We support refugees in their journey to become fully participating members of the West Michigan community. We envision a thriving, multicultural West Michigan community where all have an opportunity to pursue a better future!
Founded in 2006, the Refugee Education Center (REC) is a registered 501(c) (3) non-profit based in Grand Rapids, MI. Formed by refugees and immigrants, it has always been central to the organization to share the knowledge learned from a first-person perspective of how to navigate refugee services and participating as a new member of the community. While growing to add expert knowledge of refugee and social services, REC has viewed and will always view this first-hand experience as vital to the organization’s success. REC primarily engages the refugee community, and newly resettled refugees in two ways, including: through partnerships with local refugee resettlement agencies, and through REC’s own Community Leaders embedded in the community. REC walks alongside refugees in the post-settlement phase of their journey —continuing services for however long it takes to provide the tools and remove the barriers to fully participate in the community.
Susan Kragt, MPA - Executive Director
Erin VanMaanen - Operations Director
Matt Clark, M.Ed. - Advancement Director
Abdi Osman - Volunteer Coordinator
Alison Kummer - K-12 Programs Coordinator
Nikki Dunn - Family Engagement Coordinator
Hannah Werth - High School Completion Coordinator
Christine Ingabire - College & Career Coordinator
Emily Scholl - Marketing Coordinator
Ruth Langkamp - Development Assistant
Krishna Bista - Community Worker
Rahma Madnur - Community Worker
Gin Sum Piang - Community Worker
Innocent Twizere - Community Worker
Agnes Mukagasana - Community Worker
Hands Connected Multicultural Center Staff
Mandi Rycenga - Hands Connected Center Director
Zara Hayat - Lead Teacher
Basilissa Uwera - Lead Teacher
Safaa Abas - Lead Teacher
Frida Mutoni - Associate Teacher
Purnima Adhikari - Associate Teacher
Jennifer Wiltse - Float Teacher
John Harrington - President
Blerta Bushati, M.Sc. - Vice President
Nichole Northern, CPA - Treasurer
Rebecca Chabot - Secretary
Lynn Schmoll, M.Ed.
Dr. Rima Shaw, MD, MBA
Alma Tabakovic, M.A.
Swithina Mboko, PhD
Mike Roth, J.D.