Improving and expanding resettlement, asylum, humanitarian protection, and inclusion for forcibly displaced populations
Strengthening the collective power and effectiveness of RCUSA members and partners in delivering responsive, equity-focused policies and programs and driving systemic change
Enhancing the role of forcibly displaced people as leaders, experts, and advocates to influence policies, programs, and perceptions
Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) is a coalition of more than thirty U.S.-based nonprofit organizations supporting and protecting the rights of forcibly displaced people. Our work focuses on advocacy, strategic communications, and programmatic coordination. Since 2000, we have served as the only national coalition devoted to forcibly displaced people in the United States. As a thought leader and convener, we advance collective learning and action to respond to crises, transform humanitarian systems, and help affected communities thrive.
John Slocum was appointed Executive Director of RCUSA in March 2022, after serving as Interim Executive Director since January 2021. John previously served as co-coordinator of the Repository of Documentation Relating to Disappearances in Mexico (RDDM) and as an independent consultant to foundations and nonprofits, providing strategic planning and executive recruitment services in the fields of migration, refugees, and human rights. From 1997 to 2016, he worked for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where he served as program director for grantmaking initiatives on global migration, the Central America-Mexico-U.S. migration corridor, and U.S. immigration policy. 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, taught at the University of Oklahoma, and has published articles and commentary on migration, philanthropy, and Russia.
Director of Policy & Practice
Taif Jany is the Director of Policy and Practice for Refugee Council USA. Before coming to RCUSA, Taif served as a Policy Entrepreneur at Next100, a think tank for next-generation policy leaders, where he led a research initiative to amplify the contributions of immigrants to communities across the United States. Previously, Taif was the Policy Coordinator at the Young Elected Officials Network, where he led nationwide policy initiatives in coordination with 1,400 state and local elected officials. A native of Iraq, Taif experienced life as a refugee and asylum seeker before becoming a permanent resident of the United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Enabling Peace in Iraq Center, a nonprofit organization committed to lasting peace, human rights, and empowering communities in Iraq and the region. Taif holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and French from Union College.
Director of Advocacy & Communications
Sarah Seniuk serves as Director of Advocacy and Communications for Refugee Council USA (RCUSA). Their work within RCUSA includes spearheading the coalition's strategic messaging and campaigns work, and the creation and management of their anti-racism working group. Prior to joining the RCUSA team, Sarah worked as Program Associate for Muslim Advocates, where they utilized their advocacy, community organizing, and research skills to help combat anti-Muslim bigotry. 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. They have a Bachelors of Arts from Eckerd College in Ancient Studies, with focuses on Anthropology and Religious Studies.
Emily Wood serves as the Program Associate for Refugee Council USA. Before coming to RCUSA, Emily was the Site Supervisor for Migration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington. Emily has worked directly with refugees and immigrants since 2016, where she began as a case manager at Journey's End Refugee Services in Buffalo, NY. Emily earned her bachelor's degree in International Relations from Oswego State University, and will graduate from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in May 2022 with a Master's of Arts in International Affairs.
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.
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.
President International Refugee Assistance Project
Sharif Aly is the President of IRAP. Prior to joining IRAP, he was the CEO of Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), an international humanitarian relief and development organization that operates in 40 countries across the world, including the United States, and served there from August 2017. As CEO, Sharif oversaw a program portfolio of over $250 million in active programs dedicated to providing relief and sustainable development solutions to support marginalized and disenfranchised people out of poverty. Sharif has also led IRUSA in expanding its national partner network with over 200 community-based organizations across the country. Sharif has been a key leader in transforming the international federation’s strategy and business model and is one of the driving forces in pushing the organization to focus on tackling climate change, livelihoods, refugees, and displacement, particularly surrounding conflict and disaster. Sharif has been on multiple humanitarian and program missions over the past decade including most recently in Turkiye after the recent earthquakes and engaging in the Syrian refugee crisis in the South of Turkiye and in Lebanon among many other missions. An attorney by background, he worked in litigation prior to fully dedicating his career to the nonprofit sector. He is certified in Fundraising Management through the Lily School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and holds multiple certifications in leadership and management. Sharif currently serves on the American Red Cross National Diversity Advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors of Refugee Council USA and InterAction.
