Board & Staff

Board of Directors

Matt Berens, Board President

Matt is a business and transaction attorney with over 35 years experience and is a member of the law firm of Berens Blonstein PLC.  He has been a volunteer and board member at WTAP since 2011 when he was made aware of the needs of refugee families through assisting in WTAP deliveries.  He enjoys keeping up with his five grown children and two  grandchildren, as well as coaching football and hiking with his spouse.

 

Dana Herdt, Board Treasurer

Dana has worked in accounting and bookkeeping for over 25 years, mainly with small business and non profit organizations. She has also served as the treasurer on numerous boards in Utah, California and Texas to Louisiana and Arizona. Dana says moving so much has helped her understand some of the challenges that come with uprooting  family and adjusting to a new area. She is passionate about the services WTAP provides in an attempt to ease the transition for refugees moving to a new area.

 

Nina Melic, Board Member

Nina joined WTAP in 2014 as a volunteer and the following year as a Board Member.  She has over 17 years experience in Hospitality, specifically in Event Planning and Managing.  Nina also holds a Masters Degree in Project Management and Interior Design.  In 2018 she started her own E-Commerce Business in order to follow her passion of travel and the great outdoors.

 

Yaseen Jamaludeen, Board Member

Yaseen is an IT Architect in a technology consulting firm and is a volunteer for all seasons supporting a variety of causes. Starting in the 90s he taught himself how to use computers. His knowledge and dedication to helping others learn led him to active involvement with PCs for Refugees. Yaseen believes in guiding refugee communities toward self-sufficiency, and setting them up for success in today’s technology-driven world.

 

Shelly Brown, Board Member

Shelly is an elementary and special education teacher, currently working as a private educational instructor. She is the founder of Phantom Cyclists, an organization that provides bicycles to refugees in Arizona. Shelly is also an avid mountain biker, hiker, and she is passionate about horses.

 

 

Pamela Williams, Board Member

Pamela is a Retired University Counselor, with her Masters in Business Management/Human Resource. She is a Certified Financial Planner and loves Interior Design. Pamela became a volunteer with WTAP in 2012 with her Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Inc., Tempe Alumnae Chapter of which she is Chair of International Awareness and Involvement Committee. She is committed to welcoming refugees to Arizona, and to helping refugees build a good life for their families.

 

Marina Kovacevic, Board Member

Marina is a Juris Doctor graduate from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She worked in immigration law representing indigent immigrants and refugees from Central America and recently helped elect a  Congressmember to the U.S. House of Representatives in Arizona. Marina currently works as an independent contractor representing clients in employment and labor law disputes.

 

Staff

Mike Sullivan, Agency Director

Mike is familiar to many refugees, volunteers, and WTAP personnel. He helped at his first WTAP  welcome/delivery in 2008 and became a lead volunteer in early 2016. Mike was hired as our Director of Programs and Community Engagement in 2017, where he recruited, trained and scheduled volunteers/groups who help WTAP with our home visits, refugee welcomes/deliveries, donation in-take, packing, sorting and Clothing Closet. He is also our point of contact for the referral agencies and entities who help to settle refugees in Arizona. Mike became Agency Director in January 2019 with a vision for WTAP to leverage our strengths in first impressions, to make second, third and more impressions as a means of accelerating refugee self-sufficiency.  “Why just settle refugees” Mike says, “when we can help them to integrate and flourish?”.   Mike is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, with a B.A. in Economics. Prior to his WTAP work, Mike had a successful career in biotechnology, helping the medical community in their treatment of chronic illnesses. Mike’s interest in WTAP came from a sincere desire to help the world’s most vulnerable people. His favorite part of deliveries are the group conversations at the end of each visit, “when, with a warm welcome, we as volunteers can help refugees know how very happy we are that they are in our country and safe from harm.”

Julie Ransom, Operations Manager

Accomplished professional and committed volunteer Julie has joined WTAP in a newly created position, Operations Manager.  Julie joins WTAP with a broad range of experience in human resources and volunteer management, and is especially skilled in organizational and project management. Spending most of her career in the healthcare field, Julie oversaw daily management of the HR departments and volunteer engagement at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center. She has a passion for volunteerism, and enjoys volunteering at local organizations, which is how she came to WTAP. Julie is on the Executive Board for the Cactus Wren Chapter of the National Charity League, having formerly served as the Chapter President. She’s also served as PTO President at her daughter’s schools as well as serving on the Principal’s School Council for both middle and elementary school. A graduate of the University of Arizona, and an Arizona native, Julie enjoys spending time with her husband, three daughters (all volunteers, themselves) and their lovable labradoodle.

Kelly Loonam, Warehouse & Volunteer Coordinator

Kelly started as a volunteer and was happy to begin her part-time position in June 2018. She leads the volunteers in keeping the warehouse organized and packing for upcoming welcomes. Kelly has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from California State University Fullerton. She has volunteered with many non-profit organizations over her 24 years in the Phoenix area. She appreciates the opportunity to serve the refugee community, enjoys learning about the families we welcome and loves working with our wonderful volunteers. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.

Athenase & Jackson, WTAP Drivers

We are fortunate to have Saturday drivers who help with welcomes/deliveries. When you join us on welcomes/deliveries,  please be sure to welcome Athanase (Burundi) and Jackson (Rwanda) too. They have been in the United States for a short time and serve as excellent friends and role models for incoming refugees.  Both are fluent in English, French, Swahili and many other African languages. They work other jobs during the week then help us with welcomes on Saturday.