A list of featured speakers is below. This page will be updated as more speakers confirm.
Richard F. Mollica
Richard F. Mollica, MD, MAR is the Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT) of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He received his medical degree from the University of New Mexico and completed his Psychiatry residency at Yale Medical School. While at Yale he also trained in epidemiology and received a philosophy degree from the Divinity School. In 1981, Dr. Mollica co-founded the Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic (IPC). Over the past two decades HPRT and IPC have pioneered the mental health care of survivors of mass violence and torture. HPRT/IPC’s clinical model has been replicated throughout the world.
Dr. Mollica has received numerous awards for his work and is the author of Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths to Hope and Recovery in a Violent World. In 1993, he received the human rights award from the American Psychiatric Association. In 1996, the American Orthopsychiatry Association presented him with the Max Hymen Award. In 2000 he was awarded a visiting professorship to Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, for his contributions during the Kobe earthquake. In 2001 he was selected as a Fulbright New Century scholar. Under Dr. Mollica’s direction, HPRT conducts training, policy and research activities for traumatized populations around the world. HPRT’s screening instruments are considered a gold standard in the field and have been widely translated into over thirty languages. HPRT’s scientific work has helped place mental health issues at the center of the recovery of post-conflict societies.
Dr. Mollica has published over 160 scientific articles. He and his team over the past 30 years have cared for over 10,000 survivors of extreme violence worldwide. Through his research, clinical work and trainings he is recognized as a leader in the treatment and rehabilitation of traumatized people and their communities.
U.S. COMMITTEE FOR REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Eskinder is a recognized Senior Executive leader and brings nearly 40 years of proven non-profit management experience, working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and managing non-profit social service agencies.
He served as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the largest government funded refugee resettlement organization in the world, from 2009-2015. With a budget of over $1.5 billion, the ORR plays a critical role in providing essential services to a wide range of vulnerable people through the Resettlement Program, Rescue & Restore anti-trafficking campaign, and the Unaccompanied Children’s Program. Under his leadership, ORR served more than 850,000 people in six years. Prior to his appointment by the Obama Administration, he served as the vice president and chief operating officer of USCRI.
Adamou Mohamed is the Refugee Community Organizing Coordinator with the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service. In his role, Adamou leads many refugee leadership development, community organizing and civic engagement trainings and coordinates refugee and immigrant advocacy efforts in key states lifting up refugee voices, stories, and promoting the welcome of refugees and immigrants in multiple states. Adamou holds an MA in International Studies from NC State University, Raleigh.
Jacqueline Kifuko is a former refugee from Uganda. She is currently the Refugee Organizer with Community Refugees and Immigration Services, in Columbus, Ohio. In this position, she is building a strong network of refugee leaders capable of advocating with their elected officials, leading and coordinating several discussions between refugee community leaders and Ohio members of Congress. As a refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, Jackie advocated for refugee mothers, (mostly single mothers) rights on different platforms. She also coordinated discussion between refugees and UNHCR Officials and other refugee support organizations. She graduated with honors from Makerere University, Uganda with a Bachelor degree in Social and Political science.
Mustafa Nuur is a former Somali refugee living in Lancaster PA. Mustafa and his family of Nine moved to Lancaster a year and half ago. He was thirteen years old when he and his family fled their home country of Somalia. Spending nearly a decade in the Dadaab refugee camp and Nairobi Kenya, Mustafa learned English from Mennonite missionaries.
He is currently serving as the spokesman/ Deputy chairman for the Somali community of Lancaster. Mustafa has been a community advocate for refugees, Starting from his neighborhood he has been raising awareness about refugees and promoting community integrations. After working as Director of Marketing at E-Impact Marketing LLC, a Marketing and Web Development company that works with more than 14 companies nationwide, Mustafa Nuur founded Bridge, a social enterprise platform that lets people book cross-cultural experiences with refugees from around the world locally.
Jhumka Gupta, ScD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Community Health within the College of Health and Human Services. Her research program applies a social epidemiology framework towards advancing the science of gender-based violence against women and girls (e.g. intimate partner violence, sex trafficking). Specifically, she investigates the mental and reproductive health implications of gender-based violence, and conducts intervention studies aimed at reducing violence against women. Her primary focus is with vulnerable populations, both within and outside of the United States, and includes refugees, immigrants, and communities impacted by conflict. She has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications on these topics. She also serves as Associate Editor of BMC International Health and Human Rights. Prior to coming to Mason, Dr. Gupta was an Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Public Health.
