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, Julia Ostropolsky, LCSW, with strategic planning, grant and financial management, and day-to-day agency operations before accepting directorship in 2016. As Executive Director, Jason is dedicated 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.
MARIA CHILDRESS, LCSW, earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from St. Louis University. She has worked with refugee and immigrant adults and children for 25 years, most recently overseeing social work services for ESOL families in the St. Louis Public Schools. Over her career, she has participated in the development of multiple supports for New Americans in the St. Louis Area, many of which current agency staff now rely upon to serve clients. Maria supervises the staff of therapist adult and child therapy services at Bilingual International, including the federally-funded treatment program for survivors of torture
DIANNE CARTY came to Bilingual International as a Russian interpreter in 2012 and has worked with a wide range of clients and programming. Born in Uzbekistan (then Soviet Union), Dianne arrived in the U.S. in 1991 and actively helped her family adjust to American culture. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Geography: GIS from Northeastern Illinois University and worked as a contract cartographic analyst for the Department of Defense for two years, until switching fields to pursue her passion of helping people. Dianne served as a multilingual Affordable Care Act Navigator before assuming oversight of that program. She also oversaw agency Medicaid reassessment services for several years. She now works with our Social Services Team to ensure clinical and contract compliance across programming including all SLAAA programs, Macklind International Senior Center, CLAIM, and contracted case management services.
VICTORIA BARMAK is responsible for recruiting, screening, and supervising the agency’s team of interpreters and translators. Victoria conducts interpreter training and teaches continuing education courses. She collaborates with all departments at Bilingual International to ensure contract compliance, successful project management, and quality customer service. As a refugee from the former Soviet Union, Victoria personally experienced the challenges of being a newcomer and appreciates the value of the services Bilingual International provides. Victoria received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Yeshiva University, New York City and is currently an MA candidate in Communications at University of Missouri – 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 easily adjusts to various cultures, diverse backgrounds and many languages, while maintaining professionalism, a great attitude, and a helpful demeanor.
LORNA VAUGHN, PLPC, holds an MA in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University and 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 the STEPS to Better Health program. She also works with the social service department serving 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 underserved Albanian and Kosovar communities 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.
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.
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.
LILIYA (KADNIKOVA) JOSEPH, having immigrated as a foreign student from Russia 13 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 Bilingual 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 work ethic and compassionate care for aging populations makes her a unique asset on 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.
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 eight years ago, and has been affiliated with the agency for the last five 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 is passionate about working with older adults and with the Bosnian community here in the greater St. Louis area. In 2019, Samira assumed coordination of Macklind International Senior Center
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 and his refugee services “Faith Team” came to the agency from Places for People in October 2016 after many years of collaboration with Bilingual International
MARIO CAMERE received his Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2013. Although Mario has practiced different types of law, his practice has primarily focused on several subsets of immigration law. At Bilingual International, Mario advises and assists clients in navigating the complex processes of naturalization, adjustment of status, family reunification, and asylum.
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.
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.
PAUL WITTE, LPC, 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.
KATIE KILCLINE, LCSW, earned a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Trauma Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011. She has subsequently completed post-graduate training certificates in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. Throughout her career, Katie has worked and volunteered with torture treatment centers in Chicago, San Diego, and Saint Louis (formerly the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma), as well as a health-focused non-profit in Kathmandu, Nepal. Katie provides adult and family therapy services at Bilingual International to foreign-born families and survivors of state-sanctioned torture.
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.
JOANNA MIKHAIL, PLPC graduated from Covenant Seminary in May 2018 with a Masters of Counseling and has pursued training in trauma therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and CBT-Insomnia. Joanna is also a Master Facilitator-in-training with the Trauma Healing Institute. She is passionate about caring for refugees with trauma, particularly those from the Middle East, having been raised in Egypt and worked there throughout the Egyptian revolution and the Arab Spring as a freelance journalist. She is fluent in Arabic and has lived and worked internationally in multi-cultural environments for more than 20 years.
ENISA BALOGUN, PLPC, was born and raised in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She provided lay counseling in Bosnia for 14 years before moving to the U.S. to pursue and complete her Masters of Arts in Counseling at Covenant Theological Seminary. Enisa is bilingual in Bosnian and English with experience providing community-based therapy to clients from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Enisa is a coffee enthusiast and when not working can be found hanging out in coffee shops.
