community organizations in promoting immigrant inclusion and the engagement of the longer-term, receiving community. She leads the provision of ongoing coaching, training and technical assistance to new and existing partners, with a particular emphasis on Welcoming Cities and Counties and the nation’s refugee resettlement network. Prior to her work with Welcoming America, Susan served as Director of Integration Strategies at the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, where she managed health recertification and health literacy programs for immigrants and refugees.  Susan also served for more than a decade at The Colorado Trust, a grantmaking foundation.  As a senior program officer, she designed and managed the Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative, an $18 million effort that strengthened immigrant-serving organizations.

David Fleshler 180x180-01David Fleshler

Associate Provost for International Affairs, Case Western Reserve University

David Fleshler is the Associate Provost for International Affairs at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In that role he serves as the director of the Center of International Affairs; the center provides university-level vision and leadership for international activities across the campus. Mr. Fleshler works in partnership with faculty, staff and students to enhance the University’s international focus. He also identifies and pursues strategic partnerships with local, state, national and international organizations and oversees the Office of Global Strategy, the Office of Education Abroad, and the Office of International Student Services on campus.

MFuentes 180x180-01Monica Fuentes

Chief Service Officer, City of Atlanta

Monica Fuentes is the Chief Service Officer for the City of Atlanta. In this capacity, she develops and oversees strategic civic and social welfare priorities for Mayor Kasim Reed, including the city’s immigrant integration initiative, Welcoming Atlanta.

Monica first joined the City of Atlanta as the Deputy Director of Communications for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Prior to joining the city, Monica worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign, first as a Regional Political Director for the Democratic National Committee and then as the Regional Voter Protection Director for East Central Florida. Previously, Monica served as the Director of Government Relations for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where she directed the organization’s advocacy and policy efforts on a range of topics including small business, access to capital and immigration.

Monica earned her B.A. in Public Policy and Psychology from Duke University and her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School.

KGeb 180x180-01Katherine Gebremedhin

Program Manager, WES Global Talent Bridge


Katherine Gebremedhin is a Program Manager with WES Global Talent Bridge, an organization dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the US. She is responsible for developing partnerships, training, and outreach programs that build the capacity of agencies serving skilled immigrants. Before joining WES Global Talent Bridge, she worked with organizations in North America, Europe, and Africa focused on the diverse needs of refugee and immigrant communities. Katherine holds a master’s degree in education and international development from the University of Leeds in the UK and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Eastern Michigan University.

Alison Goebel 180x180-01

Alison Goebel

Associate Director, Greater Ohio Policy Center

@alisongoebelOH @greaterohio

Alison Goebel is Associate Director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center. There she develops and executes fee-for-service and grant funded projects. Projects range from research, outreach, coalition building, and statehouse advocacy and are frequently a blend of these approaches. Goebel also oversees components of GOPC’s day-to-day operations. From 2005-2009, Goebel periodically lived in Mansfield, Ohio, conducting long term qualitative research on small city race and class relations. She has published popular and scholarly writing about contemporary small city social relationships and holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her B.A. from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). She is in the process of writing a book based on historical and anthropological research into Ohio’s small cities.

Goebel is a graduate of Leadership Ohio and was elected by her class for the 2014 “Leader Among Leaders” award.  She is a member of the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Programming Committee and the Ohio Lobbying Association. Prior to joining the Greater Ohio Policy Center, she worked in academic publishing.

Eva 180x180-01Eva Hassett

Executive Director, International Institute of Buffalo


Eva Hassett has been the Executive Director of the International Institute of Buffalo since August 2009.

The International Institute of Buffalo seeks to strengthen Western New York by assisting refugees and immigrants to become independent, informed, and contributing members of the community, and by promoting and supporting cultural competence and multiculturalism.

International Institute of Buffalo services include refugee resettlement, employment and integration; support and advocacy for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking; translation, interpretation and cultural competency services; and hosting for international visitors and foreign policy programs.

