2022 Board of Directors

The volunteers who serve on our Board of Directors are Bridge’s strength, lifeline to the community, and our greatest and committed advocates. They are community members from Chattanooga and Knoxville who are passionate about refugee resettlement. The unpaid members meet at regular intervals, usually every three months, and provide fiscal oversight to the organization. They also monitor Bridge’s programming and outreach efforts and aid in steering us toward fulfilling our mission.


Nathan Kibler, J.D. (Chair) is a shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Corporate Finance and Securities Group. His practice consists primarily of representing public companies in SEC compliance and reporting, securities offerings, corporate governance matters, and NYSE and NASDAQ regulatory compliance. Prior to joining Baker Donelson, he practiced corporate and securities law in the Health Care Group at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta. Before joining Alston & Bird, he served in two federal clerkships – as law clerk to the Honorable Eugene E. Siler, Jr. in the Sixth Circuit, and as law clerk to the Honorable Robert H. Cleland in the Eastern District of Michigan. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Kibler serves on Baker Donelson’s Pro Bono Committee and BakerCares Committee and was the recipient of Baker Donelson’s Knoxville Office Pro Bono Award. For Bridge clients, he has served as a transportation volunteer, coordinates an ecumenical partnership of churches to provide welcome baskets, and provides pro bono legal services. He resides in Norris.

Cherita Rice (Vice-Chair) moved to Chattanooga five years ago and started Mad Priest Coffee Roasters with her husband. Mad Priest is a social enterprise that seeks to hire resettled refugees (among other social goals) while also crafting excellent coffee and creating a space where diverse members of the community can come together. They have since expanded the wholesale coffee roasting company to two locations including a production facility and coffee drive thru, and a full espresso bar. Cherita is in charge of everything communications at Mad Priest (social media, marketing, brand awareness) and all their community events. She also works closely with all their nonprofit community partners to support their local initiatives. Before starting Mad Priest, she lived abroad for a few years and helped run an English school in North India and then worked for a café franchise as they expanded in numerous cities around the country. Previous to that she was a hairdresser in Atlanta, working with a diverse clientele downtown. Her firsthand experience with refugees began from a young age growing up in Clarkston, GA (a suburb of Atlanta) that is considered the most diverse square mile in America due to the large population of resettled refugees.

Reverend Bowman (Bo) Townsend, MDiv, MA (Treasurer) is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville who went on to continue his advanced education in Austin, Texas, receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, and a Master’s degree in Counseling from St. Edward’s University. During his career, Rev. Townsend has held a variety of administrative roles. He served as Rector/Interim Rector/ Assistant Rector at Episcopal parishes in Texas and Knoxville, and twice led the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville as Executive Director. Additionally, he served in the Department of Clinical Pastoral Education as Chaplain at University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, and as a therapist in private practice in Texas. During his tenure as Rector in Texas, his parishes successfully sponsored numerous refugee families in resettlement, and he additionally oversaw an extensive ministry to the homeless. Recently retired from active ministry, he is eager to share his skills in administration and advocacy as a member of the board.

Victoria S. Berghel (Secretary) maintains a solo commercial real estate practice in Chattanooga, TN. Ms. Berghel is a fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and a member of the Advisory Board of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She has chaired the International Council of Shopping Centers Law Conference and is a frequent speaker. Ms. Berghel received her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1977, where she was on the editorial board of the Maryland Law Review. After graduating from law school, Ms. Berghel taught real estate drafting and negotiation for 11 years. Before establishing her practice in 2013, Ms. Berghel was General Counsel at CBL Associates Properties, Inc. from 2004 to 2012, and was Vice President, Associate General Counsel at Sears, Roebuck Co. from 1996 to 2003. Ms. Berghel was a partner at Weinberg Green (now Saul Ewing) until 1996 in Baltimore, MD. She has served on the board of the Lookout Mountain Conservancy, Chattanooga, and tutored refugees on English and citizenship for many years.


Abdulwahhab Alabid came from Iraq to Chattanooga as a refugee through Bridge Refugee Services in April 2012. As an engineer in Basra, Iraq he assisted in United States’ effort to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the war, among the projects he was working on were schools, hospitals and water treatment facilities. When the threats to him and his family became too severe to ignore Mr. Alabid had to leave seeking peace and safety for his wife and three children. In the US, Mr. Alabid started his professional career at the recently opened Amazon Distribution Center but dreamed about opening his own catering business. In 2016 his dream came true and he launched family owned and operated Jinan’s Kitchen. His business specializes in Iraqi and Middle Eastern cuisine and his goal is “to spread love and peace through fresh authentic meals”. Mr. Alabid is one of the leaders of Adventist Moslem Friendship Association (AMFA), which provides him with the opportunity to foster better understanding and social cohesion between diverse members of the Chattanooga community.

Melissa Bradham returned to her home city of Chattanooga in 2010 after sixteen years away while completing her education, beginning her career, and starting a family.

With a passion for social impact and creating change, Melissa was heavily involved in the political landscape in Virginia for many years following graduation from Old Dominion University. She worked for a Virginia State Senator and spent ten plus years working on various political campaigns. This experience in the political sector launched her career into healthcare with the opportunity to work on healthcare legislation and strategy in the state of Virginia. She now has over twenty years of healthcare experience in business development and strategy across multiple states. Over the last twelve years, Melissa has simultaneously spent additional time raising money for public education and multiple nonprofits throughout the Chattanooga area. In 2017 she was introduced to the team with Peace of Thread in Clarkston, GA, a nonprofit that seeks to employ and empower vulnerable women through building relationships. She is now working to help launch Peace of Thread Chattanooga and is excited about the additional opportunity this brings to invest in refugee women and bridge cultural gaps.

