Our Staff

Ahmed Al-Tamimi

Ahmed was born in Iraq and grew up in Yemen where he went to the University of Science and Technology and majored in Architecture and Planning. However, he had to leave his home and arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family in 2012. After this experience, he decided that doing his part in humanitarian work and helping the cause of other refugees was more important than following the path his university degree had laid out. Here at ECDC-ACC, Ahmed is the Reception and Placement lead case manager where helps newly arrived refugees find appropriate housing, settle into their new home, apply for basic social services, and gives them referrals to other agencies.

Fun Fact: Ahmed’s dream is to eventually become involved in international photojournalism and documentary work!

Alex Caudill

Alex grew up in upstate New York near Lake Placid and went to Colgate University where she majored in Psychology. She got her first taste of working with refugees after being an intern at a resettlement agency where she taught English. After getting her degree, Alex lived in Rwanda and Ethiopia and worked in the Peace Corps. These experiences solidified her interested in working with people from outside the United States. Here, Alex runs the Supporting Communities program which provides resources for refugees who are mostly independent but have long-term goals they need help reaching. As part of her position, Alex facilitates a social support group for Afghan women in Virginia and leads a 3-month civic engagement training for refugees in Maryland that helps them gain leadership skills and utilize their civil rights to support refugee rights causes.

Fun Fact: Alex has been to 20 countries!

Atakhelti Alemseged

Atakhelti was born and raised in Ethiopia where he went to the Addis Abba University and majored in Law. After coming to America in 2004, Atakhelti was actually an ECDC client through the Matching Grant Program. This experience motivated him to become a longtime volunteer for our Arlington office and eventually apply for a position. Atakhelti currently works as a Community Advocate where he helps clients prepare and apply for government documentation and provides translation and interpretation services. He is one of the few people in our office accredited by the Justice Department to assist immigrants in immigration proceedings before the Department of Homeland Security.

Bethlehem Desta

Bethlehem grew up in Ethiopia and went to school at the Unity University College in Addis Ababa where she majored in Economics. After moving to the United States in 2008, she received a second degree in Social Work from the University of the District of Columbia before pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at Howard University. Beginning in 2011, Bethlehem worked as a volunteer and intern for ECDC before transitioning to a full-time position in 2013. In her current position as the Senior Program and Grant Manager, Bethlehem supervises and review program budgets/expenses and ensure all programs are meeting their respective objectives and outcomes.

Bridget Weisenreder

Originally from the Rochester, New York area, Bridget moved to Washington, D.C. when she enrolled in American University as an undergraduate majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolution. She became passionate for refugee issues while helping run a summer camp for refugee youth in Rochester, and continued to pursue that interest through her internship at ECDC during college. After graduating, Bridget was hired by ECDC and now works as the Resource Development Manager. In her 5 years here, Bridget has been involved many different aspects of ECDC—from grant writing to volunteer coordination to all the miscellaneous administrative tasks that need to be done in order to keep ECDC running.

Fun Fact: Bridget volunteers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in her free time!

Emma Cahoon

Emma grew up outside of Boston in Belmont, Massachusetts and went to Brigham Young University where she majored in History and minored in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. Before working for ECDC-ACC, Emma worked at the International Institute of New England—another refugee resettlement agency—as a case worker for their Resettlement and Placement Program. At our office, Emma works on the Employment team where she coordinates and trains our Employment team interns and helps refugees build the skills and knowledge they need to find their first job in America.

Fun Fact: Emma lived in Jordan for four months!

Evan Reese

Evan was born in Washington DC and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He spent his first year of college at the University of Texas at Austin before transferring to Brown University for his sophomore year. During his time at Brown, he studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and decided to major in Anthropology. He also volunteered for the Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Education program, where he got his first experience working with refugees. This inspired Evan to seek a case management position in his hometown after graduation, and he spent six months as a Reception and Placement intern at our Silver Spring office before being offered a full time position as the ECMP case manager. After moving to the Preferred Communities case manager position, Evan was promoted to Integration Programs Manager, a position he has held for the past 8 months. In this position, he is in charge of all the Integration programs and coordinates the case managers in this division.

Hekmatullah Latifi

Latifi grew up in Afghanistan and received a degree in Aviation Management from Kabul University before pursuing a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at the American University of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Latifi worked with the UNHCR and other organizations to help refugees in the area so, after coming to the United States in 2016, ECDC was a natural choice. As a Reception and Placement Case Manager, he does case management for newly arrived refugees who are in our Reception and Placement program. Specifically, Latifi helps refugees in the Virginia and DC area during their first three months as they settle into their new housing and apply to basic U.S. social services.

