The staffing needs of Bilingual International continually evolve to meet the growing needs of the community that we serve.
JASON BAKER received his Ph.D. in Languages and Literatures from Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. While working as (among other things) an adjunct German professor, he served as a volunteer citizenship tutor in the Naturalization Assistance program for two years before leaving the academic arena entirely and coming on board as Interpreter Coordinator in 2012. For four years, Jason assisted the agency’s founder with strategic planning, grant and financial management, and day-to-day agency operations. As Executive Director, Jason looks forward to carrying out the founder’s vision of equal access to services for all. A native St. Louisan, he has never had a more challenging, exhausting, or rewarding job.
JULIA OSTROPOLSKY arrived in the U.S. with her parents as a stateless refugee near the end of the Soviet era. Growing up, she witnessed the struggles of her family and the Russian-speaking community to adapt to and understand their new lives in America. After graduating from the University of Toledo and receiving her Masters in Social Work from Washington University, Julia began working with the Russian-Jewish community in St. Louis County. Julia identified a significant gap in services for limited English speaking communities, and especially for the older members of these communities. Shortly thereafter, Julia – together with fellow refugee Svetlana Miretsky – founded Bilingual International Assistant Services to establish a system of holistic care that would meet the needs of all seniors, regardless of language and origin. Since 2002, Bilingual International has grown steadily and branched out into many different communities and areas of service provision. Now in the role of Special Projects Director, Julia still serves on numerous boards and committees locally and state-wide and regularly advocates for the needs of those she serves.
KATIE KILCLINE, LCSW has worked in social services for 10 years. She earned her BA in Psychology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame in 2005, and then a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Trauma Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009. She has completed post-graduate training at the Saint Louis Psychoanalytic Institute and in somatic work through Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. Katie has worked and/or volunteered at torture treatment centers in Chicago, San Diego, and Saint Louis – including the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, and volunteered for two years in Kathmandu, Nepal. Though originally from California, Katie is enjoying Saint Louis and excited to be a part of the Bilingual International team.
EUNJI KOH holds an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and a Social Work B.A. from Yonsei University in Korea. Prior to returning to St. Louis, she was a Director at Korean-American Community Services in the Chicago area.As Director of the Social Services Department, Eunji is dedicated to leading the team in compliance and achievement and is an exemplary manager/supervisor.Eunji is also directly in charge of all SLAAA programming at Bi-Lingual International and Macklind International Senior Center, which she also oversees.Eunji is also a certified Medicaid reassessor and oversees both the Affordable Care Act Navigation and CLAIM counseling programming internally.
MARCIA WILDERMAN is responsible for recruiting, screening, and supervising a team of interpreters, and has developed, implemented, and taught interpreter training and continuing education courses. She collaborates with all departments at Bilingual International to ensure contract compliance, successful project management, and quality customer service. Marcia received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University, New Orleans and is currently a MFA candidate at Webster University for Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She enjoys learning from and advocating for the many cultures of people in St. Louis.
KIMBERLY OSMANAGIC received her Masters of Counseling from St. Louis University. While she has a background working with adolescents and facilitating conflict resolution she also has over 14 years of experience providing individualized therapy to foreign born immigrants and refugees. At Bilingual International, Kimberly oversees two major programs: STEPS to Better Health and Peer Health Coaching for Immigrants/Refugees. Kimberly is fluent in Bosnian. She is the only professional known to us who can easily adjust to various cultures, diverse backgrounds and many languages, while maintaining professionalism, a great attitude and a helpful demeanor.
LORNA VAUGHN holds an MA in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University and recently joined Bilingual International after many years working on the front lines of mental health crisis intervention in St. Louis. With a work history that includes ALM Hopewell Center, Behavioral Health Response, and Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center, Lorna excels at providing a calming presence in situations of extreme psychological distress. Lorna is currently providing counseling under two programs: Care Access to New Americans and the STEPS to Better Health program. She also works with Hyunsu Shin in social service provision to non-foreign-born seniors in St. Louis City. Lorna is also a licensed ACA Navigator.
MIRANDA GACE came to Bilingual International as a professional interpreter and quickly alerted us to the needs of the small but under-served Albanian community in the area. She has since worked to secure U.S. citizenship and social services for many older permanent residents of this community. Miranda has a background in teaching and journalism, and she served as the Executive Director of the Society for Democratic Culture in Tirana, Albania for almost a decade. Miranda is a community leader in the true sense of the word, an advocate for her people, and a member of numerous organizations and Boards outside the agency including Family Care Health Centers.
