The Berkshire Immigrant Center employs bilingual staff members who are culturally sensitive and thoroughly understand the needs and challenges faced by the immigrant and refugee community.
Michelle Lopez (Executive Director) Michelle is from upstate NY and has lived in Cuba, Spain, and Mexico. She has a degree in Anthropology and a master’s in Caribbean Studies. Michelle has 6 years of non-profit experience and spent 2 years in higher education. She looks forward to welcoming people from all over the world to the Berkshires because it’s a way of giving back to the wonderful people she’s met abroad who so warmly welcomed her to their countries. email@example.com
Lorena Dus (Program Coordinator and Senior Case Worker) comes from Venezuela via Ireland. She has a degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Human Rights and is very passionate about helping immigrants. She has eight years of experience working for non-profit organizations where she devotedly helped indigenous people, refugees and displaced people as well as children at risk. firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma Lezberg (Assistant Case Worker) is a Pittsfield native and graduate of Williams College. Emma joined BIC in July 2020 after volunteering at BIC for several years. She chaired an immigrant advocacy group on her college campus, led cultural competency programming at local schools, and has been active in organizing efforts around Berkshire County. Emma has also done academic research on immigrant narratives and migrant farmworkers. She is thrilled to be joining the BIC team. email@example.com
Ivan Victoriano (Intake Coordinator) originally from Mexico, has been living in the Berkshires for 12 years. Ivan was granted DACA status in June of 2012 under the Obama administration. Since then, Ivan has been working numerous jobs and has contributed to his local community. In November of 2017, Ivan was chosen to be an honorary guest speaker for Health Law Advocates 22nd Annual Benefit Breakfast in Boston, where he met Michael Dukakis former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic nominee for president. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheryl Lechner (Development Coordinator) joined BIC in May 2017 and is excited to be working on behalf of Berkshire immigrants and the cultural diversity of our community. She previously served as Capital Campaign Manager for the Stockbridge Bowl Association on its $2.8 million Save Stockbridge Bowl fundraising effort. She also was Outreach Coordinator for Berkshire Grown, supporting farmers in the greater Berkshires region; and was a longtime journalist, writing for newspapers and magazines and co-authoring two nonfiction books. email@example.com
Jennifer Smith (Education Coordinator) holds a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire. She worked for many years as the Program Coordinator, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, and Student Advocate for Jackson Mann Community Center and Veronica Smith Senior Center in Brighton, MA prior to joining the BIC staff. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaimee Christinat-Castillo (Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator) was born in Connecticut and has lived and studied in Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela. She has also traveled extensively in Latin America and Spain. She holds an MA in Hispanic Literature and Languages from Stony Brook University and a BA in Spanish from the University of Connecticut. Jaimee has been a full-time educator and part-time activist and translator for almost two decades. She is a passionate advocate for immigrant rights and is thrilled to join the BIC team. email@example.com
Michele Sisselman (Licensed Immigration attorney) provides pro-bono consultations and advice on behalf of the Center’s clients and staff with her many years of experience. smichele
Hilary Greene (Volunteer Case Worker and former Director) holds a Bachelors degree in Soviet and Russian Studies and is a fluent Russian speaker. Hilary spent several years working in public relations in St. Petersburg, Russia and then worked as Program Manager of The National Young Composers Competition at Williams College prior to joining the staff of the Jewish Federation in 1999. firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles Bonenti (Volunteer Coordinator) is a retired Berkshire Eagle desk editor and freelance writer. A graduate of Hamilton College with a B.A. degree in art, he is a longtime North Berkshire advocate for affordable housing and serves on the Williamstown library board. Committed to helping immigrants, he joined BIC in early 2017 and this year assumed responsibility for coordinating BIC volunteers. email@example.com
Mary Jo Ramos (Long-Term Volunteer) She has been a regular volunteer at BIC since 2015. She grew up in Puerto Rico and is a retired Spanish teacher. At BIC she assists with various clerical tasks twice a week, and also translates and interprets as needed. She is grateful for the opportunity to help immigrants in the Berkshires and work with such a dedicated and compassionate staff. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Bogomolny (Co-Chair)
Bob grew up in a suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and attended college and law school at Harvard. Following graduation he practiced law in Cleveland and then moved to Washington and joined the Justice Department. He worked for a short time as a lawyer in the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now HHS.) When Bob left the government, he moved to the Vera Institute of Justice in New York where he worked on criminal justice reform. In 1970, he became a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and in 1977 became Dean of the College of Law at Cleveland State University in Cleveland for 10 years. Subsequently, he served as General Counsel of G.D.Searle, a multinational pharmaceutical company, for 13 years. In 2002 he became President of the University of Baltimore, a public university, and served in that capacity for 12 years. Upon retiring he moved to Lenox, MA.
Kate Barton (Co-Chair)
Kate grew up in a small town in Tennessee, graduated from Vanderbilt University, and began her career as an English teacher in the Centerville Ohio Public Schools in 1971. She came to the Berkshires in 1974 and began teaching English at Pittsfield High School. After 31 years in the Pittsfield system, she retired to focus on her tutoring business, coaching students for standardized testing (SSAT, SAT, ACT, MTEl, GRE) and assisting with prep school or college applications, as well as tutoring middle and high school students in study skills and a variety of subjects. Kate has served on a number of boards, including the Women’s Services Center, Berkshire Mental Health (now the Brien Center), the Berkshire Music School, and her church Vestry. Her particular interest is in fundraising. She is honored to be a new member of the Board of the Berkshire Immigrant Center. She feels that the treatment of immigrants is the defining issue for what we are as individuals and as a country. Kate lives in Hinsdale with her husband, Sam Craig, and their Black Lab.
