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Our Team

Our team is comprised of dedicated professionals, each bringing unique expertise and a shared commitment to our mission.

Shimaa Badawy

Shimaa Badawy

Social Services Coordinator

Shimaa Badawy earned her MBA from Webster University in 2018 with an emphasis on Human Resources Management. She is fluent in Arabic with a background in teaching English as a foreign language in her native Egypt. Shimaa oversees social and senior services programming for the agency.
Jason Baker, PhD

Jason Baker, PhD

Executive Director

Jason Baker, a native St. Louisan, received his Ph.D. in Languages and Literatures from Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. His journey with Monarch started as a volunteer citizenship tutor before he transitioned to Interpreter Coordinator in 2012. After assisting in strategic planning and operations, Jason became the Executive Director in 2016, dedicated to carrying out the founder’s vision of equal access for all.

Enisa Balogun, LPC

Enisa Balogun, LPC

Mental Health Therapist

Enisa, originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided counseling there for 14 years. She moved to the U.S. to earn her Masters in Counseling at Covenant Theological Seminary. Fluent in Bosnian and English, she has experience in community-based therapy across diverse cultures. Enisa is also a coffee enthusiast who enjoys spending time in coffee shops.

Maria del Rosario Bobadilla, CSJ, LMFT

Maria del Rosario Bobadilla, CSJ, LMFT

Mental Health Therapist

Maria is a psychotherapist and counselor in STL with extensive experience in family, couple, and individual therapy. Certified as a chaplain in Missouri, she employs an eclectic, holistic approach, focusing on pastoral counseling. Maria works as a bilingual therapist at Casa de Salud’s Mental Health Collaborative and as a Mercy Hospital chaplain. Additionally, she leads therapy groups and enjoys outdoor activities in Missouri’s parks.

Laura Brink, JD

Laura Brink, JD

Attorney

Laura merges her passion for helping refugees and immigrants with her legal expertise in the Legal Services Department. With a B.A. in History and Urban Studies from Northwestern University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law, Laura has experience with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. She devoted ten years at Christian Friends of New Americans in STL, focusing on Health and Wellness Coordination and Ministry.

Mario Camere, Esq.

Mario Camere, Esq.

Attorney, Director of Legal Services

Mario Camere, Esq., our Director of Legal Services, obtained his Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law. Joining in 2016, he ensures high-quality, accessible legal services for underrepresented immigrant communities. His work is crucial in aiding refugees and torture survivors

Abby Cedano Jimenez, LCSW

Abby Cedano Jimenez, LCSW

Mental Health Therapist, Coordinator - CANA/ORR

Abby Cedano Jimenez, LCSW, a St. Louis native, graduated in Psychology and African Studies from The University of Arkansas. After volunteering in Philadelphia, she earned her Master’s in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. Abby has extensive experience with immigrant service providers and is passionate about cultural learning and travel. In 2022, she is currently a therapist at the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture, after three years as a therapist there.

Eileen Cheong, LPC

Eileen Cheong, LPC

Mental Health Therapist

Born in New York to Singaporean parents, she taught ESL in China before earning her Masters in Art Therapy Counseling in 2013 from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. As a Registered Art Therapist, she employs narrative and person-centered approaches, integrating art for healing and community betterment. She also uses yoga practices, including breathwork and mindfulness, to help with anxiety and depression.

Rorke Chhouk, PLPC

Rorke Chhouk, PLPC

Mental Health Therapist

Rorke has a background in public health and racial justice and received their MEd in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2023. Rorke practices an integrative counseling approach that joins person-centered and strength-based therapy that priritizes self-acceptance, – awareness, and body-mind connection. Originally from Southern California, Rorke spends his free time in St. Louis writing, jogging, DIY house projects, board games, and learning Khmer.

Maria Childress, LCSW

Maria Childress, LCSW

Clinical Supervisor

With over 25 years working with refugees and immigrants, she earned a Master’s in Social Work from St. Louis University. Her experience spans roles like school social worker, social work administrator, and behavioral health therapist. She’s been instrumental in developing supports for New Americans in St. Louis and currently supervises provisionally licensed therapists in the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma project.

