Dale Buscher, Director of Programs
Dale Buscher is the Senior Director for Programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission where he leads the organization’s work on refugee livelihoods, youth, gender, and disabilities and oversees the Commission’s work on sexual and reproductive health and migrants’ rights and justice. Buscher is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where he teaches courses on Gender, Livelihoods and Displacement.
Buscher has been working in the refugee assistance field since 1988 in a variety of capacities including with Vietnamese boat people in the Philippines, with Haitian refugees interned at Guantanamo Bay, with displaced Kurds in Northern Iraq, with Bosnian refugees in Croatia and with Kosovars in Albania and in Kosovo. He also led the International Catholic Migration Commission’s $25 million international programs in 20 countries. In addition, Buscher has consulted for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and wrote the handbook, Operational Protection in Camps and Settlements. He has assessed and researched refugee situations around the world, published numerous articles and presented at a multitude of global conferences.
Buscher has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah and a Bachelors of Science degree from Iowa State University. He lives in New York.
Thomas Thompson-Flores, Director of Legal Affairs
Thompson-Flores, Esq, is a licensed New York attorney with experience in international human rights and refugee law. He has worked at NGO’s, international tribunals, and law firms both in the US and abroad. He has represented asylum seekers in refugee status determination claims before the UNHCR. He has experience conducting research on human rights violations committed in countries around the globe to support advocacy campaigns, human rights litigation cases, and submissions to the Human Rights Committee seeking justice for victims. Thomas earned a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, a JD from the University of Miami School of Law (Cum Laude), and an LL.M. from The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He is Brazilian/American has lived in North & South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. He speaks English, French, Portuguese, and some Spanish.
Erin Holstein, Director of Fundraising and Partnerships
Erin Holstein, a non-profit professional with expertise in fundraising, events, partnership building, and strategic planning, is the Development and Events Manager at Ubuntu Education Fund. Currently supporting orphaned and vulnerable children living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Erin has an array of international development and human rights experience. Her interest in immigration started in college, and since, she has supported unaccompanied minors and refugee children in New York and Moroccan immigrant women in Spain.
With a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and a Bachelors in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies from Connecticut College, Erin is dedicated to advocating for the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized throughout the world. Erin is passionate about lifting refugees out of unsafe and unjust situations, and is very excited to join the Board of Urban Refugees as the Director of Fundraising & Partnerships.
Hitomi Kubo, Director of Field Programs and Security
Hitomi Kubo is a member of the Microclinic International (MCI) leadership team and oversees MCI’s policy department, translating practice evidence into systems, institutional and policy improvements at the local, national and international levels. Hitomi is a specialist in human security policy and practice, focusing on interdisciplinary responses for critical global challenges and developing frameworks for such cooperation that place people at the center of analysis. She was a faculty member at the Master of Public Affairs, Sciences Po University in Paris where, from 2007-2012, she was also the Co-Director of the Concentration in Human Security. She regularly consults with UN Agencies, Funds and Programs as well as other international and national crisis management organizations on human security, and from 2011-2012, she worked at the United Nations Human Security Unit, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Previously, Hitomi worked on U.S. domestic policy issues including welfare reform, workforce investment and the differential impact of such policies on vulnerable communities. She has field and community-based research experience in West Africa, the Great Lakes Region, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe and the Balkan region.
John Citti, Director of Finance
John has a 30-year career in accounting, budgeting, treasury, planning, audit, investments, and operations management. He has worked for global Fortune 500 companies as well as small for-profit and non-profit organizations. Throughout his career, he has helped organizations identify, develop and implement efficient and effective financial and operational systems that have reduced expenses and improved management information. He holds a Master of International Management degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Franklin and Marshall College. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Treasury Professional, and holds three securities licenses.
Adiel Suarez-Murias, Director of Communications
Adiel is a communications professional based in Washington, D.C. with over ten years of experience working with individuals and nonprofits to find the most resonant ways to express their ideas, engage with stakeholders, and exceed their goals. Formerly, she was was the Communications & Development Manager at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a global network of over 100 organizations working toward sustainable peace. She led AfP’s communications and fundraising strategies, dovetailing the efforts with an accessible narrative for all stakeholders—from fellow peacebuilders to donors and the broader public—and fostering a broader constituency for peace. She holds a M.A. in Communication from Wake Forest University, where her research centered on rhetoric, conflict communication, extremism, and narrative theory. Her passion for language and narrative has evolved into a focus on prioritizing honest storytelling as a core theme in her work, and she is thrilled to devote her energy toward Urban Refugees’ mission.
Sofia Imad, Chair and Director of Programs
Sofia Imad is the Chair of URBAN REFUGEES France and is specialized in humanitarian programs management. Sofia started her career in 2011 as a Humanitarian Affairs assistant at OCHA in Geneva. She then worked at the MENTOR initiative NGO in Chad and in Angola, managing health programs successively as a Finance and Administration Manager, Program Director and Program Manager. In Chad, Sofia managed a 500 000 USD budget and conducted malaria control programs for Central African refugees with a BPRM grant. She also volunteered with refugees in the West Bank and worked as the coordinator for a student program in the region during her studies. Sofia holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the French Political Sciences Institute of Bordeaux and is currently preparing a Masters in Public Health at the Pasteur Institute to continue her work on health programs in developing countries.
Alain Violet, Secretary and Director of Marketing and Communications
Alain Violet is a retired consultant in Marketing and Communications. He holds a BA in Mathematics and an MA in Economic Sciences from the prestigious French Institute of Political Sciences (Sciences Po Paris). He started his career as a consultant in Marketing and Commercial development in 1973, and co-founded Praxion SA, a consulting firm specialized in recruitment in the energy, industrial and construction sectors. From 1991 to 1993, he directed activities in consulting and support to companies at the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Touraine. He then worked for almost ten years as a manager in Marketing and Communications in the insurance sector. Alain is retired since 2005 and has since then put his skills and experience to the benefit of the non-profit sector.
Damien Simonneau, Secretary Assistant and Director of Policy Advocacy
Damien holds a Phd in political science on comparative border policies from the University of Bordeaux (Sciences Po Bordeaux) in France. His research interests lie on the contemporary process of militarizing borders. He is questioning the construction of the consensus in western societies based on the idea that closing borders is the solution to managing mobilities. More specifically, he investigated strategies of pro-« border fence » groups in Israel (hosted by the French Center of Research at Jerusalem (CRFJ)) and in the USA. In Arizona, he was a Fulbright visiting scholar at the North American Center for Transborder Studies at Arizona State University from 2012-2013. In France, Damien volunteers with the Anafé (Association Nationale d’Assistance aux frontières pour les étrangers) to provide legal assistance to detained migrants and asylum seekers at the french borders and airports. Damien is currently a teaching fellow at the University Paris 13 in political science and international relations.
Melissa Phillips is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne and a non-resident fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University. She was formerly a Senior Regional Advisor on refugee protection and migration issues for Danish Refugee Council based in the Middle East/North Africa and has academic expertise on issues related to migration, mobility and displacement that is informed by her work in the field.
Melissa has worked for the UN and NGOs in Jordan, Libya, the Horn of Africa (Kenya & Ethiopia) and South Sudan in the areas of protection of civilians, mixed migration and humanitarian coordination. Her Doctorate in Social and Political Sciences on the pre-migration experiences of migrants and refugees was completed at the University of Melbourne (2013). She also holds a Master of Arts (Applied Anthropology and Development) and Bachelor of Arts (Honors). Her published work focuses on multiculturalism, migrant and refugee settlement, and transit migration. Melissa is also an Advisor for the International Detention Coalition and is an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Intercultural Studies.