Faculty & Staff
Feinstein International Center
Karen Jacobsen founded the RIT Project in 2017 in response to rising exclusivist rhetoric toward forced migration in the U.S. and abroad, building the RIT upon 25+ years of expertise on forced migration, including work as head of the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) in Geneva from 2013-2014, and as Director of The Alchemy Project from 2000-2005.
Through the RIT project, Prof. Jacobsen aims to bring informed, balanced, and localized support for refugee integration to towns and urban neighborhoods around the world. Prof. Jacobsen directs the RIT project as part of the Feinstein International Center’s Refugees and Forced Migration Program, while working in her position as Henry J. Leir Professor of Global Migration at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy's Institute for Human Security.
Prof. Jacobsen received her B.A. from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, her M.A. from Northeastern University, and her PhD in Political Science from MIT.
Feinstein International Center
Charles Simpson provides organization and structure to RIT, developing the project’s methodology, identifying and managing case studies, and developing and maintaining RIT's relationships with researchers, participants, and experts in the field.
In addition to organizational capacity, Mr. Simpson brings to RIT expertise in social resilience, migration policy, urban studies, and qualitative field research from prior work as Assistant Director of the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies (BCARS), a Carnegie Corporation project. In this role, Mr. Simpson managed policy analysis, field research teams, workshops, and conferences on the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkans, the E.U., and the U.S., collaborating with the UNHCR, U.S. Department of State, European Commission, local and national governments, and universities and think tanks around the world.
Mr. Simpson holds an M.S. in security and resilience studies, Summa Cum Laude, and a B.A. in international affairs, Magna Cum Laude, from Northeastern University.
The RIT advisory group provides technical and methodological advice on case studies, facilitates contacts in case site communities, and assist in engaging with policymakers.
Anton Baare, Nordic Consulting Group
Tsering Gellek, Sarnath International Nyingma Institute
Catherine Hébert, Mango Films
Nassim Majidi, Samuel Hall
Rasha Mikhael, New American Center
Graeme Rodgers, International Rescue Committee
Adam Saltsman, Worcester State University
Pippa Skotnes, University of Cape Town
Amy Slaughter, RefugePoint
Case Study Researchers & Case Report Writers
RIT benefits from a diverse range of case study researchers (who conduct academic research on a city) and case report writers (who provide writing on their own personal experiences with integration) in cities and towns around the world. Each of RIT's cases rely on at least one localized individual with a personal history, social presence, and deep contextual knowledge of the community they are describing. These individuals provide both data for the project, and relevance for its findings by connecting RIT to practitioners, refugee and host community leaders, civil society actors, and municipal government representatives.
We would like to acknowledge and thank our many localized refugee contributors
around the world who are not listed here to protect their identities.
Anna recieved a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School, where she focused on international negotiation and gender analysis in international studies. Anna's hometown, Augusta, is a prime location for a case study as it has recently become a destination for over 500 secondary refugees. To compliment the research that her team did over the summer, Anna has started a pop-up dinner series titled "World to Table," with the aim of breaking down barriers, reducing fears, and uniting the community through food. Previously, Anna worked as a gender consultant to the peace process in Myanmar with Athena Consortium and as Assistant to the Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. She received her B.A. in Gender and Women's Studies from Bowdoin College.
Akram is a currently living in Beirut, Lebanon. He holds a B.S. in Petroleum and Chemical Engineering from the Albaath University in Homs, Syria. In Beirut Akram works with NGOs, community LGBTQI+ advocacy and support organizations, and teaches English to refugees. He is interested in sharing the experiences of Syrian refugees struggling with integration in Lebanon's capital city.
Detroit, MI, USA
Samir has a Ph.D. from Wayne State University in Arabic Bilingual Endorsement, and two Master's degrees: one from Western Michigan University in Science and the second from Eastern Michigan University in Education. He is interested in teaching new immigrants from the Middle East in public schools, focusing on three factors: peers, parents, and value of education in relation to the students’ academic achievement. Dr. Al-Mandwee is also a member of several Arabic community organizations in the Detroit area including: Writers with No Borders; the Arabic-American Heritage for Culture and Education; the Mandean Association in Detroit; and the Mesopotamia Forum for Arts and Culture in Michigan.
