Luis Arias is a senior development officer, institutional giving, at the Women’s Refugee Commission. He leads the organization’s grant operations, pursues grant opportunities, and manages current grants.
Prior to joining WRC in 2017, Luis served as the director of foundation and public partnerships at Right To Play US. As a member of the national office development team, he supported processes and initiatives that contributed to the US national office’s fundraising goals while playing a critical role in helping shape strategies, systems, and tools that supported the organization’s mission of promoting play-based learning around the world. Luis has also served as the development manager at Saferworld and the director of development at the American Islamic Congress.
He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Fairleigh Dickenson University and a bachelor’s degree in English/literature from Fairfield University.
Prior to joining IAWG in 2019, Rose worked in higher education communication at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice.
Rose received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Drexel University and her master’s degree in integrated digital media at New York University, Tandon School of Engineering. Her research explored truth, authority, and community building in digital spaces.
Senior Director, Migrant Rights and Justice Program
Michelle Brané is the senior director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. One of the nation’s foremost experts on US asylum protections, migrant children, and detention policies for migrants, with more than three decades of experience in the field, Michelle conducts research and monitors policy, develops recommendations, and advocates for the critical protection needs of migrant women, children, and other vulnerable migrant populations in the United States while holding governments and policymakers accountable.
Michelle has authored and overseen many of WRC’s landmark reports on migration and asylum issues. She leads the program’s national advocacy on critical issues such as family separation, border policies, alternatives to detention, and unaccompanied children’s rights. Michelle has testified before Congress and other governmental and international bodies, appears frequently in print and broadcast outlets, and presents regularly as an expert at conferences, briefings, and professional trainings.
Prior to her work at WRC, Michelle worked at the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals and as a labor negotiator at the National Treasury Employees Union. She also held positions at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, with human rights organizations in India, and as a human rights officer with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Bosnia, where she also served as the head of the Sarajevo Field Office.
Michelle is a recipient of the Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law, was named as one of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century,” and received Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s Strength in Diversity: Perspectives on Immigration award.
Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctor of law degree (JD) from Georgetown University. She is admitted to the New York Bar.
Vice President, Programs
Dale Buscher is vice president, programs, at the Women’s Refugee Commission. He oversees the organization’s programs: gender and social inclusion; economic empowerment and self-reliance; sexual and reproductive health; and migrant rights and justice.
Dale has been working in the refugee assistance field since 1988 in a variety of capacities. He worked with Vietnamese boat people in the Philippines and later with Haitian refugees interned at Guantanamo Bay. He has worked with displaced Kurds in northern Iraq, with Bosnian refugees in Croatia, and with Kosovars in Albania and Kosovo. He went on to work as the director of operations for the International Catholic Migration Commission in Geneva, where he oversaw the organization’s $25 million international programs—covering 20 countries and 800 staff. He started numerous new programs for the organization, including during extended field postings in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Additionally, he has worked as a consultant for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, where he wrote a field handbook entitled Operational Protection in Camps and Settlements.
Dale earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah and his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University.
Ramaz Chamoun is an accountant at the Women’s Refugee Commission. She has more than eight years of nonprofit accounting experience, including accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank reconciliations, schedules, accounts analysis and general ledger maintenance, month-end closing, and financial reporting.
Prior to joining WRC in 2016, Ramaz worked for Seeds of Peace and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Ramaz holds a master’s degree in accounting from Montclair State University/Alpha Epsilon Lambada. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an associate degree in information technology and business administration from Damascus University. She also has a forensic accounting certificate and a certificate in nonprofit accounting.
Senior Policy Advisor, Migrant Rights and Justice Program
Leah Chavla is a senior policy advisor in the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. An international human rights lawyer, she advocates for the rights of women, children, and families seeking protection. She focuses particularly on policies governing the treatment of asylum-seeking children and families at US borders and the custody and care of unaccompanied children, and regional protection issues for migrants and refugees in Mexico and Central America.
