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

Knoxville Office Staff


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. 106


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. 102

Kelly Hollingsworth, Financial Manager

Kelly has lived in Knoxville with her husband and four kids for the past 9 years.  She comes to Bridge with over 25 years’ experience in public, private and nonprofit accounting – gaining most of her experience outside the Knoxville area working for companies including Tennessee Donor Services in Nashville and Deloitte in San Francisco.  She graduated with honors from California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo, CA with a degree in Business and holds a Certified Public Accounting License.   Growing up with adopted brothers and sisters from Vietnam, Kelly has seen the value of freedom and diversity first hand and is excited about the opportunity to be a part of bringing that kind of life to others.


(865) 540-1311, ext. 104


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. 107

Katie Willocks, Senior Case Manager

Katie Willocks 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. 101


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. 103

Summer Awad, 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. 112

Kirsten Cole, MSW, School Liaison/Pre-Arrival Specialist

Kirsten is an East Tennessee native. She received both her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and
Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. During graduate school, she also
worked to receive a Human Resource Management Certificate and Trauma Treatment Certificate in
efforts to best serve the future populations that she would serve. Kirsten was a Social Work intern with Bridge during her undergraduate studies. She also spent one semester studying in Gulu, Uganda, to where she returned for another summer to intern with a local NGO dedicated to removing barriers for education for all young people of the country’s northern region. Kirsten excitedly returned to Bridge as the School Liaison in 2018.

(865) 540-1311 ext. 105

Joshua Russell, Case Manager

Joshua is a native Tennessean and has been a case manager at Bridge Refugee Services Knoxville since July 2018.  His primary duties include serving as a first point of contact for clients arriving in Knoxville, providing guidance and support toward the path of self-sufficiency, and facilitating the integration process. For Joshua, it is an honor to welcome refugees to the Knoxville area and to assist them during their transition to becoming engaged members of our community. Prior to joining Bridge, Joshua served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, a community food system development volunteer in the AmeriCorps RARE program, and has extensive experience in Culinary Arts as an executive chef and kitchen manager. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a B.A. in Anthropology.

(865) 540-1311 ext. 109

Nicole Fernandez,  AmeriCorps VISTA Program Coordinator:

Nicole is currently serving as the Americorps VISTA member at Bridge Refugee Services for the 2018-2019 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 moving to Canada, Nicole realizes the importance of embracing diversity, welcoming new members of the community, and empowering international voices and minorities to live and tell their stories. She is honoured to serve a second Americorps VISTA term at Bridge this year, working to build the capacity of this great organization.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 111

Ian Bicko,  AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Coordinator:

Ian Bicko is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Bridge for the 2018-2019 term.  He recently graduated from the University of South Alabama with a BA in Political Science with concentrations in International Studies and Geography.  A native of NW Pennsylvania, Ian has collectively spent two years living in and working toward community development/outreach in Port-de-Paix, Haiti and was there during the 2010 Port-Au-Prince earthquake.  Experiencing the repercussions of that disaster gave him motivation to serve people seeking a safer and healthier life.  He feels privileged to serve at Bridge and getting more involved in the Knoxville community. Ian can’t wait to “bridge” new partnerships between our community and our clients.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 113

Larisa Brass, Development Director
 has lived in the Knoxville area for the past 20 years. She comes with experience in non-profit community work—leading and fundraising for community health initiatives in neighboring Loudon County—and in journalism and communications, working as a business reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel and in media relations and marketing for, among others, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Provision Healthcare. She has a master’s degree in public health from Loma Linda University and a bachelor’s in journalism and broadcasting from Southern Adventist University. With an adopted family of Ugandan children and long-term connections to the local immigrant community, Larisa is passionate to serve—and provide others the opportunity of serving—refugee families in Knoxville.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 114

Ann Agbiak, MSW, Preferred Communities Case Manager

Ann received her Master’s in Social Work at Louisiana State University in 2019 and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Child and Family Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She worked as a graduate research assistant assessing the needs and capacity of newly resettled refugees in Baton Rouge. Ann and her family moved to Baton Rouge in 2000 due to the civil war in Sudan. She has a passion for working with refugees and immigrants and has dedicated her career to advocate for social justice and those who are underserved. Ann is a founding member of LORI (Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants) and serves as vice-president of the organization.

(865) 540-1311