Alicia Delaney-Clayton

Alicia Delaney-Clayton

Assistant Director

Alicia Delaney, our Assistant Director, oversees Agency Operations, Human Resources, Change Management, and more. With a BA in Psychology and Communications from William Woods University, Alicia’s expertise in program development, advocacy, and nonprofit development is invaluable. She enjoys cross-stitching, dance, and travel in her free time.

Melissa Elliott

Melissa Elliott

DOJ Representative

Bio coming soon

Miranda Gace

Miranda Gace

Senior Case Worker / Trainer

Miranda Gace originally joined Monarch as an interpreter, focusing on aiding the Albanian and Kosovar communities in gaining U.S. citizenship and social services. With experience in teaching, journalism, and a significant leadership role in Tirana, Albania, she is a key advocate and community leader, actively involved in various organizations including Family Care Health Centers.

Anne Geisz

Anne Geisz

Practicum Student - Project Safe Space

Bio coming soon

Calie Griffith

Calie Griffith

Practicum Student - Project Safe Space

Bio coming soon

Rafaela Hajdini

Rafaela Hajdini

Community Outreach, Events

Rafaela “Ela” Hajdini, originally from Korça, Albania, immigrated to the US in 1996. She’s currently studying Early Childhood Special Education at Saint Louis University and teaches Albanian to children at Shoqata Iliria. Ela joined Monarch in Fall 2021 as an intern and continued as a Community Access Worker.

Rahmatullah Hamdard, MBA

Rahmatullah Hamdard, MBA

Senior Case Manager

Rahmatullah Hamdard, with an MBA from Afghanistan, has extensive experience in international NGOs. He founded HELA in 2015 and was involved in nonprofits like SKATEISTAN. After relocating to the US in 2021, he joined Monarch in 2022 as a Case Manager, applying his skills to assist refugees and align with the organization’s goals.

Kersten Horn, MA

Kersten Horn, MA

Director of Data and Technology

Kersten Horn, MA, oversees Monarch’s data management and technology infrastructure. Kersten was born in Germany and educated in France, the UK, and the United States.

Rebecca Ihle, PLPC

Rebecca Ihle, PLPC

Mental Health Therapist

Rebecca has a clinical mental health counseling degree from Webster University and a background in the U.S. Coast Guard. She has clinical experience from Casa de Salud’s Mental Health Collaborative and is involved in various mental health associations. She is committed to serving diverse and underserved populations using a variety of therapeutic approaches. She enjoys family activities, traveling, and wellness practices.

Mudar Ismail, PLPC

Mudar Ismail, PLPC

Mental Health Therapist

Bio coming soon.

Rana Issa

Rana Issa

Language Services Coordinator

Rana Issa  has a strong connection with Monarch. She started as an interpreter in 2020 but first encountered the agency in middle school when she attended a senior center group meeting with her family. Rana holds a BA in Psychology and History from St. Louis University, where she interned at Monarch. Currently, she serves as the Language Services Coordinator. Rana plans to continue her studies in social work .

Ying Jiang, MA/MS

Ying Jiang, MA/MS

Case Manager

Ying Jiang, originally from China, is a Community Access Worker and Mandarin Interpreter at Monarch. She earned a Masters of Science in Health Psychology from the University of Michigan – Dearborn and later completed a Masters of Arts in Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis. Ying is passionate about advocating for the aging population and enjoys spending time with her family.

Katherine Kempf

Katherine Kempf

Practicum Student - Project Safe Space

Bio coming soon

Hannah Kluender, LMSW

Hannah Kluender, LMSW

Clinician, Project Safe Space

Hannah is a LMSW who earned her BA in International & Area Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned a Master’s in Social Work in 2022, concentrating in Mental Health with an emphasis on the experiences of LGBTQ populations with migration backgrounds. Hannah provides supportive and relief services to displaced individuals and families as well as with unhoused and foster youth. Hannah seeks to cultivate a safe and identity-affirming space to support each individual on their path towards healing.

Carrie Kowieski, LCSW

Carrie Kowieski, LCSW

Therapist, Clinical Supervisor

Carrie Kowieski, LCSW earned her Masters in Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014. She moved from San Francisco to St. Louis in 2019 to spend time with her grandmother in her final years. She is glad to have found a professional home at Bilingual International where she draws on her experience with end-of-life care, grief work, and medical trauma within diverse communities. Carrie views people’s “symptoms” as brilliant survival strategies in the face of displacement, oppressive systems, and multiple forms of trauma. She is certified in EMDR and her practice is grounded in neuroscience while incorporating clients’ religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs and practices. Carrie’s warm relational approach is foundational to fostering the emotional safety necessary for healing.