Eva has extensive experience as a senior executive in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Before her arrival at the Institute, Eva served for 12 years in Buffalo City government, as Administration and Finance Commissioner and Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Buffalo. After leaving City Hall in 2006 she work

Adam Hunter 180x180-01

Adam Hunter

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 is responsible for providing strategic direction, overseeing the development of research products, and managing relationships with external partners. Before joining Pew, Hunter was the acting chief of staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security, which administers immigration benefits and related activities for the U.S. government. In this role, he coordinated agency-wide priorities across policy, operations, strategic planning, and communications. In an earlier capacity at USCIS, he managed citizenship and immigrant integration policy research, interagency initiatives, and international engagement.

Prior to his government service, Hunter led projects at the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Center for American Progress on issues related to national security and immigration. He also worked in Berlin, managing a nationwide election campaign for a candidate to the European Parliament and later in Brussels, coordinating the new member’s foreign policy, justice, and home affairs priorities. Hunter began his career managing foreign policy grants and institutional relationships at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and European studies from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mike LaFave 180x180-01Mike LaFave

Vice President/COO, Neighborhood Development Center

Mike LaFave is NDC’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He has worked with NDC’s Real Estate Development Team to provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs and neighborhood groups on real estate projects. Before joining NDC in 2005, Mike spent five years as program officer for the Twin Cities office of the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), where he provided technical assistance to community development corporations (CDCs) pursuing real estate development projects. Mike has a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. He also has a bachelor’s degree in African-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Isha Lee180x180-01Isha Lee

Welcoming Network Director, Welcoming America

Isha Lee is Welcoming America’s Network Director. She is a non-profit practitioner with fluency in external affairs, government relations, and organizational development with 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.

She is an alumna of Davidson College where she majored in political science and Goddard College where she received an MA is sustainable business and community.

Lin, Ba ZanBa Zan Lin

Program Coordinator, Burmese Community Support Center

Lin was born and raised in Burma, and spent his first 18 years of life there.  As a son of pro-democracy activist, Lin was persecuted and forced to leave the country.  He came to the United States in 2006 to pursue a college education and a new life.  He graduated with bachelor’s degree in Environmental Education and Policy from the University at Buffalo, and with master’s in Adult Education from the Buffalo State College.  He is currently pursuing doctoral degree in Educational Sociology.  An educator by trade and training, Lin coordinates environmental education programming at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.  Lin also administers Burmese Community Support Center as a Program Coordinator.

David Lubell 180x180-01David Lubell

Executive Director, Welcoming America


David Lubell is an accomplished social entrepreneur and founder and Executive Director of Welcoming America.

David began his career as an Advocacy and Organizing Director of Latino Memphis. He later founded and became Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). While at TIRRC, David helped found Welcoming Tennessee, the model for what is now Welcoming America, the national nonprofit he’s led since 2009. Welcoming America helps communities across the country reach their full economic and social potential by becoming more welcoming to immigrants.

In 2014, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and BMW Group named Welcoming America as one of the top five recipients worldwide of the Intercultural Innovation Award, honoring its work in promoting intercultural understanding. The White House has honored Welcoming America and ten of its leaders as White House Welcoming America Champions of Change for their innovations in the area of immigrant integration.

Todd Miller-01Todd Miller

Director of Public Safety, Mankato Department of Public Safety

Todd A. Miller is Director of Public Safety in Mankato, Minnesota and has worked in the police profession for almost 42 years; 39 of them as a Chief of Police in the states of Minnesota, Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin.   He holds B.A in Criminal Justice and a M.A. in Management. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

Director Miller is a cofounder and Past President of the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute.  He has taught Community Policing to police agencies, government officials and citizens throughout the United States, the Bahamas, and in the United Arab Emirates as well as hosting and training delegations from Brazil, Pakistan and Afghanistan.   His agency is recognized by the United States Department of State as a leader in community policing and as a learning site for those wanting further exposure to the philosophy.   