Senior Vice President of Global, Refugee and Immigrant Services at Bethany Christian Services
Tawnya Brown has worked in child welfare and refugee services for over 28 years. During her 10 years at Bethany Christian Services, she has served in several roles including as a Branch Director, Regional Director, National Development Director for Refugee Services, Vice President of Regional Operations, and now leads the Global, Refugee and Immigrant Services as Senior Vice President. Tawnya is a strategic leader in growing programs and services specifically designed to meet the greatest challenges facing children and families. She holds a Master of Social Work degree and is clinically licensed. She also provides consulting services through her personal business. She and her husband have two sons and reside in Maryland. In all things, Tawnya is motivated by her faith and seeks God’s purpose daily as she speaks up and stands for people in vulnerable situations around the globe.
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
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.
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.
Deputy Director Strategy & Partnerships, American Immigration Council
Mohammed Naeem is Deputy-Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the American Immigration Council — where he leads programmatic portfolios on the Center for Inclusion and Belonging (CIB) team. Previously, Mohammed worked at More in Common, where he managed partnerships, co-led the socialization of audience research projects, and supported the incubation of programs and operations in the United States. He serves on the Ad Council’s Advisory Committee on Public Issues, UNHCR CRCP Refugee Advisory Group, and as the inaugural Chair of the United States Refugee Advisory Board. Mohammed is an alumna of Stony Brook University and lives in Queens, NY.
CEO, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area
Kristyn has led Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) since 2020, and has quadrupled its revenue, tripled its staff, and led LSSNCA’s response to the largest humanitarian crisis in a generation, providing refugee resettlement services to 4,500 Afghan Allies in the D.C. metro area in fiscal year 2022. Kristyn was the recipient of the 2023 Innovation in Social Work Award from the University of Maryland, and LSSNCA was the 2022 recipient of Lutheran Services in America’s Micah award for its work advancing equity and justice. Prior to joining LSSNCA, Kristyn served for more than three years as the founding CEO of West Michigan Partnership for Children, a nonprofit piloting an innovative performance-based child welfare model that decreased the length of stay of children in foster care by 7 percent and decreased the number of days children spent in residential settings by 20 percent in the first two years. Kristyn also served as the associate director of children’s services at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overseeing national family reunification and foster care programs for unaccompanied children and chairing the Vulnerable Minors Working Group of Refugee Council USA. Kristyn has testified before Congress on protection needs for unaccompanied children and represented USCCB at the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Annual Consultation meetings in Geneva. Kristyn has served on several delegations to identify protection needs of refugees, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, and women and unaccompanied children in Central America, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon. She also deployed to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2013 where she developed standard operating procedures for a gender-based violence prevention program within the Burmese refugee community.
Executive Director, Welcoming America
Rachel Perić is Executive Director of Welcoming America, a nonprofit envisioning a world where we all thrive and belong in the place we call home, no matter where we come from. Inspired by her family’s refugee story, she has worked for more than a decade to grow the worldwide movement of welcomers and advocate for the power of everyday people to build welcoming communities for all. Rachel has worked throughout her career with local leaders whose innovative solutions to community building in an era of migration are the inspiration for her work and advocacy, and the subject of her published writing in USA Today, CNN, and numerous media outlets across the country. She serves on the boards of the American Visionary Art Museum and Art and Remembrance, and holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master's in Public Management from the University of Maryland.