Abdullah is a Master’s degree student in International Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, and holds a degree in law from Damascus University specializing in Children’s Rights. He is passionate and active in bridging different cultures together, and creating better living conditions for his community. In Denmark he is working on starting two initiatives with refugees from different backgrounds called Den Nye Havn (The New Harbor) and Anaobaba.tv (Me and Daddy TV), both focusing on welcoming refugees, involving them in volunteer work, and helping and supporting each other. Previously, Abdullah worked in Syria as a volunteer coordinator, supporting youth, the poor, people with special needs, orphans, juvenile delinquents, and refugees. He also worked for the United Nations Development Program as a field coordinator before and during the Syrian war.
Madeeha is currently spearheading the non-profit, Cities for Children, which seeks to protect the “right to a childhood” for street-connected children–the right to read, play and feel safe–partnering with other organizations to provide services to children from refugee, internally displaced and migrant communities on the margins of urban society. Previously she worked with open-air schools for mobile children, Save the Children, and the Malala Fund. She has written on issues of forced migration for leading newspapers and think tanks in Pakistan, as well as international blogs. Madeeha completed her Master's as a Fulbright scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and earned her undergraduate degree at the London School of Economics.
Bayan is an architect and urban studies expert trained in Syria and Europe, and holds an architecture degree from Damascus University, Syria. As an asylum seeker and resident of Washington, D.C., she is working with a team of researchers to understand forced migrant and refugee integration in the Washington D.C. area, comparing Syrian and Salvadoran communities. To earn her degree in urban studies from Vienna University, her thesis focused on the impact of the urban context and the physical environment of asylum centers in Copenhagen and Madrid on the integration process. Previously, Bayan worked and volunteered with aid and development organizations assisting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in her hometown, Damascus, and later with refugees in Europe.
Zeynep is a Ph.D. student in Political Science Department at Northeastern University in Boston. She is originally from Istanbul, Turkey, and regularly conducts field research with refugee populations there. She has previously worked with several NGOs in Turkey and assisted projects focused on improving the civil society in Turkey. She received her B.A. from Bogazici University in 2012 and completed her M.A. at King's College London.
Brinkley is student at Harvard College where she concentrates in Sociology with a secondary in Government, and is a mentor in the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment 1-2-1 Program of the Philips Brooks House Association. Brinkley grew up in Concord, one of the largest refugee resettlement cities in the state of New Hampshire, where she volunteered with the "Be the Change" organization helping to integrate refugees and new American students into local school community, and worked at the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
David Ernesto Caro Bernal is a student of Systems Engineering on ULACIT, a citizen of the world born in Colombia, coordinator of the Technocultural Management Committee, and one of the co-founders of the Association of Youth Network Without Borders-Costa Rica where he organized a workshop in conflict resolution, project management and gastro-cultural exchange in the festival "Ciudadania del mundo y Juvetudes del Mundo." David is originally from Colombia and has been living in San José for several years.
Cassie is currently an Open Source Analyst in Washington, D.C. She graduated with an Master of Law in Diplomacy from The Fletcher School in 2017, where she studied international and human security. Her case report in D.C. focuses on the Salvadoran community, and she hopes to gain insight into relationship and integration patterns with the host community and other immigrant groups. At The Fletcher School, she conducted qualitative research for her master’s thesis on the livelihoods of Syrian asylum seekers and refugees in the United States. Previously, she worked in advocacy and international development on the Syrian conflict in Washington D.C. and Turkey.
Nathan is a M.A. Candidate in International Business at the Fletcher School, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts and focuses on sustainable and inclusive development. Prior to graduate school, Nathan worked for four years in Strategy and Finance at Bombardier in Canada.
Heba is a M.A Candidate in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School, focusing on development economics and human security. Heba has worked as a case researcher in Augusta throughout 2017. Before Fletcher, Heba worked as a program manager and facilitator for PeacePlayers International, a non-profit focusing on Israeli and Palestinian youth development. She has also worked as a facilitator with Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit that works with youth from conflict regions. Heba was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Morocco. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Emory University.
Sharon is a Social Geographer who specializes in international migration with an emphasis on multiculturalism, human rights, organized crime, and territorial & urban transformations. Sharon is a native of Costa Rica, and has been dedicated to the protection and defense of the human rights of Latin American migrants, refugee seekers, victims of human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as those that are force-displaced from organized crime and climate change. She has worked as an expert advisor for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants in places of extreme poverty in Central America and Mexico, and as a Strategy and Development Researcher at Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and LASPAU. Sharon holds an MS.c. in Urban Development from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a B.A. in Geographical Sciences with an emphasis on Land Use Planning from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.
Taj is an asylum seeker from the Darfur region in Sudan who has been living in Tel Aviv for the past ten years. He has been involved with community-based and Israeli Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for many years and is the Founder and Director of the African Students Organization in Israel that helps African asylum seekers access higher education. He studied a B.A. in Government at IDC Herzliya and an M.A. in Political Science and Political Communication at Tel Aviv University.
