Executive Director Since joining Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in 2001, Laura has shown dynamic, visionary leadership through expanding the agency’s scope and power to transform lives. She has grown Refugee & Immigrant Transitions from a two-office, home-tutoring agency serving 200 newcomers in San Francisco to a multi-site agency with 2,500 students in San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties.
Maria joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in January 2017. She was born in Guatemala and speaks Mam and Spanish. She works at Oakland Unified School District. Maria provides language translation and interpretation services to RIT’s Mam-speaking students and families in Oakland.
Nahid joined RIT in June 2018. She was born in Afghanistan. She speaks Dari, Farsi, and some Pashto. As an RIT Wellness Case Worker, she partners with IRC Health and Wellness team to conduct workshops, training, and in-person conversation with our Women’s Initiative program participants. She also encourages the women to be physically and mentally healthy.
Maria joined RIT in November of 2018. She was born in Michoacan, Mexico and speaks Spanish and English. At the age of 7, Maria moved to Oakland, CA. She attended Fremont high school. Maria is very active in her community.
Nazia joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in November 2018 as an English Language and Literacy Instructor. She was born in Afghanistan and speaks Pashto, Dari/Farsi, Urdu, and English. She holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from American University of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, she worked on many U.S. projects in different fields, including Finance, Human Resources and Administration.
Amanda Geldert joined RIT in June 2017 as a college intern and is back full time as of June 2018. She was born in San Jose California and speaks Spanish and English. As an intern she spent six months immersed in all things RIT across the 3 offices. She later returned to UCSC to complete her B.A in Community Studies & Spanish Studies (linguistics concentration).
Nicole joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in August of 2011 to fill the position of Volunteer and Program Coordinator. She recruits and trains the agency's many volunteer tutors. Nicole was introduced to the international humanitarian sphere while volunteering at an orphanage in Bulgaria, where she taught ESL and coordinated enrichment activities.
Julia joined RIT in 2014 as the agency's Development and Impact Coordinator. She coordinates development projects, including the annual fundraising event and end-of-year appeals. She works on grant proposals and funder reports as a content coordinator, writer, and editor. Julia oversees the agency's impact data. She is the RIT's Salesforce system administrator, taking care of the setup, reporting, and mass data uploads.
Jyoti immigrated to the U.S. in 2009 from Nepal as a Bhutanese Refugee. She went to Oakland International High School and was a Peer Tutor in RIT's after-school tutoring. After graduating from OIHS, she continued to join forces with RIT as an Alumni Tutor and Intern. She graduated in May 2016 from San Francisco State University with a B.S. degree in Business Management.
Tenley Harrison joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions as a tutor in Fall 2001. She has since served on the Board of Directors, as Board Chair, Interim Executive Director (2x), Program and Data Coordinator, grant writer, and instructor. She currently coordinates the Women's Initiative, an education program for both mothers and their children. Tenley grew up in San Francisco, attended Yale College, and has graduate degrees from Stanford and San Francisco State University.
Carmen Jimenez joined RIT in September of 2019. She was born in Oakland, California and speaks English, Mam, and Spanish. She graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in June of 2019 with her B.A. in Linguistics. She has had the privilege of working and building community with students for the last 4 years in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Now, she can be found working with students and RIT volunteers at both Oakland International High School and Fremont High School.
Fathiya joined RIT in October 2018. She was born in Yemen, and speaks Arabic and English. She came to United States in 2004 with her family. Fathiya went to middle school in Oakland CA, and attended Oakland Technical High School. She joined RIT because she likes to work with little kids, and has experience as a babysitter. She especially likes to work with refugee and immigrant kids, so they can be part of the community.
Grace Lau, an immigrant from Hong Kong, began working with Refugee & Immigrant Transitions as a Program Coordinator in September 2008. She works primarily with the Asian Pacific Islander community in San Francisco and to this end, contributes her intimate knowledge of China, its culture, and the challenges immigrants face resettling in the U.S. Grace supports families enrolled in Refugee & Immigrant Transitions’ home-based tutoring and mentoring programs, and supports our school-based program at San Francisco International High School.
