Knoxville Branch Staff

Stephanie Livigni, Executive Director

Stephanie Livigni holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Education with a concentration of Human Services. With more than 18 years’ experience in Developmental Disabilities, she brings her skills in various capacities including staff development and training, quality assurance, and organizational leadership in both private and publicly funded programs to BRS at this crucial time of growth. During her tenure at The Gate, she grew participation in the day program by 28%, even while weathering pandemic closures and funding cuts.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 106

Chloe Abney, Case Manager

Chloe Abney is a native Texan who moved to Knoxville in 2021 after graduation from Texas State University. There Chloe earned a degree in International Studies with a focus on Russia and Eastern Europe. They have spent a portion of their education studying in Saint Petersburg, Russia and have subsequently returned there in later years to volunteer at a children’s theatre camp.

Throughout their adult life, Chloe has been involved in programs that welcome international community members and facilitate cross cultural experiences.

In their free time, Chloe enjoys being with their cats and chickens, caring for houseplants, and trying out various styles of crafting.

(865) 540-1311

Maddie Casey, Preferred Communities Case Manager

Maddie Casey was born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. She received her undergraduate degrees in Social Work and Spanish from Mississippi State University in 2018.

After graduation, Maddie joined the Peace Corps where she served in Zambia as an environmental volunteer. She served from March 2019 until March 2020 when COVID-19 forced the evacuation of all volunteers. In April of 2020 she started work as a community organizer for an immigrants’ rights group in Biloxi, Mississippi. She stayed in this position until she was accepted to the University of Tennessee College of Social Work master’s program. Since moving to Knoxville in 2021 she has had the privilege of working with the University of Tennessee’s Pride Center, the Center for Global Engagement, and ThreeCubed, a local research nonprofit.

In May of 2023, Madeline graduated with her masters and in July started work at Bridge. She is passionate about advocating for refugees and immigrants and is grateful to have the privilege of continuing this work.

(865) 321-1257

Kayla E. Davis, Preferred Communities Case Manager

Kayla E. Davis is an anthropologist by trade but is also a former educator. She grew up on a farm in rural Southwest Virginia and lived 10 years in the Tri-Cities, TN area before relocating to Knoxville for graduate school at the University of Tennessee. She has experience in the developing world both as an educator and a researcher. She has been traveling internationally in a humanitarian capacity since age 11. In 2014, she lived in Kampala, Uganda, teaching ESL every week in a free school that catered to vulnerable populations in the city. It was during this trip, that she realized her passion lies not only in discovering new cultures but also in alleviating human suffering. This led her to pursue a degree in Anthropology after many years of teaching middle school, high school, and pre-k. She comes to Bridge Refugee Services with seven years of experience within the non-profit sector – including work with animal rescues, after-school programs, and doing social work on a volunteer basis for the court. In 2018, she returned to Kampala in a research capacity, working with the same population as she did in 2014. Her research focused on urban poverty, specifically perceptions of urban poverty. She examined government records, interviewed the local population, and accessed NGO data to reveal how people in poverty were viewed by those around them. With a graduate certification in Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights, she is excited and ready to work with the local refugee population in Knoxville. In her free time, she fosters for five local animal rescues, hangs out with her border collie Neville, and enjoys both watercolor and oil painting.

(865) 276-6080

Ayat Guruza, Case Manager

Ayat Guruza is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. She holds a bachelors of science in political science with a concentration in international relations and a minor in African studies. Ayat has been a Knoxville resident for more than 10 years. She is passionate about interfaith programs in Knoxville and worked with various religious and youth organizations. She has a strong commitment to assisting refugees in Knoxville with integration and finding homes.

One of Ayat’s greatest passions lies in fostering interfaith programs in Knoxville. Ayat had the privilege to collaborate with various religious and youth organizations, working tirelessly to promote understanding, dialogue, and cooperation among people from diverse faith backgrounds.