Helen Gebru

Helen was born and raised in Ethiopia where she got her B.A. in Management and Public Administration at the Addis Ababa University. After graduation she joined Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and worked as customer service officer for four years. She pursued a Master’s degree in Development studies at Uppsala University in Sweden and immigrated to America in 2012. She got involved with ECDC when she volunteered at the 2015 Refugee’s First Thanksgiving Event. Her volunteer experience at ECDC motivated her to apply for a job and got hired as client-service coordinator in February 2016. She now works as a Self Sufficiency Program Coordinator at ECDC/ACC Arlington office. In this position, Helen assists clients in preparing for and finding employment and oversees incoming and outgoing donations. She also process payables for ACC which involves ratifying fund requests sent by case managers and other stakeholders.

Kate Friedman

Kate grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio and went to school at The Ohio State University where she majored in Public Health. During her time in college, Kate had internships at a U.S. Senate office and the National Council of Jewish Women which got her interested in contemporary immigration issues in the United States. After graduating, Kate joined ECDC-ACC through Refugee AmeriCorps, where she works with the Preferred Communities program. In the PC program, Kate provides individual intensive case management services to our most vulnerable refugees. She connects them with community and governmental resources, goes with them to social service and hospital appointments, and provides the necessary support to help them overcome their individual barriers to attaining self-sufficiency.

Fun Fact: Kate has a twin brother!

Kazia Capener

Kazia was raised in Chicagoland (Illinois) and went to Brigham Young University-Idaho where she majored in International Studies and minored in French—her plan being to work with refugees. During college, she spent time volunteering in Seattle, WA and studying in Montpellier, France. As a newcomer to Washington, D.C., she gained experience working on Capitol Hill before transitioning into the refugee field. She joined the Employment team with ECDC-ACC. Here, she helps refugees build their resumes, prepare for job interviews, and get acquainted with the ins and outs of the U.S. workforce so they can find a fulfilling career in their new home. 

Fun Fact: Kazia loves to watch and film documentaries in her spare time!

Padideh Jalali-Shirazi

A native to the area, Padideh grew up in Northern Virginia and went to school at both the Virginia Commonwealth University and George Washington University where she majored in International Affairs. Growing up speaking Farsi and English, Padideh had a lot of international friends and worked as an ESL tutor to different immigration groups, including refugees. These experiences motivated her to find a career in helping immigrants make a better life in America. At ECDC-ACC, she works part-time in our Resettlement and Placement program and part-time in the Extended Case Management program. Through the R&P program Padideh helps refugees in their first three months as they settle into their new housing and apply to basic U.S. social services. For refugees that need a little extra help in specific areas, Padideh continues her assistance after that three month period through her work in the ECMP.

Fun Fact: Padideh speaks four languages!

Sarah Zullo

Sarah was born in Ethiopia and lived in different part of the world including west Africa, Europe, and Canada, eventually settling in the United States. She holds an MPA from the University of Colorado and got her start with ECDC working for the ACC in Denver Colorado for nearly four years. Currently she is the Director of the ACC DC Metro. Sarah oversees ACC’s refugee resettlement and other social service support programs provided in the Washington, D.C., area. While she works in the Arlington ACC office, Sarah coordinates the activities and objectives of both offices, and facilitates communication between ACC DC Metro and the national office of ECDC.

Scott Neff

Scott was raised in St. Charles, Illinois and went to Grand Valley State University where he majored in International Relations. In college, he became extremely interested in fighting for human rights and actually interned in our office the summer before his senior year. After graduation, he turned that internship position into a full-time job where he works on our Integration team and runs the Preferred Communities and Service to Older Refugees programs. While handling some of the administrative work for these programs, Scott also provides individual case management to the refugees in these programs. He helps them overcome the major issues they have faced since moving to the United States and get on the path towards independence and self-sufficiency.

Fun Fact: Scott was All-State for cross-country and track in Illinois!

Sosina Baruda

Sosina grew up in Ethiopia and got her law degree from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Three and a half years after moving to the United States in 2013, Sosina started working at ECDC where she is now a Client Service Coordinator. Sosina does much of the day-to-day work to make sure our clients are getting the services they need by referring them to programs within ECDC and to outside social services. She helps with case intake, manages case manager scheduling, provides translations services, prepares power of attorney, prepares monthly reports, manages our client databases, and processes supply requests. 

Yariana Rodriguez

Yariana was born in Puerto Rico and went to the University of Puerto Rico for a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. After graduating, she pursued a Master’s degree in Diplomacy with a focus on conflict Management at Norwich University. Motivated by the current political climate and heightened scrutiny of refugees, Yariana moved to Washington D.C. to get internships at the Silver Spring office of ECDC and Amnesty International while finishing the last 6 months of her graduate education. Afterwards, she took a full-time position at ECDC where she now works as the Resettlement Program Manager. Yariana manages all resettlement programs: handling reporting duties, preparing for audits, and coordinating the resettlement team. Importantly, she conducts outreach to ensure that our programs are well known in the communities we serve and we are well connected to community resources we can refer our clients to. Connected to her outreach role is her role as ECDC’s representative in the Virginia Community Capacity Initiative—a public/private partnership where government officials, nonprofit workers, and others meet to share best practices in order to better serve the refugee community.