Nashville International Center for Empowerment’s mission is to ensure refugees and immigrants achieve their full potential now and for generations to come. Our goal is to empower refugees and immigrants with resources and opportunities that will aid them in their resettlement and equip them to be successful in the future.
We do this by:
- Advocating for refugees and immigrants
- Building strong community of relationships
- Creating sustainable service programs
- Developing partnerships in Middle Tennessee
History of NICE
In 2005, the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) was founded by a group of Sudanese refugee men and women, including our President/CEO Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach, who desired to help other refugees and immigrants living in Middle Tennessee.
Many of the center’s founders came to the United States in the 1990s from war-torn Sudan, with the goal of finding a safe place to live, work, and raise their families. However, most Sudanese refugees had little educational experience due to the war, making their resettlement extremely difficult.
The experiences of these founders prompted the creation of NICE, so they could help others with skills that would help them gain their independence and self‐sufficiency in their new home.
Where We Are Today from President & CEO: Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach
“Greater Nashville continues to see an incredible influx of refugees and immigrants from all over the world and the demand for refugee services rises. The challenges faced by the NICE target population are often exacerbated by ‘mainstream’ support systems that often do not account for the steep access problems facing non-native English speakers, the majority of whom are unfamiliar with American culture. I can testify to this myself. Our primary goal remains the same, to empower refugees and immigrants through English literacy, but there has been an increase in demand for a wider range of services which has led to the diversification of NICE offerings.”
Fundamental to our mission is targeting the root causes of poverty within greater Nashville’s refugee and immigrant community, creating opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility, and the social integration of those it serves.
We aim to increase our clients’ abilities to effectively read, write, and speak English, facilitating long-term independence and stability. Leading to sustainable employment and self-sufficiency for adults and ongoing academic achievement for children, thereby addressing the underlying issues contributing to poverty in our community.
Clients are encouraged and challenged to think beyond their current circumstances and discuss long-term goals. NICE makes every effort to establish the foundation necessary to achieve these goals by placing clients in educational and employment environments that are conducive to ultimate success.
Meet Our Team
Dr. Thach received numerous awards, including White House Champion of Change Award from President Obama, CEO of the Year Award, Distinguished Service Award, Human Right Rising Advocate Award, Power of Inclusion Award, Community Empowering Award, New Immigrant Leadership Award, Peace Ambassadors USA Award, among others. He is also the author of My New American Dream. His upcoming books include “The Life of the Leader: A loving Memory of Deng Ter Thach (William); The Sustainable Integration for the New Hope” and “Why My People Continuing to Suffer in South Sudan.“
Dr. Thach’s work focuses on providing leadership and supervision to his organizational team and their subordinates. He is an expert in community and organizational development, program and budget planning and management, strategic planning, collaboration and partnership building, resource development, advocacy, and executive coaching.
Dr. Thach earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2003. He went on to pursue a master’s degree in public service from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, and graduated as a member of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in social science. In 2014, Dr. Thach earned a PhD in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis on Strategic Planning from Argosy University in Nashville, TN.
He is married to his beloved wife, Nyakuma Ter Thach, and they are blessed with four beautiful children: Duang, Ter Jr., Selena, and Pel Thach.
Parvez served as Director of St. John’s University’s Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery in New York City from 2003 to 2016 and as Adjunct Professor from 2007 to 2015. He received an MA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Cultural Studies and an MA in Global Development and Social Justice from St. John’s University. Capstone/Thesis in Global Development titled “Child Labor and Slavery in Bangladesh: Building Human Rights Through Information Sharing”.
He holds a Master of Public Administration from the renowned Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, New York.
Prior to his work in Zanzibar, Chris worked at Habitat for Humanity where he was the Director of Post Purchase Support. He conducted outreach and supported families, resulting in the development and implementation of the Family Support Program to help educate and support families in their first year of home ownership. As the Director of Resettlement Services, Chris is responsible for direct management of the Resettlement Services staff and delivery of all core services to our new arrivals.
with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders in 2006. She then received her TEFL
certification and taught ESL in Japan, Mexico and Uganda. Once returning stateside, she
completed her Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in ESL education from MTSU in
2011. She served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Atlanta, GA for Refugee Family Services and
found a strong desire to work with the refugee population. She first started with NICE by
teaching a math and computer class and then switched to ESL classes only. She is now the
lead teacher at The Donelson Fellowship site. She enjoys making an impact in the lives of her
students and supports the mission of NICE and the Adult Education Program.