Director Miller is the only Chief of Police to win the IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award with two different agencies in the 16 years the award has been given out; winning in 1999 in White Bear Lake, MN and again in 2013 with Mankato DPS, where they were selected for their work in community governance and in diversity and immigrant outreach.

Director Miller served as the Chairman of the Community Policing Committee of the IACP from 2005 until 2014. He has served on the Minnesota Supreme Court Race Bias Task Force and is a published author on community policing and partnerships.  

Lauren McGarity 180x180-01Lauren McGarity

Ohio G.R.E.A.T. Director, Ohio Board of Regents

As Director of Special Projects in the areas of Policy, Legal and Legislative Services for the Ohio Board of Regents, Lauren facilitates the collaborative efforts affecting state-wide postsecondary education policy and strategic planning.

She has been a lead in the development of Ohio’s dual enrollment reform, the College Credit Plus program, its legislative and regulatory process and statewide implementation. Chancellor Carey appointed Lauren as Ohio’s first Postsecondary Globalization Liaison. In that capacity, Lauren works with national experts, state policymakers, and community development, education and business leaders and has been the architect of Ohio’s Global Reach to Engage Academic Talent initiative, “Ohio G.R.E.A.T.”

Herman Nyamunga

Director, Global Enterprise Hub & Small Business Development, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians


Herman Nyamunga is the director of the Welcoming Center’s Global Enterprise Hub and Small Business Development. He provides technical assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners to successfully establish, stabilize, and expand their microenterprises.

Herman is a Licensed Consultant for the Standards for Excellence Program, which advances ethics and accountability standards in nonprofit management nationwide.

Previously, he served as Program Manager for Africa Tobacco Media program and as a Logistics Officer for the International Federation of Red Cross. As a business owner, Herman operated a procurement and supplies company which specialized in government contracts, import and exports.

He has an MBA from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya. He likes traveling and has spent time in Hong Kong, China, India, Dominican Republic, Zanzibar, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, where he was born.

Rachel Peric 180x180-01Rachel Peric

Deputy Director, Welcoming America


Rachel Peric is the Deputy Director of Welcoming America, a national nonprofit that works to create more prosperous communities where all individuals – including immigrants – have the opportunity to participate and thrive.  Prior to Welcoming America, she served as Executive Director of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a capacity building and advocacy organization supporting adult ESOL and literacy programs in suburban Washington, DC. Her career includes work spanning a number of community building issues at the local and international level, including serving as a regional director with the United Way of the National Capital Area and managing international development programs with a private consulting firm, Management Systems International (MSI). The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Rachel also serves on the board of Art and Remembrance, a nonprofit devoted to using art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience.

Denise 180x180-01Denise Phillips Beehag

Director of Refugee & Employment Services, International Institute of Buffalo

Denise Phillips Beehag is the Director of Refugee & Employment Services for the International Institute of Buffalo, where she was hired as Employment Services Manager in 1999 and promoted to her current position in 2007. As Director, she oversees daily operations and ensures contractual compliance for the resettlement and employment programs as well as several discretionary grants from the Office of Refugee Resettlement and represents the agency and its constituents to local agencies, providers, and local government officials.

Denise was a one of the founding members of BIREC (Buffalo Immigrant and Refugee Empowerment Coalition). She is an advocate for refugee rights and counsels refugee clients and leaders how to advocate for themselves and their communities. She is a mentor to many local ethnic groups, in particular the Burmese, Iraqi and Bhutanese-Nepali communities and has helped them develop their own Mutual Assistance Organizations.

Bounthanh 180x180-01Bounthanh Phommasathit

CFO, Diversified Health Management

Bounthanh is Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of Diversified Health Management, a family business that provides home health and social services to former Southeast Asian refugees, mainstream elders, and disabled populations. Her past employment roles at local, state, and regional levels were centered on program development, project management, and community health planning and development with focus on building strong communities. She draws energy from the experiences of refugees, immigrants, minority groups, and other underserved populations and learning about their strengths in addressing health issues.