Martin Mintman

Martin Mintman

Citizenship Educator Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

Sajida Momeni

Sajida Momeni

Senior Case Manager

Holding a B.A in Linguistic Humanities from Kabul and an Associate’s Degree in Human Services from STL Community College, is a fluent Pashto and Dari speaker. With experience in mental health & community support, including roles at the International Institute of STL & Places for People, she serves as a Community Access Worker at Monarch.

Anna Moore, LPC

Anna Moore, LPC

Clinician, Project Safe Space Coordinator

Anna has a master’s in Art Therapy Counseling from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, focusing on creative programs for immigrant youth in STL. An expert in acute psychiatric care, behavioral health, & eating disorders, she employs trauma-informed, creative therapeutic approaches using art. Anna has contributed to conferences, co-authored art therapy publications, & leads on project coordination responsibilities at Monarch.

Thinh Nguyen, MA

Thinh Nguyen, MA

Case Manager/Survey Researcher

Thinh Nguyen, born in Vietnam, holds degrees in Journalism and Law from Hanoi & a Masters in Legal Studies from Webster University. He began as a Community Access Worker for the Vietnamese client base and transitioned to a Survey Researcher in 2014. In this role, he manages surveys for agency programming /reporting and interprets survey data.

Rebecca Niedner

Rebecca Niedner

Director, Language Services

Rebecca Niedner’s background in logistics, ESL, resettlement, and advocacy ensures our clients receive exceptional language services. With degrees in Fine Art and advanced TESOL certification, she strives to be creative in effective communication with LEP individuals. In her spare time, Rebecca volunteer teaches ESL to Syrian refugees and is currently studying Levantine Arabic.

Kimberly Osmanagic, LPC

Kimberly Osmanagic, LPC

Therapist, Director – Wellness Programs

Kimberly, holding a Masters of Counseling from St. Louis University, has extensive experience in therapy for immigrants and refugees. At Monarch, she leads the STEPS to Better Health and Peer Health Coaching programs, and is fluent in Bosnian, adept at working with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Natalia Patino

Natalia Patino

Family Case Manager

Natalia Patino Giraldo was born in Medellin ( Colombia) and holds a master’s degree in Cognitive Clinical Psychology from the University of Belgrano, in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Much of her work has been in the psychosocial area, working with communities impacted by violence and aiding in the processes of emotional recovery and reintegration into society. Natalia works as part of the treatment team for clients in adult mental health services.

Liz Ricks, LCSW

Liz Ricks, LCSW

Director, Project Safe Space

Liz graduated from Saint Louis University in 2019 with a Master of Social Work and a Certificate in Gerontology, focusing on clinical practice and grief. She has international experience in Germany, worked with grieving families, managed translation projects, and published on trauma-informed care. As a Project Safe Space clinician, she employs various therapeutic methods including art, music and took on project direction in 2022 and enjoys  traveling in her free time.

Niyoyakira Rozineti

Niyoyakira Rozineti

Case Manager

Niyoyakira “Rozi,” originally from Burundi and a former refugee, graduated in 2018 from Webster University with a BA in International Relations and a minor in Human Rights. She works as a Case Manager for the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, leveraging her own refugee experience. Fluent in Kirundi and Swahili, Rozi also volunteers in language services and youth program coordination.

Jackson Rugamba

Jackson Rugamba

Case Manager

Bio coming soon

Haroon Safi

Haroon Safi

Coordinator, SASIC Program

Haroon Safi, an Afghan native, worked with refugees in Pakistan before studying Political Science and Law in Kabul. Moving to the U.S. in 2014, he’s been an interpreter and cultural advisor in St. Louis, speaking multiple languages including Dari and Pashto. Haroon plays a key role in aiding Afghan evacuees since 2021, coordinating the SASIC program, managing Afghan case workers, and partnering with support agencies.