SUSAN ECKHART, M.ED holds degrees in English and German from Miami University (OH) and a Masters of Education and French from Harding University. A recently returned St. Louis native, Susan worked in the financial services sector in Luxembourg as well as teaching and translating for many years. Upon her return to the US, she worked in secondary education (Arkansas Foreign Language Teacher of the Year 2004) teaching French, German, and English before moving on to coordinate volunteers for Heifer International in Arkansas, volunteering with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, and serving as a CASA advocate for children in the court system in rural Arkansas. At Bilingual International, she coordinates citizenship education for survivors of torture.
AMY WILHELM holds a BA in International Relations from Tulane University and an MA in Spanish from St. Louis University. She has worked as an English as a Second Language educator and advocate for the Illinois Migrant Education Program and also as an immigration specialist for an immigration attorney in New Orleans. Amy has studied second language acquisition theory and teaching methodologies, and is a member of ACTFL (American Council on Teaching of Foreign Language). She has been teaching Spanish for 14 years in St. Louis, from primary to college levels.
TARA HOPPE, PLPC, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Art Studio from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville in 2010. She earned her Masters Degree in Psychology Counseling from Missouri Baptist University in 2016 and worked with refugee and immigrant populations during 2016 at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. Tara has advanced training in Art Psychotherapy and Expressive Art Therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, EMDR, and is currently completing training through the Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. Tara specializes in PTSD, complex trauma, attachment trauma, substance abuse, eating disorders, intergenerational trauma with families, adults, adolescents, and children. Tara is passionate about using creativity, play, music, art, EMDR and somatic-based approaches in therapy to provide a holistic approach to working with and healing negative trauma symptoms.
MARIA DEL ROSARIO BOBADILLA, CSJ, LMFT is a psychotherapist/counselor with decades of experience working with families, couples and individuals. Maria also has a Chaplain Certification for Missouri. She works with an eclectic methodology with strong roots in pastoral counseling. Among other therapy directions, she uses a holistic orientation working with the whole areas of the person. Currently, Maria lives in the city of St. Louis and works as a bilingual therapist for Bilingual International at Casa de Salud’s Mental Health Collaborative, a chaplain at Mercy Hospital, and leads therapy groups. Maria likes to walk, hike and visit the beautiful parks of Missouri.
CANDACE KILPATRIC, PLPC is a provisionally licensed counselor working under the STEPS to Better Health program. She holds a Master’s degree in Education from Washington University in St. Louis and spent 20 years working as a teacher. In 2016, Candace completed a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She has previously worked in the treatment unit of the St. Louis County Department of Family Services and has worked in schools with children and youth through counseling internships. Candace is married and the mother of an adult son and college student daughter.
RANIA MONLA graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in French and Business Administration from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2013. She is a native speaker of Arabic and has worked with many different agencies in the capacity of interpreter across a broad range of settings including schools, private sector companies, medical settings, and courtrooms. She also worked as an Arabic instructor for adults and as a private French tutor for young children. Rania has a passion for helping Limited English Proficient individuals, which is rooted in the struggles that she experienced herself upon arriving in the U.S. from Lebanon.
TYLER BAILEY graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2009 with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing. He spent almost a year living in Eastern Europe and Central Asia doing humanitarian work, serving orphans and the homeless, and assistant teaching ESL. It is his passion to help meet the needs of refugees and immigrants, and he is excited to be a part of the team at Bilingual International.
LEAH STAR received an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology from Santa Clara University in March 2019. During her time at university, she held a variety of leadership positions and internships that helped her develop a passion for nonprofit development and marketing. She joined the Bilingual International team through the AmeriCorps VISTA program and she will be working in a number of projects involving marketing, fundraising, and development. After being raised in Massachusetts and going to school in California she is very excited to live in the Midwest and begin her career in nonprofit development at Bilingual International.
ABBY MACDONALD was born in St. Louis and attended The University of Arkansas for her undergraduate degree in Psychology and African Studies. After a volunteer year working for a nonprofit serving the foreign-born community in Philadelphia, she returned to St. Louis to obtain her Masters in Social Work from Washington University. She has practicum and work experience at various immigrant service providers in the area with both children and adults. Abby is passionate about learning from different cultures and always trying to find more ways to travel.