DIANNE CARTY came to Bilingual International as a Russian interpreter in 2012 and has become a valued member of a number of program teams. Born in Uzbekistan (then Soviet Union), Dianne arrived in the U.S. in 1991 and has actively helped her family adjust to American culture. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Geography: GIS from Northeastern Illinois University. She worked as a contract cartographic analyst for Department of Defense for two years, until switching fields to pursue her passion of helping people.Over the past ten years, Dianne has volunteered with the St. Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Missouri Botanical Gardens. Today, she splits her free time between her family, Girl Scouts, and travel
THINH NGUYEN was born in Vietnam and holds a Journalism and Law degree from universities in Hanoi. He also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Webster University. Initially working with the agency’s Vietnamese client base as a Community Access Worker, Thinh transitioned in Fall of 2014 to the position of Survey Researcher. As such, he oversees all surveys in support of agency programming/reporting as well as the analysis and interpretation of survey data.
ELLEN SHERMAN is no stranger to Bilingual International. One of three founding board members, she served as the President of the Board of Directors for two consecutive terms. Under her leadership, the agency grew from a small team of five to a larger, vibrant, and productive team of 12 staff members. Ellen joins us as an experienced Volunteer Coordinator with dedication and positive energy that is truly contagious.
HOMA ZAFER fled Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion at the age of 18. She and her family lived for years in Pakistan, where she worked as a women’s rights activist in UN-affiliated offices. After migrating to the US as a political refugee in 2000, Homa received a BA in Journalism and a MA in International Affairs from Washington University. There she developed relationships with local non-profits that served foreign-born minorities and began working as an interpreter, advocate, and case worker for BJC, Provident Counseling, and the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, on whose Board she sat prior to that organization’s merger with Bilingual International in April, 2016. At Bilingual International, Homa works primarily with Dari/Farsi/Pashto speakers to help them address social service needs and adapt to life in the US.
DALY SULLENTRUP serves as Bilingual International’s Bookkeeper, having previously worked in an estate planning law firm and for many years with a non-profit labor organization. Born in Cuba as the daughter of missionary parents who left Havana in 1961, Daly is bilingual, fluent in English and Spanish. Daly has lived and worked in Florida, Mexico City, Texas, and, for the last 14 years, Missouri. Daly welcomes the job’s challenges as she continues to collaborate with Bilingual International’s leadership team with the ultimate goal of sustained organizational success.
FARAH MOHAMMED and his family fled Somalia in 1991 due to civil war. At a refugee camp in Kenya, Farah worked as a driver for the UNHCR and IOM, and also assisted the disabled and vulnerable in the camp. Mohammed and his family were resettled to St. Louis in 2004, and he began working at various agencies. Farah is well-known in the Somali community as the father of the largest Somali family in town (13 children). Farah picks up our multi-ethnic senior group participants at their door and brings them to Macklind International safely and always with his trademark positive energy.
SELMA KOSTIC was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and came to the United States in 1997. She graduated from Webster University with a BA in Psychology & International Studies Certificate. She has an MA in Applied Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Immigrant & Refugee Children and Families. She’s passionate about working with individuals of different cultures and has traveled to 22 countries. At Bilingual International, she works as a Bosnian Community Access Worker & Care Access to New Americans Therapist.
LILIYA KADNIKOVA-JOSEPH, having immigrated as a foreign student from Russia 10 years ago, can relate to the struggles of being a newcomer to the US. Liliya is passionate about helping individuals discover their full potential and follow their goals in life. With a Masters in Geography/Ecology from Baltic Federal University (Russia) and a Bachelors in Behavioral and Social Studies from East-West University in Chicago, IL, Liliya’s strongest interest is in learning about new cultures and languages. In the past she has contributed as a volunteer to several fine resettlement and ESL organizations in Saint Louis and Chicago, and is currently in charge of coordinating the Citizenship Program and Human Resources department at Bi-Lingual International.
ELI HOXHA was born in Albania and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1997. She graduated from Saint Louis University with her Bachelors in Social Work. Her admiration and genuine love for the elderly population makes it very exciting for her to be a part of the Bilingual team. Eli serves as the Senior Center Coordinator and Operations Manager at Bilingual International. Most recently, she secured Department of Justice accreditation, allowing her to represent agency clients at USCIS.
JILLAYNA ADAMSON, PLPC (pronounced Jill-anna) has a masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Webster University and degrees in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Victoria in Canada. Jillayna is particularly invested in international and cross-cultural therapeutic trauma work with children, adolescents and parents and has worked in child and adolescent mental health, as well as with children and families in British Columbia, Haiti and St. Louis. Jillayna employs various creative therapeutic techniques including EMDR and creative and expressive arts. Additionally, Jillayna is a mental wellness advocate that has written and completed photo-journalism projects for various outlets. Jillayna works as a therapist for Project Safe Space.
