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volunteer spotlight

"I love volunteering at SFIHS because it’s such a great group of kids."
- Lauren Nazario, RT Volunteer

Lauren is an after-school tutor at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) and is always an enthusiastic and positive presence in the tutoring room. Thanks Lauren for being an exemplary volunteer!

To read more from our dedicated volunteers, click here.


Click here to check out our blog and get the latest news on what we're up to at Refugee Transitions!

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Stephen N. Roberts
Nossaman LLP

Steve is a partner at Nossaman LLP in San Francisco, where he has practiced law as a litigator throughout his career. He earned his law degree, a J.D., from the University of Chicago Law School, and before that an A.B. in political science from the University of the South. Previously Steve chaired a committee of the American Bar Association with the responsibility of providing legal aid to refugees. He has also worked with Bay Area non-profit groups that deal with issues of the aging, and serves on the board of another non-profit addressing transportation problems.  


Nabeel Ahmed 
Chief Financial Officer 
Wanderful Media 

Nabeel is a finance executive and currently the Chief Financial Officer at Wanderful Media, a company that helps retailers bring consumers into local stores and gives consumers the most convenient way to discover local merchandise.  Formerly, he was the Chief Financial Officer of MarketTools, Inc., a provider of software and services for online market research.  Prior to MarketTools, Nabeel was at eBay, Inc. in a variety of finance leadership roles at eBay's San Jose headquarters as well as in Germany and Switzerland.  He started his career at Ernst & Young in Toronto, Canada.  Nabeel's undergraduate degree is from Laurentian University, in Sudbury, Canada, and he is pursuing his MBA at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Nabeel lives in San Jose with his wife and twin boys.


Joseph Du Bey 
Venture Investor   

Joe Du Bey is currently an MBA Candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as a design student at the Stanford Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). Previously, Joe worked as an investor in the San Francisco office of Unitus Impact, a socially-conscious venture capital firm. Prior to Unitus Impact, Joe worked in private equity and investment banking in New York at Lindsay Goldberg and Lehman Brothers, respectively. Joe received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, with a dual concentration in finance and accounting. Joe serves on the Board of Minds Matter of San Francisco, an educational non-profit organization, and previously served as the organization’s President. Joe joined the RT Board in October 2013.

Melissa Kreisa
Refugee Ministry Advocate
Presbytery of San Jose

Melissa is partnered with Elsa Amboy (RT’s former South Bay Program Manager) in a shared Refugee Advocacy position for the San Jose Presbytery. This work involves building partnerships among Presbyterian churches as well as other faith and community organizations in order to assist refugees who are new to the South Bay. In 2009, Melissa, Elsa and colleague Andrea Lee received the National Volunteer of the Year award from Catholic Charities for their work supporting refugees in Santa Clara County. Melissa received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art form Western Maryland College in 1987 and from 1995-98 was a MFA candidate in the Visual Information Technology program at George Mason University in VA. These early educational choices led her through a career in technical illustration and graphic design, and then through 10 years in the field of 3D graphics / animation. After taking time off to travel and raise a family, Melissa has returned to her passion for fine art. In November 2009 she exhibited her paintings in her first solo show in San Jose. All proceeds from the show went to benefit Refugee Transitions.


Ko Ko Lay

National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB)

Ko Ko Lay is a Burmese activist who continually struggles for peace, social justice and freedom in Burma. While living on the Thai-Burma border, he served as Secretary of Information for the Central Executive Committee of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF). After moving to the United States, he received an A.S. degree in Photography; B.A. degrees in Industrial Design and Global Peace; and an M.A.I.A degree in Social Change Design and Conflict Resolution with an emphasis in International Conflicts. He is a founder of the Open Students Network for Burma at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Ko Ko has also served his third term as a member of the Strategic Coordinating Committee, the only worldwide Burmese coalition group including the National Coalition Government Union of Burma (NCGUB) and National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB).

In 2008, Ko Ko acted as a representative of 88 Generation Students Exile group during their Asia Five Countries Tour, and ran as an Operations Director for the Credential Challenge campaign at the General Assembly of the United Nations.  He was elected President of the International Foundation for Burma National Congress (IFBNC) which was founded at a conference in Buffalo. Currently he is serving as the President of the IFBNC, Director of the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) in San Francisco, and as a core member of 88 Generation Students Exile. Additionally, Ko Ko owns a photo and design studio in San Francisco.


Nilima Patel
Senior Counsel
Paragon Legal

Nilima Patel is Senior Counsel at Paragon Legal. She was previously an attorney at Farella Braun + Martel in San Francisco and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York and Palo Alto. Nilima received her J.D. from Hastings College of the Law and B.A. in Business Economics and Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles. Nilima joined the Refugee Transitions Board in January 2011 and is the Chair of the Governance Committee.


Brenna Marea Powell
Associate Director, Stanford Center on Int'l Conflict and Negotiation
Principal and Chairman, the IPRE Group

Brenna is the Associate Director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation, an interdisciplinary research center at Stanford University dedicated to the study of conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  She is a political scientist by training and her research interests include racial and ethnic politics, why civil wars start, and how they end.  She is also Principal and Chairman at the IPRE Group, a consulting firm that conducts rigorous impact evaluation and policy analysis for organizations working in the fields of development, governance, and peacebuilding.
                                                                                                                                            Brenna holds a PhD in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University, and an AB in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University.  


Yaacov Silberman 
Chief Operating Officer 
Rimon, P.C.

Yaacov is the Chief Operating Officer and a Managing Partner of Rimon, P.C., a law firm based in San Francisco. Rimon is a California Benefit Corporation and a certified B Corporation, in recognition of its civic and environmental stewardship. As part of that commitment, Yaacov often acts as pro bono counsel to clients of Legal Services for Entrepreneurs, a division of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. Yaacov received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.A. from Yeshiva University. Yaacov lives in Oakland with his wife and baby daughter.


Victor Smallberg
Setren, Smallberg, and Associates, Inc.

Victor Smallberg has worked in human resources and related fields for over 25 years. After holding senior level HR management positions in Genentech, Inc. and IBM, he co-founded Setren, Smallberg & Associates in 1996. Since that time, he has worked with the CEO’s, Boards and executive teams of hundreds of life science organizations providing executive/board consulting and evaluation, organizational development and training services. Victor began volunteering as a Refugee Transitions tutor in 2003 and became a board member in 2008.


Chris Upjohn
Investment Professional and Entrepreneur

Chris brings to the board his experience as an investment professional, and grantmaker and volunteer in the nonprofit sector. He was most recently an investment professional at JGE Capital, where he sourced, evaluated and executed investments in public and private companies across a variety of industries. Prior to that, he was an Investment Banking Analyst at J.P. Morgan in New York, where he worked with companies in the natural resources, technology, media, and telecom sectors. He has experience in the non-profit sector as both a grantmaker and a volunteer. In his spare time when he's not working with non-profits, Chris enjoys competing in triathlons and downhill skiing. Born and raised in Minnesota, he has a strong dose of Midwest pride as well as an attachment to his alma mater Williams College, where he received his BA in Economics.   


Dominique Walterspiel
Sales Manager/Team Lead

Dom is a Sales Manager and Team Lead for Eventbrite. In the past, he has worked for Wildfire Interactive and Lime Energy.  Dom has been involved with RT since 2006 as a volunteer tutor and Board Member, and has also tutored inmates at San Quentin prison.