2021 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 (Secretary) 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 & helped run an English school in North India and then worked for a cafe 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.


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.

Victoria S. Berghel maintains a solo commercial real estate practice in Chattanooga,Tennessee. 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, Maryland. She has served on the board of the Lookout Mountain Conservancy, Chattanooga, and tutored refugees on English and citizenship for many years.

Leah Berry has served on the Bridge Refugee Services board of directors for five years. She is Division Manager for Business Services at Strata-G, LLC, providing logistics analysis and contract support to government and commercial clients.  Her technical expertise includes process improvement, quality control and audits, Best Practices management, security management, customer service, and logistics oversight. In addition to participation in Strata-G’s community outreach in support of Knox Area Rescue Ministries, Ms. Berry is Past President of the Farragut Rotary Club, Rotary District 6780 International Grants Coordinator, and a supporter and former guardian for World War II veterans on Knoxville’s Honor Air Flights to Washington, D.C.  She holds a degree in Marketing from the University of Tennessee.  She resides in Knoxville.

The Rev. Claire Brown is an Episcopal priest currently serving as Associate Rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Chattanooga, where she coordinates outreach and social action ministries. Claire completed her undergraduate study at Lee University in Cleveland, TN, then went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt and a Master of Theological Studies from the University of the South. She is the co-author of Keep Watch with Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers and the forthcoming volume Just and True and Good: Christian Theology for Children and Families. Claire is married to Austin Sauerbrei, an artist and the organizer for the Chattanooga Area AFL. They have two young sons.

Rocio Huet, MD, is currently Director of Integrative Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.  She is board certified in Integrative Medicine, Internal Medicine, Integrative Holistic Medicine, and Medical Acupuncture.  Her medical education was completed at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; her internship was served at the University of Missouri, Kansas City; and she completed residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Tennessee Research Center and Hospital, Knoxville. During 2017 – 2018, she completed both Leadership Knoxville and the Duke University Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare.  Locally, Dr. Huet is a well-known lecturer on health-related topics.  In 2003, 2007 and 2014, she was recognized as a Top Doctor by Cityview Magazine.  In 2004, the Knoxville Academy of Medicine presented her with the President’s Award for Promoting Healthcare for our Area’s Underserved Ethnic Groups. Dr. Rocio takes pride in her family’s history of immigration and has demonstrated her commitment to social justice by addressing the needs of immigrant groups, providing healthcare to underserved communities of Latinos and Vietnamese in East Tennessee.

Sonal Modi, CPA, is Business Operations Manager and Financial Analyst at Tennessee American Water.  With over twenty years of experience in auditing, finance, and taxation, in both Mumbai, India and the United States, she brings a wealth of expertise in financial management to the Bridge Refugee Services board.  She is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Tennessee. Her education includes an undergraduate degree and advanced graduate studies in Commerce, all from the University of Mumbai, India.  She resides in Chattanooga.

Olivier Muhire works for the Great Schools Partnership as a site resource coordinator at Green Magnet Academy in Knoxville. He came to United States as a refugee in 2003. He lived in Connecticut with his mother and three siblings and attended Plainfield High School in Connecticut. He graduated from East Tennessee State University. He moved to Knoxville five years ago and works closely with the school principal and other school personnel, community partners and families to coordinate a strategy aimed at removing barriers to student learning and improving the health and quality of life in the school and community. He also volunteers at Emerald Youth Foundation as a soccer coach. He also facilitates a mentoring group called Real Talk, mentoring more than 100 students in Knoxville. And he is a Big Brother Big Sister volunteer. He is on the Knoxville Homeless Coalition, One Knox Legacy Committee, the Youth Task Force and The Leadership Team at Green Magnet Academy. He says Knoxville has helped him grow as a man and given him a platform to give back to the community, particularly among refugees and immigrants.

Joshua Tilford, J.D., is a Texan who calls Appalachia home, having moved to Chattanooga eight years ago to work at Wooden Law Firm, P.C. His practice initially focused on commercial real estate and telecommunications law. He switched to the health care industry five years ago and currently works with Christian Care Ministries where he advocates on behalf of uninsured patients for affordable rates with health care providers. He also serves on the board of Lookout Mountain Conservancy, a land conservation and youth mentorship organization. Joshua studied to be a pastor before obtaining his law degree from Regent University School of Law in 2010, and views industry and charity as being symbiotic. In 2019, he ran 74 miles on the Appalachian Trail across Great Smoky Mountains National Park in a day, as part of an ongoing pursuit of what he describes as an obsession with the endless wonders of the world. Joshua lives in Chattanooga along with his wife and two children.