The staffing needs of Bilingual International continually evolve to meet the growing needs of the communities 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.
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 helped her family adjust to American culture. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Geography: GIS and worked as a Cartographic Analyst for the Department of Defense for two years before 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 all SLAAA programs, Macklind International Senior Center, CLAIM, and Medicaid Expansion. She advises on the challenges impacting Limited English Proficient communities on several boards including the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board, the Advisory Committee for Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution in Missouri, the PBS Nine Network Advisory Board, and as a guest member of the Regional Health Commission Community Advisory Board. She was recently elected to serve as the Lead Delegate from Missouri for Refugee Congress, a national nonpartisan advocacy organization led by former refugees to promote the wellbeing and dignity of all vulnerable migrants.
LEAH (SILBERMAN) BERNSTEIN, MA, MSW earned her Master of Science in Social Work Columbia University, her MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary, her BA in Sociology from Columbia University, and her BA in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Leah has designed and established multiple successful Development departments in the nonprofit sector with solid and sustainable annual, multi-year, major gifts and corporate giving programs. Her work in Development is fully integrated with both the vision and goals of Marketing/PR, Volunteer Engagement, and Leadership Development. In addition, Leah is a published academic writer and poet. She acknowledges that her, by far, best two poems are her children – Abigail and Gabriel.
KERSTEN HORN, MA is the lead for the agency’s emergency programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kersten was born in Germany and attended college in France and the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences and Economics in European Union Studies from Cardiff University (UK) and an MA in Germanic Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. His professional experience prior to joining Bilingual International includes teaching, language services, and program management.
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, LPC, 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 Servicea 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. Her background includes an MA in Gerontology and over 40 years working in long term care and community based senior services. As an experienced Volunteer Coordinator, Ellen’s dedication and positive energy 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.
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 Citizenship Coordinator for older adults and also oversees Senior Center Operations at Bilingual International.
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 the Saint Louis University School of Law in 2013. After working in civil litigation, Mario shifted his practice to focus on immigration law. Mario joined Bilingual International in 2016. As the agency’s Immigration Attorney, Mario advises and assists his clients—primarily refugees and survivors of torture—with navigating the complexities of the United States immigration system. Mario has helped clients successfully naturalize as United States citizens, obtain permanent resident status, reunite with family members abroad through family reunification, avoid removal/deportation, and seek asylum in the United States.
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. In 2016, Paul served as the clinical supervisor for the Belize City Community Counseling Center, which operated under the the Ministry of Human Services and provided mental health services for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Paul Witte returned to St. Louis to serve several years as a therapist on Project Safe Space before accepting a position as Coordinator of the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma.
RITA SKIBA-MATHEWS, LCSW earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University with a focus on supporting community development in underfunded city 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 is a licensed clinical social worker and is currently working on EMDR and ABFT certifications. Rita currently serves as the Project Safe Space Director while providing therapy services to a small caseload of clients enrolled in Project Safe Space services. Outside of her work at Bilingual International, Rita collaborates with other community providers to ensure the provision of affirming and supportive services to LGBTQIA+ youth
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.
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.
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 ABBOUD 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.
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.
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 techniques 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.
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.
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.
LIYAN JIN, MPH, earned a Master of Public Health with Epidemiology and Biostatics concentration from Washington University in St. Louis in 2020. She was born and raised in Nanjing, which is a sister city of St. Louis in China. She is passionate about helping senior immigrants meet their health needs, and she loves working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds..
RACHEL ZAHNISER, PLPC, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International and Cross Cultural Studies from Greenville University in 2012. Rachel was raised in Colorado and Southern Illinois. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she moved to Oslo, Norway, then to Wichita, Kansas, and finally to St. Louis where she graduated from the University of Missouri- St. Louis in 2019 with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Rachel has advanced training in EMDR and Play Therapy; she is passionate about using play, creativity, art, dance, and EMDR in therapy with children through the Project Safe Space program. In her free time, Rachel enjoys rock climbing, reading, and improving her Spanish language skills.
TRAM NGUYEN arrived in the United States from her native Vietnam in 1993 and earned a BA in Theology and Religious Studies with a minor in Sociology as well as a Master’s degree in Organization Development from San Francisco University, California. Tram has developed diverse skills across a broad range of work experiences in different areas of practice, including: project administrator, strategic plan administrator, pastoral support, and mentor/care giver. She has worked locally and internationally with refugees, immigrants, children with HIV, homeless children, domestic violence, and women in recovery.
