Knoxville: (865) 540-1311

| Chattanooga: (423) 954-1911
Knoxville: (865) 540-1311
 Chattanooga: (423) 954-1911

Bridge Refugee Services

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Knoxville Office Staff

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Drocella Mugorewera, Executive Director
Drocella Mugorewera serves as the Executive Director of Bridge Refugee Services Inc., but her first encounter with Bridge was when she first arrived in the U.S. in 2009 as a refugee. This firsthand experience has given her a unique and valuable perspective for her current role. Drocella believes in embracing change as part of her leadership style however, she also seeks ways to help the community embrace and recognize the social, cultural and economic values new Americans are bringing to our nation. Drocella Mugorewera was also elected as the Delegate from Tennessee to the Refugee Congress in September 2016.

In 2014, Drocella was part of the Knox County Action Committee community leadership class. Before joining Bridge Refugee Services, she served as a Multicultural Outreach Coordinator at Cherokee Health Systems in Knoxville for more than four years where she helped refugees access healthcare and interpretation services. These experiences have contributed to Drocella’s strong background in network building and community empowerment.

Drocella graduated from National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine in 1991. She has over 15 years of experience in managing government and non-government programs in the United States and Africa and speaks English, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, French and Russian. Drocella is passionate about helping refugees integrate into the community by working with community members, volunteers, and others to make our cities and neighborhoods welcoming places.

(865) 540-1311 ext. 6
dmugorewera@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

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Katie Weber, Program Manager
Katie is a Nebraska native who moved to Knoxville in 2010. She has been working at Bridge Refugee Services since 2011 in various roles from community outreach coordinator to caseworker. Katie has a Bachelor degree in Secondary Education with a Social Studies endorsement from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before working at Bridge Refugee Services, Katie served as an AmeriCorps member at Lincoln Literacy Council in Lincoln, Nebraska and taught ESL to adult students in Knoxville. In her current role, Katie oversees the grants that fund Bridge programming and supervises the staff. She loves to help welcome new refugees to Knoxville as a Bridge staff member.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 2
koneal@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

 

Nicole Fernandez,  Volunteer Coordinator:

Nicole Fernandez is currently serving as the Americorps VISTA member at Bridge Refugee Services for the 2017-2018 year. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from College of Charleston in Biology, and French & Francophone Studies, after which she spent 10 months as an english language assistant in France. Having been born in the Middle East, and then later becoming a naturalized Canadian citizen, Nicole realizes the importance of embracing diversity, welcoming new members of the community, and empowering immigrants and minorities to live and tell their stories. She is honored to serve as the volunteer manager this year, working to build the capacity of this great organization through the power of its committed volunteers.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 0
volunteerknox@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

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Charissa Rivera, Employment Specialist
Charissa serves as our Employment Specialist. She also teaches a beginners English language learners class and volunteers with Knoxville Internationals Network (KIN). Her degree is in Communications with a concentration in Broadcast Production. After working at Conner Prairie interactive history park in Indiana, she moved to the East TN area in 2010 as the Chief Pilot for a Helium balloon, she then became a manager and later a director at WonderWorks indoor amusement park. Feeling called to serve internationals and minorities, she volunteered with Bridge Refugee Services until becoming a staff member in 2016.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 7
employment@bridgerefugees.org

 

p1010812Katie Willocks, Mental Wellness Coordinator

Katie Willocks is the Mental Wellness Coordinator under a grant from the Trinity Health Foundation.  In that capacity she screens refugees for mental health issues, conducts classes on mental health, and helps refugees navigate the mental health system. She has been a case manager at Bridge Refugee Services since October 2015 and before that worked as the administrative assistant from February 2015.  Katie is a lifelong Knoxville resident, wife and mother of two, Isabella and Ian. Katie previously worked with Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, teaching English to adults. Katie has B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Africana Studies from the University of Tennessee, and also speaks Spanish. As a person of Latin descent, minority populations have always been near and dear to her heart, and she very much enjoys working with the diverse population that Bridge Refugees serves.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 1
kwillocks@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

Michael McLaughlin, Financial Manager

Michael McLaughlin is the new Financial Manager of Bridge Refugee Services. Before coming to Bridge, Michael developed considerable expertise in the management, accounting, and tax compliance requirements of non-profit organizations. He is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in multiple states, including Tennessee, and is a member of the Tennessee Bar. Michael holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Seton Hall University, a Master of Taxation from the University of Tulsa, and a Juris Doctor from the Pennsylvania State University. Michael and his wife, Marina, have two adult sons.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 4
mmclaughlin@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

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Ashley Howard, School Liason/Health Advocate
Ashley grew up in the Middle East, the child of international workers involved in humanitarian relief, translation, and development of academic materials.  Ashley then moved to Tennessee and attended Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Ashley studied English: Writing, and spent several semesters studying abroad. Ashley then began her MS degree at Lee University in Holistic Child Development, which is designed to educate and prepare its students for non-profit development and community programming, provide understanding of childhood development and the copious factors that influence it, as well as fundraising.

Before Bridge Refugee Services, Ashley worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region working with children, and with their fundraising and resource development team as the Grants Manager. She then joined Bridge Refugee Services in February 2016 as the School Liaison. Ashley also works as the Health Advocate with our HPP program, providing health orientations and case management.

865-540-1311 ext. 8
ajones@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

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Kent Southworth, Wilson-Fish Program Coordinator/Eligibility Caseworker
Kent Southworth is Bridge Refugee Services’ Eligibility Caseworker, handling the Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance programs. He has been with Bridge since 2006, working first as a case manager and interpreter before leaving for graduate school. Kent returned to Bridge in 2009 and has been working here ever since. Born and raised in Knoxville, he got his BA in Russian and linguistics from the University of Tennessee and his MA in Russian and second language acquisition from Bryn Mawr College.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 3
kent@bridgerefugees.org

 

 

 

Summer Awad- Intensive Case Manager
Summer Awad is a Knoxville native of Palestinian descent. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2016 with a personalized degree in Literary Activism. As an undergraduate, Summer was a Haslam Scholar, College Scholar, and co-chair of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT). Summer’s original play, WALLS: A Play for Palestine, premiered at the Clarence Brown LAB Theatre in 2016 and has since been performed at The 2016 New York International Fringe Festival and at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn. Summer is actively involved in the spoken word poetry scene in Knoxville under the stage name “Uncensored.” She started with Bridge in May 2017, serving as the Intensive Case Manager and overseeing the Elders and Health Promotion Programs. As the daughter of an immigrant, Summer is proud to welcome newcomers to her hometown and assist them in accessing vital services.

(865) 540-1311 ext. 12
sawad@bridgerefugees.org