Meet the Team

Administration

President & CEO

Dr. Gatluak Thach

Gatluak Ter Thach, PhD is the founder and current president and CEO of Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE). NICE ensures refugees and immigrants achieve their full potential now and for generations to come. In 2010, NICE became an affiliate of ECDC, in partnership with the State Department in Washington, DC’s Refugee Resettlement Program to resettle refugees here in the United States. Dr. Thach is a refugee and immigrant rights activist who serves on board of directors for several organizations, include Sudanese Human Rights Organization, Advisory Council of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Mayor’s New American Council, Tennessee for All of Us, Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity, Sudanese Presbyterian Church, Alliance for South Sudanese in Diaspora, Relief Organization for South Sudan – USA, Volar Collegiate Academy, and others.

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.

Vice President of Finance and Operations

Cindy Cunningham

Cindy was born and raised in Iowa with her 10 brothers and sisters. She graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. She spent over 30 years in corporate America starting in Quality Assurance and moving through several other areas including Finance and Sales. In Febuary of 2011, she started at NICE as a volunteer. In June, she was hired to be the Resettlement Program Coordinator overseeing all parts of NICE’s Resettlement Program, specifically R&P. Cindy currently serves as NICE's President of Finance and Operations.
Director of Administration and Employee Services

Idah Boyer

Idah Boyer was born and raised in Nairobi Kenya. She later moved to South Africa to pursue a Degree in Computer Science and upon completion moved to the United States. Idah joined NICE in September of 2009 as a Financial and Administrative Coordinator. She is now the Director of Administration and Employee Services. Idah speaks Swahili, English and Kikuyu.
Finance Manager

Rachel Carey

Rachel has grown up in Nashville and is proud to call it home. She received her BA in International Affairs from East Tennessee State University. After graduating, she completed two internships in Finance and Monitoring & Evaluation with a humanitarian aid NGO in Niger. She enjoys spending time with her husband and family, traveling, and working with international communities. Rachel started at NICE in 2022 and currently serves as NICE's Finance Manager.
Human Resources Manager

Adili Ntibonera

Adili is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was raised in Nairobi, Kenya for 9 years then came to Greensboro, NC in 2009. She attended Liberty University and got her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting, and then relocated to Nashville in 2020. She is currently enrolled in an MBA in Human Resources at Liberty University, and serves as the Human Resources Manager at NICE.
Administrative Coordinator

Samantha Jenkins

Samantha was born and raised in Nashville. Her upbringing as the youngest of seven, under the loving care of her widowed mother, taught her the values of resilience, compassion and community. In 1988, she embarked on her career path in federally subsidized housing. She worked most notably as manager to a large family complex and assistant manager and activities directory to a senior complex. In these roles, she exhibited strong leadership skills and a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by families in underserved communities. However, her journey was far from complete. Her heartfelt desire and commitment to improving the lives of others led her to pursue an opportunity at NICE.
Bookkeeper

Yemiserach Kebede

Yemiserach Kebede is originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She received her diploma in Commerce from Addis Ababa Commercial College in 1997. Later, in 2016, she received her B.A. in Accounting and Finance from Addis Ababa University. Previously, she worked at World Vision Ethiopia, where she gained 16 years of experience in Finance. In November 2017, She moved to the US. Most recently, she worked at Vanderbilt University as a cashier and food production worker for 3 years. Other than accounting, she also has a passion for cooking! Yemiserach joined NICE to serve as a Bookkeeper in the Finance Department in March 2024.
Office Receptionist

Gissel Murillo

Gissel is from Honduras and moved to the United States in 2021. She graduated from the University Of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with a degree in Business Administration. Before her move, she had approximately 7 years of experience working in the business industry in her home country. Spanish is her first language, and she began participating in NICE's ESL program in 2022. Currently, Gissel is employed as an Office Receptionist, assisting Spanish-speaking individuals and continuing to enhance her English skills. Being a part of NICE and helping people from diverse cultural backgrounds brings her immense pride.

Development and Communications

Director of Development & Communications

Max Rykov

Max was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and his family moved to the United States as refugees in 1993. Max received a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Religious Studies from the University of Alabama, and began his professional career by organizing fundraising events for non-profit organizations in Alabama. Max's community involvement led him to City Hall in Birmingham, where he worked as the Community Engagement Officer for the Birmingham City Council - helping develop campaigns and events to increase interest in the participatory processes of local government. During his time at City Hall, Max continued producing community events to benefit local organizations, served on local non-profit boards, and managed a micro-grant foundation. Max moved to Nashville in 2020, and his non-profit fundraising work led him to serve in the role of Director of Development & Communications at NICE.
Elizabeth Harrington Headshot
Associate Manager of Program Metrics & Quality Evaluation

Elizabeth Harrington

Elizabeth was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Psychology and Organizational Behavior from the University of California, San Diego. Elizabeth has been with NICE since 2021 and is currently leading new agency-wide efforts in creating monitoring & evaluation and knowledge management processes. Before this, Elizabeth managed NICE’s volunteer program, and originally started at the agency working on English literacy with young students through the youth education program. Elizabeth is also an RYT-200hr certified yoga instructor, author, and musician in a local band. She believes in peace, dignity, and agency for all beings.
Grants Manager

Andrew Kaiser

Andrew was born and raised in the Texas hill country, graduating from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. After graduation, he joined the Peace Corps and moved to Bolhrad, Ukraine, where he worked as an English Language Teacher for 2.5 years. In addition to teaching students, Andrew spent this time curating ongoing education seminars for teachers, directing environmental and leadership summer camps (where he met his now wife Alisa), and helping bring clean water to his local community. After finishing his service, Andrew moved to Nashville to pursue music professionally and toured relentlessly for several years. Andrew has spent his most recent five years helping local, national, and international startups grow and succeed before ultimately returning to work with the international community via NICE. An avid disc golfer, he also serves on the Board of Directors for Music City Disc Golf.
Communications Coordinator

Annie Brzezinski

Since Annie was young, she has loved written and visual language. She grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana in a multicultural home and learned quickly to relate to people of all backgrounds. Annie obtained her BFA in Visual Communication Design from IUPUI in Indianapolis and has lived abroad in both Australia and El Salvador. Annie believes in equity for all and is dedicated to using her diverse skillset to create lasting change in the world.

Immigration

Associate Director of Immigration

Aisha White

Aisha is originally from Nigeria. She came to the US for college and graduated from Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, KY in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. She started as a volunteer with NICE in July 2009 and has enjoyed meeting and getting to know people from many different walks of life. She currently works as the Associate Director of Immigration. Aisha speaks Hausa, English and Spanish.
Immigration Associate Manager

Sabine El Khoury

Sabine was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Her passion for human rights led her to pursue a career in law. She holds a law degree from Saint Joseph University in Beirut and a Master of Laws from the University of Iowa, which focuses on human rights and immigration. Sabine currently serves as the Immigration Associate Manager at NICE.
Staff Attorney

Charlotte English

Charlotte joined NICE in August 2022 as an immigration legal support specialist. She is an attorney and native of Nashville, Tennessee. She earned her B.A. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she majored in Environmental Studies with a minor in Business. She was awarded her J.D. from the Nashville School of Law graduating with distinction. She was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in November 2012.