Cara joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in August of 2019 as an Adult English Language Instructor at Oakland International High School. She is the first in her family to complete college. She holds an undergraduate degree and masters in English and an ESL Certificate from California State East Bay in Hayward, CA. Additionally, Cara earned a Clad Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University and a California administrative Credential in Organizational Leadership from California State East Bay college.
Zar Ni Maung began at Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in March 2008 as the agency's Family Advocate. Zar Ni focuses primarily on supporting volunteers and newly arrived refugee families from Burma, linking them to services and providing tutoring for youth. Zar Ni grew up in Rangoon, the former capital of Burma. As a university student, he was active in the student democracy movement.
Masuma Mohammadi joined RIT in May 2018. She is from Bamyan, Afghanistan, and her native language is Dari. After graduating from high school, she joined Baran Institute of Health Science in Kabul, Afghanistan. She studied there for 2 years and received Health Science Lab Technician Certificate. She worked for 5 years as a teacher at Farhang elementary school. For a year she volunteered at Think College Now School’s kindergarten class.
Shaheen joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in February 2016. He was born in Afghanistan and speaks Dari, Pashto and some Arabic. He graduated from Oakland International High School (OIHS). He has an associate’s degree in Mathematics from Laney College, and he is currently attending California State University, East Bay (CSUEB). He assists as an Alumni Tutor at RIT after-school program in OIHS, as a Teacher’s Assistant at RIT Adult ESL classes, and as an Interpreter for Dari and Pashto speaking students.
Ricardo joined RIT in October 2018 as the After-School Program Coordinator at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS). He was born in the United States but was raised in a bilingual household by parents who immigrated from Mexico. He speaks both Spanish and English fluently. At San Francisco International High School, he provides daytime classroom support for students and teachers and helps organize special events held in the school.
Mohammad joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions on November 2018 as a Wellness Case Worker. He was born in Afghanistan and speaks Dari, Pashto, and Arabic. As an RIT wellness Case Worker, he partners with International Rescue Committee’s Health and Wellness team to develop and conduct psycho-education workshops and conduct health screenings. In addition, he provides case management and referral support to RIT clients.
Kajal joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in April 2019 to fill the position of Adult English Language Instructor at Oakland International High School (OIHS). Today, Kajal works as an Associate Education Manager and Instructor. Along with overseeing and monitoring part of the agency’s youth programs and Behavioral Health Prevention & Early Intervention programs, she also teaches Refugee & Immigrant Transitions’ Vocational English and Citizenship classes at Harbor House.
Sandra joined RIT in June 2016. She is the first generation in her family to attend college. She received a B.A. in Sociology & Education from UC Santa Cruz. After working with a high population of refugees and asylees at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, she grew fervor to guide and help newly arrived and low-income families. It quickly became apparent that Sandra not only shared a deep passion for helping refugees, but also cared deeply for the community that she served.
Kalina Vitela joined RIT in August 2019. She was born in the U.S and speaks Spanish and English fluently. She is an Adult Literacy Instructor at RIT’s class at Good Samaritan Family Resource Center in San Francisco. Kalina graduated from San Francisco State University and also works with San Francisco Unified School District as a substitute teacher. She is passionate about providing equitable education to all, and through RIT, she plans to connect with and aid families new to the U.S.
Sonia joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in July 2014 as the South Bay Education Coordinator. In our South Bay location, she recruits and trains volunteers for home-based tutoring and provides them with ongoing support. She manages English language classes for adults in San Jose and works on curriculum development with RIT’s San Francisco Education Associate Manager. She also helps oversee the Department of Education Adult English Language and Family Literacy (AEFLA) Grant with the Executive Director.
Education Associate Manager and Language Instructor
Dion joined Refugee & Immigrant Transitions in 2014, after teaching several English language classes as a contracted teacher in the Tenderloin and Mission Districts. She has a B.A. in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from San Francisco State University with a focus on literacy development.