Jorge is a Washington D.C.-based artist and barista originally from Puerto de La Libertad, El Salvador. After fleeing the gang violence of El Salvador, he immigrated first to Chiapas, Mexico and later Houston, Texas and Washington, D.C. This personal experience as an immigrant drives his interest to further understand the Salvadoran community in the Washington D.C. area. Jorge has gained expertise on the immigration and integration experiences of the Salvadoran community by navigating from El Salvador, through American communities, and through the U.S. immigration system.
Ali Johar (Maung Thein Shwe) has volunteered as a Medical Community Service Provider with Bosco-UNHCR in Delhi since 2013. He is also the founder of the Rohingya Literacy Program, a Rohingya Youth Leader, a mentor for the Genius Burmese Rohingya Youth Club, and a “Global Youth Peace Ambassador” recognized by RGNIYD, under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India. He was born in the (formally Arakan) in Myanmar. At the age of 10 he fled from the Buthidaung township of Rakhine state in Myanmar due to communal conflict and took refuge in Bangladesh. He completed his Secondary schooling in Bangladesh, however he fled to India in 2012 due to insecurity in Bangladesh. Today he is pursuing a BA from the University of Delhi, and intends to become a lawyer.
Teodora is a Ph.D. student in Ethnology and Anthropology at University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, studying asylum-seekers in Serbia. She works at Refugee Aid Miksalište, a hub for refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa in Belgrade. Her current position is community manager, and she has also been project coordinator with Oxfam and IDC, providing humanitarian aid and organizing social integration and inclusion programs. Teodora is President of the Ethnology and Anthropology Student Club at the Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy, where she graduated. She volunteers in local NGOs as a peer educator for harm reduction programs regarding youth in recreational setting.
Gauri is a M.A Candidate in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School, focusing on Monitoring and Evaluation and Human Security. She holds a M.A. in Development Economics from the South Asian University in India and has worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for over three years. Her experience includes youth-led research for policy change in education, bridging access to education for out-of school children and developing innovative pedagogical tools in education for peace and sustainable development.
Marina is a Master of Law and Diplomacy student at the Fletcher School, focusing on International Security and Conflict Resolution. Her case study focuses on Belgrade, where she has worked as a Visiting Researcher at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy. Marina’s home country is Bosnia and Herzegovina, which inspired her interest in migration, nationalism, ethnic relations, and extremism in the Western Balkans. She has worked previously as a Research Assistant with Dr. Jessica Stern, and at the headquarters of Doctors Without Borders, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Marina earned her B.A. degree in human rights and sociology at Bard College.
Max earned his Master’s Degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, studying Business for Social Impact and International Business Relations. Max most recently worked on the Macro-Economic Research Team at Guggenheim Partners Investment Management. He has five years of experience working with community organizations in Washington, California, and Maine. Before attending the Fletcher School, he worked at the Earth Innovation Institute (EII), a San Francisco based NGO that addresses issues related to deforestation and indigenous rights, where he worked closely with community organizations to improve socio-economic conditions. With his work in Augusta, Max is excited to see how the community can integrate refugees and immigrants in a time of negative political rhetoric at the national level.
Rasha is a candidate for a Master of Public Policy degree at Tufts University. She graduated from the University of Mosul in Iraq in 2007, with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems. She left Iraq shortly after graduation and settled in Aleppo, Syria, where she became a Program Monitor for the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), coordinating educational, vocational, health, and professional training programs for the Iraqi refugee population in northern Syria. In 2013, Rasha arrived in Boston, MA through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and quickly began her current position at the New American Center in Lynn, MA as a Case Manager. She works daily with Arab refugees and immigrants, helping them to transition and adjust to new life in the United States.
Paul is a M.A. Candidate in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, focusing on humanitarian studies and human security. Prior to his time at Fletcher, Paul lived in Cairo, Egypt for four years where he worked for a refugee assistance organization focusing on refugee resettlement, protection, and legal aid provision for refugees and asylum seekers in Cairo. Paul speaks Arabic and earned a B.A. in History from the University of Delaware.
Wali earned his Master’s Degree from the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (ERAH), a join centre of Geneva University and the Graduated Institute, Geneva-Switzerland. His bachelor degree comes from the Faculty of Political Science of Aryana University, Jalalabad-city, Afghanistan. He has been working with national and international organizations for more than a decade as a journalist and as a researcher. He has conducted several studies on migration and mobility (internal displacement, refugees, returnees, reintegration), local politics, peace building, and formal and traditional justice systems in the Afghan context, primarily working in his native Nangarhar province.