(865) 540-1311

Peter Green, Volunteer and Co-Sponsorship Manager

Peter Green moved from Memphis in July 2021 to join the Bridge team as the Capacity Building and Outreach Contractor. In December 2021, Bridge hired him as the Volunteer and Co-Sponsorship Manager. Growing up the son of an Army officer and living overseas in Germany and Japan, he began to understand the struggles that can arise from living in a new country that does not share your native language or culture. In Memphis, he studied at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, earning his Master’s degree in Missions and Intercultural Studies and his Doctorate in Missions. His doctoral dissertation examined Diaspora Missiology, and focused specifically on how the local church can come alongside refugees in their communities to make an impact in their lives. During this time, he also taught a Bible study for African refugee children, building many lasting friendships in the Memphis South Sudanese refugee community. Peter brings this experience to his work at Bridge Refugee Services, and is excited to wed his passion for welcoming refugees with his love for the faith community to build a support network for Knoxville’s refugee families.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 113

Nancy Hannan, Housing Coordinator

Nancy Hannan joined Bridge in December 2021 to work toward developing a comprehensive housing strategy for refugees settling in East Tennessee. She comes to Bridge with a multicultural background, having grown up in South Korea as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries. She has always enjoyed developing friendships with internationals and designed her own international development major in college while continuing these studies as a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs in New York, NY. She spent a summer in Kenya working with women entrepreneurs, helped analyze a cheese cooperative in Jamaica as a student, and worked with microgrant recipients worldwide with The Trickle Up Program early in her career. Valuing the education of their five children, she and her husband decided she would leave the traditional workforce to home school. During those years, Nancy expanded her skills by teaching music and environmental studies in the coastal Alaskan town where they lived.

There she took an active interest in native Alaskan issues, leading the choir at the village-based Alaskan Orthodox church they attended and studying community development issues of Alaska native villages in continuing educational pursuits.

Nancy has always wanted to play an active role in helping internationals feel more at home and welcome in the United States. Serving refugees at Bridge is fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers to contribute to the welcoming and wellbeing of internationals in the United States, while empowering them to live fulfilling lives without limit.

(865) 540-1311

Monica Harris, Program Manager

Monica Harris joined the Bridge team as the Program and Human Resource Manager in 2021. She is a New York native and lived for many years in Seattle and Dayton, OH before moving to Knoxville in March 2021. Monica earned Master’s degrees in International Community Development and Counseling and a Bachelor’s in Human Development. Prior to Bridge, she worked with refugees through a refugee resettlement program and led an immigrant integration initiative in the Dayton, OH area. As the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan and the first in her family to be born in the United States, Monica is passionate about building cross-cultural bridges and supporting immigrants and refugees in her community. She loves learning about other cultures through meeting people from different countries, reading books written by diverse authors, eating food from around the world, and traveling (her goal is to visit at least one country on every continent!). Monica lives with her husband and dog. She is honored to have the opportunity to serve refugees so they can become thriving members of the Knoxville community.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 101

Hannah Jones, Refugee Youth Mentor Program Coordinator

Hannah Jones is from Dalton, GA, lived in the Chattanooga area for about 10 years, lived in the small town of Etowah, TN, and has since relocated to Knoxville, TN. In conjunction with AmeriCorps, she has joined the team at Bridge as the Refugee Youth Mentor Program Coordinator. She is currently completing her master’s degree in Applied Sociology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also has an associate’s degree with a concentration in Environmental Science from Chattanooga State Community College and completed her bachelor’s in Sociology at Tennessee Wesleyan University. In 2018, as an undergraduate, she participated in a Global Leadership course with a study abroad element. The trip had a service project ingrained in the program and worked directly with Syrian refugees in Athens, Greece. During that experience working with Syrians her passion for refugee resettlement began. She is excited to embark on a year of service with Bridge Refugee Services and helping the refugee populations in Knoxville!

(865) 540-1311

Noah McBrayer Jones, CFRE, Development and Communication Director

Noah McBrayer Jones, CFRE is an original native of Knoxville, TN. He attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC (receiving his BA) and Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA (receiving both his MLitt and MFA). Since 2005, he has worked professionally in the development, communications, and event management fields with companies such as Clever By Half Productions, Rosetta Stone, the Arts Council of the Valley, the Staunton Downtown Development Association, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. As of 2021, he is humbled to support Bridge’s empowerment of refugees to grow their new homes in this beautiful area and hopes to honor the lives we touch with his work.