After pursuing a law degree, she joined Cumberland Trust as a trust officer and held various positions including VP, Administration Manager of Special Needs Trust Administration until May 2022.

In early 2018, Charlotte began volunteering in the Nashville refugee and immigrant community. Her involvement with this community ultimately led her to pursue a new career direction focused on helping refugees and immigrants.

Resettlement Services

Director of Resettlement Services

Chris Linthicum

Chris is originally from Memphis, TN. He attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Sport Management. After graduating, he took his first job in the non-profit field and never looked back. He joined the NICE team in 2016 as the R&P Program Manager. He currently serves as the Director of Resettlement.
Reception & Placement Program Manager

Aimée Obanda

Aimée Obanda was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She spent her high school years in Kenya where she attended Rift Valley Academy. After receiving her BFA in Theatre from Abilene Christian University in Texas, she moved to Nashville to pursue her music and theatre career. She then moved Nairobi, Kenya where she spent 12 years rescuing and rehabilitating street children as the Assistant Program Coordinator at Ahadi Boys Home. Aimée speaks English and Swahili. She loves to learn and has completed several certificate courses from Yale University and Berklee College of Music. Aimée joins the NICE team as the new R&P Program Manager.
Mulki Mohamed
Associate Manager of Match Grant

Mulki Mohamud

Mulki was born in Somali, but spent 18 years livings in a refugee camp in Kenya. When she was in high school, Mulki received a scholarship to study Public Relations at Jomokenyatta University. Mulki came to the United States in 2014 and was resettled by NICE. She joined the NICE staff team in 2016 as the Administrative Assistant, and currently serves as the Associate Manager of Match Grant.
Associate Manager of Refugee Support Services

Bhuwan Nepal

Bhuwan is originally from Bhutan. He completed his Associate degree at Nashville State Community College and is pursuing his Bachelor's at Western Governor University in Business. Bhuwan speaks Nepali and Hindi. He wanted to work at NICE to help people like himself. He came to this country as a refugee and understands his clients' struggles and journeys as refugees. He shares his experiences with them and gives them a sense of belonging and safety during their initial time in the U.S. He love watching documentaries based on history and loves cooking.
Transportation Manager

Koang Chol

In 2011, Koang graduated from Nashville State Community College with an associate degree in Business Information Systems. In 2013, he graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Relations. While working at NICE, he pursued his educational goal and obtained his Master of Science Degree in Management at Trevecca Nazarene University in 2015. He joined the NICE staff in October of 2011 as the RSS coordinator helping find sustainable employment for refugees. Koang currently serves as the Transportation Manager. Koang speaks Arabic, English and Nuer.
Michael Joak Headshot
Benefits Associate Manager

Michael Gatwec Joak

Michael was born in Nasir, Sudan present day South Sudan after seceding from Sudan in 2011. He moved to Nashville in September 2000. He received his M.A in International Affairs from Middle Tennessee State University in 2021 and Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies from the same university in 2020. He interned for Nashville International Center for Empowerment in 2021. He is passionate about helping new Americans (immigrants) to be self-sufficient and subsequently achieve their American dreams. He is also passionate about bridging cultural gaps between immigrant parents and their American children.
Eric Bishonda
Reception & Placement Case Manager

Eric Bishonda

Eric Bishonda prides himself in his work with people with disabilities and vulnerable groups. He has been working with refugees since 2016. He previously worked at World Relief Nashville, TN, and at Catholic Charities in Refugee Resettlement services. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Bugema University in Kampala, Uganda in 2012. In his current role as Resettlement and Placement Case Manager at NICE, Eric helps to welcome newly arrived refugees to Nashville, ensuring they are connected to necessary resources during their first 90 days in the United States.
Fuad Suleman
Reception & Placement Case Manager

Fuad Suleman

Fuad was born and raised in Iraqi Kurdistan. He moved to the US in early 2017. Throughout his long career, he has worked with different; local and international organizations, institutions and corporates holding various positions. His love of languages led him to study English language and literature and get Bachelor of Arts from Salahaddin University. Then he received his MBA from American University in Iraq. He joined NICE in September 2021 as Reception and Placement Case Manager. He loves his job and really enjoys helping immigrants and refugees. He is married and have three kids. He speaks Arabic, Kurdish, English and Farsi.
Reception & Placement Case Manager

Alex Torres

Alex is proudly Latino. He has a degree in Graphic Design and also has a Bachelor's in Business from his home country. His first language is Spanish and he speaks fluent English and basic French. Alex enjoys helping people and volunteering with the students at DuPont Hadley Middle School. He also likes to exercise every day and run once a week. In his free time, he likes to go for walks with his husband and Itchycoo, their dog. Alex also loves to do crafts as he is very creative with decorations and building things.
Reception & Placement Case Manager

Khesraw Hamid

Khesraw is a graduate of Law and Political Science Department of Judiciary and Prosecution, born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Khesraw’s journey has taken him across continents, shaping him into the hard-working individual he is today. After completing his legal education in his homeland, Khesraw embarked on a new chapter of his life by immigrating to the United stated in 2015. Khesraw speak Dari, English, and Urdu.
Baraka Ntibonera
Match Grant Case Manager

Baraka Ntibonera

Baraka is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Migrated to the United States the year 2009. Baraka received his Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an MBA from Liberty University. Baraka worked for Ntibonera Foundation in NC, and was in charge of shipping of 50k pairs of sneakers to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Baraka spent Five months working as an operation’s intern in the DRC for Samaritan’s Purse. He also worked as a Swahili translator for new arrival refugees in North Carolina. Baraka Currently serve as NICE's Refugee Benefits specialist.
Emmanuel Semahoro
Refugee Support Services Case Manager

Emmanuel Semahoro

Emmanuel Semahoro was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and grew up in Rwanda. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science from Cheikh Anta Diop University and a diploma from Kigali Institute of Education. He has been working as a librarian for seven years, volunteered in different international organizations including Compassion International Rwanda. In his new role as Refugee Support Services Specialist at NICE, Emmanuel enjoys assisting refugees and immigrants in finding employment and ensuring that they are self-sufficient as quickly as possible. Emmanuel speaks Swahili, English, French, Kinyarwanda, and Kinyamulenge.
Refugee Support Services Case Manager

Maren Thompson

Maren Thompson graduated in 2022 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a degree in Russian language and Global Studies. She loves people, cultures and languages, and started learning Russian in high school as a hobby. During college, she took some time off and served a 14-month volunteer mission in Russia on an international and multicultural team. There she learned the Russian language and grew to love the Eastern European people and their cultures. She has since taught Russian professionally in several settings, and in 2022 she joined NICE as a Uniting for Ukraine Case Manager.
Refugee Support Services Case Manager

Alyas Tajik

Alyas completed high school in 2020 and has since developed a strong passion for various pursuits. He is particularly interested in singing. Additionally, he is driven by his desire to engage in social work, aiming to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need. Alyas has always been fascinated by different cultures, which has inspired him to actively seek opportunities to connect with people from all around the world. Alyas moved to the United States in August 2021. He is excited to embark on this new chapter in his life and continue pursuing his passions while making meaningful connections along the way.
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.
Match Grant Case Manager

Fartun Abdi

Fartun is originally from Somalia and her family relocated to Manchester, NH as refugees when she was 4 years old. She received her general education and high school diploma from Manchester Central High School and holds a two year certificate from Manchester School of Technology. She relocated to Nashville in 2012 and worked as a Case Assistant Coordinator for Catholic Charities. She speaks Maai Maai, Somali, and English. She works at NICE because she knows how frustrating it can be to come to a new country and not know the language and culture. Case workers made a difference in her family's life and she wants to do that for someone else. She also enjoys going on picnics with her kids and doing henna.
Mohammad Sharif Jamshidy Headshot
Match Grant Case Manager

Mohammad Sharif Jamshidy

Mohammad was resettled by NICE in 2016, along with his family. In Afghanistan, he worked with coalition forces providing interpretation services for a period of 5 years.

