Maria Headshot.jpg


Executive Director

Maria BB established RIF as a welcome center for asylum seekers in 2006. She is a clinical social worker who has worked with refugees for the past twenty years. Prior to working in New York, Maria worked in major humanitarian crises in Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She also worked in the Romanian orphanages after the fall of dictator Ceausescu. Maria provides psychosocial assistance to relief workers at Doctors Without Borders (MSF/USA) on an as-needed basis. Maria is bilingual in French and English and speaks Spanish.

Ellie Headshot.jpg


Associate Director

A native New Yorker, Ellie became involved with RIF through her farm apprenticeship at Brooklyn Grange: the world's largest rooftop soil farm. In 2014, she began volunteering as a facilitator for the Urban Farm Recovery Project– a program in partnership with the farm that provides asylum seekers with a paid fellowship in urban agriculture. Growing, cooking, and eating food is her favorite mode of transcending barriers, celebrating difference, and connecting with her community.  Ellie speaks English, Spanish and Hebrew.

Sarah cast

Program Coordinator

Prior to moving to New York, Sarah worked as a researcher for a conflict resolution group at the University of Colorado and spent six months reporting on the Colombian conflict and politics as a journalist in Medellín. She earned her master’s degree in international affairs from the New School where she focused on conflict and security studies. She joined RIF after completing her final master’s project with the organization in 2016. Sarah also volunteers and fosters for an animal rescue in Brooklyn.

Board Members:  Carol Skyrm,  Shadrach Gonzalez Fher,  Audu Kadiri,  Bea Plasse