Colette 180x180-01Colette Pichon Battle

Director / Lawyer, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy

Colette Pichon Battle, Esq. is a native of Louisiana who, over the past nine years, has worked with local communities, national funders and elected officials around equity in the post-Katrina/post-BP disaster Gulf Coast.  In 2007 Colette received recognition from the American Bar Association and in 2008 she was awarded the U.S. Civilian Medal of Honor for the state of Louisiana- both awards were for her work around multi-racial, cross regional alliance building in the Katrina recovery.  In 2012, Colette was named an “Expert of Color” by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development on issues that surround the US racial wealth divide. In 2014 Colette was selected for the Young Climate Justice National Fellowship based on her work with coastal communities of color.

JRamos 180x180-01Jessica A. Ramos

Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Jessica A. Ramos is an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a non-profit law firm in Dayton, Ohio.  She is an alumna of the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in Hispanic Linguistics, and she is a graduate of the University of Toledo, College of Law.  The majority of Jessica’s cases deal with immigration and civil rights issues, and she has been recognized on a state-level for her extensive experience working with Unaccompanied Minors.  She played a pivotal role in favorably resolving the issue of recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals being denied certain state benefits, including driver’s licenses and in-state tuition.  Jessica is very active in the “Welcome Dayton” initiative, a progressive initiative that seeks to support immigrant access to services, integration into the community, and job development and entrepreneurship and has garnered national and international attention.

6EFA48E5E28E8C4DA6A9A4783ED09869AE81D42F26462C0CCEDr. Ayman Salem

President & CEO, Materials Resources LLC

Dr. Ayman Salem is the founder of Materials Resources LLC (MRL), a pioneering small business in generation and analytics of “Microstructure Big Data” in line with the president’s Materials Genome Initiatives (MGI) to understand the “DNA” of metallic materials. MRL has become the first to offer microstructure analytics software as a service (SaaS) on the cloud, leveraging unique expertise in characterization, data analytics, and numerical models. 

Dr. Salem received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Drexel University in 2002. He has more than 15 years’ experience quantifying the mechanical behavior of aerospace alloys under multiple contracts with the Department of Defense and various jet engine manufacturers. Dr. Salem has authored/co-authored more than 44 scientific articles and two patents, garnering more than 950 international citations. In 2009, Dr. Salem established MRL leading a team of scientists and engineers to understand metallic microstructures and build microstructure databases using state-of-the art electron microscopy and laser ultrasound systems. MRL is creating new jobs in downtown Dayton for creative engineers and technicians with a passion for innovative application of data science and statistical modeling to address challenges in design and manufacturing of aerospace materials (e.g. titanium, nickel, aluminum, steel).
Throughout his career, Dr. Salem has been supportive of advancing STEM education and collaboration both locally and internationally, through local high school STEM interviews, volunteering in editorial committees of scientific journals, research collaboration with various universities, and practical STEM internships from high school through graduate level.

Christine Sauve 180x180-01Christine Sauve

Welcoming Michigan Coordinator, Welcoming Michigan – Michigan Immigrant Rights Center


Christine Sauvé, LLMSW coordinates activities for the Welcoming Michigan project, a statewide grassroots immigrant integration initiative of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.  Through dialogue, shared meals, and other opportunities for cross-cultural learning, the project aims to foster mutual respect and understanding among U.S. and foreign-born residents. The project also supports and collaborates with Michigan’s seven  Welcoming Cities & Counties. Christine received her MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and is a multicultural community organizer dedicated to creating social change in metro Detroit. In 2012 she received a Diversity Distinction Award from the City of Sterling Heights and in 2013 was one of ten national leaders honored by The White House as a Champion for Change for helping immigrants integrate civically, linguistically and socially into the fabric of their neighborhoods and the nation. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania and Senegal in West Africa, and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. She is a graduate of the New Detroit Multicultural Leadership program and currently a member of the Detroit Equity Action Lab led by Wayne State University Law School.

