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

If you’re interested in joining our Executive Board please follow this link for more information about available positions and the application process. Thank You!


Denise Muro

Executive Director

Denise Muro has been working with Refugees Welcome! since 2017 and moved into the Executive Director role in 2018. She is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and she previously earned her M.A. in International Studies with a graduate minor in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wyoming. Her research explores social relations among resettled refugees and host communities, and she is interested in how race, gender, and religion impact social integration in the United States and Europe. Denise has several years of experience working with, advocating for, and conducting research with refugees and immigrants in Colorado, Wyoming, Massachusetts, and Germany. As Executive Director of Refugees Welcome!, she hopes to contribute to refugee and immigrant advancement and community-building in the Boston area.

Denise’s research interests and current projects include:

  • Refugee resettlement and integration
  • Community-building between newcomers and established residents
  • Service providers’ stories and motivations
  • Strengthening service and advocacy networks

Johanna Norshus Tvedt

Board Member, Research Team

Before co-founding Refugees Welcome!, Johanna Norshus Tvedt received her M.A. in International Studies from the University of San Francisco, where her thesis explored gender in international refugee law. She currently works at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is researching higher education in the U.S.

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, where she managed an educational program, provided policy analysis, and co-authored a handbook on anti-discrimination work within the Child Welfare Services. She has also worked with immigrant and refugee rights organizations on the East- and West Coast of the U.S., and currently serves as a member of North Korea Refugee Aid’s advisory board.

Johanna’s research interests include:

  • Immigration law and policy
  • Access to education and employment for immigrants and refugees
  • Refugee resettlement and integration

Jason McSparren

Board Member, Research and Grant Writing Teams

Jason J. McSparren earned his PhD. in the Global Governance and Human Security at the McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston. He was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow (2017-18) for the West African Research Association (WARA). His dissertation research investigated the political-institutional norms of governance at the national and sub-national levels of natural resource governance in Mali. In addition to academic research, Jason has more than a decade of experience as a lecturer and administrator for university level English as a Second Language departments at Old Dominion University, Northeastern University, and King Saud University. His education includes an M.S. in Global Studies and International Affairs from Northeastern University (2012) and a M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from Rhode Island College (2003).

Jason’s research interests focus on the West African Sahel region and include:

  • The political economy of natural resources
  • Multi-stakeholder governance mechanisms
  • Human security issues resulting from industrial mining (land, water energy nexus)
  • Irregular migration resulting from resource extraction activities
  • Security dynamics in the Sahel

Alyssa Bacon

Board Member, Communications Team

Alyssa Bacon is currently the ESOL Program Coordinator at Action for Boston’s Community Development’s Parker Hill/Fenway location in Roxbury, MA. After graduating from Boston University with a Master’s in International Affairs, she spent a year serving as an AmeriCorps fellow providing citizenship services to clients at ABCD’s Jamaica Plain office where she  developed a passion for working in the immigrant services. She is dedicated to doing work that empowers the voices of Boston’s immigrant population.

Alyssa’s research interests include:

  • Immigration law and policy
  • Expanding access to ESOL and other services to enhance employment opportunities for immigrant and low income residents

Nyingilanyeofori Hannah Brown

Board Member, Capacity Building Team

Nyingilanyeofori Hannah Brown is a sustainable development and peacebuilding practitioner. She is presently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Global Governance and Human Security program, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Hannah has several years of experience training and working with marginalized groups, including immigrants on monitoring and evaluation, coexistence, sustainable development and collaborative crisis management in Nigeria, Colombia, and the United States.

Hannah’s interests include effective program management, marginalized populations, conflict prevention and management, coexistence, crisis management, and corporate social responsibility. Hannah’s recent work includes her research on the nexus between community inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and conflict, and the development of a manual for scaling up social movements using empirical data from Israel, Northern Ireland, and the United States.


-Advisory Board Members-

Marina Gabriel

Advisory Board Member, Communications and Capacity Building Teams

Marina Gabriel holds an M.A. in International Affairs from The New School in New York, NY. She is passionate about refugees’ and asylum seekers’ rights and previously worked on resettlement cases in Egypt and Jordan. Currently, Marina is the Program Coordinator for Refugee Programs at Sesame Workshop.

Marina’s research interests and current projects include:

  • Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy
  • Refugee resettlement
  • Program coordination and development

Charla Burnett

Advisory Board Member, Technology Team








-Past Board Members-

Ryan Gilson
Grant Writing Team


Wilhemina Agbemakplido
Co-Founder and Director of Communications


Jessica Allen
Legal Affairs Executive



img_0338Ayman Nijim
Steering Committee Member