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 5 years of non-profit experience and spent 2 years in higher education. She is excited to serve the immigrant community in Berkshire County! firstname.lastname@example.org
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. email@example.com
Maureen Blennerhassett (Junior Case Worker) joined BIC in January 2019. She worked for several years as a paralegal preparing post-conviction appeals for men and women sentenced to death in California. She has also lived in both Mexico and Uruguay where she learned Spanish and worked as a sailboat captain. Maureen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Studies and an ABA-Approved Paralegal Certificate from San Francisco State University. firstname.lastname@example.org
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. email@example.com
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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. 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
Rose Ellis (President)
Rose is the former Superintendent of Schools at Mt. Greylock Regional School District. Williamstown Elementary School and the Lanesborough School, a tri-district she served for 15 years. With a doctorate in educational leadership she has presented at national and international education conferences and has served in multiple leadership capacities. Locally, she served as
president of the Berkshire County Superintendent’s Roundtable, as a board member of the Williamstown Community Chest, and as a member of the Multicultural Bridge Northern Berkshire Task Force. Currently she is an active community member and educational consultant serving on the Wild Oats Market Co-op board in Williamstown and on the Congregation Beth Israel Education Committee in North Adams. Rose joined the Advisory Board following the 2016 election outcome and now serves as its chair. As a board member, she is committed to the critical work of the Center and wants to see it grow and thrive into the future by recruiting new board members, donors and community volunteers willing to engage in the Center’s important mission. She lives in Williamstown with her husband, Steven Green, Esq.
Bob Bogomolny (Vice President)
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 (Secretary)
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.
Ellen Janis (Finance Advisor)
Ellen is a financial advisor with Commonwealth Financial Group in North Adams, working with individuals, families and businesses developing long term financial strategies. Previously, she worked for 10 years in non-profit fundraising, most recently as the Director of Development at Bennington College. Ellen received her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and her Master’s in Business Administration from Boston University. In addition to her work with the Berkshire Immigrant Center, she serves on the board of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce (Vice President), ROOTS Teen Center of Northern Berkshire (Chair of Development Committee). She has also served on the board of the Williamstown Community Preschool. Ellen lives in North Adams, MA with her husband and two children.
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 a freelance videographer and marketing consultant, has previously served on the Artscape board, and is currently Vice President of the Berkshire Art Association.
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, the Director of Special Projects for the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, and a Pittsfield City Councilor!
Tracy is the Assistant Director at Williams College, Center for Learning in Action, CLiA, the Director of the Williams College Teach NYC Urban Education Program and Coordinator of the Leading Minds Freshman Orientation Program. She also serves as the Williams College Coordinator for the Berkshire Compact/United Way’s Visit to College Day! Tracy works with students and local community members coordinating the CLIA Food Insecurity efforts on behalf of Louison House, ROOTS, YMCA and Roots Rising in Pittsfield. She also serves on the Task Force for Hunger. Tracy holds an MA in Philosophy & Education from Columbia University, an MAT in English from Manhattanville College and a BA in Philosophy and Education from Boston College. Tracy lives in Williamstown with her husband and three sons.
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.