Omar Bah is the founder and executive director of the Refugee Dream Center. He has worked on refugee issues for the past 11 years that he has resided in the US. He is a torture survivor, former journalist and refugee from The Gambia in West Africa. Bah is also the author of the book, Africa’s Hell on Earth: The Ordeal of an African Journalist; and the recipient of ‘One of Rhode Islanders of the Year 2015’ award from Rhode Island Monthly Magazine. He represents the state of Rhode Island at the Refugee Congress of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, DC.
Bah holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies with a minor in political science from the University of Rhode Island; master’s degree in Public Administration from Roger Williams University, and a master’s in Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health from William James College where he is currently a final-year a doctoral student in Organizational & Leadership Psychology. Bah has completed trauma treatment certification at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT).
He is a member of the Global Advisory Board of the Humanitarian Innovation Initiative at the Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs of Brown University.
Bernal works is child welfare expert serving as a Case Coordinator for the Office of Refugee and Resettlement’s program for Unaccompanied Children. He has nearly 20 years of experience providing complex mental health services to children and families in schools, hospitals, foster care settings, refugee and residential facilities for diverse populations. Bernal’s foundation is in community social work and promoting a greater understanding of social justice, equity and diversity. He is a member of Portland’s Refugee Emotional Wellness Task Force, UNITE Oregon Advisory Board, Multnomah County Public Health Advisory Board, serves as the Vice-President for RAIN (Refugee Assistance Information Network) International, and on the advisory council for IRCO’s Refugee Immigration Services and Empowerment (RISE). He obtained a BS in neuropsychology from UMass-Amherst, an MSW from Portland State University and a Post Graduate Certification from Harvard Medical School in Global Mental Health, Refugee Trauma and Recovery. Bernal identifies as a refugee, he grew up in Guatemala and came to Oregon in 1990.
Northern Virginia based licensed therapist and an international development consultant with experience working with mental health programs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Founder of the global mental health NGO NASM-Afrique to build capacity and promote mind-body well-being in Africa. Over 20 years of experience in refugee programs operation and mental health services delivery for people from culturally and ethnically diverse background in the United States and Africa. Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Virginia and Post-graduate certificate
from Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. Fluent in English, French, Ewe, and Mina.
Wilson Kubwayo is a former refugee from Burundi. Wilson grew up in the refugee camp in Tanzania for over ten years. As an Inspirational speaker, Wilson has been presenting on the topic of refugee experience and social justice for over four years. Wilson is the Director of Community Engagement at the Refugee Center Online. He is passionate about how organizations can use technology to help refugees and immigrants build new lives.
Allison is a Health Program Analyst at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Administration for Children and Families, where she oversees the Refugee Health Promotion discretionary grant, in addition to providing oversight for ORR’s Refugee Medical Assistance and Refugee Medical Screening programs. Prior to joining ORR in 2017, Allison was Kentucky’s State Refugee Health Coordinator at Catholic Charities of Louisville for four years; prior to that, she was a medical caseworker at Kentucky Refugee Ministries for four years. Allison received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Louisville in 2009, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Kentucky in 2004. Allison’s interest in refugees began in 1999 upon meeting and befriending Bosnian refugees in her hometown of Danville, Kentucky. Besides enjoying their boisterous parties, Allison was (and still is) in awe of their courage, resilience and humor, and saw those traits similarly exhibited time and again among inspirational refugee clients of all backgrounds.
Curi Kim is a Commissioned Corps Medical Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service whose entire career has centered on mobile and vulnerable populations. Dr. Kim is the Director for the Division of Refugee Health (DRH) at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Administration for Children and Families, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services based in Washington, DC. Previously, when she was part of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she served as the Quarantine Medical Officer at the CDC Detroit Quarantine Station in Michigan, the acting Surveillance Team Lead of CDC’s Refugee Health Program in Kenya, and the Quarantine and Border Health Services Branch’s Science and Policy Medical Officer at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. She has created policies and protocols on traveler, refugee, and migrant health issues, overseen grant programs for refugees and torture victims, developed traveler and migrant health IT systems, and responded to humanitarian/public health crises. Dr. Kim received her BS and MPH degrees from the University of Michigan and her MD from Wayne State University. She completed residencies in both Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine at the University of Michigan. She currently volunteers to care for uninsured patients at a free clinic in Arlington, Virginia.