ABBY EVILSIZOR, LMSW, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University with a focus on Spanish and Latino Studies, as well as Social Welfare. In 2018, she completed her Master’s in Social Work from Saint Louis University with a concentration in clinical practice. Prior to joining BIAS, Abby worked with children and youth in foster care. She now serves as a Spanish-speaking clinician on Project Safe Space. Outside of work, Abby enjoys spending time with her dog, doing yoga and traveling
LOUISE ALBANO-HURLEY came to Bilingual International as an MSW practicum student from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis (MSW, International Social and Economic Development, May 2021). Previously Louise ran an Independent Living Skills program in Phoenix for youth and adults as well as working with transition-age youth in foster care. She has also worked as a high school English teacher in Shanghai. Currently, she is completing her MSW and working in the Social Services Department providing benefits assistance to St. Louis City residents and assisting with data collection and reporting.
JORGE DIAZ ARIAS, MA has worked for many years with Bilingual International and other local and national agencies as a professional Spanish interpreter. Originally from Peru, Jorge came to the United States to further his studies, earning a MA in Marketing from Lindenwood University in 1992. For seven years, he worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative for the Southern Illinois nonprofit, Immigration Project Inc. He is proud to be in a position to help assist Latino immigrants in many different environments to ensure they receive services.
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 over 25 years. During this time, as a school social worker, social work administrator, Director of Mental Health, and behavioral health therapist, she has participated in the development of multiple supports for New Americans in the St. Louis Area. Maria currently works as a behavioral health therapist on the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma project.
YESENIA LOPEZ was born in Los Angeles and moved to St. Louis at the age of five. She has used her Spanish language skills in her background as a bilingual medical assistant specializing in women’s health care. Yesenia brings a passion for assisting people with Limited English and helping them advance their lives in the most positive way possible.
LIZ RICKS-AHERNE, LMSW received her Master of Social Work degree and Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from Saint Louis University in 2019, with emphases on clinical practice, older adults, end of life, and grief. Liz has spent time living in Germany supporting people with migration backgrounds, worked with grieving children and families, managed translation projects, and published about trauma-informed care. As a Project Safe Space clinician, Liz uses a variety of therapeutic tools to support each person’s unique path toward healing, including art, music, books, writing, and play. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, gardening, singing, and travel.
KELLY GLENN served as an education volunteer with Peace Corps Kosovo and was later an educator for special needs youth in Albania. In Bosnia and Greece she volunteered in emergency services for refugees. She is also a Masters of Social Work candidate at Washington University. At Bilingual International, she provides administrative support to the CANA/ORR program, functions as the Citizenship Educator for that program, and as a Program Associate on the St. Louis City Senior Fund with foreign-born seniors.
DANIEL WILLIAMS-ROONEY – Bio forthcoming.
ANNA MOORE, PLPC earned her Master’s degree in Art Therapy Counseling from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2021 where she focused her research on the creation and evaluation of a creative psychoeducational program for immigrant youth and unaccompanied minors in St. Louis. Prior to joining BIAS, her work has emphasized acute psychiatric care, behavioral health, eating disorders, and creating identity-affirming spaces in clinical settings. Anna has completed presentations at both national and state level conferences and has co-authored two art therapy related publications. In combination with her background in trauma-informed and context-considerate therapeutic practice, Anna provides a creative approach to exploring and healing with art-making techniques, materials, and media.
REBECCA NIEDNER’s background in logistics, ESL, resettlement and advocacy for refugees and immigrants ensures that clients receive language access and quality communication. Rebecca received her undergraduate degree in Fine Art and Photography from Columbia College Chicago, her TESOL diploma and certification from Uni-Prep Institute, and is currently studying the Arabic language.
JAZMIN RODRIGUEZ was born in St. Louis after her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. She earned her Bachelor’s in Political Science from Lindenwood University in 2020. She is passionate about helping the immigrant community thrive and enjoys learning more about different cultures: interests which serve her well in her Americorps VISTA role in the Language Services Department. Jazmin is pursuing law school and becoming an immigration attorney in the St. Louis area. In her spare time, Jazmin enjoys hiking and spending time in nature.
MIRIAM TAYLOR – Bio forthcoming.