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

Headshot of Denise MuroDenise Muro Denise has been working with Refugees Welcome! since 2017 and became Executive Director in 2018. She is a Ph.D. candidate 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. Denise has several years of experience working, advocating, and conducting research with asylum seekers, 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 network

Courtney Maurer

Director of Research

Headshot of Courtney MaurerCourtney Maurer joined Refugees Welcome! as a Research Fellow in 2019 and transitioned to the role of Co-Director of Research. She received her M.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in Immigration Studies from Brandeis University. Courtney’s research focuses on immigrant and refugee integration in the United States and how various push and pull factors of immigration impact an individual’s ability to reach self-sufficiency. Courtney continuously advocates for immigrant communities in the greater Boston area. In addition to her current work within Refugees Welcome!, she was a communications intern for The Right to Immigration Institute and an ESL teacher at Watch CDC. As the Co-Director of Research for Refugees Welcome! Courtney is eager to advocate for refugee and immigrant advancement by providing current and factual data that highlights inequalities among immigrant and refugee populations while providing more effective policy approaches.

Courtney’s research interests include:

  • U.S. foreign aid programs
  • U.S. immigration policy
  • Access to education and employment for immigrants and refugees
  • Immigrant and refugee integration

Maia Materman

Director of Technology

headshot8_19Maia 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 interests include:

  • Technology and social justice
  • Project management
  • Accessible design
  • Technology’s impact on equity

Elena Mora

Events Coordinator

Headshot of Elena MoraElena Mora earned her bachelor’s in International Relations from Boston University with a focus on foreign policy and security studies. After graduating she moved to the Chilean Patagonia to teach English as a volunteer for the English Opens Doors program. Since her return Elena has been working in event coordinating and plans to bring her skills to the organization by creating spaces where individuals can work together to promote the wellbeing of migrant communities. Having grown up in a migrant family, Elena is familiar with the hardships many families face and hopes her work will help improve the access and quality of resources available to the migrant community.

Elena’s interests include:

  • Connecting migrants to outdoor and recreational spaces
  • Translating and interpreting for Spanish speakers
  • Fair treatment of migrants in the workplace

Tazrin Hossain


Tazrin Hossain earned her bachelor’s degree in International Politics from the University at Buffalo’s Political Science program and her Masters in Public Administration from UMass Boston. She currently works in tech trade for Scottish Development International, the international enterprise arm of the Scottish Government. Previously, she has worked in Politics, Press and Public Affairs at the British Consulate General, Boston and at the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management where she worked within the analytics practice in support of regional or state agency projects.

Throughout her academic and professional career, Tazrin has maintained a passion for immigrant related issues and diaspora migration. Her interests include:

  • U.S. foreign policy
  • U.S. immigration policy
  • Transnationalism and bilateral migration
  • Environmental justice

Yvanna Hopkins

Director of Communications

Yvanna Hopkins earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications & Media with a minor in Political Science from Erasmus University Rotterdam. She worked for the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, served on the board of the Amnesty International Student group in Rotterdam, and was a member of The West Wing, a think tank for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During her studies and extracurricular activities, she developed an interest in refugee and immigration-related issues. For her thesis, she researched the usage of Twitter amongst the revolutionaries in the Syrian civil war.

Yvanna has always had an interest in learning languages, and worked as a language tutor for nearly 4 years, teaching Dutch, English, French and German to high school students. After moving to the U.S. in 2020, her experience with immigration fueled her already strong passion for helping others who are also going through this process.

Yvanna’s interests include:

  • Connecting with people from all over the world through education, travel, and learning languages
  • Improving education opportunities for immigrants
  • Refugee and immigrant resettlement

-Advisory Team-

Johanna Norshus Tvedt

TEAM Advisor

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.

Darren Kew


Darren KewDarren Kew is an Associate Professor in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance in the McCormack Graduate School. He is the Executive Director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development. He studies the connection between democratic institution building in Africa and the development of political cultures that support democracy, particularly in terms of the role of civil society groups in this development. Kew has worked with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action to provide analysis and blueprints for preventing conflicts in several areas around the world, including Nigeria, Central Africa, and Kosovo. He has also been a consultant to the United Nations, USAID, the US State Department, and to a number of NGOs, including the Carter Center in a 1999 effort by former President Carter to mediate the Niger Delta conflicts. His work on how conflict resolution methods promote democratization of national political cultures is one of the first of its kind linking these important fields.

-Past Leadership Team Members-

Charla Burnett

Founding Director

Charla Burnett is the founder of two successful nonprofit organizations- Refugees Welcome! and the International Society for Participatory Mapping (ISPM). In 2019, Charla M. Burnett founded the OrganizingTogether Consultancy Group, a uniquely designed organizational development and research collective based on the principles of community, experiential learning, and participatory decision-making. The OrganizingTogether Foundation helps provide technical and fundraising support for community based projects that use technology to reduce poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation.

Charla is a community mediator who specializes in strategic planning and decision support technologies. She has helped coordinate advocacy campaigns for Sierra Club and Cambridge for Immigrant Rights, and developed strategic plans, M&E and theory of change for Jerusalem Peacebuilders, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and SeaSketch.

Kenneth Mukonyezi
Research Team

Alyssa Bacon
Communications Team

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