(865) 276-6490

Bekah Kramer, Assistant Program Manager

Bekah Kramer grew up on a family farm in Northern Kentucky as one of nine kids. She first uncovered an affinity for cross cultural experiences while studying abroad in Mexico, Spain, and Puerto Rico during college. She worked with immigrant and refugee populations in college in various ways, including ESL and citizenship tutoring and as a summer camp counselor for refugee youth. Working as a case manager at World Relief Atlanta for three years fueled a passion for serving refugees as they integrate into US culture. This incredibly rewarding, life-changing experience motivated her to return to the field of refugee resettlement after several years running a small business in the fitness industry with her husband here in Knoxville. Bekah has worked with Bridge in different capacities, most recently in the provision of services for Ukrainians arriving through the United for Ukraine program. She finds that compassion and understanding are crucial in all interpersonal relationships, but most especially in working with vulnerable populations. Bekah loves trying new foods, exercising, and spending time outside with her husband and two kids.

Rehema Mukeshimana, Interpreter and Community Liaison

Rehema Mukeshimana is a Congolese refugee who grew up in Uganda and came to the US in 2016. Rehema and her family were resettled in Tallahassee, FL, and then moved to Knoxville after one-and-a-half years there. Rehema speaks eight languages, some of which she learned in school and others by associating with different people in the refugee camp. Rehema began interpreting for Bridge in August of 2018 and has become a valuable member of the team.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 115

Emma Neitzke, Case Manager

Emma Neitzke moved from the Lost Coast of Northern California in September 2022 to join the Bridge team as a Case Manager.

Her experience living and studying in both Denmark and Israel contributed to her graduating from Cal Poly: Humboldt with a degree in International Studies and a concentration on the Levant.

Since returning from Denmark in 2017, Emma has worked closely with Rotary Youth Exchange to help mentor exchange students in Rotary District 5130. Continuing with her national progression in foreign service, Emma served in the Virtual Student Federal Service, working with the Diplomat in Residence for Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska in 2019-2020.

You can typically find her catching the view on a scenic route, spending time creating, and cooking for her friends/family.

(865) 375-0507

Freddie Nsapo, Capacity Building and Integration Specialist

Freddie Ngindu Nsapo was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He first encountered Bridge as a refugee in 1994 and was one of the first refugee families to come from Central Africa. He originally resettled in the Tri-Cities, where Bridge then had an office. Freddie is eager to give back to the local refugee community.

Freddie studied Criminal Justice and Criminology and has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from East Tennessee State University. Freddie attended Pentecostal Theological Seminary and received a Master’s degree in Counseling with specialization in addiction counseling as well as a Master’s of Divinity degree equivalent in Cleveland, TN. Freddie has served as a Capacity Building and Outreach Specialist contractor with Bridge Refugees, a counselor with Midway Rehabilitation Center, a case manager for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and as a community case manager for Fishes and Loaves in Cleveland, TN. He has served as an ordained Church of God minister for more than 25 years.

Freddie is a co-founder of Mountain of Faith Church in Knoxville with a vision to serve community of internationals from around the world. He speaks English, French, Lingala Tshiluba, Kiswahili, and Nyanja.

(865) 540-1311

Zawadi Nyandinda, Case Manager

Zawadi Nyandinda was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and immigrated to the United States in 2013, settling in Knoxville. She has degrees from Light University of Bujumbura and Pellissippi State University. With a background in project development and case management, she has experience working with refugees and immigrants through positions with organizations including African Women’s Empowerment Community of Knoxville, which she founded, AUTISM Breakthrough Corp., the Congolese Embassy in Burundi and Adventist Development Relief Agency. She has served as a member of the Black Immigrants Caucus, Introduction Knoxville, Leadership Knoxville and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Through her work at Bridge, she aims to empower and help clients discover their potential by providing the information and tools they need to succeed in their new lives. Supporting others’ passions, needs and goals gives her joy and fulfillment, and she loves serving others.  