She holds a bachelor's degree in law and a Masters in Genocide Studies from the National University of Rwanda. In 2011, as her country was transitioning from French to English, she came to the U.S. as a Romeo Dallaire scholarship recipient, to learn English at Lewis and Clark College in Portland/Oregon. In 2013, she received a Global Health Corps fellowship, and was based at the Rwandan Ministry of Health.
Kelvine moved to Nashville in 2015 and volunteered with Siloam Health as a Medical Interpreter.
She worked with World Relief as an interpreter as well. Kelvine is also a certified medical interpreter from the Tennesee Language Center. She speaks English, French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda and Kirundi. In her new role as an Immigration Specialist at NICE, Kelvine enjoys assisting refugees and immigrants in filling their application.
Bowling Green, KY in 1968. On completion of high school, Kevin enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Returning home, he completed a BA degree in history with minors in folk studies, anthropology, and library science at Western Kentucky University, followed by completion of a MA degree in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in Historic
Preservation at the same university. His employment with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development in computer maintenance began in 1996 where he met his wife, Robbie Ann Ziegler. Shortly before marriage to Robbie, Kevin transferred to the Tennessee Department of Health in computer maintenance and maintenance of the department’s internet and intranet sites. Upon retirement from the state in 2014, Kevin and Robbie obtained certification at the Tennessee Language Center for teaching English as a Second Language. He volunteered teaching ESL for NICE in June 2014 and soon became employed as a part-time teacher. Kevin has had much satisfaction in helping immigrants and refugees adapt to U.S. by teaching English and citizenship classes. He also teaches ESL part-time for the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.
If you ever want someone to talk your ear off about social enterprise, blockchain, crypto, farming, and anything trivia-related, you can always count on Magut.
After moving to Nashville, TN, Elizabeth worked as Director of Human Resources in the sales & marketing industry, before getting an opportunity in 2021 to align her passions with her work. She started at NICE as a Youth Summer Camp Coordinator, where she became invested in furthering opportunities for the refugee community in Nashville. Elizabeth now works as NICE’s Volunteer & Training Coordinator, where she aims to connect role models and passionate individuals to spaces they can provide the most impact. She approaches each day with the mentality that we have multitudes to learn from each person we meet.
By encouraging empathy, creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking, his goal is to help students improve their lives and empower them to create positive change in the world!
At NICE, Victoria hopes to be able to help others rise up and build a better, fulfilling life in America as an Immigration Specialist.
He has worked as a Patient Service Representative at Covenant Health, Behavioral Respite at Frontier Health, and developed a Care Navigation program focused on assisting children with chronic and complex health conditions at Niswonger Children’s Hospital with Ballad Health. Prior to joining the team at NICE, he served as a Public Health Specialist and Project Manager for the African Regional Covid-19 Food Security Project at ADRA International in Uganda.
For the last 3 years, he has joined Stanley Steamer International as a professional driver. Mohammad has received multiple certifications and recommendations from US army and coalition forces based on his ethic and interpretation skills.
Andalyn is excited to transition her career out of the classroom to help provide resources to the refugee community in Nashville. She is passionate about working with children and fostering environments where they can grow and learn.
Board of Directors
Andrea Ayers | Law Office of Andrea M. Ayers
Asrar Babikir | Catholic Charities, Nashville
Bruce Buchanan | Office of Siskind Susser PC
Chuol Both | Toshiba
Joseph Dickson | HealthTrust Purchasing Group/HCA
Mahmoud Eltighani, PhD | Tennessee State University
Mohamed Shukri Hassan | Metro Nashville Arts Commission
Julia Lydon, PhD | Retired
Tom Negri | Community Volunteer
Jeff Pack | Community Volunteer
Avi Poster | Nashville for All of Us
Anatina Sharma | Google
Dr. Stan Thangaraj | City College of New York
William Thompson, MD | Doctors Without Borders
Chair: Muna Muday, PhD Can. MPH | Vanderbilt University
Chair/Secretary: John Uwok, MA, MPH, PhD Can. |University of Tennessee
Treasurer: Lelan Evans | Lelan for President, LLC
Past Chair: Rosemary Lokule | Self-Employed
Beatrice Gatebuke, MA | FASHA
Nawzad Hawrami | Salahadeen Center of Nashville
Alex Sekwat, PhD | Tennessee State University
President/CEO: Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach | NICE
Nashville International Center for Empowerment would like to say thank you to each of our generous donors. We would not be able to offer the services we do without your contributions.