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.

Employer Engagement Coordinator

McKenna Kaufman

McKenna grew up near Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Nashville in 2015. She earned Bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and journalism from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where she was a reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting. In 2022, she became involved with NICE as a Development Intern, producing digital content for public relations initiatives. McKenna most recently worked as a Project Assistant for an international development NGO providing humanitarian aid to Black communities displaced from Ukraine. As the Employer Engagement Coordinator at NICE, she builds partnerships with local employers and helps prepare refugees and immigrants to enter the Nashville workforce.
Employment Specialist

Ahmad Javid Walizada

Ahmad Javid completed his Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in Afghanistan and worked in different organizations and companies there. He has experience in management, sales, marketing, and customer care. At NICE, he works as an Employment Specialist.
Refugee Benefits Intake Specialist

Kimberly Haines

Kimberly graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and minor in Nonprofit Studies. Kimberly became interested in finding a career in nonprofit after observing her dad start his own serving the people of Haiti. From a young age she developed a strong passion for volunteerism and using her abilities to serve those in need. She has used these abilities as she has been a volunteer, member, and leader in many service and nonprofit organizations.
Housing Coordinator

Alex Drury

Alex was raised in Satellite Beach, FL. He studied Religion at Florida State University before moving to Nashville in 2013 to attend Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is grateful to serve as the Housing Coordinator for NICE.
Community Engagement Program Manager

Kara Sievers

Kara Sievers was born and raised in the Chicago-land area but has called Nashville, Tennessee home since 2018. She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2010. Since that time, Kara has gained a variety of experience in the field of social work; including work in domestic violence, mental health, and child & family services. In addition to her domestic work, she spent two years as a case manager in Bangkok, Thailand where she served survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Kara is passionate about equipping others to connect with an international community and participate in welcoming refugees. It is this passion that led her to join NICE in 2023.
Volunteer & Training Coordinator

Aidan Sullivan

Aidan was raised in Nashville, TN. He graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2020. After graduating, he worked as a teacher at the Covenant School and participated in the Nashville Fellows program. Aidan currently serves as NICE's Volunteer & Training Coordinator.
RCA Associate Manager

Hanaa Hamed

Hanaa is from Sudan and holds a Bachelor's degree in accounting. She speaks Arabic and is passionate about helping others. Hanaa is thrilled to work for NICE because it subscribes to her core values. She enjoys cooking, travelling and exploring different cultures.
RCA Specialist

Amani Mohamed

RCA Specialist

Briley Thomas

Briley was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Throughout high school and college, she spent time volunteering with non-profits, both in Tennessee and in Washington D.C., that worked to serve the immigrant community, and through those experiences, she further developed her passion for advocacy and immigrants' rights. Briley graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in 2023 with a B.S. in Culture and Politics, concentrating in International Migration Studies, and also received a minor in Italian. Upon graduating, Briley moved back to Nashville and began working at NICE in 2023 as an intern with the Reception & Placement Team. She also served as an Employment Specialist with NICE's Employment Team before ultimately joining the RCA Team as an RCA Specialist. In her free time, Briley enjoys traveling, reading, drinking coffee, photography, and being outdoors with her three dogs.
Employment & Cash Assistance Specialist

Wasiq Kohistani

REA Case Manager

Carol Jones

Carol is from Holland Michigan. She studied Criminal Justice at Ferris State University. Her passion is service and she enjoys working with diverse populations. In the past she has worked with the homeless addicted and DV shelters. Carol is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Gallatin

Gallatin Site Manager

Chol Rambang

Chol is South Sudanese, born in Ethiopia. Fleeing war torn Sudan, Chol and her family immigrated as refugees to the United States when she was a little girl. Chol received her Bachelor of Science and minor in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Memphis. In college Chol worked for the Multicultural Affairs office at UofM and volunteered at the Refugee Empowerment Program in Memphis. She is also a member of the Tennessee National Guard. Her passion is giving back and advocating for her community. Chol currently serves as the Gallatin Site Manager.
Gallatin Office Manager

Ziagul Azimi

Ziagul is originally from Afghanistan. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Herat in 2017.

Ziagul has worked as a journalist with experience in leadership and team management, reporting, editing, website oversight, and photography at the Afghan Women News Agency and Afghanistan Institute for Research and Media. In Afghanistan she worked promoting democracy, supporting and encouraging women to work and be active in society by publishing reports on the achievements of women in every field, especially the training and employment of female journalists.

In the United States, Ziagul worked with ECDC (Ethiopian Community Development Council) in Vermont first as a Cultural Integration Facilitator, helping newcomers navigate their new community and providing information about cultural differences in American lifestyles. She continued her work with ECDC as a Refugee Support Services Case Manager before working at NICE.

Reception & Placement Case Manager

Shafiq Mardan

Shafiq is from Afghanistan and holds an MA in Social Work. He speaks Dari, English, Hindi, and Urdu. NICE has given him the opportunity to follow his passion of social work and he appreciates the diversity of the organization. Shafiq plays the tabla (Indian classical instrument) and enjoys music.
Transportation and Program Support Case Manager

David Reath

David is married with six kids. He came to the US as a refugee in 1995 and relocated to Gallatin, TN in 2000. Most of his life in the US he worked in a factory. He has previously worked in Food Distribution and Census. Here in Tennessee, David attended adult education through Web Wilson and received an Associates in Business Administration from National College in Madison, TN. David is thrilled to be part of the NICE team!
Associate Manager of Preferred Communities

Madilynn Lohmeier

Madilynn was originally born in Tucson, Arizona but has predominantly lived in North Carolina. She lived in Germany for 2 years and then moved to Okinawa, Japan where she lived for 6 years and graduated there from high school. After leaving Japan, she received a B.S. degree in Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University and then a Masters Degree in Environmental Law & Policy at the University of Arizona. She is also currently pursuing her PhD in Sustainability Education with a focus in Social Justice at Prescott College. Madilynn currently serves as NICE's Associate Program Manager of Preferred Communities at the Gallatin office.
Match Grant Case Manager