KUMAR TIRWA was born in Bhutan, but grew up in neighboring Nepal. He completed a Sociology degree program at Amity College, Birtamode, Nepal in 2008, after which he began teaching high school. He came to St. Louis as a refugee five years ago, and has been affiliated with the agency for the last three years – first as a beloved driver for the Senior Center and most recently as a Community Access Worker for the Nepali-speaking community.
SAMIRA MUJDZIC was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, lived in Germany for seven years and then moved to the United States in 1999. She graduated from UMSL with a Bachelors degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Gender Studies. She completed her practicum with Bilingual International and was hired as a Community Access Worker in June 2016. Samira’s passion for helping others started after she moved to the US and saw members of her community struggling to find footing in their new country. She has also taken time to volunteer and intern at local nursing homes. She is passionate about working with the elderly and working with the people from the Bosnian community here in the greater St. Louis area. Her loving and enthusiastic personality are a great fit for the ever growing needs of St. Louis’ international population.
RON KLUTHO has worked with the refugee communities of St Louis for over 25 years. With a background in linguistics and English as a Second Language, Ron has taught English in Japan and at several locations in St Louis. He started as a volunteer at St Pius V’s Refugee Support Ministry with Sister Paulette Weindel while teaching full-time, which evolved into a full-time position at the church. Ron speaks several languages fluently including Bosnian, and is trying to learn Arabic now with great interest but great difficulty. Ron an his refugee services “Faith Team” came to the agency from Places for People in October 2016 after many years of collaboration with Bilingual International
JEANNINE COLE holds a Masters Degree in Conflict Transformation with an emphasis in Trauma Healing from Eastern Mennonite University. Prior to returning to St. Louis, her hometown, she worked planning recreation programs with the U.S. Navy in Italy and Bahrain before transferring to the non-profit world by working with Catholic Relief Services in Kenya. Jeannine, who speaks Swahili and German, has over 5 years experience working with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis. At Bilingual International, she is coordinating projects related to ACA enrollment and immigrant/refugee peer health coaching in addition to assisting case management participants in finding employment. She finds it an honor to serve our participants and learn from them.
MARIO CAMERE received his Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2013. He has since worked as an attorney, managing cases in the areas of civil litigation and immigration. Mario’s experience as an immigration attorney includes working with immigrants—both principal applicants and the families of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world as well as the undocumented—and advising in matters business immigration. At Bilingual International, Mario advises and assists clients in navigating the complex processes of Naturalization, family reunification, adjustment of status, and seeking asylum. Mario, who is a native Spanish speaker, is passionate about helping St. Louis’ Hispanic community.
SAJIDA MOMENI received her B.A in Linguistic Humanities in Kabul, Afghanistan. She also received an Associates Degree in Human Services from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. Sajida was born in Afghanistan and speaks Pashto and Dari fluently. Sajida worked for four years at the International Institute of St. Louis as a mental health case worker and worked for five and half years at Places for People as community support. Sajida is currently working at Bilingual International as a Community Access Worker.
GEORGE SIMON grew up in the Arab world and is well versed in both the Arabic language and Islamic culture. He studied and gained his undergraduate degree at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He left Lebanon staying ahead of the Arab Spring going to Egypt and gaining a Masters degree in Arabic Language and Islamic Jurisprudence. At Bilingual International, he works primarily with Arabic speaking survivors of torture and war trauma.
ANDREW JOVANOVIC is a St. Louis native with a Masters in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University. He has 7+ years working with youth ages 3 to 20 as well as experience in working with adults of all ages and backgrounds. Andrew specializes in Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma-Related Disorders and uses somatic-based approaches along with EMDR to help individuals of all ages learn to regulate themselves and to process pass trauma. He is eager to help serve the communities of Project Safe Space and those of Bilingual International as a whole.
KATRINA ORLET, LCSW has over 20 years of experience working with individuals and families who have experienced abuse, trauma, and difficult life circumstances. A bilingual (Spanish) therapist, she has an MSW from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a BSSW from Saint Louis University, and has worked in St. Louis, the Pacific Northwest, and Bolivia. Her focus is on building capacity to care for complex family problems, and collaboration to improve services for everyone. Katrina’s professional experience includes child abuse and neglect,mental health and substance abuse treatment,school social work, and residential services, with an emphasis on serving people in their own community.
GARY U BEHRMAN, PhD, LCSW has been an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University (SLU) Schools of Allied Health, Public Health, and Medicine for the past 25 years. He holds a PhD from the School of Social Welfare, University of Albany, and an MSW from Saint Louis University. Dr. Behrman has extensive training and publications in trauma recovery and served as a first responder for crisis events around the country, including Ground Zero after 911, and resilience work for the Ferguson Florissant School District after the death of Michael Brown. From 2005 to 2010, he collaborated with the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma to provide therapy, staff training and consultation. Additional specialties include suicide and self injury, spirituality, and the connections between mental and physical health.