Executive Director, Rainbow Railroad
Kimahli is a senior leader in the INGO field with expertise in community building and strategic advocacy with a focus on international development, law and policy, HIV/AIDS, and internally displaced persons. Kimahli completed his undergraduate studies in Political Science at the University of Ottawa. He holds a Doctor of Laws from the University of Victoria. Among his career highlights is supporting Dignitas International’s innovative work in supporting community based – system health strengthening in Malawi, as well as helping launch the HIV Legal Network’s constitutional challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law while developing a monitoring and evaluation framework on legal advocacy. Since joining Rainbow Railroad as Executive Director, Kimahli has led the organization through transformational growth, helping thousands of people in the process. Under his leadership, Rainbow Railroad expanded its international reach and completed successful crisis interventions in Chechnya, Egypt, Uganda, and more recently Aghanistan and Ukraine. Kimahli and Rainbow Railroad have been recognized with several awards, including the International Lesbian & Gay Travel Association’s Pathfinder Award, the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies’ 2018 Award, and the 2018 Inspire Award for Community Organization of the Year. Kimahli has served as a board member for ILGA, former Chair of the Dignity Network and is a current board member of the Foundation for Black Communities and Refugee Council USA. Kimahli is a regular contributor to international media with appearances on CNN, MSBC, CBC, BBC and a profile on 60 Minutes.
VP Policy & Advocacy, HIAS
Naomi Steinberg joined HIAS as Vice President, Policy and Advocacy in September 2017. Previously, Naomi was the Director of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition dedicated to refugee protection, welcome and excellence in the U.S. refugee resettlement program. In this position, she led the overall work of the Council, including facilitating partnerships between RCUSA and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as fostering strong communications between international, federal and state partners. Prior to her work with RCUSA, Naomi was the Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). At SEARAC, she focused on building the capacity of community-based, refugee-led organizations. Naomi has an M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from Cornell University and a B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College.
Hans Van De Weerd
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.
Owner & Executive Coach, Multicultural Coaching
Essey is an executive coach who specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion, change management and resilience. Rooted in her core values of compassion, courage, and wisdom, Essey helps mid-level and senior executive leaders navigate personal, organizational, environmental, and cultural shifts. She is certified by the International Coaching Federation and an Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. Essey is recognized as a Certified Diversity Executive® by the Institute for Diversity Certification and authorized to administer various leadership assessment tools including the Intercultural Development Inventory and the Leadership Circle Profile. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation and the International Association of Facilitators. As a foundational principle to her approach, Essey marries leadership theory with real-life experiences and practical application. She has over 20 years of experience leading teams and initiatives, including her federal post as Regional Administrator at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She now directs Multicultural Coaching, a boutique coaching and consulting firm in the greater Washington D.C. area, where she offers individual, team, and group coaching; custom consulting; meeting design and facilitation; keynote addresses; leadership training; and policy research. She has conducted research in Kenya, Rwanda, and the United States and authored several reports and articles on immigrant integration. She has also created training and technical assistance tools to support youth development programs in Bangladesh, China, Kenya, Jordan, and Mali and human services programs across the United States. Essey is a former licensed therapist with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from James Madison University and a master’s degree in social work from Temple University.
Chief of Staff at Kids in Need of Defense
Hardy Vieux serves as chief of staff at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). In that role, he aligns vision, strategy, and tactics in an organization dedicated to addressing the legal and psychosocial needs of migrant children. Hardy endeavors to harness time, information, and decision processes to enable KIND to focus on zealously advocating for the rights of refugee and immigrant children. Prior to joining KIND in May 2021, Hardy served as the senior vice president, legal, at Human Rights First, where he led the organization’s pro bono asylum representation team and its impact litigation efforts, having started that work in 2018. Since January 2017, Hardy has also served as a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. In that role, Hardy teaches a fall semester, graduate-level human rights law seminar at the policy school. In 2014, Hardy served as a policy fellow with Save the Children in Jordan, focusing on the problems of safeguarding and educating Syrian refugee children. Prior to living in the Middle East, he was in private legal practice focused on white collar criminal defense and complex civil trials. While in private practice, Hardy handled numerous pro bono matters, from litigation stemming from the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to juvenile detention impact litigation and asylum representation. Before moving to private practice, Hardy was a criminal appellate defense counsel in the United States Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he served as counsel on a death penalty case and national security matters, among others. Since leaving the JAG Corps, Hardy has served on the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to the fair administration of justice in the armed forces. Hardy is a 1997 graduate of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Law School, where he served as a co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies from Duke University, later serving on the board of visitors of the university’s public policy school.
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