Paw Maung

Paw was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and moved to the United States in 2009. She went to school in the States and is so grateful that her parents moved here. Paw received her Associate's in Marketing at Nashville State Community College. She would love to also pursue computer science. She currently serves as a Match Grant Case Manager at NICE Gallatin. Paw's passion is to help people achieve their full potential.
RSS/RCA Case Manager

Israr Akakhil

Israr is originally from Afghanistan. He has a degree in English Language from Iqra Institute in Kabul and a Certificate in Interchange System of English from Alama Habibi Institute in Kabul. After completing his graduate studies, he worked as a United States Army and Marine Special Forces Translator for several U.S. missions at FOB Lightning Base from 2010 to 2014. He also gained experience working for Afghan Wireless Communication Company before moving to the U.S. in 2021 following the Taliban takeover. Israr worked in Massachusetts at an RSIG security company for two years before relocating to Nashville.
Refugee Services Case Manager

Thomas Mattingly

Thomas has a background in organic and sustainable farming practices. He finds joy in sharing the experience of bringing organic food into the lives of others. He first became aware of refugees struggles during his time in southwest Asia and the Middle East. He hopes to empower those within his surrounding communities to thrive and embrace this new chapter in their lives. In his free time, he studies Arabic and spends time with his wife and daughter.
Afghan Services Case Manager

Sayed Mashahid

Sayed is from Afghanistan and moved to the United States in early 2024. He received his Bachelor's in Business & Administration from IBN-Sina Private University. Sayed has around twenty years of experience with different organizations, both national and international, in different positions such as administration, finance and HR. He worked at International Medical Corps as a Sr. Human Resource Officer for almost nine years from 2014 to 2023. In his free time, Sayed enjoys played cricket and volleyball as well as studying and listening to music.

Adult Education

Associate Director of Adult Education

Ally Thomas

Ally is a Pennsylvania native who moved to Nashville in 2018. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual major in anthropology and art history. She earned her teaching certificate in 2011 and then served as the Education Coordinator at the Erie Art Museum where she managed studio art classes and organized school tours. She also served as a program assistant in the folk art department for Old Songs New Opportunities: a cultural preservation program that trained former refugees to work in local childcare centers. She has worked in many education departments including the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and the Nashville Zoo. She can speak French and can sing children’s songs in Arabic, Swahili, Nepali, Spanish and Bosnian!
Jody Sostrin
Adult Education Associate Manager of Workforce Services

Jody Sostrin

Jody was born and raised in suburban Chicago. She received a B.A in economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and a M.A in linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, Illinois. She has taught and tutored ESL students at all levels in a variety of content areas. Since coming to Nashville, she has mainly been involved in helping students obtain their citizenship. Before coming to NICE, she was the citizenship manager at Nashville Adult Literacy Council responsible for administering a USCIS citizenship and integration grant. She is excited to work as the Adult Education Associate Manager of Workforce Services at NICE and help students achieve their full potential.
Distance Education Coordinator

Emily Behr

Emily was born and raised in Nashville, and she attended the University of Louisville to study music and Arabic. In 2019, she volunteered with an organization called LEAP (Learning for the Empowerment & Advancement of Palestinians) which provides English and music programming for Palestinian and Syrian refugee students in Lebanon. Working with these English language learners solidified her desire to continue supporting refugee education. In addition to teaching in Lebanon, she has experience teaching English online and mentoring refugee students at Overton High School. She also enjoys studying applied psychology and counseling through the University of Santa Monica’s online program. She’s grateful to be part of the NICE team and is delighted to serve as the distance education coordinator.
Fozia Mohamed
Adult Education Student Coordinator

Fozia Mohammad

Fozia is originally from Hargeisa, Somalia. She moved to Pakistan, at the age of 13 where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies. While pursuing her education, she worked as a full time Somali interpreter and translator with a local non-governmental organization and then with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. She and her husband moved to USA in 2015. Before joining NICE Fozia worked with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition as a Multicultural Organizer were she helped serve the community by engaging them in civic participation, identifying and recruiting coalition members, and maintaining open communication between all immigrant & refugee groups. As NICE’s Adult Education Student Coordinator, Fozia connects Nashville’s adult English learners to NICE’s Adult Education course offerings while simultaneously connecting NICE students to larger services offered in the Nashville community.
Sophiya Marsani
Data & Student Support Specialist

Sophiya Marsani

Sophiya was born and raised in Nepal. She has earned her Bachelor of Science in Social work (Magna cum Laude) from Tennessee State University. Before she came to US, Sophiya worked as a Program Assistant with a local non-profit organization, helped international volunteers learn the Nepali language and helped design and implement the projects in Nepal. In 2014, she came to the United States and in 2017 joined NICE staff team as an Immigration Specialist to help refugees and immigrants with their applications. Sophiya currently serves as the Data & Student Support Specialist. Through the Adult education program, she supports refugees and immigrants’ clients in their journey to learn English, improve the quality of their lives and seek long term employment. She believes the service of divine purpose is a great blessing and brings great harmony to her life.
Adult Education Site Coordinator

Michelle Davenport

Michelle was raised in the Nashville area. She graduated from Western Kentucky University
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.
ESL and Citizenship Instructor

Kevin Hunter

Kevin A Hunter was born and raised in Toledo, OH, completed High School, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and earned a BA, MA, AA, and BS at Western Kentucky University. He has worked as an Architectural Historian in Bowling Green, KY and Mobile, AL. He has worked for the TN Dept of Labor and Workforce Development and the TN Dept of Health. He has interests in western US history, great lakes history, European history, foreign cultures, stamp collecting, photography, aviation, genealogy, US Civil War, architecture, and railroads. Upon retirement from the state, he became certified in teaching ESL. Kevin has satisfaction in helping immigrants and refugees adapt to US society by teaching English and helping them obtain their citizenship.
ESL Instructor

Fatemeh Tavassoli

Fatemeh is from Babol, a city in the north of Iran, and has also lived in Australia and Mexico before moving to the States. She has a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language Teaching. Fatemeh has been teaching ESL for about 15 years and loves her job. She is also interested in analyzing media discourse around refugees and migrants and has done a linguistic analysis of British media portrayal of Syrian refugees for her Ph.D. dissertation.
ESL Instructor

Lisa Zhito

Lisa Zhito is a certified English as a Second Language instructor with eight years’ experience teaching Nashville’s refugee and immigrant community. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Prior to her teaching career, she spent 30 years as a magazine writer and editor, and worked in marketing and public relations for non-profits and government agencies. Over the past eight years she has taught students with a wide range of English language ability, from basic Literacy to Business English clients. She and her husband love to travel. Lisa still plans to finish her novel some day.
Tiffy Barnett
ESL Instructor

Tiffy Barnett

There is no one braver or more committed than my students, who come from all over the world to Nashville – so different and so disorienting for them – yet they surmount so many barriers to plug away at learning English despite all the difficulties! I’m originally from Washington, D.C., and received my undergraduate and graduate degrees from UT. After several careers at Metro Nashville government as a counselor for teens and their families, as a program director in child welfare services and finally as a grants manager for the Metro Finance Department, I retired. Following several years at Camelot Care services working on reaccreditation and quality assurance, I got TEFL certification from the Tennessee Language Institute. For the last 6 years, I have found great satisfaction in teaching ESL (and Citizenship) to so many wonderful students, at the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, as a volunteer at St. Luke’s church, and at NICE.
Joyce Heil
ESL Instructor