Prior to joining WRC in 2016, Leah worked at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) within the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrants and the Rapporteurship on Human Rights Defenders. At the IACHR, she worked on cases, authored and co-authored several reports on situations affecting the rights of migrants and human rights defenders, monitored human rights conditions in the Americas, served as a panelist at conferences and workshops on the inter-American human rights system, and participated in other activities, such as country visits. Leah began her legal career as a legal fellow at the Center for Justice and International Law.
Leah holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish from American University and a doctor of law (JD) with honors from the Washington College of Law, American University.
Chief Philanthropy Officer
Claudia Connor is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s chief philanthropy officer. She oversees and leads WRC’s individual and institutional fundraising efforts.
Claudia has more than 30 years of experience in strategic leadership, organizational, and program management, partnership building, and private and institutional fundraising. She has substantive expertise in refugee resettlement and integration, migrant rights and immigration policy, and services for unaccompanied minors and survivors of human trafficking.
Before joining WRC, Claudia served as the President and CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, where she diversified the organization’s funding base, expanded foundation donors, secured multi-year grants, and increased individual giving. Previously, she was director of strategic partnerships with Save the Children, where she managed a large portfolio of private family and large institutional donors. She worked at the International Rescue Committee as a senior technical advisor in the governance and rights unit, as regional director in the US programs unit supervising refugee resettlement offices across the US, and as director of national refugee resettlement programs.
From 1998-2008, Claudia lived in Mozambique, Malawi, and Myanmar, where she was a consultant with a range of UN and nongovernmental agencies, working on child trafficking, child soldiers, women’s rights, juvenile justice, and the impact of HIV/AIDS, among other issues.
Before moving overseas in 1998, Claudia was a senior trial attorney for Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division, in New York City. She received her doctor of law degree (JD) from Brooklyn Law School and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Sarah Costa is the executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, a leading global organization advocating for the rights and protection of women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis.
Under Sarah’s leadership, the organization has experienced significant growth, with the budget more than doubling, and has expanded its ability to ensure refugees’ right to sexual and reproductive health care, to safety from gender-based violence, and to economic and social empowerment.
Sarah has more than 25 years’ experience in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive health, gender, and youth development, as well as global philanthropy. Throughout her career, she has worked in partnership with those closest to the issues, from government officials to local women’s organizations.
Before joining WRC in 2010, Sarah served as regional director of the Global Fund for Women, a grant-making organization that supports women’s rights organizations working on economic security, health, education, and leadership. Previously, she was a program officer for the Ford Foundation in Brazil and New York, developing and managing international and national programs on gender, sexuality, reproductive health, women’s rights, HIV/AIDS, and health policy.
During her tenure as professor of women’s health at the National School of Public Health, Brazil, Sarah was active in the national women’s movement, serving as a member of the Advisory Committee to the National Council on Women’s Rights. She also served on the boards of several women’s organizations. She is a member of World Learning’s Global Advisory Council.
Sarah holds a master’s degree in medical demography from London University and a PhD in social medicine from Oxford University.
Senior Advisor, Adolescent Health and Protection
Julianne Deitch is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior advisor for adolescent health and protection. Her work focuses on the integration of health and protection services, engaging adolescents in program design and implementation, and collecting meaningful evidence to inform programming and service delivery.
Julianne has worked in global health for more than 10 years with international, regional, and community-based organizations. Her experience includes five years with the United Nations Secretariat, where she conducted research and provided guidance to UN member states on achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals and implementing policies on gender equality. She has also supported UNICEF in data collection and reporting on adolescent health and well-being, and conducted qualitative and quantitative research with the RAISE Initiative at Columbia University.
Julianne is currently pursuing a doctor of public health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Her dissertation interests include understanding adolescent demand for contraception and the provision of adolescent sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian settings. She holds a master of public health from Columbia University, a master’s degree in development studies from the London School of Economics, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and economics from the University of California, Davis.
