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

Pat Sitton, Financial Manager

Pat Sitton is a native Knoxvillian whose accounting experience spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. She has served as Vice President and CFO for HomeSource East Tennessee and in accounting positions with Di-Fi Solutions and Child and Family Services. Her community service includes many years helping coach her two daughters’ rec league softball teams and serving as President of Carter High School’s Softball Booster Club as well as treasurer of the school’s drama booster club. Pat and her husband Dan have three children and five grandchildren, which she claims as her greatest accomplishment. She loves the satisfaction at the end of the day knowing that her work provides help to people in the community and is very proud to be a part of Bridge Refugee Services.

(865) 540-1311, ext. 104

Noah McBrayer Jones, Development and Communication Manager

Noah McBrayer Jones 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

Monica Harris, Program and Human Resource 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

Ashlyn Henke, Assistant Program Manager

Ashlyn Henke joined the Bridge team as the Assistant Program Manager in 2020. She graduated with a B.A. in Intercultural Studies from Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, IL. She and her husband Kory are Midwest natives but decided to make Knoxville their home after Ashlyn gained experience in local and global church engagement and volunteer culture development in Arizona. She has always had a desire to stand with her global “neighbors,” traveling several times to Haiti and having the opportunity to live and study in New Zealand in 2015. She is honored to help Bridge warmly welcome and empower refugees finding their way in East Tennessee.

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

Amanda Parker, School Liaison

Amanda Parker first joined the team at Bridge by serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 2019, where she supported capacity building efforts and launched a refugee community garden program. In the spring of 2020, she gladly took on the role of School Liaison & Housing Specialist. She graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in Sociology and Human Services from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Prior to Bridge, she worked with youth and families as a case worker and program coordinator at several non-profit organizations. She is incredibly honored to be part of the Bridge team in welcoming, supporting, and learning from refugees in the Knoxville area.

(865) 540-1311 ext. 105

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

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

Rehema Mukeshimana, Interpreter & 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, Florida, 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

Laura Katie Shannon, Case Manager

Laura Katie Shannon joined the Bridge team as a Case Manager in 2021. She is a native to East Tennessee and
earned her Bachelor’s degree 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. Further, following a semester abroad in Amman, Jordan studying Arabic and interning
with a local NGO, she completed a year-long thesis project, a qualitative study about Iraqi refugee status
and identity in Jordan. She is grateful to be a part of the Bridge team and to welcome refugees as they
make East Tennessee their home as well.

(865) 540-1311

Paulette Kansinga, Preferred Communities Case Manager

Paulette Kansinga is originally from Rwanda but was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Paulette became an orphan at only age 11, life as a child was not easy. She joined Bridge Refugee Services in November of 2021 as a PC Case Manager after working with Knox County schools for 4 years as a Community Liaison and Interpreter. Paulette speaks Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, French, Swahili, Lingala and English. She is bringing in many years of experience in case Management from working with Catholic Charities of San Antonio, Texas as an R&P Case worker and also working as a social worker back in Rwanda for 5 years. She also has experience working with adults and children with disabilities beginning from her own home where she takes care of her child who is Down syndrome born in 2017. She is also a valuable leader of an African/refugee church here in Knoxville, TN and other organizations that serve women and families like AWECK. Paulette holds a BA in Sociology from Independent university of Kigali, Rwanda. She is also an ESL adult teacher, where she teaches in her free time. Her Motto is “Live to serve”.

(865) 540-1311