Our Team

Our team of professionals brings extensive experience in the field of refugee employment. Our staff consultants provide both a front line and a national perspective when addressing employment-related issues with partners. We enjoy working with diverse groups and always tailor our services accordingly. Contact a staff member today to learn how we can support you.


nicole-headshotNicole Redford

Program Manager for Higher

Nicole Redford joined Higher in November of 2016. Previously, Nicole was the Employment Coordinator for USCRI in their North Carolina field office, overseeing four Federal and State employment programs: Matching Grant, Refugee Assistance Program, Targeted Assistance Grant, and the Cuban Haitian programs. Nicole has experience working as a job developer, case manager, MG Coordinator and in other areas of resettlement. At USCRI of NC, she started the agency’s first job upgrade program securing grants and private donations to keep the program staffed. In 2008, Nicole received her Master’s in Global Affairs from New York University. In 2006 Nicole began working with the International Rescue Committee in Youth Programs at the resettlement office in NYC. Later she worked as the US Program Manager for Art for Refugees in Transition, a small nonprofit that built program to help displaced refugee populations reconnect with their cultural traditions in art, story telling, and cooking. Nicole went to the University of North Carolina at Asheville for her undergraduate degree and was born and raised in London, Ontario, Canada.  In her free time Nicole loves to read and play with her dog Simba and like most Canadians enjoys a good game of hockey.

DWilkinson HeadshotDaniel Wilkinson

Workforce Engagement Coordinator

Daniel Wilkinson joined the Higher Team in August of 2015, after spending 5 years as a Job Developer in the Philadelphia area. In addition to providing employment services to refugees and tech school graduates, he has designed and facilitated job readiness classes and job clubs and supervised interns and volunteers. In his free time Daniel enjoys exploring cities, climbing mountains, taking pictures, and especially likes doing these things with his wife, Mary Beth and their daughter Lizzy.


Peer Advisors Network

Higher recruits a team of refugee employment professionals and others with expertise in workforce development to join its peer expert network. Peer experts are drawn from diverse audiences, including national resettlement agencies and their affiliates’ offices, government programs and others involved in workforce development. They promote our resources within their own social media networks, join Higher staff for trainings across the country, contribute to webinars and other virtual trainings, and provide their insight and expertise to specific technical assistance requests throughout the year.

To nominate yourself or a colleague to be a peer expert, email your resume and a brief explanation of why you are interested in gettting involved to  information@higheradvantage.org.


Subash Acharya

Employment Coordinator
Ascentria Care Alliance, Concord, NH

Subash has been working in direct human services since arriving in the U.S. in 2008. He currently serves as Employment and Education Specialist with Ascentria Care Alliance, a Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) resettlement affiliate in Concord, NH. He arrived in the U.S. with a Bachelor of Science degree and experience as a science teacher, staff of the Human Rights Council of Bhutan and community advocate and Refugee Camp Secretary. He speaks Hindi and Nepali.


bonniBonni Cutler, M.S.

Employment Supervisor
Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego

Bonni has been working in employment since 2001 and is dedicated to employment development and training. She was a corporate recruiter for over seven years and has five years of experience in college career services and teaching. Since February of 2012 she has been the Employment Supervisor at Catholic Charities Refugee Services in San Diego CA.


Mukti Headshot

Mukti Dahal

Employment Specialist
US Together, Columbus, OH

Mukti came to the US as a refugee in 2009 and has worked for US Together, a HIAS affiliate in Columbus, OH, since May 2010. In addition to job development duties, Mukti organizes job readiness classes, conducts employment assessments, and provides employment case management. Mukti holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Sociology from Tribhuvan University in Nepal and worked as a school Administrator for six years. Mukti also helped to coordinate educational programs with both government and NGO organizations in Nepal. In addition to his work at US Together, Mukti is currently an active Board Member of the Bhutanese Nepali Community of Columbus, OH.


rochelle-heimannRochelle Heimann

Career Coach, Myrtle Beach, SC

Rochelle Heimann has been welcoming refugees to the United States for over 4 years. She has worked to engage faith communities, businesses and community volunteers and has used her 16+ years owning and managing businesses to help refugees achieve success. Previously Rochelle worked at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska in Omaha as a Career Counselor working with highly skilled refugees. Having recently relocated to Myrtle Beach, SC, Rochelle is currently volunteering with several national agencies revising resumes, providing mock interviews, and coaching new refugees and immigrants on their path to employment. Rochelle also writes and revises resumés as an independent contractor through several national resume writing companies.  She is in the process of becoming a certified resume writer, interviewer, and career coach with the Professional Association of Resumé Writers & Career Coaches.


