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Maura Nsonwu   |   PRESIDENT
Maura Busch Nsonwu, PhD, MSW, LCSW is a Professor in the School of Social Work at NC State University. Maura worked as a social worker in refugee resettlement in the 1980?s and has continued her work with refugee communities for 30 years as an educator, cultural broker, and researcher in program development and community based research project. She has received external funding and produced numerous publications in this area of inquiry. Maura?s affiliation with the Association of Refugee Service Providers (ARSP) has been through the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) where she has been a research fellow since 2004 serving refugee/immigrant communities as an advocate/scholar. She is the 2010 recipient of the CNNC Sister Gretchen Reintjes recognition award honoring persons who have made outstanding contributions to refugee and immigrant families.
Holly Sienkiewicz   |   PRESIDENT ELECT
Holly Sienkiewicz, DrPH, is the Director of Research at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC). She also teaches several classes at UNCG including Immigrant and Refugee Health and International Health. She received her Doctorate from UNCG in Public Health Education where she focused her studies on refugee health. Her Master?s degree is from Seton Hall University in International Relations and Diplomacy with concentrations in Global Health and African Studies. Prior to her position at the CNNC, Holly worked as a Research Scientist and Evaluator at the Center for Social, Community, and Health Research and Evaluation at UNCG. She has extensive experience in community-based evaluation methodologies. Current funded projects include a research and evaluation contract with the Office of Women against Violence and grants with the Office of Refugee Resettlement and many local foundations. Holly?s research interests include integration patterns and benchmarks for new arrivals and the effects of housing models on refugees? mental and physical health.
Bob Palm   |   TREASURER
Bob Palm is currently semi-retired and until his retirement served as Vice President for Refugee Services of Texas, Inc. Prior to that Mr. Palm served as an Affiliate Resettlement Director for Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries, and as a Regional Consultant for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Mr. Palm is a founding member and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Association for Refugee Service Professionals (ARSP) and served on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Social and Economic Development in Washington, D.C., (ISED). Mr. Palm has thirty years of experience in the field of refugee resettlement, and more recently nine years of experience directing a program for survivors of human trafficking for the Office for Victims of Crime, (OVC) and for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, (USCRI). Mr. Palm attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Psychology and attended Graduate School at Worden's School of Social Service, at Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas.
Carol Roxburgh
After a long career in refugee resettlement, Carol Roxburgh is now working as a consultant since April 2015. Joining CWS Corporate Center in February 2013, Carol held the positions of Associate Director for Local Offices and prior to that position, the Associate Director for Pre Arrival Services. Prior to joining CWS in February 2013, Carol was CEO of Refugee Services of Texas from 2002 and was on staff since 1996 in various other positions. Carol has been a presenter at many national and state conferences and has served on the CWS Affiliate Advisory Group and as a member and past chair of the LIRS Regional Consultants Advisory Committee. Her experience in resettlement also includes travel to refugee camps in Kenya, Ghana and Thailand. She is a founding member and officer of the Association for Refugee Service Professionals. Carol has a bachelor and master?s degree from Dallas Baptist University.
Lisa David
Lisa has nearly two decades of experience working with refugees, and a career that has included both domestic resettlement and overseas processing. She has worked with the International Rescue Committee since 1999. She currently holds the position of Senior Program Coordinator in Malaysia, overseeing operations of the Resettlement Support Center ? East Asia's sub-office in Kuala Lumpur. Prior to this, she held various positions with the RSC's main office in Bangkok, Thailand between 2007 and 2012. Before moving abroad, Lisa served as the Executive Director of the IRC's Dallas, Texas Resettlement Office and during her tenure there oversaw the establishment of the sub-office in Abilene. Prior to joining IRC, she worked with Catholic Charities in Boston where she managed the Refugee Resettlement program and volunteered as Coordinator of a Haitian refugee women's group. She also served as voluntary Chair of the Resource Center for Women and International Development, a joint Harvard/MIT group. Prior to entering the refugee field, Lisa served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica for two years assisting rural women with microenterprise projects. She holds a M.A. in Intercultural Relations from Lesley College and a B.A. in Political Science/International Relations from the University of Rochester.