Joyce Heil

Joyce graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in English and Secondary Teaching. After raising her family and years of community volunteering, she received her ESL certification in 2019. Joyce has taught beginning and intermediate English and currently teaches remotely to students in Bolivia. At NICE, she teaches reading and writing skills for students desiring to obtain their High School Equivalency Degree.
ESL Instructor

Consuela Reed

This is Consuela's first year with NICE and her sixth year teaching English as a second language. She has taught international students from Nashville, South America, and Asia! Consuela is compassionate about teaching and majored in Education at Lipscomb University, where she also earned her Master of Education degree. In her spare time, Consuela enjoys writing poetry and volunteering. Her favorite quote, " I don't teach you how to be perfect with the English language, I teach you how to improve."
ESL Instructor

Bea Malherbe

Bea Malherbe was born and raised in South Africa in the arid Karoo region. She earned a BA in Finance at the University of Stellenbosch. In 1999 Bea and family moved to the United States, living in New Jersey for the first few years. Bea devoted her time to volunteer at her church and at her daughter’s school. After arriving in Nashville, Bea worked as a substitute teacher for 10 years. It is during that time that she developed a passion for the ESL community when a friend asked her to teach in their volunteer program in 2015. As an immigrant and non-native English speaker, helping others find their way and learn the language came quite naturally for Bea. She started with the NICE team in January 2019, teaching Level 2 at The Donelson Fellowship. In her free time, Bea likes to travel, go hiking, and loves spending time with family and friends around a campfire.
Myra Allica Headshot
ESL Instructor

Myra Allica

Myra was born and raised in western Pennsylvania. The summer before entering college, she ran a thrift shop in rural Pennsylvania, which served as a distribution and administrative site for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program. Myra first became interested in teaching English as a second language while tutoring for Nashville Literacy Council. She received her TESL certification from the University of Tennessee Language Center, completed her practicum at the Hispanic Foundation, and began her ESL career as an in-person instructor for the foundation on Saturday mornings. Myra has taught Basic and Level 1 classes for NICE in person at The Donelson Fellowship and is currently teaching multiple levels online using the Burlington English curriculum. Myra is amazed every day at the dedication and resilience of her students and is proud to be a member of the NICE team.
ESL Instructor

Elaina Emerson

Elaina is an Ohio native who is passionate about helping people use their voices to communicate their wants and needs effectively. She attended Bowling Green State University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Elaina joined the NICE team in May of 2022, working for the Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program. She received her TESL certification from the Tennessee Language Center shortly after and currently serves as a virtual ESL instructor. Elaina looks forward to continuing to support the mission of NICE and learning alongside her extraordinary students!
ESL Instructor

William Oakes

William was born and raised in Columbia, Tennessee. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He began his career in education at Middle Tennessee State University when he served as a graduate teaching assistant for the Department of World Languages and Literature. After his time in this role, he decided to continue teaching Spanish language in public education. After realizing his love for language and supporting multilingual learners, he decided to pursue certification in English as a Second Language at Trevecca Nazarene University. In his spare time, William loves to read, cook, go on hikes, try new restaurants, attend bachata dance lessons, and spend time with friends and family. He currently serves as an ESL Instructor at NICE.
Adult Education Data Coordinator

Fawwaz Moge

Fawwaz holds a BS in Statistics Science and is trained in Security, Cryptography, and Azure Cloud environments. He is an Accomplished Senior IT Service Desk Analyst with ITIL Certification. Among many signature accomplishments, for a previous role, he was recognized as a core member of the High-Risk Management team that achieved 90%+ ratings on customer SLAs and Quality Service Measurements. Fawwaz likes hiking, playing soccer, watching movies, and playing video games.
Adult Education Site Coordinator

Joey King

Joey was raised in East Tennessee and went to college in Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. He served in the army as paratrooper from 1984-1987. He has been teaching English as a Second Language and citizenship in Nashville since September 2001. In 2017, Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) honored Joey with a Lifetime Achievement award recognizing his service with veterans and refugees. He joined the NICE team in March of 2019.
Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator

Hannah Gilbert

Hannah is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She received a bachelor's degree in international relations from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and moved to Nashville immediately after graduating to be an English as a Second Language teacher through Teach for America. Through both her studies in college and her experience in teaching at a school with a large immigrant and refugee population, she developed a passion for working alongside immigrants and specifically refugees to grant them access to education and other resources. She currently serves as NICE's Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator for the Adult Education program.
Citizenship Instructor

Gary Coin

Gary is from the Detroit area, graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in French. Later, he obtained a paralegal certificate and worked for law firms that focused on immigration law. At NICE, he continues to help those in the immigrant community on their journey to U.S. citizenship. His paternal grandparents were from northern France; he has traveled to France several times over the years to hone his French and meet some of his distant relatives. Gary loves writing his own puns. He also took second place in his junior high school talent show as a stand-up comedian. When he’s not teaching, Gary listens to all types of music, from jazz to bluegrass to classic rock to folk. He also enjoys camping, traveling, writing and spending time with his family.
HiSET Math Instructor

Robbie Hunter

Robbie Hunter grew up in Harrogate, a small town in East Tennessee. She received a B.S. in Accounting from Carson-Newman University and an M.A. in Accounting from the University of Alabama. She obtained her CPA license and worked for 30 years as an auditor and accountant in Tennessee state government. Since her retirement in 2014, Robbie has taught ESL and Adult Education classes for several organizations in the Nashville area. Since 2016, Robbie has taught math for the NICE HiSET program. She finds it rewarding to see students improve their math skills and fluency. She knows that whether or not they finish their HiSET diploma, improved math skills will help them in their daily lives.
Childcare Coordinator

Tomoka Kowamura

Tomoka, or Tomi, was born and raised in Southern Japan, Shikoku Island. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bukkyo University in Kyoto and then taught students ages 13-18 grammar, reading, writing, and classic Chinese & Japanese literature. Tomi also served as the school librarian. In 2004 she earned her masters degree in education and developed a national curriculum for secondary education in Japan on moral & character development and social responsibility.In 2019, she moved to Nashville. Tomi currently is a childcare teacher at the Donelson Fellowship. She also teaches Japanese language and calligraphy at the TN Language Center. Her interests are vast and include kendo,a martial art similar to Japanese Traditional Fencing and neighborhood walks with her dog, Blue.
Waris Ashkier
Childcare Coordinator

Waris Ashkier

Waris Ashiker is a part of the NICE childcare team in adult education. Waris was born in Somalia and moved to London, England in 1996. Waris is a seasoned caretaker and has worked as a teacher and nurse in centers across the world. She is the mother to four children and loves to watch movies and cheer for her son on the soccer field.
Testing Proctor

Iryna Martseniuk

Iryna is originally from Vinnytsia, Ukraine. She graduated from Rivne State Humanities University with Master's Teacher of Choreographic disciplines. Iryna worked as a manager of the Choreography department at the Vinnytsia Children's Art School. Since 2018 she has been a NICE English student. Her native language is Ukrainian. She also speaks Russian and English. At NICE Iryna hopes to be able to help others students improve knowledge of the English language as a Testing Proctor.
ESL Instructor