Benedict Killang

Benedict Killang

Senior Employment Specialist, Matching Grant Coordinator
Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh

Benedict arrived in the US as a refugee in 2003. He has been working in the field of refugee resettlement and employment since 2011. Prior to joining JF&CS, Benedict held positions with the PNC Bank and Sylvan Energy LLC, and also completed an MBA at Point Park University in 2006. In addition to his work at JF&CS, Benedict is currently the President of the Union of African Communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He speaks Arabic and other South Sudanese dialects.


Maksutov PeerRuslan Maksutov

Program Officer, Matching Grant Program
USCRI Headquarters

Ruslan works as a Program Officer for the Matching Grant program at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and has been working in the field of refugee resettlement since 2008, in the roles of Case Manager, Job Developer, and coordinator of the Matching Grant Program at USCRI Albany. Prior to joining USCRI, he held positions with the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE) and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), among others. His research on regional security and peace-building efforts in Central Asia was published in 2009 by the Institute of International Affairs Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland.  Ruslan has a B.A. in American Studies from the American University in Central Asia and an M.A. in Political Science from OSCE Academy.  He speaks Russian, Turkish, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Polish.


gary-phelpsGary Phelps

RCA/RSS Manager
Episcopal Migration Ministry, Wichita, KS                                                   gphelps@episcopalchurch.org

Gary Phelps has been on staff with Episcopal Wichita Area Refugee Ministry since 2013 and “wears many hats” at this small office doing BIG things. Gary helps clients on their path to self-sufficiency by coordinating community and state benefit referrals, social services and employment services. Gary is highly involved in community planning meetings and organizing partnerships with influential persons and organizations in the community that can impact the growth and success of the refugees in Wichita. Gary enjoys family time with his wife and two kids, playing guitar and writing music, drawing and sports.


Kelly Rice

Kelly Rice

Employment Program Manager
International Center of Kentucky, Bowling Green, KY

Kelly Rice has a B.S in Finance from Virginia Tech and an HR certificate from Western Kentucky University.  She worked at Wells Fargo for 8 years and joined the International Center of Kentucky in Bowling Green as Employment Program Manager in May 2013.


jim stokesJim Stokes

Senior Manager – Economic Empowerment, US Programs
International Rescue Committee, Dallas, TX

Jim plays a key role in national and local IRC efforts to build on employer relationships to benefit their entire network and expand those relationships into broader organizational support. He helps lead a network-wide Community of Practice focused on building employment and job development expertise across the IRC network and manages the Dallas, TX economic empowerment program. After more than seven years in increasingly responsible roles in the Dallas office, Jim has just left to spend three months working on livelihoods programming for the IRC in a refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey. 



Carrie Thiele

Training Programs Manager
African Community Center, Denver, CO

Carrie has several years of experience in cross-cultural communications and training, and has been involved at ECDC’s African Community Center (ACC) in Denver, CO, since 2012. She currently teaches daily job readiness classes and provides support for additional training programs at ACC including Community Orientation, Commercial Food Safety and Service Training, We Made This sewing initiative, and Ready for Retail. Carrie holds a master’s degree in International Studies and Economic Development from Oklahoma State University, where she was awarded the Wes and Lou Watkins Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. Prior to joining ACC, her previous experience included small business ownership and service as a volunteer consultant with Celeritas: accelerator of High Tech, Art, and Cultural Ventures in Mexico and the ABBA Fund adoption assistance organization.


Carol Tucker

Carol Tucker

Job Developer
Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Omaha, NE

Carol Tucker has worked in job development since 1998 and has served refugee communities in both Texas and Nebraska. In addition to refugee employment, Carol’s expertise includes case management, volunteer coordination, ESL and Job Readiness. Carol has also worked within the mainstream workforce system, and is a leader in our network in connecting refugees to mainstream resources such as On-the-job Training (OJT). In a field of work with high levels of burnout and staff turnover, Carol has stuck with it, and remains passionate about serving refugees and connecting them to employment opportunities.

Ellie McDermottEllie White

Employment/ESL Manager
World Relief, Seattle, WA

Ellie has worked in the Employment Program at World Relief Seattle since 2010. Prior to her time at World Relief, Ellie was an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, working with Japanese students at Western Washington University, with the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) program in Japan, and at a literacy program in the Greater Seattle area as an AmeriCorps member. She completed a Master’s in International Community Development at Northwest University in 2011. She loves working with people from other cultures, sharing meals with refugee friends, enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and gardening.