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.
Reverend Bowman (Bo) Townsend, MDiv, MA (Chair) 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.
Rhonda W. Clay, CFRE (Vice Chair) brings a wealth of resources to the Board. With almost 20 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: 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 Mission Funding Director with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is a native of Chicago, currently residing in Knoxville, TN with her husband. They have 4 children and 7 grandchildren.
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.
Arathi Seshagiri, CPA, MBA (Treasurer) 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.
Deena Alani moved to Chattanooga, TN from Philadelphia, PA with her husband in 2013 after attending dental school at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her husband opened and currently practice at Alani Dental Center in 2016. Her parents are immigrants who came to the US from Iraq in the 60s, and many of her family members resettled in the US as part of the IOM and SIV programs. She volunteered at the Bridge office in Knoxville and helped with translation when refugees arrived or went to medical appointments.
Basman Alias immigrated to Canada from Iraq in 1997. Being an immigrant himself, and receiving assistance from programs similar to Bridge, he found myself wanting to give back to my his community in Chattanooga when he moved in 2020. He is currently a VP of Global Transformation at Chattanooga-based Astec Industries. He is a results-oriented finance leader driven to create strong business partnerships and has a proven ability to manage resources to drive and achieve organizational milestones through mentoring, coaching, and career development.
Elizabeth Farr is an Episcopal priest with over a decade of vocational experience in the church. She currently serves as the Associate Rector at Church of the Good Samaritan in Knoxville, TN. Prior to ordained ministry, Elizabeth served in full-time lay ministry in the Episcopal church, serving as Youth Director at churches in Williamsburg, VA, and Chattanooga, TN.
In addition to her various responsibilities at the parish level ranging from planning and facilitation of programs, setting program budgets, and raising up and training volunteers, Elizabeth has also served on leadership teams and boards at the diocesan level.
It was while serving in Chattanooga that Elizabeth first learned of Bridge Refugee Services. When she arrived at Good Samaritan, the community already had a history of partnering with Bridge in welcoming neighbors to Knoxville and has recently formed a second Community Assistance Team.
Elizabeth attended college at The University of the South (“Sewanee”), and returned to the School of Theology at Sewanee to complete her Master of Divinity. She and her husband, also an Episcopal priest, share the joy of parenting two young boys.
Justin Grierson works as a Business Account Executive for EPB Business Sales in Downtown Chattanooga. He manages the accounts for the largest businesses and employers in the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County ensuring all their fiber optics services are met with exceptional professionalism, courtesy, and attentiveness.
He is the VP of Membership at a local chapter of Toastmaster’s International and volunteers regularly with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, CHATT Foundation, and serves in guest ministries at Rockpoint Community Church.
Justin holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and has been happily married to his wife, Sarah, for over 10 years. They have two children together and enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, camping, and biking as a family.
Justin is driven by his passion to lead and serve others with the goal of making the world a better place for everyone.
Jennifer Jones has been a practicing Human Resources for over 17 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.
Steve Lamb has enjoyed meeting a diverse set of professional challenges after switching careers from telecommunications to more people centered work. After more than a decade in Washington, DC he moved back to Ohio and has since worked in housing—engaged in community organizing, workforce development with at risk/adjudicated youth, and extensively with the Bhutanese-Nepali refugee community in Columbus, Ohio. This experience inspired him to continue this work with Bridge.
He came to Chattanooga via Nashville where he served managing a team of VISTAs based in the Mayor’s Office building capacity in the Nashville Promise Zone. Currently he works for the City of Chattanooga in Community Development in a variety of capacities from neighborhood engagement, youth gun violence prevention, grant writing, and program development.
In his free time, Steve enjoys kayaking and camping. He sits on the executive board, as vice president, of the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club – the premier paddle club in the Southeast with a membership of approximately 1000 paddlers from all disciplines.
Melissa Newton 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 and her husband have 4 active teenagers that attend Chattanooga Christian School, Notre Dame High School, and Normal Park Museum Magnet School. They are actively involved at Mission Red Bank where Melissa sits on the Parish Council.
Homa Rehmani is an Afghan-American who has been living with her family in the greater Knoxville area since 2016. Homa has her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Indiana University and her Masters in Social Work from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
She has worked in divers social service settings mainly as a Medical Social Worker and Quality Improvement in Medical Healthcare in both non-profit and for profit organizations. Homa’s passions are refugee resettlement/migration, healthcare, community development and empowerment of women.
Homa left her beloved country of Afghanistan at the age of 9, lived in New Delhi India for a year, and migrated to the US. She has lived in Indiana, Utah, and currently Tennessee.
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.
Kacey Swindell is the Director of Sales at the Moxy Hotel in Downtown Chattanooga. She coordinates experiential travel for corporate and leisure guests and hosts daily social events from makers markets to wedding’s in Moxy’s venue spaces. She is the secretary for the Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association and holds a seat on the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s Southside Council Board.
A graduate of Birmingham-Southern College with a degree in International Studies and a distinction in Leadership Studies, global politics and resulting migration are key areas of interest for her. Kacey spent a semester at The American University in Cairo furthering her studies in global affairs. She has previously volunteered with Catholic Charities in Nashville supporting Nepali/Bhutanese refugees, served on the board of The International Society of Huntsville, and worked in the Birmingham, AL Office of International Programs.
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.