If you’re interested in joining our Executive Board please follow this link and fill out the application, Thank You!

Our Executive Board usually comprises of six to eight members from various professional backgrounds and with specific talents and skill-sets. Executive Members make a two-year voluntary commitment to a specific role on the  Executive Board and provides mentorship to our interns and research fellows. 

Marina Gabriel

Executive of Capacity-Building


Marina’s work with refugees began during an internship in Cairo, Egypt where she worked with asylum-seekers seeking refugee status and refugees seeking resettlement. Following two stints in Egypt working with St. Andrew’s Refugee Legal Aid Program (RLAP), Marina moved to Amman, Jordan where she supported migrant workers and refugees facing legal challenges in the country with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Daem Observatory for Consultation and Training (previously Tamkeen). Marina holds a BA in International Affairs from Northeastern University and an MA in International Affairs from The New School.

Contact: marina.gabriel@refugeeswelcomehome.org

Executive Director of Technology

The Technology Team is responsible for creating and managing information databases, our Refugees Welcome! Website and the Migrant Service Map. Tasks include updating databases, user interface design, web development, and assisting the Communication and Research Teams with posting new content, product management and works with our partners, MapBox and Code for Boston, to update the database, design the user interface, and monitor its user ability to identify updates.

Charla M. Burnett

ORG_DSC00131Charla M. Burnett is a doctoral student in the Global Governance and Human Security program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Studying the intersections between migration, social inclusion, urban planning, and human development, her dissertation focuses on the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI) and urban planning and policymaking. Charla has worked with migrants and refugees in the United States, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Palestine for the United Nations and other state and nonstate actors. With nearly a decade of experience migration governance, she founded Refugees Welcome in December 2016 to fill programmatic and managerial gaps in service provisions and advocacy in the Greater Boston Region.

Contact: charla.burnett@refugeeswelcomehome.org

Executive Director of Communication

The Communication Team focuses on maintaining communication with our [RW!] Network comprising of migrant service providers in the greater Boston area. The team is responsible for producing a monthly newsletter, puts out updates across our network, coordinates events and fundraisers, creates and maintains branding guidelines, and works with the Capacity Building Team to recruit new interns. The team also contributes to research-based analyses for the [RW!] blog.

Johanna Norshus Tvedt

profileJohanna is a Co-Founder of Refugees Welcome!. Her work promoting refugee and immigrant rights spans several years and multiple continents. In Norway, she worked for equal rights for minorities at the MiRA Resource Centre for Black, Immigrant and Refugee Women, an organization that has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. At MiRA, she organized empowerment courses and awareness events, provided policy analysis, and lobbied for minority women’s rights vis-a-vis prominent Norwegian politicians and decision makers. She is also the main author of a handbook on anti-discrimination work within the Child Welfare Services, which MiRA published with funds from Save the Children, Norway.

In the United States, Johanna has worked with immigrant and refugee rights organizations on the East- and West Coast. She is a member of North Korea Refugee Aid’s advisory board, and worked to encourage the immigrant vote during the 2016 presidential election.

She received her M.A. degree in International Studies from the University of San Francisco, where her thesis explored how gender is understood within international refugee law. She currently works as a Research Assistant at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Contact: johanna.tvedt@refugeeswelcomehome.org

Executive Director of Grant Writing

The Grant Writing Team ensures that [RW!] has an operational budget for events, coordinates finances, and assists other service organizations with obtaining funding. In addition to writing grants, the team is also focused on creating a set of standards for funders and maintaining a list of organizations that assist migrants in need of funding.

Ryan Gilson

hhjh.pngRyan Gilson is one of the Co-founders of Refugees Welcome! and is currently engaged in minimizing homelessness and addressing the affordable housing crisis in the Portland Metro area in Oregon and Washington State. He has strengths in focusing on capacity building, resource development, and outreach expansion for non-profits. He has previously supported the creation of operation process landscapes for Daimler Trucks North America’s Connectivity department. Ryan graduated from Michigan State University, double majoring in International Relations, and Comparative Cultures & Politics. His senior theses explored the headscarf controversy in France, as well as the legalities and repercussions of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Project on downstream nations.

Contact: ryan.gilson@refugeeswelcomehome.org

Past Executive Board Members 

Wilhemina Agbemakplido

Executive of Communications and Co-Founder

IMG_1267Wilhemina Agbemakplido is currently engaged in improving relationships between youth and police in the City of Boston and surrounding areas through her work as a Youth and Police dialogue facilitator with YW Boston. She teaches classes on Media and Conflict, developing curriculums to explore the role that Social Media has on conflict awareness and dissemination using conflict and media theory. Wilhemina graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a Master’s degree in Mediation, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. She is passionate about creating support networks between communities of color in the Boston area and newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers.

Jessica Allen

Executive of Legal Affairs and Co-founder


Jessica’s passion for helping immigrants and refugees stems from her grandmother’s immigration experience. Her grandmother immigrated to the U.S. during a time when immigration regulations were less stringent. Thus, her passion is to help others who are in search for a better life just as her grandmother did is personal. She also has passion for advocating for immigration policy changes that reflect a welcoming U.S., as it has been in the past.

While getting her bachelors degree in International Affairs at Gordon College, with minors in Spanish and Latin American studies, she worked directly with Immigrant populations and on advocacy for immigration reform. All four years at Gordon she worked as a tutor and program supervisor for the after school program, College Bound: a partnership between the Lynn’s housing development, Curwin Circle, and Gordon College’s Office of Community Engagement. Given that Lynn is home to many immigrants and refugees, the educational services she provided were to children many of whom parents were immigrants. As the G92 campus coordinator on her campus, she worked with Immigration Round Table, a religious organization that promotes immigration reform, to coordinate volunteers to educate the campus about immigration reform and organize a letter writing campaign urging then Wenham, MA’s Senator to support immigration reform. Additionally, she co-authored with academic advisor on an article that compares the 2012 presidential candidates’ positions on immigration reform for Capitol Commentary-a weekly current affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice.

Ayman Nijim

Ayman Nijim is a wellimg_0338-known International public speaker, who have spoken in 70 churches and 35 universities, colleges, schools across the USA on trauma healing, refugees, and his living experiences in the Gaza strip of Palestine and Iraq. He also shares on his education life in Iraq and the fleeing of thousands of refugees from their own home countries. He grew up in the Gaza strip, a place where the repercussions of war, in some many respects, are still looming.

He shares his own experience working with the Gaza strip’s traumatized children in several International and community-based organization; his academic experience in conflict transformation and social Justice as he holds a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management from the School of International Training, in Brattleboro, Vermont.  He created and supervised “Let Them Play and Heal,” a program providing psychosocial support for refugee children through drama, song, laughter, and dance before joining the international training up in Olympia, WA. He additionally manages women’s classes for traumatized children (in conjunction with other organizations). He also created a project” let them Practice their rights” to enhance resilience among kids and adult for Palestinian refugees in Gaza Strip. He co-authored a manual on helping human rights activists, Psychological practitioners in Syria to deal with the effects of the war, and mitigate Secondary Trauma Syndrome that comes with working on daily basis in war zones.

If you’re interested in joining our Executive Board please follow this link and fill out the application, Thank You!