RIF was established in 2006 to fill the void of support faced by asylum seekers. This void is now aggravated by anti-refugee policies, creating a climate of fear.


rif Staff

 Maria Blacque-Belair  Executive Director/Founder   Maria 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.

Maria Blacque-Belair
Executive Director/Founder

Maria 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.

 Sean Langberg  Program Manager   Prior to moving to New York, Sean worked in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist and advocate for conflict prevention. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he focused on African politics and international security. He has experience working with diaspora communities from Iraq, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Burma. Prior to joining RIF, Sean worked with academics from Southwest Asia and Africa who were fleeing war and persecution in their home countries

Sean Langberg
Program Manager

Prior to moving to New York, Sean worked in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist and advocate for conflict prevention. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he focused on African politics and international security. He has experience working with diaspora communities from Iraq, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Burma. Prior to joining RIF, Sean worked with academics from Southwest Asia and Africa who were fleeing war and persecution in their home countries

 Marius Mufuta  Outreach Manager   Marius moved to the United States in 2015 and was granted asylum in 2018. He worked in Africa on conflict resolution, economic development, and humanitarian issues with civil society and faith-based organization. He has previous experience working with the United Nations, UNICEF and UNAOC. Immediately prior to joining RIF, Marius was working as an immigration consultant with the Black Institute on policy and advocacy. His interests are immigration reform, human trafficking, and child abuse in mining sectors.

Marius Mufuta
Outreach Manager

Marius moved to the United States in 2015 and was granted asylum in 2018. He worked in Africa on conflict resolution, economic development, and humanitarian issues with civil society and faith-based organization. He has previous experience working with the United Nations, UNICEF and UNAOC. Immediately prior to joining RIF, Marius was working as an immigration consultant with the Black Institute on policy and advocacy. His interests are immigration reform, human trafficking, and child abuse in mining sectors.

RIF legal team

 Angela Torregoza  Immigration Attorney at LegalEase Law Firm and CUNY Law Schoo

Angela Torregoza
Immigration Attorney at LegalEase Law Firm and CUNY Law Schoo

 Caitlin Steinke  Immigration Attorney at the Law Office of Sandy Khine

Caitlin Steinke
Immigration Attorney at the Law Office of Sandy Khine

 Ellen Friedman  Accredited Legal Representative at Safe Horizon

Ellen Friedman
Accredited Legal Representative at Safe Horizon

RIF community Partners

  Venezuelans and immigrants Aid (VIA)    VIA  supports and advocates for the Venezuelan diaspora in NYC. RIF works closely with VIA to provide asylum support to Venezuelans -- currently the top country-of-origin for those seeking asylum in the U.S.

Venezuelans and immigrants Aid (VIA)

VIA supports and advocates for the Venezuelan diaspora in NYC. RIF works closely with VIA to provide asylum support to Venezuelans -- currently the top country-of-origin for those seeking asylum in the U.S.

 Tanzilya Oren  Volunteer Education Consultant   Tanzilya is a licensed social worker, certified career counselor, doctoral student at Fordham University. Tanzilya is a passionate advocate to improve services for newly arrived immigrants

Tanzilya Oren
Volunteer Education Consultant

Tanzilya is a licensed social worker, certified career counselor, doctoral student at Fordham University. Tanzilya is a passionate advocate to improve services for newly arrived immigrants

 Anne Saint-Pierre  Photographer   Anne is currently documenting RIF"s Urban Farm Recovery Project in a project called Seeds of Resilience. Check out her work  on her website  or the  RIF gallery.

Anne Saint-Pierre
Photographer

Anne is currently documenting RIF"s Urban Farm Recovery Project in a project called Seeds of Resilience. Check out her work on her website or the RIF gallery.

RIF Organizational Partners

Alley - Chelsea
Fordham University
CUNY School of Law
Brooklyn Grange
All Good Work

RIF Board members

Carol Skyrm
Audu Kadiri
Shadrach Gonzalez Fher