Hania is a dual-degree M.A Candidate in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School and M.D. Candidate at the Tufts University School of Medicine. Prior to her time at Fletcher, Hania received her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida. During her undergraduate years, Hania volunteered much of her her time working at Shepherd's Hope's free medical clinics, where she became interested in how forced migration contributes to the development of health disparities. She seeks to combine her training in the life sciences with a background in development economics and international organizations.
May is a M.A. student in Anthropology at the University of Texas, San Antonio. She is a Syrian native and an immigrant to the United States. She is currently conducting a field study among Syrian refugees in Austin examining the changes in well-being through their personal histories of displacement and their experiences with resettlement. May has previously volunteered to help Syrian refugees with translation, paperwork, transportation, personal support, and day-to-day care. She received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology at University of Memphis.
Nondo is a Development and Community Empowerment Coordinator at Asylum Access Tanzania. He is an economic empowerment and refugee rights program professional with significant leadership and program management experience and holder of an MS.c. in Human Resource Management. Nondo is passionate about human rights, peace, development and poverty reduction. He has experience in refugee rights, community economic empowerment, livelihoods and self-reliance programming, community legal empowerment, advocacy, fundraising and donor relations. He is interested in influencing public policies for community empowerment and social welfare.
Mwaona is a M.A. student at Rhodes University in Arts in Media Studies. He holds a B.A. in Communication and Cultural Studies from the University of Malawi. He is originally from Malawi, and is interested in sharing experiences of Malawi refugees from Mangochi residing in Johannesburg, especially the themes of transnational value transfer through mobile money.
Noor studied law at Damascus University before moving to Lebanon and then to Turkey. In Izmir, Turkey, she has volunteered as a translator and liaison between refugees, government representatives, INGOs, and service providers for multiple organizations including the international news media, Kapilar (local civil society organization), and the Turkish and International Assistance for Integration (TIAFI). She is particularly interested in the role of social services, psychology, and international humanitarian law in refugee integration.
Aisling is a Research Fellow in Global Challenges at Northumbria University, Newcastle. Her research interests focus on urban displacement and she conducted her Ph.D. on the vulnerability of urban refugees of Dar Es-Salaam, Tanzania. She has previously also worked on urban displacement projects in Afghanistan. Prior to her Ph.D. she worked as a town planner for a local authority in the UK. She holds a B.A. (Hons) in Geography from University College Cork, a Masters in Planning from the University of Manchester and a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from Heriot-Watt University. She has also completed a visiting fellowship at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University.
Bini is a M.A. Candidate in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts where she focuses on Gender in International Studies and Design, Monitoring, & Evaluation. She is originally from Kerala, India, and has recently returned to Medford after conducting fieldwork there. She has worked as a journalist with a British press agency in Delhi, India; as a documentary film-maker in Bombay with National Geographic and Channel 4; in development with a local language weekly newspaper for semi-literate women in rural India; as a communications consultant for a community based organization focused on Violence Against Women; and as a communications consultant to a Public Health INGO that focused on HIV/AIDS prevention.
Karel is a social worker for a Milan-based non-profit organization, working with asylum-seekers and refugees since autumn 2016. He holds a B.A. in International Relations and European Institutions from the University of Milan, a M.A. in Public Management and Policy from the University of Lugano, a Diploma in Humanitarian Emergencies and Interventions, and a Professional Certificate in Migration and Reception from the Institute of Studies on International Politics in Milan. He began working in migration locally as a volunteer near the Swiss-Italian border in summer 2016 when an influx of migrants was trying to reach European countries in the north.
He speaks Italian, English, Spanish, and French, having grown up in a bilingual family, and continues to love speaking and working with foreign people.
Victoria is a Ph.D. student in Social Sciences at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. Her work focuses on transgender migrant women and their experiences and resources in migration to manage two transitions: the spatial and the corporeal. She has participated in activist networks of human rights as Amnesty International. More recently she has been volunteering in shelters that provide humanitarian aid to migrants in Monterrey. She also collaborates with national networks (such as the REDODEM) and local networks (such as REFHUMI) that document the experiences of migrants and campaigns for comprehensive attention from the government to address these realities.
