RISNW MAIN OFFICE – Rainier Hall #228
BIO: Van Dinh-Kuno, a former refugee from Vietnam, has dedicated most of her adult life helping others at Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest where she has been Executive Director since 1991. Following her arrival to the US after the Fall of Saigon, she obtained a BS degree in Bio Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. After moving to WA State, she was hired first as a job developer, then assistant director before assuming her current position of 28 years as Executive Director. As the result of her own experience, she brings passion, understanding and commitment to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services so all refugees and immigrants can build a better life for themselves and their families.
Under her strong leadership and fiscal management, the annual operating budget has increased significantly over time with multiple revenue streams giving RISNW a strong and stable financial position. She developed numerous successful and strategic partnerships with local community colleges, DSHS/CSO, Employment Security, WorkSource and other local nonprofit providers to leverage services and resources while expanding RISNW’s service populations and geographic area reach beyond Snohomish County to Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan and Island Counties. She is a founding member of the Snohomish Local Planning Area (LPA) which now has more than 140 members.
Van is a recognized and tireless community advocate and civic leader. She is the recipient of numerous awards. The Outstanding Partnership Award from Everett WorkSource in 2002, Outstanding Service to Minority Communities Award from Baker St. Ministries, Asian Weekly Top Contributor Award in 2015 and, most recently, the Oscar Eason Jr.Community Service Award from the NAACP are among the many awards received.
Our team of 20 full-time and 137 on-call interpreters are fluent in 40 languages and dialects. We value partnerships, collaborations and services delivered by culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate staff who reflect the clients we serve.
My name is Vahida Polovina. I came to USA as refugee from Bosnia in 1995 and joined RISNW 1999 as bilingual case manager. Since that time, I have been continuously providing support and assistance to refugees and immigrants. It is my passion to work with diverse population and guide them through in the new beginning. My job allows me to touch the life of most vulnerable population, learn about their barriers and struggles and help them to resolve some of them. I have been working in all LEP pathway programs, WNA, Community Jobs.
Bilingual Case Manager
My name is Kamal Acharya. I was born in Bhutan and raised in Nepal. My family and I moved to the United States as refugees in 2009 in search of a better life and opportunity. I worked as a teacher back in Nepal. Since July of 2013, I have been with RISNW as case manager and authorized social services interpreter. At RISNW, I help limited English refugees and immigrants move toward self-sufficiency by enrolling them into Work Experience Program, Community Job Program and job placement. I also provide social services, conduct citizenship training class and finally help them with naturalization application process.
Arabic, French & Berber
I currently executing the duties of a program coordinator at Refugee and Immigrant Services NW. I joined RISNW in April 2013 and occupied multiple roles within the organization. I have a deep passion for my work and like to make a difference in people’s lives. I am a native of Algeria. I hold a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tizi-Ouzou University. I am fluent in Berber, Arabic and French.
My name is Leeza Baydak and I have been with RISNW since 2014. My family came to the United States as Ukrainian refugees when I was five years old. It is my mission to give back to this country by helping where help is needed and my passion to help individuals achieve their full potential.
My name is Nia Bell, I immigrated to the United State in 2012. As an Immigrant, I understand the challenges that the new comers are facing within their new country. I am fortunate to be working for Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest that gives me the opportunity to work closely with the refugees and immigrants by helping them adjust to their new surroundings. This may include providing services to apply for permanent residency and becoming a U.S citizen to fulfill the American dream. When I became a U S citizen, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I was now one of the citizens of this great country. I am excited to help others experience that I have learned in my journey.
I am Christian Carbajal and I have lived the past 20 years in Sultan Washington, a very small town in the Snohomish river valley at the base of the Cascades. Volunteering at the Elementary school with second graders gave me an understanding of the wide range of families in my community, and I served as an ELL advocate. I started as an AVID tutor at Sultan High School as soon as I turned 18 and only recently became a scheduler and translator for Refugee and Immigration Services Northwest, here on the EVCC campus. I have always been interested in the arts, music, and cultural issues. I hope to integrate the arts with supporting people of color, immigrants and those suffering from mental illness. This program is a perfect fit for my interests and goals as it combines social service with an awareness of cultural and personal issues. I am looking forward to a career of service to my community.
My name is Irina Chop. I emigrated to the United Sates from Russia with my family in 1999. I have been working for RISNW since March of 2018. Since then I’ve focused on helping navigating college and providing different services to pre-college students who are recipients of the I-CATCH grant.
My name is Hema Dahal, originally from Bhutan and I came to US in 2008 as refugee. I have been working for Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest for more than 10 years now. I feel very lucky to be part of this organization where I get an opportunity to help the refugees and immigrants start their new lives in the new country and I love what I do.
WIOA Career Specialist
My name is Mariya Kazantseva. I immigrated to the United States with my family from Uzbekistan when I was four years old. I have worked for RISNW since October 2018, helping people of Snohomish County overcome barriers to employment, become self-sufficient and obtain quality jobs and careers.
Translation / Interpretation
Language: Mandarin Chinese
My name is Mei Lamb. I immigrated to the United States from China in 2004. I have been working for RISNW as a scheduler for interpretation and translation services for three years. I am so fortunate to team up with my interpreters to help students to improve their English skills, and to provide support for their families to navigate the education system in the US.
Sinhala, Russian, Tamil
I am Malmi Peiris. I am from Sri Lanka. I recently migrated to the USA with my family having received permanent residency. I graduated as a Medical doctor and have worked in war affected regions as well as rural and urban areas among people with a multitude of economic and social problems. My special interests are in the fields of mental health and substance dependence. I speak English, Sinhala, Russian, Tamil. RISNW has immensely helped us in many ways to start life in a foreign country far from home. I am delighted and eager as a member of this team to extend a helping hand and to serve others and to help them achieve the American dream.
My name is Yelena Prigodich. I immigrated to the United Stated from Russia in 1997. Since then I graduated Everett Community College and got my Medical Billing Specialist Certificate. I worked at Seattle Children’s Hospital for 12 years. I love helping people. It makes me happy when I can help someone.
I-CATCH Outreach Specialist
My name is Andrea Pulido. I emigrated from Mexico and have worked in many different roles there and here in the United States. Education has been one of my passions. I worked as a medical and social services interpreter & translator for many years. Recently, I got an Associate’s Degree in Family Support Studies. The work I do now consists in bringing hope and opportunities through education, wraparound services and job placement to those who so much need it. I find it very rewarding to see families and individuals overcoming barriers, becoming self-sufficient and thriving to achieve their dreams.
Bilingual Case Manager
Dari/Farsi and Pashto
My name is Abdul Rahman. I work as a Case Manager for RISNW. I am originally from Afghanistan; I worked as an interpreter with U.S military in Afghanistan and moved to U.S.A. with a special immigrant visa on 2015.
My name is Janai Williams. I have has spent the last 2 years working in Workforce Development. I have been dedicated to helping people with barriers achieve their educational goals and empower them towards careers that ensure that those who have been displaced or moved from their home achieve a new life they can be proud of.