Chattanooga Branch Staff

Marina Peshterianu, Associate Director

Marina Peshterianu joined Bridge Refugee Services Chattanooga in 1999 transitioning from the career in education. Before joining Bridge, she taught in an inner-city magnet school focusing on environmental and global issues.

During her time at Bridge, Marina participated in resettlement of refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Liberia, Sudan, Burundi, Tanzania, Congo, Chad, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Cuba and Colombia and performed a variety of job responsibilities such as case-manager, job developer, Early Employment (MG) program coordinator, sub-office coordinator, and became Associate Director in 2014.

“I am honored to have an opportunity to help refugees from all over the world to make a transition into their new life in our community and reclaim their freedom and independence. Their achievements are an everyday affirmation of human capacity to survive, rise and step forward”

(423) 954-1911

Joellen Banks, Case Manager/Wilson Fish TANF Liaison

Joellen Banks is a California native who moved to Chattanooga in December 2022 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA, coordinating the Youth Mentoring Program at Bridge. After completing her service year, Joellen stayed on as a Case Manager and the Wilson Fish TANF Liaison. While studying abroad in England, Guatemala and Sicily during her undergraduate career, Joellen developed a passion for engaging with international communities. After graduating from the University of Redlands with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, she worked for a federal grant program at a middle school. She then moved to Latin America to earn her TEFL certificate and went on to teach English as a foreign language for 3 years in Peru and Guatemala. Joellen is grateful for the ongoing opportunity to learn from the positions she has held at Bridge. In her free time, she enjoys reading, doing yoga, playing tennis, and hiking.

Sarah Copeland, Program Specialist – Special Populations

Sarah Copeland joined Bridge in August 2021 as an AmeriCorps VISTA, coordinating the Youth Mentoring Program. After completing her AmeriCorps term, Sarah accepted another position with Bridge as a Program Specialist. From hosting exchange students throughout her childhood and being exposed to displacement living in Turkey and Spain during two of her summer breaks, her desire to learn about people and serve people from different countries grew. She graduated from Covenant College with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, with a focus on migration, and is eager to continue learning more through Bridge and the people it serves. In her role, Sarah works with special populations (or Ukrainians) determining eligibility, scheduling appointments, and referring clients to services prior to their meetings with case managers. In her free time, Sarah enjoys cooking and being outside as much as possible.

Jennifer Croxall, Capacity Building and Integration Specialist

Jennifer Croxall has traveled extensively and has a passion for other cultures. She has been volunteering with Bridge Refugee Services in various capacities since 2000, when her church co-sponsored a refugee family. Jennifer became a Pre Arrival Specialist at Bridge in 2015. Her responsibilities include securing affordable housing for refugees, preparing apartments with community volunteers for newly arriving refugees, and providing them with housing orientation to assist them in their transition into their new home. Jennifer graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a B.S. in Psychology.

(423) 355-5969

Angel Daugherty, Senior Case Manager/TOR Liaison

Angel Daugherty is our Tennessee Office for Refugees Liaison/Senior Case Manager. She is responsible for enrolling clients into appropriate TOR funded programs, managing cash and medical assistance eligibility, and timely reporting for all programs.  TOR provides state administered refugee resettlement programs providing assistance (cash and medical) and social services to refugees with the purpose of increasing refugee prospects for early employment and self-sufficiency. She is responsible for providing Health Literacy Training (general health, nutrition, mental health, and other special topics) to all newly arriving clients, as well as assisting case managers with medical case management for clients with ongoing or more serious health concerns. Angel works closely with program staff to provide ongoing support and/or training as needed.

(423) 355-5969

Wies De Laat, Programs Support Specialist

 Wies de Laat joined Bridge in August 2022 as a Programs Support Specialist. She was born and raised in The Netherlands where she graduated from Radboud University Nijmegen with a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology and a Master’s degree in Human Geography: Globalization, Migration and Development. Her interest in topics related to migration started when she lived a year in Mexico, where she learned more about undocumented migrants and migrant caravans passing through the South American continent. Having studied migration, she is excited to put her knowledge into practice at Bridge and assist those who come to this country through the refugee program. Her responsibilities include locating appropriate and affordable housing for newly arriving refugees, managing in-kind donations, and coordinating apartment set up with volunteers and Bridge staff. She will also provide clerical and administrative support for all Bridge’s programs.

In her free time Wies enjoys traveling, ballet classes, and going for a hike with her dog Cindy.

