Kate Ayers
Executive Director

Kate joined ReEstablish Richmond in 2013, motivated by her participation in the “Just Faith” program, a class focusing on social justice issues around the world. She previously worked as a special education teacher and department chair in Hanover County for 11 years, while also serving as a volunteer mentor for refugees in the Richmond community. Kate’s dedicated efforts continue to build a supportive, trustworthy community for refugees living in Richmond.

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Laura Jones
Refugee Outreach Coordinator

Laura's 16 years of living in Kenya, Cyprus, and England inform her deep appreciation for people of diverse cultural and faith backgrounds. Having been welcomed as a foreigner, she is passionate about extending welcome to others. Having navigated multiple international moves, she has a heart for those who have been forcefully displaced. Laura joined ReEstablish Richmond in 2016, drawn to the practical nature of our work among former refugees who now call Richmond home. Laura guides our client-centered intake and matching process and oversees our Transportation program.

Helen Rai, MSW
Programs and Operations Coordinator

Helen was born in Nepal and raised and naturalized in the US. She immigrated to Richmond in 2005. When folks from Bhutan who are ethnically Nepali began resettling in Richmond as refugees, she accompanied her mom on service visits and thus started building relationships with the community. During her undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in Social Work, Helen interned with ReEstablish Richmond in order to work more closely with the Bhutanese and the larger refugee community. Helen provides program and organizational support and oversees our Health + Wellness program. 


Board of Directors

Marjie Patterson, Board Member

While volunteering at the Matthew House Refugee Shelter in Ft. Erie, Ontario, Marjie learned about refugees and the challenges they face in both their native and host countries. With a background in public policy, she has studied many of the conflicts that lead to displacement and was trained in nonprofit and public sector management. After working with immigrant communities and serving as the Director of Volunteerism on the board of the Central Virginia Chapter of Project Management Institute, Marjie joined the ReEstablish Richmond board in 2014.

Committees: Executive, Finance/Budget


Katie Bisceglia

After traveling the world and working on corporate social responsibility projects with UNICEF, strengthening the monitoring and evaluation framework at the Hunger Project, and building agriculture supply chains that incorporate low income suppliers, Katie found an interest in the refugee community. She joined the ReEstablish Richmond board in 2015.

Committees: Executive, Fund Development/Strategic Marketing


Pient Tran, Chair

Pient, a first generation Chinese-Cambodian American, found his passion for supporting refugee resettlement in the Richmond area largely due to his own family’s experience fleeing South East Asia in the late 1970s.  He became a board member and treasurer in 2017 and serves on the board’s executive and finance committees.    Pient is currently a Vice President of Government Relations - Regulatory Relations at Capital One. Prior to that role, he held leadership and executive positions at The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. 

Committees: Executive, Finance/Budget


Lindsey Leach, Board Member

Lindsey has always wanted to pursue a career that is humanitarian and community focused. After earning her B.A. from Christopher Newport University in Sociology with an Anthropology concentration and English with a Journalism concentration she knew she wanted to be in the voluntary sector. As a result, she has worked as a fundraiser in nonprofit organizations for more than five years. She received her Masters of Nonprofit Studies from the University of Richmond's School of Professional and Continuing Studies in the December of 2016 and as of November 2017, she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Lindsey has served on ReEstablish Richmond's board since 2016 as Secretary and as Governance Chair since 2017. She believes the plight of the refugee is the most pressing humanitarian issue today. Her service on ReR's board is to ensure the community rallies around formerly displaced persons to offer support, services, and friendship in their new home. 

Committees: Executive, Board Development


Ayad Aljadery, Board Member

In December 2014, Ayad came to the United States as a refugee and immediately began volunteering with ReEstablish Richmond as a tutor and interpreter for newcoming refugees. His previous work as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Bagdad encouraged Ayad to get involved with refugee populations, and he joined the ReEstablish Richmond board in 2015.


Patrick Braford, Founder

Patrick founded ReEstablish Richmond in 2010 after getting to know several refugee families through attending Tabernacle Baptist Church. As he became aware of the challenges faced by the refugee community, his experiences at Habitat for Humanity and Richmond Christian Leadership Institute solidified in Patrick's mind the importance that housing plays in establishing a place in the community and a sense of personal integrity. ReEstablish Richmond was born out of his desire to improve the resettlement process for refugees and to support the agencies that serve them.

Committee: Finance/Budget

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Marilyn Breslow, Board Member

As the director of Refugee and Immigration Services of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond for 33 years, Marilyn oversaw the resettlement of over 12,000 refugees into Richmond, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads. Her experience with resettlement policies and multiple populations from across the globe inspired her to join the ReEstablish Richmond board in 2014.