Cordelia is an feminist activist-scholar. She holds a M.A. from the University of Leuven and is a Ph.D. student in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Cordelia has taught university courses on Latin American Thought and Cultural Studies, as well as co-teaching embroidering workshops geared towards understanding how collectives of women protest. Her current research addresses the impact of the recent wave of violence in several populations in Mexico and the performative strategies wielded to face its effects. Her work as an activist tackles the subject of reparations and capacity building in collectives affected by these violences, namely relatives of the forcefully disappeared.
Protiti is a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) student at Tufts University, studying Human Security and Gender Analysis of International Affairs. In 2016 Protiti worked in Assam, India with conflict displaced indigenous communities. Since then, she has had a keen interest in gender analysis of forced migration. For the RIT project, she is working with refugees living in Delhi, the city where she grew up, and where she worked in the Trial Courts and High Court system prior to beginning the MALD program.
Jessica is a Master of City Planning candidate in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning focusing on land use and spatial analysis of humanitarian settlements. She is the 2017 USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Habitat for Humanity International Graduate Student Fellow in Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements. Her case study in Hamburg, Germany explores the implementation and implications of relying on land use planning to construct temporary and permanent refugee accommodations. She previously worked as a Community Economic Development Peace Corps Volunteer focused on small business development and youth entrepreneurship in Senegal. Jessica earned her B.A. from Tufts University in International Relations and Economics.
Kimberly is an anthropologist with expertise in refugee studies, age and aging, the state, citizenship, and bureaucracy. For her doctoral training at Northwestern University, Dr. Seibel conducted fieldwork in Chicago, Illinois examining how older refugees from Iraq, Bhutan, and Myanmar negotiated constructions of later life in resettlement and related welfare bureaucracy. Now a postdoc at Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology in Midtown Detroit, she collaborates on anthropological research addressing issues of belonging among older adults in cities, from Flint residents managing the water crisis to older African Americans gardening in Detroit.
Barnabas is a Ph.D. student at Rhodes University, and was previously a Curator and Assistant Researcher at the University of Cape Town's Centre for Curating the Archive. He is a Zimbabwean who moved to Cape Town in November 2008, and has since studied, worked, and lived with fellow migrants from Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Somalia, and Rwanda, among other countries of origin. He is interested in the experiences and treatment of migrants by hosts communities and immigration authorities. Barnabas studied at Midlands State University in Zimbabwe, the University of Cape Town, and the University of Stellenbosch.
Michelle is completing her thesis on social integration of Venezuelan refugees in Costa Rica at the University of Costa Rica. In 2016 she worked as a volunteer with the German Volunteering Ministry "Bundesfreiwilligendienst" in the organization "Frei Welper" as an Assistant in Youth Education where she developed projects on political education, gender, intercultural competence, and conflict management. She also taught English to underage refugees and supported their social integration. In 2015 she worked with a student project in a border community between Costa Rica and Nicaragua helping organize a piece of land used for migrant informal housing.
Katerina is an award-winning multimedia journalist and researcher with a focus on European Union politics, migration, and human rights. Katerina has over six years of newsroom experience in Brussels, Washington D.C. and Athens, including work for The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, and the Greek political newspapers Ta Nea and To Vima. She holds a Master's degree in International Communications from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with a concentration on EU affairs and migration, and a Master's Degree in Print Journalism from Boston University. Her research in her home town of Athens investigates the current refugee integration processes through host communities' perceptions and attitudes towards refugees.
Gina is an M.A. student in Global Migration & Policy at Tel Aviv University. Born and raised in London, Gina has been involved with the Eritrean and Sudanese refugee community in South Tel Aviv for the last few years. She has volunteered with asylum-seekers, particularly with women and children in a range of capacities, including teaching English, Refugee Status Determination (RSD) paperwork, childcare, and digital media for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). She received her B.A. in Language and Culture from University College London.
Claire is a M.A. Candidate in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School, focusing on humanitarian
studies and gender analysis in international studies. She speaks Arabic and has worked as a
humanitarian practitioner in Jordan as Project Coordinator for International Relief and Development at the Za'atari Refugee Camp; Fulbright English Teaching Assistant with the U.S. Department of State, Amman; and Intern at the International Organization for Migration: Iraq Mission, Amman. She received her B.A. in Middle East and North Africa Studies from Scripps College.
Waiel is a Computer Systems and Networks Engineer who completed university studies in Syria and the Ukraine. After arriving in Greece in February 2016, Waiel volunteered as a translator and cultural liaison, connecting local, national, and international actors with refugees. These organizations included numerous news media companies such as Omega; humanitarian agencies like the UN; and government agencies such as the Hellenic Police. On arriving in Germany in February 2017, Waiel has worked to assess and understand the UN relocation program and the refugee integration process in Germany.