Senior Development Officer, Institutional Giving
Morgan Dixon is a senior development officer, institutional giving, at the Women’s Refugee Commission. She plays a key role in the organization’s institutional fundraising operations, leading and managing the organization’s portfolio of government, foundation, and UN donors, and identifying new business opportunities and fundraising strategies.
Before joining WRC in 2016, Morgan worked at The HOPE Program, where she managed fundraising operations and engaged financial support through cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of individual and institutional donors.
With more than 12 years of experience in the international development and humanitarian field, she has supported projects for The Hunger Project, Global Goods Partners, Village Health Works, and Innovations for Poverty Action through research, project management, and program monitoring and evaluation, working on assignment in Nepal, Burundi, and Ghana. Previously, Morgan worked for the American Red Cross in Greater New York in the disaster planning and response unit.
Morgan holds a Master of Public Administration in international nonprofit management and policy from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She received her bachelor’s degrees in ecologically sustainable development and sociology from Beloit College.
Katherine Gambir is a research advisor at the Women’s Refugee Commission. She advises WRC’s research, monitoring, and evaluation efforts across program areas. She ensures WRC designs, implements, and evaluates programs and research projects using precise and participatory-based data collection and analyzes rigorous data and testimony from crisis- and conflict-affected individuals to inform programming and advocacy. Katherine also leads research trainings and capacity-building of WRC staff and global partners.
Prior to joining WRC in 2019, Katherine, an expert in sexual and reproductive health and rights research, co-managed the poverty, gender, and youth research program at the Population Council, providing quality assurance and technical support to 14 global country offices on research projects in 30 low-resource countries. She also conducted research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and family planning in Sierra Leone and Zambia and provided technical support on girl-centered program design for organizations serving indigenous girls in Latin America, Mozambique, and the United States. Previously, she developed automated surveillance systems and Mhealth apps, directed needs assessments, evaluated global health programs, and facilitated trainings on community-based behavior change approaches.
Katherine received her master’s degree in public health from Boston University School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in world politics and Hispanic studies (literature) from Hamilton College. She is also a certified labor doula.
Program Assistant, Migrant Rights and Justice Program
Rahima Ghafoori is a program assistant located in the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Washington, DC, office. Rahima provides operational and programmatic support to the Migrant Rights and Justice program and the Washington, DC, office. She plans and coordinates logistics for complex field missions and events throughout the US and around the world for WRC, including Hill advocacy events in Washington, DC, and VIP funder trips to the border and to immigration detention facilities.
Rahima also conducts research and analysis on an array of immigration issues, with a specific focus on access to asylum for women, children, and families at the US southern border. She engages in monitoring trips to immigration detention centers, border processing facilities, and migrant shelters, where she has conducted interviews with government officials and migrants, and documents conditions for research and advocacy purposes.
Prior to joining WRC, Rahima worked in human rights and international development consulting, where she cultivated relationships with foreign embassies, diplomatic missions, and Congressional offices, and assisted with client proposal development and acquisition.
Rahima holds a bachelor’s degree in global affairs from George Mason University and plans to pursue a legal education in the future.
Alison Greer is an advisor, sexual and reproductive health, to the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Reproductive Health in Crises. The Women’s Refugee Commission hosts the IAWG secretariat at its New York office.
Alison manages IAWG’s Training Partnership Initiative. She works in collaboration with IAWG members and partners to support the development of regional, national, and local capacity to effectively coordinate and deliver quality sexual and reproductive health services from the onset of a crisis response. In addition, she provides general support to IAWG and serves on its Maternal and Newborn Health, Supplies, and Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Sexual and Reproductive Health sub-working groups. She has been with IAWG since 2016.
Alison received her master of public health and master of public administration in international health policy and management from New York University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature, French, and history from Oberlin College.
Associate Director, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights
Catherine Harrington is an associate director at the Women’s Refugee Commission and campaign manager of theGlobal Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, a coalition of national and international NGOs, UN agencies, academics, and civil society partners. The Global Campaign is housed within the Women’s Refugee Commission.