(865) 540-1311

Ashton Overbay, Human Resources & Office Manager

Ashton Overbay grew up in rural Tennessee just north of Knoxville, but calls Knoxville her home. She graduated from East Tennessee State University in May 2020 with a B.B.A. in Marketing, and moved back to Knoxville for Thrive Ministry Leadership Residency. Since 2016, she has had multiple opportunities to travel the world, including Mexico, Guatemala, The Dominican Republic, France, and Italy. Through those experiences, she became passionate about helping refugees resettle in the states as smoothly and warmly as possible. Over the years, her life has been greatly impacted by families who have immigrated to America, and she wants to do whatever she can to ease the burden of moving to a new country. The more time she spends in Knoxville, the greater her heart grows for the people here and the communities that are forming all over the city. In her free time, she enjoy hiking, finding new greenways, traveling, trying new food, reading, and just grabbing coffee with friends!

(865) 540-1311

Irina Popova, Program Specialist – Special Populations

Irina Popova was born in Moldova. She attended the Slavonic University and studied Architecture and Design. At the age of 18 she decided to pursue the American dream and move to Block Island, RI. That’s where she met people from all walks of life and around the world. This would further develop her passion for foreign languages and cultures.

In 2013, Irina moved to Knoxville, TN and started to volunteer in the community. She worked as a teacher for the Center for English, volunteered for Burundian Church, and even helped local advocates to publish a book called In Her Threads in 2017.

Irina has been a staunch supporter of many local and national groups such as A21 Walk for Freedom, Gay Pride Parade, Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, and many others. She loves to use her art background to not only shine light on pressing issues but to bring hope to those with disabilities. She loves visiting Heartland Services or attending their fundraising events.

Irina is honored to serve people in need and considers it her calling in life. In spare time she enjoys being in nature, trying new foods, and taking pictures. Irina lives with her husband and their two rescue animals.

(865) 540-1311

Laura Katie Shannon, School Liaison

Laura Katie Shannon joined the Bridge team as a Case Manager in 2021 and transitioned to School Liaison in April 2022. She is a native to East Tennessee and earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Development with a minor in Arab Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in May of 2021. During her time at UTK, she was a founding member of and Director of Community Development for the Students for Migrant Justice Organization which advocates for undocumented and marginally documented migrant and refugee communities in the Knoxville area.

With a background in ESL tutoring, youth cultural orientation, and special needs childcare, Laura Katie solidified her passion for investing in children’s success while working with clients at Bridge. As a Case Manager, it was clear how special an impact the school-aged children’s resilience and hope had on their families while navigating the challenging resettlement process. She is grateful to be a part of the Bridge team and to welcome refugee students and families navigate the education system as they make East Tennessee their home.

(865) 540-1311

Ashley Singer, Program Specialist – Special Populations

Ashley Singer is from Chattanooga where she graduated from Girls Preparatory School. She holds a BS in Religion with a minor in Education from the University of the Cumberlands and a BS in Geoscience from ETSU.

After graduating Ashley worked with college and international students organizing events and discipling students. She received training while in New Zealand and the US through InterVarsity. Ashley served as a houseparent in a children’s home. She then worked in guest services and coached swimming. Before coming to Bridge, Ashley worked for the Hamblen County Government as lead GIS technician.

In her free time Ashley enjoys deepening friendships, cultivating community, traveling to cold places, hiking, and learning. Ashley recognizes that refugees have a voice, purpose, and a place in our community. She longs to see them feel safe and thrive here.

(865) 540-1311

Kent Southworth, Eligibility Case Worker/TOR Liaison

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

Matthew Turvin, Employment Specialist

Matthew Turvin has been living in East Tennessee for 20 years after moving from New England. He comes to Bridge with a background in non-profit and faith based ministries. After graduating from Lee University in 2014, Matthew and his wife Kristen, spent a year overseas partnering with non-profits in 13 countries. While in Greece, Matthew served refugees in a UNHCR transition site on the island of Lesvos. Matthew now lives in Knoxville with his wife and one year old daughter, Ellianna. As the Employment Specialist at Bridge, Matthew is excited to help empower refugees as they settle into their new home in East Tennessee.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 107