IVETTE ACEVEDO-WEATHERHOLTZ was born in Mexico and immigrated to Washington State with her family when she was 10 years old. She received a degree in Psychology from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. During the past 10 years, Ivette has actively intertwined her passions for mental health services and education, working both nationally and abroad. Ivette specializes in Developmental and Complex Trauma, Attachment, and Social-Emotional Learning in youth ages 2-21, as well as facilitating Trauma-Informed Care and Attachment trainings to educators and parents. Ivette is a bilingual therapist with Project Safe Space providing Somatic-based interventions and EMDR to refugee and immigrant youth.
RY’N ROBINSON s a mental health coach for our STEPS TO BETTER HEALTH program. Before finishing her Master’s in professional Counseling Program from Lindenwood University- St. Charles, she worked as a substitute teacher for University City school district as well as psychiatric technician at Hawthorn Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents. Her professional work experience also includes workingfor Community Response as a private contractor/mental health case manager through grants.
ELISE SILVESTRI, SSND has extensive experience in teaching the foreign-born and is the founder of the Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Program. In her 11 years there, she worked with women from 20 different cultures, providing them with trained and dedicated volunteer English teachers. As a member of the international religious community of the Sisters of Notre Dame, she taught English to school children in Hungary and tutored teachers. In 2016, she taught English in Austria to teenage refugee boys from the Middle East. At Bilingual International, she coordinates citizenship education for survivors of torture.
PAUL WITTE earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Truman State University in 2010. He earned his Master Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Southern Oregon University in 2013 and began work that year with the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma in St. Louis. Paul has recently returned from working as the clinical supervisor of the Belize City Community Counseling Center in Belize Central America. Paul has completed advanced trainings in EMDR and attachment, cognitive processing therapies specializing in traumatic grief and mindfulness and specialized in treating complex trauma with children and adults.
SKIP RITCHIE, JD, PLPC came to Bi-Lingual International as a pro-bono therapist through the merger with the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. He first became acquainted with the challenges refugees face almost twenty years ago when he became friends with several Kurdish refugee families who had fled Iraq. He has a Master of Arts in Counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Skip’s counseling experience involves working with young persons and adults who are struggling with catastrophic losses, transition, depression, anxiety, and crises of faith. Skip has a passion for caring for the vulnerable, particularly vulnerable children and orphans. As a husband, father of five children, lawyer, and co-founder of a non-profit start up that focuses on orphan care in Zimbabwe, he spends most of free time engaging in deeds of mercy and justice through his local church New City Fellowship in the city of St. Louis.
GIGI (GUANQI) GAO graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with Masters of Public Health and Social Work in 2016. Gigi speaks Mandarin and English. Before moving to St. Louis, she was working with low-income families in China. She had volunteered for Bilingual International Assistant Services as a citizenship tutor for two years. With extensive experiences in health education, research and advocacy, she is dedicated to serve and advocate for immigrant communities in St. Louis area.
MICHAEL NTHIGA worked in Kenya in the corporate sector in marketing 11 years. A trainer and motivational speaker by trade, Michael served with LEADERSHIP TRAINING INTERNATIONAL for 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (KEMU) from Kenya and an Associates in Theology (CLST) from the US. Michael is dedicated as an ACA Navigator and Community Access Worker to providing immigrant and refugee families with the information and tools that they need to thrive in their new country.
EDITH COOPER, LMSW found herself, as a daughter of Mexican immigrants, interpreting and helping her family navigate multiple systems from a young age. She believes that this is where her passion for helping others began. Edith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Greenville College and a Master of Social Work degree from Saint Louis University. Edith‘s clinical experience is in providing family therapy as well as individual therapy to youth ages 4 – 19. Edith is eager to provide somatic-based interventions and EMDR reprocessing to the immigrant and refugee community in the St. Louis area.
RITA SKIBA, LMSW earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University with a focus on supporting community development in underfunded urban neighborhoods. Upon arriving in St. Louis in 2012, she worked with first generation college students at College Bound St. Louis and served as a groups facilitator and psychoeducation coordinator at Safe Connections. In 2017, Rita graduated from St. Louis University’s clinical social work program with a specialization of working with children and youth who have experienced trauma. Rita currently serves as the Project Safe Space Coordinator and Clinician on the project.
MEGAN ROONEY, LMSW, MEd, has worked with refugee populations for over 10 years in St. Louis through ESL and citizenship classes. She has an MSW from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked in refugee resettlement and provided mental health services to refugee families. Megan also has a MEd from University of Texas at Austin, where she studied behavioral interventions to improve individual resilience and coping skills. Megan has worked in the health literacy field for the past 15 years, providing education around clearer health communication between systems, providers, and patients.