Catherine has more than a decade of experience in advocacy and civil society capacity-building on issues related to gender equality, human rights, and citizenship. She represents the Global Campaign as a member of the advisory committees to the UN Women-led “Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030” initiative and the Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality, and served on the High-Level Group on Justice for Women.
She previously worked at Women’s Learning Partnership, where she was the senior program officer for advocacy and communications. Catherine has also been a research assistant at the Center on International Cooperation and an editorial assistant for Foreign Affairs at the Council on Foreign Affairs. She has co-produced two films – one on the backlash against women’s rights post-Arab Spring,Because Our Cause Is Just, and a documentary on combating gender-based violence, From Fear to Freedom.
Catherine holds a master’s degree in global affairs from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Tulane University.
Senior Director for Strategy
As the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior director, gender and strategy, Jacqueline Hart leads the organization’s strategic focus on gender equality and social inclusion.
Jacqueline is a feminist sociologist who has been working on issues of gender equality and gender-transformative change for more than 20 years. Before joining WRC in 2019, she was a member of the executive leadership of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), a $40 million international human rights grant-making and advocacy organization. Among her contributions while at AJWS, she was the executive team lead on the creation of the strategic plan, co-created a field-leading feminist strategy on child, early, and forced marriage, and co-authored with the International Development Research Centre of the Canadian government a foundational paper on feminist research for gender-transformative change. Prior to this role, she was on the graduate faculty of the health advocacy program at Sarah Lawrence College, the director of research at Planned Parenthood of NYC, and a consultant for The Solidarity Center and the World Bank.
Jacqueline completed a post-doctoral fellowship in health services research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and earned her doctorate in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Program Manager, Sexual and Reproductive Health Program
Lily Jacobi is a program manager with the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Sexual and Reproductive Health program, and a member of the research unit. She works in a number of areas, including family planning, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and community-based disaster preparedness for sexual and reproductive health.
Prior to joining WRC, Lily worked with programs in St. Louis and Chicago supporting survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence to file and obtain orders of protection, navigate judicial proceedings, and access social and support services. She has conducted research and advocacy on a range of topics, including abortion access and rights in humanitarian settings, gender-based violence among asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America, and migration and trafficking in Europe.
Lily received her master’s degree in human rights studies from Columbia University and her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and women, gender, and sexuality studies from Washington University in St. Louis.
Senior Advocacy Officer and UN Representative
Stephanie Johanssen is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior advocacy officer and UN representative. She leads WRC’s advocacy with the United Nations, member states, civil society, and policymakers.
Before joining WRC in 2018, Stephanie served as the UN and EU advocacy director at the Global Justice Center, a human rights organization that uses the rule of law to advance gender equality. She focused on the gender-sensitive implementation of international humanitarian law and ensuring accountability for crimes of sexual and gender-based violence. Prior to her time at the Global Justice Center, Stephanie was an outreach officer in the Public Affairs Section of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where she implemented the campaign Calling African Female Lawyers, aimed at increasing the number of women practicing as counsel before the Court, a joint initiative with the International Bar Association.
Stephanie worked as a research assistant at the Centre for European Integration studies during her law studies and for a German law firm specializing in international public law.
She holds a law degree from the University of Bonn, Germany.
Senior Director, Finance and Administration
Eldar Kekic is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior director, finance and administration. He leads the organization’s financial management function, including planning, budgeting, and reporting.
Eldar has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit financial management and accounting. Originally from Bosnia, he has dedicated much of his career in the US to working with nonprofit agencies. Prior to coming to WRC as finance controller in 2011, he spent 12 years with Volunteers of America, where, most recently, he was senior staff accountant.
Eldar holds a master’s degree in accounting from Hunter College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting from Baruch College, where he graduated magna cum laude.
Sarah Knaster coordinates theInter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Reproductive Health in Crises. The Women’s Refugee Commission hosts the IAWG secretariat at its New York office.