PK Subedi is a Health Program Analyst at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Administration for Children and Families, where he oversees mental health and emotional wellness program activities. Among many other work responsibilities, he coordinates and conducts Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings for refugee community leaders and refugee-serving staff across the United States. As a certified MHFA instructor, he has trained over 2,000 participants in MHFA since 2014. Prior joining ORR, he has worked at the Hebrew Immigration Aiding Society (HIAS-PA) as a Reception and Placement Case Manager in Philadelphia for a year (2011) and then as a Refugee Health Coordinator at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for over two years (2012–2014). Mr. Subedi received his Master in Public Health (MPH) degree from Emory University in Georgia in 2011; he obtained his Master of Science (MS) degree from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand in 2007. He has published papers on refugee mental health and help-seeking behaviors.
Hannah Halbreich, LGSW, MSW, is the Program Coordinator for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington Trafficking Victims Assistance Program (TVAP). Ms. Halbreich’s diverse responsibilities at Catholic Charities include providing intensive case management to survivors, overseeing operational and administrative activities, cultivating partnerships, and conducting outreach and training to increase awareness.
She brings over five years of experience providing case management and counseling individuals from diverse cultures who have experienced trauma. Before joining Catholic Charities in 2018, Ms. Halbreich served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland, Africa where she designed programs and community workshops focused on mental health awareness and women’s and girls’ empowerment. Ms.
Mr. Melvin Wilson, MSW, LCSW, MBA, is currently the Manager of the Department of Social Justice and Human Rights for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). His duties include being the Association’s lead staff persons on issues dealing with social injustices and disparities affecting vulnerable populations. Through participating and assuming leadership roles in national coalitions, Mr. Wilson works to help bring about reforms and changes in social justice and human rights areas including: Immigration, Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, Voting Rights, Economic Justice Mr. Wilson is responsible for working with NASW leadership and its chapters on responding to the Association’s Social Justice Priorities. This includes writing social justice briefs and writing NASW statements on incidents of social injustice that have national implications. Mr. Wilson has been an employee of NASW for the last 13 years. Prior to joining NASW, Mr. Wilson has extensive macro, mezzo, and micro social work experience in mental health, health care, HIV/AIDS, criminal justice, and homeless services. Mr. Wilson obtained his MSW and MBA from Howard University.
Through the Switchboard program, Daniel leads refugee employment technical assistance (TA) efforts designed to support the national network of ORR-funded refugee employment programs. Daniel spent the first five years of his career in refugee work providing direct employment services to refugees and immigrants in Trenton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Since joining LIRS in 2015, Daniel has served as a member of the Higher team (former ORR-funded refugee employment TA program) and supported other LIRS economic empowerment initiatives, including corporate partnerships and innovative pilot projects. Daniel holds a degree in English and Studio Art from Oakland University (Rochester, MI) and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD).
Savannah Hill serves as an Employment and Training Specialist for the Virginia Initiative for Education and Work (VIEW) Program in the City of Alexandria, Workforce Development Center. In this role she particularly enjoys working with the immigrant population that are interested in English as a Second Language classes, volunteer work experiences, and securing employment. Prior to this position, Savannah worked as a Case Manager with Catholic Charities, Migration and Refugee Services. Savannah received a Master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University.
As emergencies researcher for the Women’s Rights Division, Skye Wheeler monitors and documents women’s rights abuses during human rights crises including situations of armed conflict, massive civilian displacement, and large-scale killings. Previously, Skye worked as a researcher for the Africa Division monitoring, investigating and documenting human rights in Sudan and South Sudan. Before joining Human Rights Watch in February 2013, she worked for OXFAM America and as a journalist for a range of outlets including Thomson Reuters.
Heather Kathrens is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked extensively with diverse populations, including refugees and survivors of torture and trauma. After receiving a bachelors in International Studies at the University of Florida, Ms. Kathrens implemented a volunteer program in 2007, to link community members with newly resettled refugees in Tampa Bay; and went on to manage programs for the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Youth and Family Program. After serving in the Peace Corps in Cameroon as a non-profit development specialist from 2010-2012, she pursued an MSW at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Since 2014 she has provided direct mental health services to refugees, other humanitarian immigrants, and US born clients who have been impacted by trauma, torture and loss. Ms. Kathrens currently serves as the state’s Refugee Mental Health Coordinator, situated in the Maryland Department of Health’s Center for Global Migration and Immigrant Health. She is also a pro-bono provider for survivors of torture and a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader.