Ruth Bersin
The Rev. Ruth H. Bersin, M.A.R., M.Div., D. Min, Ph.D. is an Episcopal Priest with experience as a teacher and in the business world. She has extensive experience in immigration issues. She has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1975 and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive with extensive experience in marketing and fund raising. She is currently the Executive Director of Refugee Immigration Ministry in Boston. She was Executive Director for English Life Line from 1989-1992 and served as a Civilian clergy person on the Yokosuka Navy Base at that time. Dr. Bersin is a clinical member of American Association of Pastoral Counselors and a Certified Fund Raising Executive. She has training as a chaplain in a reform school, in a medical center and she received a trauma certificate from the Trauma Center in Brookline. In addition, she received specialized training for police chaplaincy in 1996 following her work as Team Leader for the National Organization of Victim Assistance in response to the Oklahoma City bombing. She has provided training for volunteer chaplains for detention centers across the country. In collaboration with the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants she organized a conference for Refugee Service Providers. She is serving on the National Association for Refugee Service Professionals and on the National Advisory Committee for Episcopal Migration Ministries. Dr. Bersin has written on Spirituality in the Recovery Process after Traumatic Experience and has given papers on the subject to numerous conferences including the Episcopal East Coast Military Chaplains Conference, Association of Trauma Stress Specialists, and American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She has published an article: "Healing Traumatic Memories: A Spiritual Journey." in Theological Literacy for the 21st Century, Eerdmans, 2002 and "Life Beyond the Gates." in The Antoich Agenda, Andover Newton Theological School and The Boston Theological Institute, New Delhi, 2007. Her dissertation topic: "Community-based Resettlement: Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Asylees Rebuild Their Lives with the Help of Congregations and Community."
Caitriona Lyons
Caitriona Lyons began her work in the area of refugee and immigration programs many years ago and is privileged to be working for the US refugee program. She is currently the Refugee Program Coordinator for the State of Texas Health and Human, Services Commission. Prior to this, she worked in the Government Relations department within the Texas Department of Human Services as an immigration specialist. She has extensive work experience in the non-profit sector including the direction of a refugee resettlement program in Austin for USCCB. Caitriona has a master's in Human Services Administration from St. Edward's University and is a licensed social worker. She is the past President for the State Coordinator's of Refugee Resettlement association and currently serves on the executive board. In June 2006, Caitriona was awarded Outstanding American by Choice by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for her work with immigrants and refugees in Texas.
Nneze N. Nwankwo, PhD
Nneze Nwankwo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Temple University. Prior to joining the faculty at Temple in 2021, Dr. Nwankwo completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where her dissertation topic focused on community health workers who worked directly with refugee clients. After her dissertation, Dr. Nwankwo worked as a clinical research coordinator at Duke University and had a joint appointment at the School of Nursing and School of Medicine managing two studies focused on smokeless tobacco cessation and assessing risk of cancer and access to healthcare in firefighters residing in Central North Carolina.

Dr. Nwankwo currently teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses covering topics in fundamentals of public health, biological foundations of public health and nutrition and health. Her areas of expertise include global health, specifically refugee and immigrant access to health care. Nneze is also a research fellow at University of North Carolina's Center for New North Carolinians. She has been working with refugee and immigrant health programs for over five years.