Cassy Serrano

Cassy is originally from the Midwest. She received her dual major Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Family & Consumer Sciences from Western Illinois University. She taught ESL and Spanish classes at Black Hawk College before moving to Tennessee. She also taught ESL at the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition. She has always had a passion for teaching and believes that education opens doors of opportunity. She is the proud mother of four beautiful children and spends her free time with them. Cassy currently works at NICE as an ESL instructor.
Refugee Career Pathways Coordinator

Kazim Hooshmand

Mohammad Kazim Hooshmand is originally from Afghanistan and moved to the United States in 2023. He received his Ph.D in Computer Science from Mangalore University, Mangalore, India, in 2023; his Master of Science in Information Systems, securing the first rank, from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India, in 2015; and his Bachelor of Computer Applications from Bangalore University, Bangalore, India, in 2006. His professional experience spans over 18 years in academia and industry. Dr. Hooshmand served in different roles, such as MIS Deputy Manager at Roshan Telecom, Revenue Assurance Supervisor at MTNA, University Lecturer & Dean of the Computer Science Department at Gharjistan University, as well as University Lecturer at Kabul Education University. He also held the position of Head of Network Products & Services at Roshan Telecom in Kabul, Afghanistan. Furthermore, he has worked as a Research Scholar at Mangalore University, Mangalore, India, and as an Independent Tutor at Varsity Tutors in the USA. Dr. Hooshmand’s research interests include Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Explainable AI, and Advanced Data Analysis employing Machine Learning and Deep Learning Algorithms. He is proficient in English, Dari, and Pashto languages, with intermediate proficiency in Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu. Dr. Hooshmand currently serves as the Refugee Career Pathways Coordinator at NICE, utilizing his expertise to empower individuals on their professional journey.
Testing Proctor

Waldina Villanueva

Waldina is originally from Honduras. She received her certificate as a Patient Access Specialist from Des Moines Area Community College in the state of Iowa. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2021 and received her certificate as a Bilingual Banker with Catholic Charities. She currently serves at NICE as a Testing Proctor.

Youth Education

Robbie Manauis
Youth Education Program Manager

Rob Manauis

Rob was born in Manila, Philippines and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.A. in Psychology. His primary focus was studying social psychology and genocide. He worked at a mental health crisis unit and substance abuse treatment center, where he discovered his passion for education. He served as a volunteered leader of human rights activism with Amnesty International and worked as an educator with various schools and non-profit organizations, including the Holocaust Museum of SWFL and Teach For America. He graduated from the University for Peace in Costa Rica with an M.A. in Peace Education. His primary focus was developing a pedagogy of peace that uses art to challenge invisible systems of oppression and transform cultures of violence. He has years of experience teaching all age groups in the USA, Indonesia, and Maldives. He was an adjunct professor of First Year Experience and Co-Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Committee at Florida SouthWestern State College. He moved to Nashville in June 2021 and now serves as a Youth Education Program Manager. He speaks some Spanish and some Tagalog.
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!
Youth Education Associate Manager

Halima Ingabire

Halima Ingabire was born in Uganda but grew up in Rwanda. She came to the United States as an international student on a full scholarship from St.Olaf College in Minnesota. Halima graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Race and Ethnic Studies. During her time in college, she interned with some major international organizations including Partners in Health, City of Joy Rwanda and others. In 2017, Halima received a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace Award, which she used to promote peace and reconciliation through art among the youth in Rwanda. Halima moved to Nashville, TN in 2018 and currently serves as the Youth Education Associate Manager at NICE.
Youth Education Program Specialist

Amanda Bouldin

Amanda is from Memphis, TN, and moved to Nashville in 2022. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a BA in Global Studies and French. After teaching English in France for a year, she worked at ALSAC to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She has continued to teach online English classes to adults and children. Amanda has also worked and volunteered in Mexico and other countries in South America and Europe. She earned her certification as a yoga teacher in 2021, and now teaches yoga classes in Nashville. Amanda serves NICE as a Youth Education Program Specialist.
Youth Education Program Specialist

Kaze Thierry

Kaze has a Masters in Project Management from Oklahoma Christian University. His professional experience is more marked in the field of business management and finance, which has allowed him to work with large multinationals in the Great Lakes region of East Africa such as Millicom International Cellular SA, Diageo plc, and Heineken Company. Kaze has always had a passion for humanitarian service, volunteering in humanitarian service in Rwanda and training with different non-government organizations such as Right to Play, World Food Program, American Red Cross, Etc,. Kaze now works as a Youth Education Program Specialist for NICE.
Associate Manager of Youth Mental Health

Miranda Atkinson

Miranda is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and has worked within refugee youth services for several years. She moved to Nashville to pursue a degree in Social Work at Belmont University. In 2023, she received a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Tennessee. Miranda currently serves as the Associate Manager of Youth Mental Health at NICE and is passionate about youth development and mental health advocacy.
Hanna Mwanse
Youth Mentorship Coordinator

Hanna Mwanse

Hanna was born in Kansas, USA, but was raised in Nigeria. She received her Bachelor of Science from Bingham University and also holds a Masters in Business Administration and Management from Nasarawa State University, Nigeria. Before moving back to the States, Hanna worked as a professor at Bingham University. She joined NICE in March 2018 as an Immigration Specialist and was also in charge of the NICE Family Mentorship Program. Currently, she serves as the Youth Mentorship Coordinator where she ensures youth get high quality and comprehensive academic support that is culturally and linguistically sensitive. By helping refugee and immigrant youth connect to school and the community at large through blended academic enrichment activities, she hopes to foster good decision-making process which will result in healthy, productive, and prosperous lives.
Youth Education Site Coordinator

Ashley Martinez

Ashley was born in Houston,Texas and was raised in Colorado, and Wisconsin before moving to Tennessee her freshman year of High School. She graduated with honors from Middle Tennessee State University with a BS in International Relations and a BA in Global Studies. During her time at MTSU she studied abroad in Shanghai, China and Seoul South Korea for one semester, and one academic year respectively and she published her honors thesis "Shanghai in Transition: Western Identity in the French Concession" in 2017. After graduating from university she worked as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea for three years. She returned to Tennessee in 2021 where she worked as an after school teacher for the University School of Nashville as well as a Site Coordinator and ESL teacher for the adult education program at NICE before being hired full-time as the Youth Education Site Coordinator.
Youth Education Site Coordinator

Tori Bruce

Tori Bruce grew up in Pell City, Alabama. She studied Social Work with a minor in Spanish at Troy University. During her time at Troy, she interned at a nonprofit in a pediatric clinic that provided holistic care to the patients and their families. During her summers, she worked at WinShape Camps where she devoted her time to learning camp songs, making friendship bracelets, and spending time with campers of all ages! In the Fall of 2022, she lived in Honduras working with VER International where she taught community ESL classes, partnered with a local after-school program, and participated in community visits. She now serves NICE as one of the Site Coordinators.
Education Support Specialist

Inna Shulkina

Inna is from Ukraine and speaks Ukrainian, Russian, and English. She studied at American University in Bulgaria (Blagoevgrad) and trained at Montana State University (Bozeman). Inna has 35 years of Pedagogical experience and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer Coordinator for eight years. She works at NICE as an ESL instructor. Helping refugees build a new life in an unknown environment by teaching them English adds purpose to her own life and makes her feel good about herself. She enjoys traveling, reading, and gaining new knowledge and experiences.
Youth Education Site Coordinator

Ram Timilsina

Ram moved to the United States in December 2004. She is from Nepal. She has a bachelor degree in Health Science (Cardio-Respiratory Care Science) from Tennessee State University. She loves helping refugee children be successful in their school education. She has worked in the Metro Nashville Public School system and Rutherford County School system in the past. She also worked as a medical Interpreter in Vanderbilt University Medical Center. After discovering the need that refugee children have in school, she decided to work at NICE. Ram loves to go various places with her children such as the library, zoo, grocery shopping, movie theater, etc.

