About

MISSION

RCUSA promotes efforts to protect and welcome refugees, asylees, asylum-seekers, and other forcibly displaced populations.

RCUSA is a diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, and the promotion of dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome.

RCUSA ACHIEVES THIS BY

Enhancing the capacity, voice and effectiveness of individual member organizations to work on a mutually agreed upon common agenda of protection and welcome.

Advocating in the US and around the world for the protection, welcome, rights and durable solutions for refugees and other populations who are forcibly displaced and at risk.

Building excellence in US refugee resettlement and integration efforts through the collaboration of member agencies.

history

RCUSA was formed in 2000, recognizing the need for increased coordination and cooperation among resettlement agencies. Over the years it has grown into a coalition of 29 US-based non-governmental organizations, dedicated to refugee protection, welcome, and excellence in the US refugee resettlement program.

Staff

John Slocum

Interim Executive Director

John Slocum is an independent consultant to foundations and nonprofits, providing strategic planning and executive recruitment services in the fields of migration, refugees, and human rights. He is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an Associate Senior Researcher at CIDOB (the Barcelona Center for International Affairs). Among current consulting assignments, John serves as Co-Coordinator of the Repository of Documentation Relating to Disappearances in Mexico (RDDM). From 2006 to 2016, John served as program director for grantmaking initiatives on international migration and U.S. immigration policy at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. John also directed MacArthur’s Higher Education Initiative in Russia and its Research and Writing grants competition. He is a member of the advisory board for Justice in Motion, and a past board member of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. John has a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago and has published articles and commentary on migration, philanthropy, and Russia.

Sarah Seniuk

Advocacy & Communications Manager

Sarah Seniuk serves as Advocacy and Communications Manager for Refugee Council USA (RCUSA). Prior to joining the RCUSA team, Sarah worked as Program Associate for Muslim Advocates, where she strove to combat anti-Muslim bigotry and hate in the US through advocacy, community organizing, and crafting reports and resources. While in graduate school, she worked with the publications team at the Middle East Institute, and served to support the communications work of the Arab American Institute. Sarah earned an interdisciplinary Masters of Arts in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs with a focus on human rights and social justice from American University. She has a Bachelors of Arts from Eckerd College in Ancient Studies, with focuses on Anthropology and Religious Studies.

Sarah Krause

Community Sponsorship Consultant

Sarah Krause, MS is an international nongovernmental organization (INGO) consultant with over 20 years of refugee service experience. She began her career as a Sponsorship Developer for a local Resettlement Agency in Maryland, encouraging area groups to join with the agency in welcoming arriving refugee families. Since then she has served as Director of a local Resettlement Agency, in various leadership roles at the Resettlement Support Center Africa, as Interim Regional Representative at Church World Service Africa, and as Senior Director for Programs with Church World Service, overseeing the organization’s relief, development, and protection programming in the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. As an independent consultant based in New York City, Sarah has worked with INGOs in the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean focusing on issues ranging from domestic and sexual violence response to disaster recovery. Sarah has a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Eastern University and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Board

Scott Roehm

RCUSA Chair

Director of Washington DC Office, Center for Victims of Torture

Scott Roehm is the director of the Washington DC office for the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) and leads CVT’s federal advocacy work. CVT provides rehabilitation services, both in the United States and internationally, to refugees and asylum seekers who have survived torture. Prior to joining CVT, he was Vice President of Programs and Policy at The Constitution Project, where he oversaw the organization’s national security and criminal justice portfolios. Before joining The Constitution Project, Scott served as the special counsel for pro bono at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. In that capacity, he represented indigent defendants in federal civil rights and immigration cases and led Orrick’s participation in projects to address abuses arising out of U.S. counterterrorism practices, deficiencies in the immigration system, and a variety of international human rights matters. Scott has also worked with Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in Monrovia, Liberia and Greensboro, North Carolina. Scott holds a J.D. from Fordham Law School and a master’s in International Affairs with a specialization in human rights from Columbia University. He began his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable James Orenstein in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Eleanor Acer

RCUSA Vice-Chair

Senior Director of Refugee Protection, Human Rights First

As the director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program, Eleanor Acer oversees Human Rights First’s research and advocacy on issues relating to refugee protection, asylum, and migrants’ rights. Eleanor advocates, speaks and writes regularly on issues relating to the human rights of refugees and migrants, including legal representation, detention, US asylum law and policy, US global refugee protection and resettlement policies, and protection from xenophobic and bias-motivated violence. She works closely with Human Rights First’s pro bono legal representation team, conducts field research, has authored numerous reports and articles, and has testified before the US Congress.

Denise Bell

RCUSA Treasurer

Researcher for Refugee and Migrant Rights, Amnesty International USA

Denise is the Researcher for Refugee and Migrant Rights, and was previously Senior Campaigner for Refugee and Migrant Rights, leading the implementation of Amnesty International’s welcome campaign on refugee rights. She came to AIUSA from the US Department of Justice, where she was an Attorney Advisor on the New York Immigration Court. She was a Sudan Country Specialist for AIUSA and the campaigner for its Darfur campaign. She has worked in various capacities on forced displacement issues since the mid-1990s, when she worked with refugees and IDPs in Croatia following the Dayton Peace Accord. She is barred in the state of New York and sits on the City Bar’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee.

Sarah Ivory

RCUSA Secretary

US President, USAHello

Sarah joined USAHello’s Board of Directors in 2016 where she served on the programs committee and most recently in the role of Vice Chair. As a nonprofit leader who has spent over a decade working with and on behalf of immigrant and refugee communities in the US, the mission of USAHello resonated with Sarah immediately. Prior to joining USAHello, Sarah worked in the refugee and immigrant integration field in various capacities from a case manager helping the mostly newly arrived refugees access basic needs, to a BIA Accredited immigration legal services provider to starting and running her own resettlement program in Greensboro, NC. In her most recent role in the sector, Sarah worked at the national level leading CWS’s network of 8 direct resettlement offices along the East Coast.