SSimon 180x180-01Stacey K. Simon

Director, IMPRINT


As Director of IMPRINT, Stacey engages with policy makers, organizational leaders, researchers, and practitioners to develop the emerging field of immigrant professional integration. To this coalition-building work, she brings broad experience in the nonprofit and international education sectors, as well as expertise in strategic planning, fundraising, and human resources. Her previous roles include Executive Director at One To World, Director of International Education at NYU, and Human Resources Director at the National Academy Foundation. She also has many years’ experience as an ESL instructor, academic director, and cross-cultural trainer at educational institutions and corporations in U.S. and abroad. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies from Earlham College, an M.A.T. from the SIT Graduate Institute, and a Not-for-Profit Management certificate from Columbia University.

00C22AACC156B62E4CD50FD338EB87A4290F9ED5EFCCB79FC7Andrew Smith

Program Specialist, Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Andy Smith is a Program Specialist with the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Allegheny County, PA, where he works on the Immigrants & Internationals (I&I) Initiative. The Initiative is a special project of DHS that seeks to support and advance a human services network that can meet the unique needs of immigrants and internationals in Allegheny County through a combination of capacity-building, research, information exchange, and community empowerment activities. Some of Andy’s recent professional interests and efforts include strengthening language access at DHS, coordinating the activities of the DHS I&I Advisory Council, and administering a service coordination program for immigrants and internationals called ISAC – Immigrant Services and Connections. Andy has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Robert Morris University and a master’s degree in social and public policy from Duquesne University, where he focused his studies on refugee issues and immigrant integration. He also has five years of professional experience in government procurement and several years in human services administration, as well as international experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Armenia. Andy currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA, along with his wife, Nicole.

Aaron K. Sorrell, AICP

Director, Department of Planning and Community Development, City of Dayton

Mr. Sorrell has been the Director of the Department of Planning and Community Development for the City of Dayton since 2011 and has been with the City of Dayton for approximately 14 years. His current projects include designing a comprehensive plan update, a thoroughfare update and park master plan update.

In 2013, he led the team responsible for the restructuring of Dayton’s citizen engagement system.

Prior to this appointment, he was the Manager of the Housing and Neighborhood Development Division where he led the project team responsible for creating and adopting Dayton’s “new” zoning code.

He holds a BS in Urban Studies from Wright State University and a Master of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.

ST 180x180-01Steve Tobocman

Director, Global Detroit


Since 2009, Steve Tobocman has spearheaded Global Detroit, a regional economic revitalization strategy for the Detroit area focused on immigration. Global Detroit has leveraged more than $7 million in philanthropic and government funding into innovative programs in micro-entrepreneurship, welcoming, international student retention, skilled immigrant integration, integration services, professional connector programs, and a number of other initiatives. Global Detroit has served as the foundation for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Michigan Office for New Americans.

In addition to leading Global Detroit, Steve has played the leadership role in creating, growing, and launching the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network with Welcoming America. This first-of-its-kind, ten-state regional network of local immigrant economic development initiatives is helping to make the Rust Belt a leader in immigrant innovation.

From 2003-2008, Steve served as the State Representative from Michigan 12th State House District in Detroit, home to one of the state’s largest immigrant communities, and ended his term as the Majority Floor Leader. Currently, in addition to serving as the Director of Global Detroit, Steve also co-directs the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, one of the nation’s premiere bipartisan political leadership training programs. He is the Managing Partner at New Solutions Group, LLC, a consulting firm in Detroit that provides innovative and creative solutions for the common good and that has extensive experience in community economic development, urban policies, and, of course, immigrant integration and economic development.