Health

Director of Health

Nadia Rahman

Nadia is originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She received her M.Phil in medical anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2010, M.A. in anthropology with a concentration in international development from George Washington University (GWU) in 2008, and a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Delaware in 2005. Her research interests include reproductive health and urban development in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After completing her graduate studies, she worked as a research associate for the Global Gender Program and Culture in Global Affairs at GWU. She also facilitated student discussions for the Department of Anthropology at GWU. She moved to Nashville to pursue a career in program and grants management for the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. Nadia currently serves as NICE's Director of Health.
PC/Elders Program Manager

Timothy Brass

Timothy Brass was born in Uganda. After his parents passed when he was at the tender age of one, he moved with his extended family who later agreed to put him up for adoption. He was adopted and moved to the States in 2006. He went on to pursue his undergraduate in Global Policy and Service Studies at Southern Adventist University and later went on to get his Masters in Public Health with a focus on Health Services, Management and policy at East Tennessee State University.

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.

Health Education Program Manager

Kameo Carlson

Kameo was born and raised in the United States. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Spiritual Formation and Ministry from a private university in the Midwest and then moved to Wisconsin with her beloved husband. She spent years in various management and human development roles, harboring a passion for community work and involvement. She believes that as human beings, our greatest task is to take care of one another. She is honored to work with NICE and help take care of the Nashville and global community.

Kameo’s passions include making music, enjoying fresh air & sunshine, reading fiction novels in the morning light, amateur photography, and exploring new places.

Kabita Poudel
PC/Elders Training & Outreach Coordinator

Kabita Poudel

Kabita was born in Bhutan but had to flee the country with her family when she was just a baby. Her family moved to Nepal where she lived as a refugee for 20 years. She was trained in the healthcare system and received her CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) in Nepal where she worked as a Community Nutrition Specialist. She provided daily and emergency medical assistance, nutrition and health education. Kabita responded to the medical and nutritional needs of the community. Her family arrived in Tennessee in 2012 and were resettled by NICE. Kabita was employed at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital and joined the NICE staff in October 2015. She speaks English and Nepali.
Kipkosgei Magut
Health Education Coordinator

Kipkosgei Magut

Magut is an avid runner and Kenyan native. He graduated from Belmont University with a double major in Accounting and Information Systems Management. Over the last ten years, he has built a wealth of knowledge as an accountant, techie, and serial entrepreneur. He speaks Swahili, English and Kalenjin.

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.

Health Education Events Specialist

Mir Ansari

Mir is from Afghanistan and came to the U.S. as a result of the recent evacuation. His educational background is in nutrition and health within the context of sports. His most recent work includes coaching adults/young adults in developing plans for nutritional and holistic well-being.
Trusted Messenger

Byamungu Shamavu

Byamungu Shamavu was born in the Congo but fled to Uganda. In Uganda, he trained as a pastor in Vision of God Church in Nakivale Refugee Camp. Byamungu is also trained in peace building and trauma healing as well as adult literacy. He moved to the United States in 2014, and joined NICE as an interpreter and driver on his second day here. Byamungu now works at Vanderbilt University but continues to serve as an evangelist at Woodmont Hills Swahili Church. He is also now a COVID-19 Trusted Messenger at NICE. Byamungu is happy to communicate with refugee and immigrant families about the COVID-19 vaccine. Byamungu speaks many languages: Swahili, English, French, Kinyarwanda, Mashi, Kihavu, Kirundi, Lingala, and more.
Hawzheen Sarmamya
Trusted Messenger

Hawzheen Sarmamya

Hawzheen arrived in Nashville three years ago after living in Erbil, Iraq. She studied Biology and architecture design in Salahaden University and Cihan University. Hawzheen began as an ESL student in the adult education program and is so happy to be working at NICE and helping immigrants and refugees. She has two young children and enjoys visiting Long Hunter State Park with her family to hike, play on the playground and picnic. She speaks English, Arabic and Kurdish.
Trusted Messenger

Hanan Shaibu

Amiira Ahmed
COVID 19 Trusted Messenger & Childcare Coordinator

Amiira Ahmed

Amiira Ahmed holds two positions at NICE: Childcare Coordinator and COVID 19 Trusted Messenger. Amiira was born in Somalia and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2003. She graduated from Washburn high school and helped her family to raise her 11 siblings. Amiira is trained and certified in Child Development and Guidance, Discipline in Child Care, Child and Infant CPR, Keeping Infants Safe, Emergency Preparedness in Child Care and Safety in Child Care Setting. Amiira enjoys working at NICE because “they encourage me to achieve my full potential as a child care educator for the next generation.” Amiira moved to Nashville in 2012 and has become a pillar of the local Somali community. She is thrilled that her position at NICE allows her to serve her community. She often translates for families and helps parents navigate the school system. As a trusted messenger, she teaches immigrants from all backgrounds about the importance of the COVID 19 vaccine. She is the mother of three lovely kids and loves to watch tv and visit new restaurants on the weekends.
APA Case Coordinator

Abdul Farhangee

Abdul is originally from Parwan, Afghanistan. He came to the US in 2014 as an asylee. Abdul earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Dari Literature at the Parwan University in 2011. Abdul has extensive English language teaching experience as well as interpreting experience to and from English to the three other languages that he speaks. He is currently a student at the Nashville Community College in the IT department. Abdul is passionate about helping people of all cultures.
APA Health Case Manager

Luna Wang

Luna is originally from China. Currently, she studies Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Lipscomb University. She moved to Nashville in 2021. She is a part of the Health team at NICE as an APA Health Case Manager. Outside of her role at NICE, she enjoys outdoor activities, reading, and comedy.
APA Health Case Manager

Ikramullah Qayyumi

Ikramullah is from Nangarhar, Afghanistan. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems from Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) University, specializing as a Data Scientist. During his academic journey, he garnered extensive experience at Noor Educational Center & Development Organization (NECDO) as a surveyor, eventually advancing to the position of Managing Director. Additionally, Ikramullah contributed to fostering young talent by teaching programming fundamentals at BrightCHAMPS. Currently, at NICE, he serves as an APA Health Case Manager, where he applies his skills to effectively manage healthcare cases for new Afghans.
Health Education Data Specialist