Dr. Diya Abdo
Dr. Diya Abdo is a Professor of English and the Director of UNCG's Center for New North Carolinians. A second-generation Palestinian refugee, born and raised in Jordan, Dr. Abdo's teaching, research, and scholarship focus on Arab women writers and Arab and Islamic feminisms with a particular interest in Arab women writers' narrative strategies, life writing, and the cross-cultural translation of autobiography. She has also published poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Her public essays focus on the intersection of gender, political identity, and vocation. Her book AMERICAN REFUGE: True Stories of the Refugee Experience is forthcoming from Steerforth Press in 2022. In 2015, Dr. Abdo founded the Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) initiative which advocates for housing refugee families on college and university campus grounds and assisting them in resettlement. The flagship chapter at Guilford College, now one of several ECAR campuses, has hosted 66 refugees so far - 29 of them children - from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Colombia, Ecuador, and the DRC. Dr. Abdo is the recipient of Campus Compact and Brown University's Swearer Center's 2019 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award. She was named a finalist in the Arab Hope Makers Award (2018) and, along with ECAR, has received the Gulf South Summit's 2017 Outstanding Service-Learning Collaboration in Higher Education Award and The Washington Center's 2017 Civic Engagement in Higher Education Award. She has been making presentations about ECAR far and wide, including at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Patricia Williams Priest
Since arriving to Greensboro in 1970 and graduating from University of NC-Greensboro (BA, Psychology) and NC Agricultural & Technical State University (MS Guidance/Counseling), Pat has dedicated her professional career to strengthening communities, one family at a time. In her early work with the Head Start Program, she developed programs for children and families (first in Greensboro; then statewide) to support them in becoming empowered and to make decisions about their education and future. It became Pat?s life work challenging individuals and institutions and improving systems that prevent equal access and full participation in community life, especially for those who would be marginalized.
For nearly 30 years, Pat has applied her knowledge and experience to carryout our nation's international humanitarian commitment to welcome refugees from foreign countries plagued by war, genocide, and human trafficking. While ascending to become Vice President of Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas, hundreds of refugees were guided by her leadership and successfully resettled in the Triad, making Greensboro and surrounding areas home.
Sill living and volunteering her services in Greensboro with an office in Raleigh, NC, Pat continues this work at the state level with the Department of Health & Human Services (past 6 years). There she serves as a Program Consultant to refugee service programs across the state that facilitate resettlement in communities helping newly arrived families navigate living in American society, while preparing communities to welcome their new neighbors.
Core Interests:
  • Child & Family Advocacy
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Community & Civic Engagement
  • Activist for Social Justice, Economic and Education Democracy
  • Truth and Community Reconciliation
Sharon D. Morrison, MSPH, PhD
Sharon D. Morrison is a Professor in the Department of Public Health Education at University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). She is also a Research Fellow with the Center for New North Carolinians at UNCG. She has been involved with refugee health and integration projects since 2001. These have included cultural adaptation resource availability for nutrition and health among newcomers; ethnic community strategies for childcare; HIV/AIDS prevention and stigma reduction in communities; flu prevention awareness with Francophone refugee households; risk factors in post-resettlement chronic and emergent conditions in S.E. Asian and other refugees; and social support and empowerment activities with Congolese and other African women. She and her students have partnered with local Refugee Resettlement Agencies and other higher education institutions on these community-engaged projects. Sharon was an AmeriCorps Access Volunteer during 2006-2007, and served as a Professional Corp Volunteer on the AmeriCorps Community Collaboration Project from 2009-2010. She is a member of the Montagnard Health Disparities Research Network, a community-based research partnership for solutions to post-resettlement problems faced by this longstanding refugee community. She is interested in the global refugee crisis and has travelled to Malaysia, Rwanda and Vienna to observe refugee protection and processing for U.S. resettlement. Sharon earned a PhD in Health Behavior, an MS in Health Science Education and a Graduate Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Florida, an MSPH from the Gillings School of Global Health at UNC-Chapel Hill and a BS from Barry University in Florida.
Natacha Nikokeza
Natacha Nikokeza, LLM, Master of Laws, Wake Forest University Senior Program Coordinator, CNNC-UNCG Community Centers. Natacha and her family came to the US as refugees in November 2008. Originally from Burundi, East Africa where she earned her Law degree and worked at a Hospital University as a legal representative, Natacha continued her passion of service after resettling in Greensboro. She connected with resettlement agencies and other providers to provide interpretation and other services to the refugee population. Natacha co-founded a women support group in 2014, UMOJA, as a response to isolation and hardship expressed by refugee women. She later attended Wake Forest University and received a Masters Degree in American Law. Natacha interned with United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees before lending a job with World Relief in High Point as Match Grant Coordinator and joined CNNC in June 2017. Natacha enjoys her job as it allows her to grow professionally while serving immigrants and refugees.

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