Ariana180x180-01Ariana Ulloa-Olavarrieta

District Director, Ohio SBDC at Columbus State

@arianauo @Ohio_SBDC

Ariana Ulloa-Olavarrieta is the District Director for the Ohio SBDC at Columbus State which serves the business community by providing business aid for the Columbus area and the 8 surrounding counties. The Ohio SBDC at Columbus State is an award winning center which offers clients the services of the Core SBDC, Ohio SBDC Latino Center, MTSBDC (Manufacturing and Technology SBDC) and the ITAC (International Trade Assistance Center).

Ulloa-Olavarrieta currently serves on the Mid-Ohio Food Bank board as well as the ACEnet board (Appalachian Center for Economic Networks). She has also served the New Directions Career Center as a board member and treasurer, as well as the Hispanic Chamber of Columbus as board treasurer. Ulloa-Olavarrieta has also been a small business owner; launching Bébo Naturals, an organic baby food company in 2010.

A graduate of Ohio University, she holds a Masters in Financial Economics as well as a BA in Economics with specializations in Latin American Studies.

31B04676D7D906A8A7F766525E87622FD00A1DE12D7AF57ABDDan Wallace

Director for State and Local Initiatives, Partnership for a New American Economy

Dan Wallace directs state and local strategy at the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan coalition of more than 500 mayors and business leaders united in making the economic case for pro-immigration policies and initiatives. Prior to joining the Partnership, Dan served as a Policy Advisor in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and as a graduate research assistant at the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. He holds a M.Ed. in Community Development and a B.A. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Tere Wisell-01Teresite Wisell

Executive Director, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education


Teresita Wisell serves as Executive Director of the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE), a national network of community colleges and leading professional and research organizations committed to strengthening and expanding programs and services for immigrants and leveraging the role that community colleges play in successful immigrant integration.

Teresita Wisell also serves as Vice President of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Westchester Community College, the largest continuing education division in the State University of New York system. In that role she oversees a broad portfolio of programs and services that support lifelong learning and workforce and economic development for the diverse population of the college’s service area, a county in which 1 out of 4 residents is foreign born. Programs include the English Language Institute, workplace ESL, noncredit entrepreneurship and financial literacy programs, and citizenship and civic education. The Professional Development Center, also part of the Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development provides a wide range of employee training and training-related services to businesses and organizations in Westchester County.

In October 2014, Ms. Wisell was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her contributions to workplace citizenship programs. She is a National Community College Hispanic Council fellow and a State University of New York Chancellor’s award recipient.   She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and an MBA in Marketing.

Ms. Wisell was born in Camaguey, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with her family as a child.

97DFF3BBB07F9E13E3FAEC713271106462D568E59B5C1B3DFDLisa Witt

Assistant Director of Career Services, University of Dayton and Career Advisor with Liaison role to the School of Engineering and Center for International Programs

In her role, Lisa provides assistance to students and alumni with a variety of topics including career development, job search and networking strategies, and interviewing skills through individual appointments or presentations.  Of note, she has devoted research and programming assisting international students with practical experience in the U.S. Previously, Lisa retired as Colonel, United States Air Force in 2012. Lisa graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1990.  She completed her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling at UD and transitioned into her current role in 2013. Over the span of her career, Lisa has earned a reputation as down-to-earth and energetic career advisor with a passion for helping others reach their career goals. She enjoys helping students realize their employment objectives while assisting employers with matching their talent needs.

Mike Zimmer180x180-01Mike Zimmer

Director, Michigan Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Mike Zimmer is the Director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).  As Director, Zimmer oversees the administrative operations of LARA as well as the Office of Reinventing Performance in Michigan and the Office of Good Government.  Prior to becoming Director, Zimmer served as the Chief Deputy Director of LARA, concurrently serving as Director of the Michigan Administrative Hearing System.  He previously served as deputy director of the State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.  Zimmer also served as director of the Bureau of Hearings in the former Department of Consumer and Industry Services; as the Director of the Office of Regulatory Reform under former Governor John Engler; and worked for the Senate Majority Floor Leader.  Zimmer earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his juris doctor from George Washington University.