Marina Ghani, Preferred Communities Intensive Case Manager

Marina Ghani moved to the US in 2017 from Brazil where she worked as an Occupational Therapist in the mental health field. She assists vulnerable populations since 2008. Her experience spreads through non-profit organizations and government institutions at municipal and federal levels. Before she joined Bridge her work focused on community health programs, client-based interventions, and the National Professional Rehabilitation Program in Brazil.

Since she moved to the US she has volunteered at several organizations including Bridge Refugees Services, continuing to be actively involved in the improvement of people’s quality of life and empowering them to be independent. Marina loves working with people in a collaborative team-based environment.

She likes arts projects, painting, crocheting, meeting new people and visiting new places. She is a volunteer who raises dogs for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs in Lenoir City. But most of all Marina enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

(423) 661-3144

Sarah Hagelberger, Volunteer Coordinator

Sarah Hagelberger joined Bridge in August 2023 as the Volunteer Coordinator. Originally a Michigander, Sarah has spent significant time overseas in Kenya, England, and Honduras for various cross-cultural experiences. She has her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Lee University and her Masters of Arts in Higher Education and Student Development from Taylor University.

In her role, Sarah works with the incredible Bridge volunteers, recruiting, training, and supporting them as they walk alongside refugee families who are transitioning to life in Chattanooga. Her passions for connecting with new people, being in different cultures, and serving the people around her make Bridge a great place to work and learn. In her free time, Sarah enjoys camping, ziplining, and drinking coffee.

Brileigh Humphreys, Case Manager

Brileigh Humphreys Bridge’s case management team in November 2023. After graduating from Grace College with her B.S. in Biology and M.S. in Higher Education, Brileigh worked at different universities and with a government agency as a Case Manager. Her studies and personal interests have taken her to several countries, and she is excited to broaden her cultural experience. As a Case Manager, Brileigh is passionate about working with refugees to further strengthen and enrich our communities. She is committed to connecting others to places and people where they can find belonging. Outside of work Brileigh enjoys cooking, baking, reading, and being outdoors with her husband and their dog, Willa.

Sarah Pedersen, Case Manager/RSIG Liaison

Sarah Pedersen is passionate about helping others and learning new cultures. After growing up in New York around many diverse cultures and around family members who worked with refugees and non-profit agencies, Sarah has always had the desire to use her talents to serve her community and make it a welcoming place for all people. She joined Bridge in January 2022, after teaching second grade for 4 years, and made the transition out of serving children through education into serving families with Bridge Refugee Services. She works to ensure refugees integrate into the community by providing social adjustment and employment services while orienting them to their new community. She will also be a school liaison, helping students and families navigate the education system. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

Megan Revis, Case Manager

Megan Revis joined Bridge Refugee Services in February 2022 as a Case Manager. She graduated from Liberty University with her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Public Health. Megan’s desire to work with refugees began when she had the opportunity to work with refugee and migrant centers in Europe during an internship. As a Case Manager, she is passionate about helping refugees resettle and integrate into Chattanooga. Megan enjoys a good book, a long walk, and kayaking in her free time.

(423) 954-9288

Ben Stocksdale, Program Specialist

Ben Stocksdale joined Bridge in September 2023 as a Program Specialist. He grew up in Kenya which sparked his passion for meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures and assisting displaced peoples. He graduated from Covenant College with Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Community Development with a focus on international development.

At Bridge he works with humanitarian parolees to connect them with public benefits while also assisting with case management. Outside of work Ben enjoys soccer, Chattanooga’s beautiful outdoor areas, and spending time with family and friends.

Nathan Walker, Volunteer and Co-Sponsorship Manager

Nathan Walker hails from Birmingham, AL but has gladly called Chattanooga home for a number of years. He joined Bridge in October 2022 as our new Volunteer and Co-Sponsorship Manager.
Nathan’s experience managing volunteers for nonprofits, undergraduate degree in Community Development from Covenant College (‘16), and drive to empower marginalized and at risk communities are all pieces that helped him find us. He enjoys the chance to facilitate our clients’ successful integration into Chattanooga through the invaluable aid of our volunteers.
Nathan’s passion to travel the world and see other ways of life developed his global perspective.
His travels took him to 15 different countries over the years; he hopes to see more in the future. “Everyone should practice being a minority in a different culture at least once in their life. When I intentionally invest time in this type of experience, it always positively changes the way I view the world and how I treat everyone around me.”
When Nathan is out of the office, you’ll most likely find him on the side of a cliff rock climbing or hugging his roommate’s dog Fozzie.

(423) 713-9477