Abraham Kemboi

Abraham previously interned with the Preferred Communities (PC) program at NICE. He is native to Kenya and speaks Swahili. He is a U.S. Army Veteran who served for 6 years. He graduated with an M.S. in Global Public Health and a B.S. in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He supported efforts with the Red Cross Veteran Caregiver Network and Department of Defense and the VA healthcare system.
Associate Manager of UHP Services

Vitaly Samodin

Vitaly is from Kyiv, Ukraine, where he worked as the Outreach Director for the Ukrainian Education Center until the war broke out. He has seventeen years of experience serving international and Ukrainian students as well as refugees in Ukraine. Vitaly has a BBA degree in Management from the International Christian University, Kyiv. He is working on his Master’s in Christian Ministry degree at the Harding School of Theology in Memphis, TN. Vitaly’s passion is to help those who find themselves away from home and their familiar environment succeed. Vitaly currently serves as NICE’s Associate Manager of UHP Services.
Uniting for Ukraine Case Manager

Liudmyla Seliutina

Liudmyla is originally from Ukraine. She graduated in 2018 from Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics with a Masters Degree in Tourism. She loves people, new cultures, and languages. Liudmyla worked in Turkey and Greece as a transfer and hotel guide and most recently, worked as a flight attendant for Ukrainian Airlines. When the war started in Ukraine, she moved to Germany before ultimately deciding to come to the US under the Uniting for Ukraine program.
PC & Elders Health Case Manager

Esther Voloshenko

Esther is originally from Ukraine but has lived in America since she was 5 years old. She speaks Russian, English, and basic Ukrainian. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with her Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration. Esther previously interned with NICE's UHP (Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolee) program before working in the Health department.
UHP Health Case Manager

Tetiana Kravchuk

Tetiana is originally from Ukraine. She studied foreign languages at the National University of Ostroh Academy in Ukraine and received a lot of diverse cultural experience abroad, over Europe and Brazil teaching English as a second language at schools and camps. She used to work as a professor of the English language in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Tetiana came to the USA when the war started, has gone through the immigration challenges herself and now can serve Ukrainian community using her experience and knowledge here in Tennessee as UHP Health Case Manager.

Mental Health Care Coordinator

Steven Houtschilt

Stevie is originally from Michigan. They studied chemical engineering at University of Michigan, then moved to Nashville for their medical degree at Vanderbilt. Their research and community work revolves around equitable and innovative mental health care. They are a part of the Health team at NICE as a mental health care coordinator. Outside of their role at NICE, they enjoy dance, music, and comedy.
MIHOW Program Coordinator

Nasreen Seddiqi

Nasreen is originally from Afghanistan, and worked as a physicians’ assistant at Malalai Hospital in Afghanistan. Before joining the team at NICE, she worked at Siloam Health as a medical interpreter.
Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker

Hodan Elmi

Hodan is a mother of five from Mogadishu, Somalia. She currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator at American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) and has also worked in the past with Family & Children’s Service as an interpreter. She works at NICE because she loves working with families, especially refugee and immigrant families, being an immigrant herself. She wants mothers to know that while starting life in a new country can be scary and sad, they aren’t alone. Hodan desires to offer any kind of support to make the adjusting process a little easier.
Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker

Zahra Hassani

Zahra is from Afghanistan. She studied ACCA at American University in Kabul and has been in Nashville since October 2021. Zahra's reason for working with refugees is being a refugee herself and understanding the challenges. Zahra also enjoys telling people about the rights they have as refugees and supporting and empowering them to access these rights. She believes it's amazing to see people rebuilding their lives – finding a home and getting the benefits they need to heal from their trauma. Zahra speaks Dari/Farsi and English. In her free time she loves cooking, reading books and making puzzles.
Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker

Bella Soroba

Bella is originally from Burundi but grew up in Kenya. She arrived in the USA in 2016 and was received by NICE. While in Kenya she attended ANGELINA JOLIE and MORNEAU SHAPELL primary and secondary school respectively, the only boarding schools for girls in refugees camps worldwide. She pursued her education in several fields, but was more interested in teaching HeadStart and becoming a foster parent. She then began her career by becoming a Daycare Teacher. She has attained TNDIDD1405 and many other foster parenting training and she was certified. Bella has always loved kids and wants to make a difference in her community and society at large.
Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker

Esraa Al Yamen

Originally from Iraq, Esraa has a law degree from The University of Baghdad and several years of experience in the legal field. Her position in Iraq included mediating conflicts among parties to find solutions and appropriate agreements, investigating job disputes between employees, and working with compensation claims for company owners. She moved to the U.S. in 2019 and has worked in customer service since.
Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker

Claudia Suarez

Claudia is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. She's passionate about continuous growth and learning. She has gained valuable experience in customer service and as mother she has the same background as the families she serves. As a Maternal Health Worker she will change our society helping pregnant women and families to improve health and child development.
Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker

Joyce Luka

Joyce is originally from South Sudan but studied in Kampala, Uganda until 2019 when she came to Nashville. She completed both her undergraduate and graduate schools from Tennessee State University where she received her degrees in Human Resource Management in 2021 and Master of Business Administration in 2023 respectively. Before coming to the US, Joyce served as the chairperson of for BASS Company for young talent where she managed and organized members on executing the day-to-day activities, she was also responsible for purchasing, marketing and direct sales of company merchandise. She also served at Nile Freight Customs Company, Peter and Sons Company, Mengo Scripture Union as the chairperson as well. She received awards for the following: Women Empowerment Mentor Program as Vice President 2017, Bugema South Sudanese Association as President 2018, Evangelism Ministries Awards and so much more. While in Nashville, Joyce has worked with the following: Square Medical Supply as Office Assistant Manager, KharisCare as a caregiver, Wilson Sporting Goods as an associate. These positions had given her the opportunities to serve others as well gaining experiences on how to deal with different people with different backgrounds and needs.

Board of Directors

Chair: Muna Muday, PhD Can. MPH | Vanderbilt University
Vice Chair/Secretary: John Ujwok, MA, MPH, PhD Can. | University of Tennessee
Treasurer: LeLann Evans | LeLann for President, LLC
Past Chair: Rosemary Lokule | Self-Employed
Alex Sekwat, Ph.D. | Tennessee State University
Veronica Calvin | Lifepoint
Malick Gaye | Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
President/CEO: Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach | NICE

Advisory Members

Andrea Ayers | Law Office of Andrea M. Ayers
Asrar Babikir | Catholic Charities, Nashville
Bruce Buchanan | Office of Siskind Susser PC
Casey McKeon | Cigna
Chuol Both | Toshiba
Joseph Dickson | HealthTrust Purchasing Group/HCA
Mahmoud Eltighani, PhD | Tennessee State University
Mohamed Shukri Hassan | Mayor’s Office of New Americans
Tom Negri | Community Volunteer
Jeff Pack | Community Volunteer
Anatina Sharma | Google
Dr. Stan Thangaraj | City College of New York
William Thompson, MD | Doctors Without Borders