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

If you’re interested in joining our Leadership Team 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 role of Executive Director 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 has an 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 and community social cohesion in the United States and Europe. Denise has several years of experience working, advocating, 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
  • The securitization of migration and criminalization of immigrants and refugees
  • Strengthening service and advocacy networks

Johanna Norshus Tvedt

Co-Director of Research

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

Kenneth Mukonyezi

Co-Director of Research

Kenneth Baiza Mukonyezi has over 10 years of experience in government and NGOs focused on security, peacebuilding, justice, and development work. Kenneth’s experience growing up in Uganda exposed him to tragedies resulting from conflicts, wars, and bad governance, which affected the lives of people and often caused displacements in his native country and region. He was a soldier under the Ugandan military until 2014, which enabled him to travel across the country and witness the peoples’ struggles. This shaped his pursuit for peace studies and developed deep passion to work within peacebuilding, justice, and development professions.

Kenneth holds a master’s degree in Conflict Transformation from the School of International Training, and a bachelor’s degree in Conflict Resolution from Kampala International University. His graduate inquiry examined the nature of assistance for refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. with an eye toward how it can be improved, and explored the rights-based approach as a long-term solution that ensures well-being and empowerment to refugees and asylees after resettlement. Kenneth is a Refugees Welcome! Fresh Start Awardee and SIT Graduate Institute’s Global Scholars Award recipient. He currently works at the Unitarian Universalist Association, a faith-based organization, as a Gift Processing Specialist.

His research interests include:

  • Religion and conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • International security frameworks
  • Social movements
  • Refugee service delivery in host, transition, and resettlement countries.
  • Migration, governance, and peacebuilding pathways in Africa

Alyssa Bacon

Director of Communications

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

Maia Materman

Director of Technology

Maia Materman is a Computer Science and Human Centered Design student at Olin College. She is passionate about exploring the intersection of technology and the public good, and focuses primarily on human rights. Maia came to Refugees Welcome! through her management of the Migrant Service Map as a volunteer at Code For Boston. She is interested in the ways in which technology can improve the lives of people with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities. Maia is excited to work with refugees, immigrants and service providers to build technology which empowers them and makes their lives better.

Maia’s research interests include:

  • Technology and Social Justice
  • Project Management
  • Accessible Design
  • Technology’s Impact on Equity


Nyingilanyeofori Hannah Brown

Capacity Building Associate

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 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.

Hannah’s interests include:

    • Effective program management
    • Marginalized populations
    • Conflict prevention and management, coexistence, and crisis management
    • Corporate social responsibility

Candace Famiglietti

Capacity Building Consultant

Candace Famiglietti
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. She is also a Research Associate for the Center for Governance and Sustainability and a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a Master’s in International Studies with a focus in International Human Development, Society, and Education, she co-founded a social enterprise, EbenGroup, that sought to promote peace-based education in war-torn regions. It was during her tenure at EbenGroup that she developed a desire to work with refugee populations, particularly women who were displaced by conflict and natural disasters. Candace’s current research centers around global environmental governance with a particular focus on gender as it relates to addressing global environmental issues.

Candace’s research interests include:

  • Environmental justice and social justice
  • Environmental Policy
  • Mechanisms for strengthening advocacy networks
  • Organizational learning
  • Gender analysis



-Advisory Team-

Charla Burnett

Advisor, Technology Team

-Past Leadership Team Members-

Marina Gabriel
Communications and Capacity Building Teams

Jason McSparren
Research Team

Ryan Gilson
Grant Writing Team

Wilhemina Agbemakplido
Co-Founder and Director of Communications

Jessica Allen
Legal Affairs Executive

img_0338Ayman Nijim
Steering Committee Member