Committee: Fund Development/Strategic Marketing


Marielle McFarland, Board Member

Marielle’s passion for refugee issues initially led her to volunteer with the International Rescue Committee working with Somali refugees in the Boston area. She went on to volunteer as a teacher’s aide for Sundanese refugee children during a study abroad program in Cairo, Egypt. After relocating to Richmond, she began volunteering with ReEstablish Richmond in 2017. Over the years, she has been continuously inspired by the refugees she has met and seeks to emulate their generosity, kindness, hospitality, and resilience. Marielle completed a M.A. in Economics at VCU and is currently working as the Budget Supervisor for Henrico County.

Committee: Board Development


Rick Hanson, Board Member

After working in the housing community development field for over 35 years, Rick retired and joined the ReEstablish Richmond board in 2013. He has a longstanding interest in refugee issues, inspired by his work with the Interagency Task Force on Indochina Refugees as well as his son's experiences working with Burmese refugees during a recent assignment with an Australian non-profit in Thailand.

Committee: Fund Development/Strategic Marketing

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Mohib Hafizi, Board Member

After graduating from Kabul University, Mohib started working as a culture advisor and interpreter with the US Army in Afghanistan for 3 Years. He received a Special Immigrant Visa for his work supporting U.S. Troops in 2016.  He currently works in Materials Management at Bons Secours, and is an interpreter for Commonwealth Catholic Charities.

Committee: Fundraising


Kelly Beekman, Vice Chair

Kelly Beekman is the co-founder and parter of Envoy, a negotiation firm, where she consults with clients to find common interests when building partnerships. Prior to her consulting work, Kelly worked on democratization initiatives in the Middle East for an NGO based in DC. Her passion for the region coupled with her degree in Islamic Studies led her to volunteer for ReEstablish Richmond's refugee mentorship program in 2016 and she later joined the board in 2018.


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Richard Sasso, Board Member

Richard is a first generation Chilean-American raised by immigrant parents. His upbringing, which included assisting his non-English speaking parents with day-to-day responsibilities, remind him of the similar struggles that refugee children and adults encounter. He became interested in working with refugees and joined ReEstablish Richmond as a volunteer in 2015. He has experience working alongside another nonprofit organization, the International Rescue Committee, where he has formed a bond with a Cuban refugee whom he spends time fostering a friendship. As a board member since early 2017, he hopes to both increase awareness to the people of our city and help refugees feel welcomed.

Committee: Fund Development/Strategic Marketing


Ramona Taheri, Secretary

Ramona previously worked as a Research Assistant for Columbia University, where she conducted research on civil wars through a grant from the National Science Foundation. This experience and her studies in International Relations led her to focus on the displacement of people by conflict. She has experience working with several nonprofit organizations, including Amnesty International USA, the Red Cross, the Rebuild Afghanistan Summit, and the Peace Operations Training Institute. Ramona joined the ReEstablish Richmond board in 2016 in hopes of creating a better and more inclusive environment for refugees in Richmond.

Committee: Fund Development/Strategic Marketing

Sarah Merryman, Board Member

With a diverse work history in a variety of industries, Sarah has witnessed the challenges refugee/immigrant families must face firsthand. After witnessing the mistreatment of non-English speaking seasonal workers on Martha's Vineyard, Sarah spent several months traveling through Eastern Europe collaborating with local universities on preparing their students for successful employment in the United States.  Since her return, Sarah has resided in many different major cities, connected with a variety of community-focused programs and participated in several peaceful protest marches covering topics from criminal justice reform to reproductive rights.  Sarah currently works as the Operations Lead for a creative agency in Richmond as well as a Co-Facilitator for a local chapter of Girls Who Code.

Committee: Fundraising/Development


Veena Lothe, Board Member


Veena is a proud first-generation Indian-American. Her parents moved to rural West Virginia in the early 1960's, where her father served as a physician. He dedicated his life serving the impoverished population of the Appalachian coalfields, which taught her the value of service. These lessons of service stayed with Veena throughout her life. After graduating from Cornell Law School, Veena followed in a career of service by working as a civil rights, union-side labor, and immigration attorney. Most of Veena's immigration cases today are pro bono. Veena has been in the Greater Richmond area since 1999, raising her two kids and putting them through public schools. Veena is active in the community as a school volunteer, serves as a board member at the Shady Grove Y, and volunteers as a grassroots activist.