Melissa has two very active boys, ages 13 and 15, that attend Chattanooga Christian School.

Rhonda W. Clay, CFRE brings a wealth of resources to the Board. She has over 18 years of fundraising experience and over 30 years of broadcast and production experience. Rhonda has spent the bulk of her professional career working for non-profit organizations that serve the community: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Communications staff), United Way of Metro Chicago, HomeSource East Tennessee, Bridge Refugee Services, March of Dimes, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. Currently she is a Media Analyst for Knoxville Utilities Board. She is a native of Chicago currently residing in Knoxville, TN with her husband. They have 4 children and 6 grandchildren.

Jennifer Jones has been a practicing Human Resources for over 16 years in private industry and government contract work. Areas of HR practice include; labor law compliance, investigations, compensation, recruiting, performance management and reviews, etc. She has maintained her PHR certification since 2005 and SHRM-CP certification since 2015. She is a member of SHRM and the local SHRM chapter Tennessee Valley Human Resources Association (TVHRA) which she has held prior Board positions. She is currently serving on the TVHRA Strategic Leadership Conference Committee. She’s an active member of First Presbyterian Church Knoxville at which she has served as a Deacon and as a member of the Global Mission Committee which led to her support of refugees.

Ginny Kelly grew up in Oxford, MS and graduated from the University of Mississippi. After spending 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Ginny made her way to Chattanooga in 2010 as a specialty representative with Johnson and Johnson before transitioning into the outdoor industry, first with The North Face, then with Salomon, and now as Regional Director with The Land Trust for Tennessee.

Ginny currently sits on the boards of the Lookout Mountain Conservancy and Wild Trails and has served on the boards of Lula Lake Land Trust, Ivy Academy, and CHI Memorial Foundation. In 2013, she graduated from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Program and will graduate in the 2022 cohort of Leadership Chattanooga. Ginny is married to Mayor Tim Kelly, has two stepsons, Jack and Cannon, and many pets! In her spare time, you will find Ginny directing trail races for her company, Bad Beard Events, running on trail or road, or volunteering for anything and everything in Chattanooga.

Arathi Seshagiri, CPA, MBA moved to Chattanooga, TN in 2019. She is the owner of EKA Services, a CPA Tutoring and Mentoring organization, aimed at providing coaching services to budding CPA candidates to enable them to be strong finance professionals. She is originally from Bengaluru, India and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. She has over a decade of work experience in Corporate Business Finance, both in India and in the US. She graduated from the MBA program at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in New Hampshire and has lived in various cities across the US with her husband and two children.

Stephanie Sieggreen serves as the inaugural Director of International Recruitment for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she is currently pursuing a PhD within Higher Education Administration. Having studied, volunteered, and worked abroad along with 20 plus years within higher education, Stephanie relates to the unique nuances presented to international students and their families exploring universities outside of their home country. Prior to relocating to Tennessee, Stephanie held international education leadership roles at universities within Kentucky and Michigan. Before her career within higher education, Stephanie served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan within the economic development sector, and following her Peace Corps service she obtained a graduate assistantship completing a Master’s in Business Administration. Currently, Stephanie serves as a Co-Chair for Study Tennessee, Tennessee’s statewide consortium of educational institutions and NAFSA’s: Association of International Educators, International Enrollment Management Knowledge Community Liaison for the Southern U.S. Region. In addition, Stephanie serves as a founding institutional representative and volunteer for IC3 (International Career & College Counseling) global movement providing training and support to individuals worldwide.

Takeo Suzuki, Ed.D works as Executive Director of the Center for Global Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). He manages and directs the centralized division for global education at UTC by developing and managing quality global initiatives, programs, support services, and partnerships for the UTC campus community and the greater Chattanooga region. He has visited 50+ countries for Study Abroad locations, international students’ recruitment, and student and faculty exchange agreements. He is an active member of NAFSA, Association of International Educators, and served for Gilman Scholarship National Panelist and Fulbright Program Selection Committee.

Takeo received a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University in Boston. He is originally from Kobe, Japan, and is married to Antonela, a Croatian native. They have two kids born in the US. In his spare time, he loves traveling, camping, and hiking. He and his son summitted the Half Dome (8,839‘) in Yosemite National Park and plans to hike up to Mt. Whitney (14.505‘) near future.

Elizabeth Young is entering her third decade in independent schools and is currently serving as Senior Associate Director of College Counseling at The Baylor School in Chattanooga. In addition to her role in college counseling, Liz coaches Baylor’s crew team, is involved in the Independent School Gender Project, and serves on the Association of College Counselors of Independent Schools Review Team. Before Baylor, Liz served in the same role at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT. She also served as a faculty member at the College Exploration Experience at Lehigh University aimed at providing college access to high need students. Preceding Hotchkiss, Liz worked in the admission office at Lehigh, recruiting in New England, and overseeing all major on-campus recruitment events. In her first decade in schools, Liz served the admission offices at the Saint James School (MD), The Hill School (PA) and the Agnes Irwin School (PA) where she also held a senior role in Financial Aid. Liz competed as a varsity rower at Colgate University, receiving an A.B. in Environmental Economics and English and then earned a M.S.Ed. from Johns Hopkins University. As a native of Louisville, KY, Elizabeth has a love of the Kentucky Derby.