Naila Safi

Naila Safi

Case Manager, SASIC Program

Naila Safi, originally from Afghanistan, relocated to the US in 2017. She’s a Bayless High School graduate and is studying nursing at night. Naila volunteered with Afghan evacuees in St. Louis, aiding in interpretation and transportation. Fluent in Pashto, Dari, and Urdu, she’s worked in asylum interpretation and is a case worker at Monarch.

Zamzama Safi

Zamzama Safi

Case Manager, SASIC Program

Bio coming soon

Ellen Sherman, MA

Ellen Sherman, MA

Volunteer Coordinator

Ellen Sherman, a founding board member at Monarch and twice President of the Board, played a key role in growing the agency. With an MA in Gerontology and 40 years in senior services, she’s known for her effective volunteer coordination and positive impact on the team’s expansion and vibrancy.

Iryna Shukh

Iryna Shukh

Financial Administrator

Iryna Shukh, a Ukrainian native, graduated as an Economist from Kharkiv National University. She has experience as an accountant and financial manager in Ukrainian manufacturing, along with involvement in Unicef’s Ukraine operations. Prior to her 2022 move to the US, Iryna lived in Donetsk and Kharkov. She finds working in a second language both challenging and rewarding.

Quill Stogsdill

Quill Stogsdill

Family Case Manager, CYMH

Bio coming soon

Daleva Sullentrup

Daleva Sullentrup

Bookkeeper

Daly Sullentrup, born in Cuba to missionary parents, is the Bookkeeper at Monarch. Fluent in English and Spanish, she has worked in various locations including Florida, Mexico City, Texas, and Missouri. Daly, with previous experience in law and non-profit sectors, embraces the challenges of her role, contributing to the organization’s success.

Azizullah Taaj

Azizullah Taaj

Case Manager, SASIC Program

Azizullah Taaj, originally from Afghanistan, worked with an NGO and as a US military interpreter post-2001 invasion, leveraging his cultural and political understanding. He holds a law degree from Nangarhar University and immigrated to the US in 2009. Since 2021, he’s been actively volunteering to assist new Afghan arrivals, earning appreciation in his community for his dedication and kindness.

Lorna Vaughn, LPC

Lorna Vaughn, LPC

Therapist, Case Worker

Lorna Vaughn, LPC, with a background in crisis intervention in St. Louis and roles at institutions like ALM Hopewell Center, provides counseling through Bilingual International’s STEPS to Better Health program and assists non-foreign-born seniors. She holds an MA in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University and is a licensed ACA Navigator.

Lisa Vilchis

Lisa Vilchis

Senior Center Coordinator

Lisa Vilchis, originally from San Antonio, TX, has been a Missouri resident for over 30 years. She has a diverse heritage, with Cuban and Mexican roots, and a background in missionary work. Lisa settled in St. Louis, MO, is a mother of two boys, and enjoys traveling with her children. She manages daily operations at the International Senior Center, interacting with a diverse group of participants.

Paul Witte, LPC

Paul Witte, LPC

Therapist, Clinical Supervisor

Paul Witte, LPC, holds degrees in Literature, Psychology, and Mental Health Counseling. He started his career at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma in St. Louis and later supervised the Belize City Community Counseling Center. Paul returned to St. Louis, working on Project Safe Space, and now coordinates the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma while continuing as a therapist.

Freshta Zary

Freshta Zary

SASIC Case Manager

Bio coming soon

Sasha Zivanov

Sasha Zivanov

Client Services Coordinator

An ordained minister working with refugees and immigrants in the South St. Louis area since 2004 through faith-based service initiatives. He speaks the primary languages of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian) and serves as the primary screener and Client Services Coordinator of the St. Louis Partnership for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. Sasha was born in Salzburg, Austria and grew up in Sanski Most, Bosnia. He immigrated to the US in 2002

Deanna Zoller-Vijayan

Deanna Zoller-Vijayan

Senior Case Manager

Deanna Zoller-Vijayan, a refugee from Sarajevo, arrived in St. Louis in 1998. She worked in sales and customer service at Lambert International Airport for 15 years before joining LAMP as an interpreter. For the past five years, she has been working on the Social Services team, providing case work, citizenship, benefits assistance, and Medicare counseling to Bosnian-speaking clients. She also oversees the Bosnian senior group.