Prior to joining IAWG in 2013, Sarah worked as a communicationsassistant at Doctors Without Borders and as a development associate at the Guttmacher Institute.
Sarah received a master’s degree in public health with a specialization in forced migration from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. As a student she led a mixed-method family planning baseline study among Burmese refugees living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which was part of a multi-country study led by the Women’s Refugee Commission, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Senior Director, Sexual and Reproductive Health Program
Sandra Krause is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior director, Sexual and Reproductive Health program. She provides strategic direction on sexual and reproductive health advocacy and research.
Sandra has been active in the public health arena for 30 years, 25 of which have been devoted to international health. She has worked in various regions, including Thailand, Haiti, Colombia, and Croatia, as well as numerous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Sandra has conducted reproductive health needs assessments in multiple emergency settings. She has established health programs for refugees and internally displaced persons in Somalia, Sudan, and Malawi, where she was a country director. She established the health unit and worked as the international health advisor for six years at the headquarters of a leading humanitarian response agency.
Sandra has extensive experience advocating to a wide array of actors, including the UN, the US and European governments, donors, and domestic and international relief organizations; conducting field research; publishing articles and media releases; developing technical resources; conducting trainings; and convening networks and leading coalitions that support sexual and reproductive health for displaced persons.
Sandra is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in public health administration from the University of Minnesota.
Director of External Communications
Joanna Kuebler is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s director of external communications. She directs WRC’s strategic communications operation.
Joanna has more than two decades of experience in government, political, and NGO communications and strategic planning. Prior to joining WRC in 2017, she served in senior roles in global education and sexual and reproductive health and rights at NGOs, developing and implementing communications plans that increased organizational awareness and demonstrated internal and external impact. Joanna also has extensive government communications experience at both the state and federal levels, including in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. She served as the long-time communications director for US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), including running communications for his successful 2006 Senate campaign. Joanna has worked closely with TV, print, and radio media from around the world, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC.
Joanna holds a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Millersville University.
Dhana B. Lama is the program/officer manager at the Women’s Refugee Commission. Previously, he was WRC’s program coordinator. In his current role, he oversees and manages the organization’s travel, logistics, security, and administrative matters.
Before coming to WRC in 2011, Dhana worked as an administrative assistant for the United Nations Population Fund for South and West Asia.
Dhana has a bachelor’s degree in business studies from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He is fluent in Hindi and Nepali.
Senior Technical Advisor, Cash and Livelihoods
Tenzin Manell, senior technical advisor, cash and livelihoods, leads the Women’s Refugee Commission’s work to develop technical resources focused on implementing safe, gender-transformative, and market-based response and recovery programs.
With her experience in cash and voucher assistance, livelihoods, gender, and community development, Tenzin has engaged in humanitarian and development programming around the world, including in Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.
Prior to working with WRC, she consulted at CARE International UK, directing research to strengthen farmer cooperatives in cocoa value chains. She also worked on improving micro-finance products as a consultant with Enjuba Credit, a Ugandan-based microfinance institution. In Haiti, Tenzin worked at J/P Haitian Relief Organization managing livelihoods and community development initiatives and thereafter at the British Red Cross managing its cash and voucher assistance and urban recovery livelihoods programs.
Tenzin has a master’s degree in development management from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a bachelor’s degree in economic development and gender studies from Hampshire College.
Associate Director, Individual Giving and Events
Ashley McGuire is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s associate director of individual giving and events. As a member of the development team, Ashley works on all facets of the individual giving program—including direct response, major gifts, and events—to raise and increase mission-critical funding. Ashley plays a key role in identifying new funding opportunities, creating and implementing an annual Individual giving strategy, and cultivating existing donor relationships. Ashley also leads the strategy, planning, and fundraising for the annual Voices of Courage Awards luncheon.
Prior to joining WRC in 2018, Ashley worked at the Center for Reproductive Rights planning and executing fundraising events, streamlining major donor communications, cultivating relationships, and leading special projects and innovative ways to raise funds. Previously, she led the membership benefits and events program at the Museum of Modern Art, where she enhanced member experience through exclusive events and dynamic programming.
Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and art history from Rutgers University.
Associate Director, Research
Janna Metzler, associate director for research, leads the Women’s Refugee Commission’s research portfolio on child marriage in humanitarian settings. In addition, she supports the development and institutionalization of high-quality research and evaluation initiatives within WRC.
Her research focuses on developing an evidence base for children and adolescent programming in humanitarian settings. Janna’s areas of expertise include conducting participatory research with children and adolescents; understanding and promoting healthy developmental pathways for children in emergencies; and the evaluation of child- and adolescent-focused interventions. An expert on measurement and evaluative approaches for children’s programming in emergencies, she has provided design, monitoring, and evaluation technical support to field teams globally for more than a decade.
Janna is an adjunct assistant professor in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health within the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where she leads the implementation of a randomized controlled trial of an enhanced model of child-friendly spaces.
Janna received her Doctor of Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University and a dual Master of Science in social work and Master of Public Health from Columbia University.
As the Women’s Refugee Commission’s development manager, Samantha O’Keefe works on all aspects of individual giving, including fundraising, special events, database management, and donor cultivation.
Prior to joining WRC in 2016, she was individual giving manager at Prospect Park Alliance and membership and annual fund associate at the International Center of Photography.
Samantha holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography and art history from Pratt Institute.
Senior Policy Advisor, Migrant Rights and Justice Program
Katharina Obser is a senior policy advisor in the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice program, where she advocates on the national level for the rights of women, children, and families seeking protection. An expert on US immigration detention, she writes and presents frequently on immigration detention and refugee protection issues, and has researched and authored numerous reports on asylum, detention, and case management alternatives to detention in the United States, as well as the European refugee response.
She previously researched and advocated on immigration detention issues at Human Rights First, where she also worked to expand access to legal representation nationally for asylum seekers and immigrants, and earlier coordinated Human Rights First’s pro bono legal representation program for indigent asylum seekers in the Washington, DC, office.
Katharina holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and French from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in forced migration studies from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
Policy Advisor, Migrant Rights and Justice Program
Ursela Ojeda is policy advisor in the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice program, where she advocates for the rights of women, children, and families seeking protection. Ursela is an expert on policies governing the treatment of asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations at international borders, with a particular focus on the US/Mexico border. She conducts regular monitoring trips to the border region and advocates nationally on these issues.
Prior to joining WRC, Ursela worked with the detained immigrant population at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, where she represented unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. She has extensive expertise in complex gender and gang-based asylum cases, as well as in trafficking protections and other forms of humanitarian relief. Ursela also worked at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, where she served as a best interests guardian ad litem for unaccompanied children in removal proceedings and engaged in advocacy to promote the best interests of unaccompanied and separated children based on domestic and international child welfare and human rights law.
Ursela holds a bachelor’s degree in international politics from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a doctor of law (JD) from the University of Michigan Law School. She is a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Solange Ondende is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s grants accountant. A member of the finance team, she is responsible for managing the organization grants portfolio; ensuring the accurate and timely tracking of WRC’s grants and sub-grants spending, including preparing the budget proposals for grant applications; the operations of post-award grant administration and related accounting duties, such as budget modifications, expenses analysis, financial reporting to donors, and journal entries; and ensuring that grant spending complies with donors’ rules and regulations.
Prior to joining WRC in 2011, Solange worked at AHRC, an organization that serves more than 15,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York City, most recently as business manager. In this capacity she was responsible for monthly reconciliations, preparing budget performance reports, and keeping track of all awarded grants, as well as preparing budget modifications and journal entries
Solange has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in accounting from Hunter College.
Senior Advisor, Adolescent Girls
Kate Paik is senior advisor, adolescent girls, at the Women’s Refugee Commission. She manages a range of field-based studies and pilot interventions on protecting and empowering women and girls affected by crisis and conflict. Her work includes providing technical assistance to field-based partners on designing, implementing, and evaluating programming to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and developing strategies for WRC’s adolescent program portfolio.