Jenn Gomez (Secretary)
Jenn began her professional career in television news in Norfolk, Virginia. After two years as a news producer, she moved to Massachusetts to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the City of Pittsfield. She is the Marketing Manager at Theory Wellness Inc. located in Great Barrington, MA. She previously worked in the marketing department of a school that serves young adults with autism and learning differences. She is an award-winning filmmaker and has previously served on the Artscape and Berkshire Art Association boards.
Helen was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States at the age of four. She obtained her citizenship in 2001, two months after the Sept 11th attacks. Since then, she has been hyper aware of the rights and safety of immigrants and other marginalized groups. Her hope is that one day, we can embrace diverse experiences and weave them into the fabric of the American identity. Moving to the Berkshires in 2008 is one of the best decisions she says she’s made. She is a registered nurse and a Pittsfield City Councilor!
Colin is the Administrative Coordinator for the Center for Learning in Action at Williams College, where he provides administrative, technical and logistical support, advises student volunteer groups, coordinates the college’s alternative spring break service programs, and serves on the Benefits Committee and Children’s Center Advisory Committee. Colin was educated in the Pittsfield Public Schools and received his BA in Entertainment Management and Production from UMASS – Amherst. After working in the music industry in Boston, Colin was employed by Harvard Law School as executive assistant to a faculty member, then as Events and Communications Coordinator for the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.
Outside of work, Colin is a proud husband and father of four children, founder of the Berkshire Jewish Musicians Collective, and also serves on the Board of Directors of Knesset Israel synagogue and the Executive Committee of the Four Freedoms Coalition. He is a 2018 recipient of the Berkshire Community College 40 Under Forty Award and finalist for the Berkshire Trendsetter Awards as an Under 40 Change Maker.
Auric is a recent graduate of Tufts University where he majored in U.S. History and minored in Entrepreneurial Studies. He currently works as a sales manager at Elegant Stitches, his family-owned business in Pittsfield. In the past year, he secured a Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation grant to update the company website, increasing sales by 30%, and an SBA8a certification to become a government contractor as a minority-owned business. While at Tufts, Auric played men’s Varsity Lacrosse, earning several championships. In spring of 2019 he served as a judge for the Berkshire Nonprofit Awards and now serves on the Nonprofit Center’s Board of Directors. Auric and his three brothers are children of Ghanaian immigrants who have resided in the Berkshires for over 25 years.
Siegel, Ed.D. was a school adjustment counselor in the Pittsfield Public Schools for 30 years. Previous to that she was a history teacher and guidance counselor at Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown. In 1990 she was honored by the Berkshire Eagle as one of ten people who made a difference in Berkshire County. Carole received her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in 1995. For over 30 years, Carole taught at the graduate level on improving the social-emotional climate of schools. She presented workshops and keynote speeches on this topic throughout Massachusetts and in Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, Texas, as well as at the Harvard School of Education. She currently serves on the boards of Berkshire Health Systems, 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children and Families), Knesset Israel Synagogue, and is an Emeritus trustee of the Berkshire Theatre Group. Previously, she served on the boards of Berkshire United Way, Berkshire OLLI, Hospice Care of the Berkshires, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Elder Services of Berkshire County and as Chair of the Boston Symphony volunteers at Tanglewood. In 2018 she received the lifetime achievement award from the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires.
Gloria is the Financial Wellness Latinx Outreach Coach at Greylock Federal Credit Union. She was born in Colombia, arrived in the USA 20 years ago, and obtained U.S. citizenship in 2011. She is very active in the Spanish speaking community and advocates for the inclusion and education of immigrant community members. Thanks to Gloria’s bilingual skills and her passion to work with the community she has had the opportunity to conduct financial wellness classes in Spanish as well as English as well as provide one on one financial coaching. She has been involved in the annual Latino Festival, assisted in the 100 Backpack Challenge, volunteered at the Gather-In Durant Park, Festival of Hope and Gladys Allen Brigham Center’s Thanksgiving Celebration and at the Board of Directors at the Community Health Program.
Alicia Mireles Christoff
Alicia was raised in southeast Michigan and is the grandchild of Mexican immigrants. She received her BA at NYU and her PhD at Princeton. She lives in Pittsfield and is Associate Professor of English at Amherst College, where she teaches courses on nineteenth-century and contemporary literature and critical theory. She is the author of Novel Relations: Victorian Fiction and British Psychoanalysis (Princeton UP, 2019), and has published articles, essays, and poems in PMLA, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Yale Review, Peach Mag, and other venues. Her current writing projects center on Latinx poetry. Alicia is proud to be part of the struggle for immigrant rights and looks forward to serving on the board at BIC beginning in September 2020. She also works with The Mastheads public humanities project.
Dr. Stan Shapshay
Stan was born in Brooklyn, NY where he attended the public schools and graduated from Brooklyn College. His parents were immigrants from Russia. He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia and did his Internship and Residency training in Surgery and Otolaryngology at the Boston University and Tufts University Medical Centers. He spent a year as a Surgical Fellow with his family in Stockholm, Sweden where he experienced the difficulty of being a foreigner speaking another language and adjusting to another culture. After 2 years in the Army Medical Corps in Tacoma, Washington, Stan returned to Boston where he practiced academic medicine for 30 years (Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery) and served as the Professor and Chairman of the Tufts-New England Medical Center Department of Otolaryngology. He was in addition a Professor of Otolaryngology at the Mt Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and has been a Professor of Otolaryngology at Albany Medical College for the past 14 years where he continues to practice medicine on a part time basis and teaches medical students and residents-in-training. He has lived in the Berkshires for 14 years in the town of Richmond with Ruth, his wife of 52 years.