Dona M. Abbott

RCUSA Board

Senior Vice President of Global, Refugee and Immigrant Services, Bethany Christian Services

Dona M. Abbott is the Senior Vice President of Global, Refugee and Immigrant Services at Bethany Christian Services. Dona has been with Bethany since 1977. She has a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University. She is responsible for assisting with the strategic development and delivery of a global refugee plan with a focus on innovation, thought leadership, results data, and process consistency across all of Bethany’s domestic and global branches working with refugee and immigrants. Dona has had a wealth of additional professional experience serving Southeast Asian refugees through Church World Services, Haitian/Cuban refugee crisis through United Nations in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Kosovo relief through Interaction at Fort Dix, New Jersey to mention a few. Dona has been a workshop presenter, consultant and committee member for multiple different organizations.

Ann Buwalda

RCUSA Board

Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign USA

Since 1991, Ann Buwalda has served as Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign USA, focusing on international religious freedom, advocating for the release of prisoners of conscience and for the resettlement of refugees, combating trafficking, and providing support to victims. Ann has been a practicing lawyer since 1992 and founded the law firm, Just Law International PC, in March 1996, a firm handling all aspects of immigration law including asylum and refugee cases. She aught a summer course in refugee and human rights law at Handong International Law School from 2002 to 2009.

Lourena Gboeah

RCUSA Board

Chair and Delaware Delegate, Refugee Congress

Lourena Gboeah is a former refugee from Liberia, West Africa, and committed to serving the public through her volunteer, work, and educational experiences. She has 18 years of experience working with vulnerable and marginalized populations. Lourena is the Refugee Congress Delegate for the state of Delaware and was recently elected as Chair of Refugee Congress' Board of Directors. Lourena has worked extensively in the immigration/refugee resettlement space as a volunteer, intern, advocate and leader. In her last role, Lourena served as Program Coordinator for the Refugee Integration Support Effort (RISE) Program at Jewish Family Services of Delaware—the only refugee resettlement agency in Delaware. In her current full-time role as Associate Director of Student Services, Lourena serves young adults at Year Up Greater Philadelphia, whose mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jonah, their 3yr-old daughter, Moriah, and young-adult son, Junior. Lourena also creates and curates content to inspire millennial moms, wives, and professionals through her platform: The Married African Millennial Professional (TheMamp). Visit the blog here: www.themamp.com

Rekha Grennan

RCUSA Board

Corporate Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant

Rekha Grennan has extensive global, cross-sector experience leading collaborations in government, start-up, non-profit and corporate enterprises for global development, global health and social impact. She is passionate about inclusive economic development. Rekha most recently served as Director of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy at Cisco Systems Inc., where she supported several CEO-led initiatives to address local and global inequality. She recently returned to sustainability consulting and began work on a start-up in the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) analysis space. Previously, Rekha held a variety of leadership roles at Pfizer, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Inc., the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. At Pfizer, she managed several signature initiatives including a $1 billion global disease elimination partnership with the World Health Organization. She was also the first employee of a successful bio-technology start-up pioneering commercial stem-cell banking. Rekha has a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a degree from Boston University in International Affairs and Environmental Policy and Analysis. She is a former Term-Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Erol Kekic

RCUSA Board

Executive Director of the Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service

Erol leads the New York-based agency’s responsibilities as one of the 9 US refugee resettlement agencies that work in partnership with the US State Department. Erol guides the agency’s role as an outspoken advocate on behalf of fair, humane US immigration and refugee policies. Internationally, Kekic has led CWS’s role in humanitarian protection and development of durable solutions that bridge the gap between disaster relief and development, by helping displaced persons create life beyond mere subsistence. Before his appointment as director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program in 2008, Kekic served as associate director, coordinating the services of CWS’s nationwide network of local refugee resettlement affiliate agencies.

Melanie Nezer

RCUSA Board

Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, HIAS

Melanie Nezer is Senior Vice President, Public Affairs for HIAS, the Jewish international organization for refugees. HIAS Public Affairs is responsible for presenting HIAS to the world and creating powerful and sustained support for HIAS’ work and for refugees, with the goal of achieving just and humane global refugee and asylum policies and ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers receive the services they need to rebuild their lives. Melanie is a longtime advocate for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, has provided pro bono legal assistance to detained asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, and has visited many refugee communities around the world. Her 2019 Ted Talk, "The Fundamental Right to Seek Asylum," has been viewed over 1.3 million times.

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang

RCUSA Board

Executive Director, BPSOS

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang is the Executive Director at BPSOS. Joining BPSOS in 1988 as a volunteer, he has since built BPSOS from a small, all-volunteer organization into the largest Vietnamese-American non-profit organization with operations in a dozen locations in the United States and in three Asian countries and a vast Vietnamese-language mass media network. Simultaneously he has mentored or incubated over 50 faith-based and community organizations and secured $4 million to support their good work. For the past two decades he has launched many national and international initiatives. Starting in 2010 he has rallied Vietnamese-American leaders across the country for a ten-year initiative to advance the Vietnamese American community in the government, business and social sectors.

Hans Van De Weerd

RCUSA Board

Interim Senior Vice President Europe, International Rescue Committee

Hans Van de Weerd is the Interim Senior Vice President of the International Rescue Committee, leading US programs in aiding those struggling and enduring through the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Van de Weerd has also has expertise in international business, crisis management, cross-cultural management and communications, and diplomacy.

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