Prior to joining WRC in 2012, Kate was a program officer at the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), where she provided implementation and monitoring support to its field missions in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Caucasus.
Kate holds a master’s degree in international policy from the Wagner School at New York University.
Director, Human Resources
Leathy Pittman joined the Women’s Refugee Commission as human resources (HR) director in 2018.
In her junior year of college, Leathy landed a role as an HR intern at Time Inc., which the company created especially for her. After graduation, she was invited to stay on and begin a career in HR,working largely at their publishing arm where she supported some of their core businesses and magazine titles (Time, Essence, People). After “growing up” within the ranks of the media giant, Leathy has assumed a vast number of HR roles.
Over the years, Leathy has expanded her interests to include cognitive science and innovative HR solutions. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Leathy holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, with minors in anthropology and women’s studies, from the University at Albany.
Cassondra Puls is a research advisor at the Women’s Refugee Commission. An expert in qualitative and mixed-method data collection with crisis-affected children, adolescents, and women, she advises WRC’s research, monitoring, and evaluation efforts across WRC’s program areas in order to advance robust, ethical, and inclusive data collection, analysis, and reporting to inform WRC’s programming and advocacy. Cassondra was a founding member of the WRC research unit, within which she coordinates research training and capacity-building of WRC staff and leads on internal organizational monitoring and learning initiatives.
Prior to joining WRC in 2018, Cassondra served with the International Rescue Committee, where she led the Sierra Leone component of a three-country study on education in emergencies. She has designed monitoring systems, managed evaluations, conducted qualitative research, and carried out trainings across a range of contexts and has presented findings at conferences in the United States and abroad. With a passion for expanding children’s and young peoples’ access to education in emergencies, Cassondra serves on the advisory committee for Paper Airplanes and has served as an education in emergencies advisor for openIDEO.
Cassondra was a Fulbright Fellow, and she obtained her master’s degree in international educational development from Columbia University and her bachelor’s degree in sociolinguistics from Georgetown University.
Chief Writer and Editor
Diana Quick is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s chief writer and editor. Since 2018, she has managed all aspects of the organization’s editorial production, including writing and editing website content, reports, and other publications. From 1995 to 2016, she worked in a range of communications roles at WRC, covering all areas of internal and external communications.
Before she returned to WRC, Diana was communications and digital strategist at ChildFund Alliance. She led all aspects of communications of the Secretariat of a global network of children’s development and rights organizations. Early in her career, she worked at Amnesty International USA and at the Quaker United Nations Office in New York.
Diana holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistic and international studies from the University of Surrey in the UK. She also studied in Paris and Berlin.
Senior Advisor, Sexual and Reproductive Health Program
Sarah Rich is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior advisor for sexual and reproductive health. She leads the organization’s work on improving access to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services in northeast Nigeria through an innovative project supporting the state government to develop and implement community and primary health care programming. She also co-leads the Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises sub-working groups on supplies and contraception. Her prior projects at WRC focused on improving care for survivors of gender-based violence and integrating gender and sexual and reproductive health into disaster risk reduction in Pakistan.
Sarah has worked in reproductive health, gender, and poverty reduction advocacy, programs, and evaluation for more than 15 years across a wide range of settings, including Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Senegal, India, and the United States. Prior to joining WRC, Sarah was a senior technical advisor for the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, where she led advocacy strategies to integrate emergency contraception into reproductive health and post-rape care efforts at the global and national levels. She also co-chaired the family planning technical resource team of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children under the Every Woman Every Child initiative.
Sarah received her master’s degree in public affairs with a focus on international development from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and her bachelor’s degree in international relations and women’s studies from Pomona College.