Amy Bliss Tenney
Amy Bliss Tenney, J.D., MAMT, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist and former non-profit immigration and refugee attorney living in Baltimore, Maryland. She founded RICH in Music: Refugee-Immigrant Connection & Healing and serves as its Director and Music Therapist. The organization provides music therapy and other positive music experiences for refugees, asylum seekers, and other humanitarian migrants in Baltimore, Maryland. She also co-leads Hope Choir of Nations, hosted by Asylee Women Enterprise.
Ms. Tenney studied Russian at Grinnell College and was a Public Interest Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Ms. Tenney was involved with refugee and immigration law and immigration program development for 15 years with World Relief and other organizations. She returned to school to become a music therapist. Ms. Tenney completed her master’s degree in music therapy at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
She has acquired experience and done research and presentations in the field of refugees and music therapy. She is currently a Community Fellow through Open Society Institute-Baltimore. In this position, she provides hands-on music therapy services to refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers, focused on mental health and community integration. Ms. Tenney works with children and adults from around the world. She presented with Dr. Janelle Junkin at last year’s ECDC conference on Using Music Therapy to Support Refugees.
Dawn Brubaker works as a professional trainer for DAYbreaking IDEAS. She is also adjunct social work faculty for the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. Her past experience includes serving the Refugee and Immigrant community in Allegheny county for over a decade. She worked as the Lead Service Coordinator providing training and site consult in the ISAC program. This is a five agency-wide collaboration program lead by JFCS. During her time at JFCS, she created and implemented programs for refugee employment, service coordination, family financial planning and relationship education. Dawn created and presented material on cultural competency and best practice program implementation at the national, regional, and local level. Dawn is a doctoral candidate at the University of St. Catherine & St. Thomas University’s joint program of Social Work. She received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh focusing on systems theory and best practices for refugee integration.
Isabelle Darling, MSW has over 15 years of experience working in diverse roles within refugee resettlement. She currently serves as Gulf Coast Jewish Family Community Service’s Refugee Mental Health Clinical Lead. She has served as a mental health technical assistant, a federal program monitor, refugee case management supervisor, and mental health provider locally and globally. Her expertise is in providing refugee empowerment, leadership, and trauma-informed mental health trainings. Isabelle Darling is committed to developing programs and curricula built on values of social equity and intersectional responsibility. She has had the honor to work with survivors of torture, refugee families, undocumented youth, active duty soldiers and veterans. By weaving her holistic practices of yoga and holistic wellness into her programmatic work Isabelle is known to greet challenges and opportunities with an offering of mindfulness and balance.
Floor de Ruijter
Floor has more than seven years of experience in the field of refugee resettlement. She previously worked as a Program Officer for Resource Acquisition, where she coordinated major public and private grant development opportunities. Prior to that, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Evaluation Specialist for Project Strengthening Organizations Assisting Refugees (SOAR). She holds an MALD from Tufts University’s Fletcher School with concentrations in Monitoring & Evaluation and Development Economics.
Dedicated to honoring the body’s inherent wisdom and impulse towards wholeness, Eleanor is a trauma specialist known for powerful facilitation and creating sacred space.
She completed a graduate program with Kensis, trained under Dr. David Bersseli, and trained with Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk and Joe Emerson of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Center. Eleanor is a Certified Trauma Specialist through the Trauma Institute International and is a TRE (trauma releasing) provider. Currently, Eleanor is completing a three-year trauma residency with Dr. Peter Levine in Somatic Experiencing.
Eleanor’s training as a Board Certified Structural Integrator, nutritionist, and trauma specialist gives her a unique view of trauma theory and how it impacts the body, specifically the fascial system, endocrine system, and digestive system.
Committed to contributing to a larger conversation, she founded the BodyWise Foundation, and the BodyWise Institute.
Nouf Bazaz is a social scientist, mental health counselor, counselor educator and advocate for displaced populations with experience in program management, teaching/training, research, and direct services with a focus on survivors of conflict, trauma, & violence.
She is a Co – Investigator on a grant examining the maternal child health needs of Syrian refugee mothers in Maryland and is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Maryland, where she teaches in the School Counseling Program, and at Johns Hopkins University where she teaches a course on Refugee & Immigrant Mental Health. She has provided trainings for universities, non-profit organizations, schools, and government agencies on topics including multicultural counseling, refugee resettlement, and trauma-informed care.