ADELA PEUGNET has had family in St. Louis since the 18th Century and grew up abroad as the daughter of an ambassador. Professionally, Adela spent 32 years with the Human Development Corporation in St. Louis providing case management to low-income clients. Adela is fluent in Spanish and has also worked extensively with immigrant and refugee-focused charities under the Catholic service umbrella. Adela was instrumental in founding the Spanish-speaking Senior Group at Macklind International Senior Center and is actively working with interested participants in preparing to become U.S. citizens, an activity about which she is extremely passionate.
EILEEN CHEONG was born in New York City to parents that immigrated from Singapore, where she grew up among a multitude of cultures and later taught abroad as an ESL teacher in Hainan, China. She moved to Saint Louis to earn her Masters in Art Therapy Counseling from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville in 2013. As a nationally Registered Art Therapist she specializes in narrative and person-centered therapy to encourage the artistic process as a catalyst for healing and to envision positive change in our communities. With 200 hour foundational training in yoga, Eileen provides skill building in breathwork and mindfulness techiniques to counter anxiety and depression. Through her experience as a crisis intervention counselor, she is adept at using trauma-informed approaches to counseling and believes in Relational-Cultural approaches to wellness to address the whole person along with their worldview.
DAMIAN LARA graduated from Rockhurst University in May 2018 with a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish. He spent time in Peru taking medical Spanish classes while assisting the care teams at a local clinic in Cusco. Since graduating, Damian has been working as Medical Spanish Interpreter with All Access Interpreters and is in the process of becoming nationally certified. Damian hopes to positively impact the Spanish-speaking community in the St. Louis area and promote quality services for everyone. Fun fact: He worked in an Emergency Room for 2 years as Medical Technician.
JIHYE BAEK graduated from Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis with a Master of Social Work with a concentration of “Older Adults and Aging Societies.” Jihye speaks Korean and English and has experience in independent senior housing, adult daycare, and social service agencies (including Bilingual International). She is passionate about providing social services to older immigrants and supporting older adults with dementia. Jihye is also dedicated to research, and is also currently working as a Research Coordinator on a large-scale primary data collection project with Washington University. Jihye enjoys weight training and loves things with beautiful aromas – coffee and wine.
WILL MATTINGLY, PLPC graduated magna cum laude from Covenant Theological Seminary with a Masters in Counseling in 2017. He has extensive experience in both individual counseling and leading men’s therapy groups. Outside of work, Will enjoys palying and composing music, practicing martial arts, and is also an active member of the St. Louis Table Tennis Club.
ALYSSA LAZZERONI, LMSW earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University with a focus on Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies and graduated in 2017 from Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School of Social Work, with a concentration in Violence and Injury Prevention and Trauma Treatment. Alyssa has worked with both individuals and groups of all ages and now serves as a Clinician on Project Safe Space.
KATERYNA BOLSUNOVA, MA holds a Master’s from Ternopil Pedagogical University in Ukraine and has a background in corporate and private language instruction (German and English) as well as working with adoption/foster care charities in Ukraine and volunteering with the Red Cross in Germany. After moving to the US in 2013, she began working as a professional interpreter for Russian and Ukrainian-speaking communities in the St. Louis area. Kateryna works on the Social Services team – primarily with Russian and Ukrainian speakers – on citizenship, benefits assistance, as well as overseeing the Russian-speaking senior group at Macklind International Senior Center.
DEANNA ZOLLER-COCIC fled her hometown of Sarajevo in 1992 during the siege with her two young children. As a refugee in Germany, she quickly learned German and worked as a Medical Assistant for German physicians in Wiesbaden. Deanna arrived in St. Louis in 1998 and worked in sales and customer service at Lambert International Airport for 15 years. For the past five years, she has worked as an interpreter with LAMP. Deanna works on the Social Services team and oversees the Bosnian senior group, as well as providing case work, citizenship, benefits assistance, Medicare counseling, etc. for our Bosnian-speaking clients.
DALLYDA TATCHI-BANDA and her family came to the US as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. After attending high school in the US, Dallyda earned a BA in Child and Family Studies from Berea College in Kentucky and relocated after college to do a year with the AmeriCorps VISTA program at St. Louis Healthy Families. From there, Dallyda worked at a domestic violence shelter as a Children’s Advocate and Volunteer Coordinator, where she had the opportunity to work with refugees and immigrants, which helped inspire her to pursue a career in social work. She is currently finishing up her MSW at St. Louis University and hopes to continue empowering refugees and immigrants in her community post-graduation. Dallyda provides case management to clients in the CANA/ORR program, drawing on her Swahili language skills to work with more recent refugee communities.