Maura Sawyer is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s senior accountant. She is responsible for coordinating annual audits and 990 tax return filing; performing monthly financial closing and preparing accurate and timely financial statements; analyzing financial statements for discrepancies; performing general ledger journal entries; reconciling balance sheet accounts; assisting the finance director with the day-to-day financial operations and resolving accounting issues; maintaining internal controls and integrity of the accounting system; and administration of the payroll and supporting human resources with compliance-related issues.
She has more than 25 years of experience in corporate accounting, including financial statements reporting and analysis, and has extensive experience in budgeting, auditing, payroll, and tax. Before joining WRC in 2016, Maura worked as a senior accountant for the Wallace Foundation for 10 years, and for Rockefeller & Co. for 12.5 years as an accounting manager.
Maura holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a major in accounting from University of the East, Manila, Philippines, a forensic accounting certificate from New York University, and a certificate in nonprofit accounting.
Svati Kania Shashank
Chief Legal Officer
Svati Kania Shashank is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s chief legal officer. She provides legal advice on issues that include review of contracts, policies, and other legal documents, compliance, risk, corporate relations, and governance. Svati has extensive experience working with international organizations, and has been committed to working with the not-for-profit sector throughout her legal career.
Before joining WRC in 2014, Svati worked with the legal department of the International Rescue Committee. She started her legal career in the United States with the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP, where her work included cross-border public and private financings, debt restructurings, and project development and financings. She also represented various corporations and individuals in connection with matters relating to executive compensation and employee benefits. She worked with the International Crisis Group as a consulting attorney, where she supported the general counsel with a variety of in-house legal work, including transactional, compliance, and employee benefits-related work.
Svati received her master’s degree in law from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her master’s degree (law) from Trinity College, Cambridge, England. Prior to studying law, Svati obtained her bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.
Digital Media Officer
Christine Show is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s digital media officer. She oversees the strategy and operations of WRC’s digital communications, including its website, social media, and email platforms.
Christine’s previous experience includes serving as associate director of digital platforms at the Joyful Heart Foundation and as website editor at Columbia Law School, and working as a reporter for several news organizations, including the Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press, and Newsday.
Christine holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in newspaper journalism and women’s studies from Syracuse University.
Vice President, Advocacy and External Relations
Joan Timoneyisthe Women’s Refugee Commission’svice president, advocacy and external relations, based in Washington, DC.
Prior to joining WRC in 2005, she was vice president for programs of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization she helped launch, and which is dedicated to revitalizing the federal civil service and inspiring a new generation to serve.
Joan previously worked in the legislative and executive branches of government. She began her career in the office of then-House Majority Whip John Brademas. Two years later, she left Washington to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. Upon her return, she worked as a legislative assistant to the late Senator Quentin Burdick and as a special assistant to Senator Kent Conrad. In 1993, Joan was appointed the director of congressional relations at the Peace Corps. She later served as the first director of the agency’s Crisis Corps program and as its chief of staff.
She is a graduate of The George Washington University and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Program Manager, Sexual and Reproductive Health Program
Hilary Wartinger is the Women’s Refugee Commission’s program manager on the Sexual and Reproductive Health team. She manages WRC’s work on improving access to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services in northeast Nigeria through an innovative project supporting the state government to develop and implement community and primary health care programming.
Prior to joining WRC in 2018, Hilary worked in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where she designed programs in clinical care for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Previously, she conducted research in newborn health in emergencies in Puntland, Somalia, and developed livelihoods referral programming for people living with HIV and TB for the World Food Program in eSwatini.
Hilary has a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, where she focused on humanitarian action, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health, and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a bachelor’s degree in science in journalism, both from Boston University.
Program Assistant, Sexual and Reproductive Health Program
Erin Worden is a sexual and reproductive health (SRH) program assistant at the Women’s Refugee Commission. She provides programmatic and grants management support to the SRH team and theInter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) for Reproductive Health in Crises, which is hosted by WRC.
Prior to joining WRC in 2019, Erin worked at a women’s empowerment center in central Morocco. She also has experience serving displaced women and girls in Greece, Jordan, and the United States.
Erin graduated from Denison University with degrees in English (literature) and international studies.