Robyn was inspired to pursue a career in empowering refugee communities while volunteering as an advocate for quality prenatal care for asylum-seeking women from Eritrea and Ethiopia.

With more than 10 years of experience working locally and abroad to promote diversity and inclusion initiatives, Robyn noticed that individuals and families who survived persecution experienced challenges acclimating and integrating to their new home due to limited coordinated resources to support their transition. While leading RefugeeConnect she looks at systems change to create pathways to empower refugees from a strength-based lens.

Robyn's vision is a community that stands shoulder to shoulder listening to a real need and implementing cross-cultural collaborative solutions, and celebrating the incredible impact of all community members.

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Megan studied abroad in Ghana during her undergraduate History studies at Xavier University and learned first-hand that

being new in a country can be an isolating experience. 

She brings this to her work in helping newly resettled families find a home here in the Cincinnati area.

Her past working in a highly diverse Cincinnati Public elementary school created the lasting impression that schools are the hub of the American cultural experience for new families in the US. She works with school staff, partners, and area volunteer mentors to create welcoming environments across the city.


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Mirsada left war-torn Bosnia for Western Europe and eventually resettled in Northern Kentucky at the age of 16 in 1998. Mirsada attended Northern Kentucky University to earn her bachelor of science in marketing in 2004 and her master’s in business administration in 2009. In 2012 NKU recognized her as their Outstanding Young Researcher of the Decade. She is currently a market research manager at Kao USA, Inc. In addition to serving as board president for RefugeeConnect, where she aims to bring a new perspective, she mentors two teenage refugee girls. She often wishes RefugeeConnect existed when she settled in Kentucky. Mirsada published her memoir earlier this year, I Am a Refugee: Finding Home Again in America, about her heartbreaking childhood journey.



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Sandra Spinner is the board vice president of RefugeeConnect. She has over 45 years of experience functioning as a chair, board member, or advisor for over 20 organizations. Her educational background is in psychiatry, volunteer training, student-teacher training, and has a Bachelor’s of Arts from Brooklyn College. She has been working with refugee populations for over 30 years.  

Kelly Birkenhauer is the board treasurer of RefugeeConnect. Her background is in business administration and geology. A member of the Junior League of Cincinnati for 7+ years, she became involved with Junior League of Cincinnati’s RefugeeConnect Project in 2013 serving as chair and creating the Annual World Refugee Day Cup Soccer Tournament and Family Day.   

Ross Wales is the board secretary of RefugeeConnect.  He is an attorney, Of Counsel with Taft Stettinius & Hollister, with 40+ years of experience creating and working with charitable organizations including advising on governance matters.    

Dr. Riham Alwan, MD, MPH is a board member at large at RefugeeConnect. She is an emergency medicine physician specialized in pediatrics. She also spent 14+ years in working on trauma-informed care, education, and program development in several areas of competence.  She is a native-born American of Syrian decent and speaks Arabic. She is a health services researcher whose focus is the health behaviors and outcomes of victims of violence. Her expertise includes community-engaged research and the social determinants of health. She spearheaded the academic-community partnership that is now RefugeeConnect’s Pediatric Refugee Health Collaborative, which was born from one of the Refugee Empowerment Initiative meetings. Dr. Alwan has completed a qualitative health needs assessment of Syrian refugees locally in Cincinnati. She co-leads the current care coordination health navigator study and intervention of newly arrived refugees.    

James P. Buchanan, PhD is a board member at large at RefugeeConnect and Chair of the External Committee. He was educated at Yale University and University of Chicago where he completed a PhD in comparative religions and value systems. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, The University of Moscow, and the University of Beijing. His teaching and research has focused upon ethics, global systems, and interfaith dialogue. He held the first endowed chair in Ethics, Religion, and Society at Xavier University before becoming University Professor and Executive Director of The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue. 

Amelia Crutcher is a board member at large at RefugeeConnect and chair of the Governance Committee. Her background is in human resources with specialization in organizational design, wage and salary analysis, employment practices for expansion and reduction of workforce with special emphasis in the governmental and non-profit sectors. She has served on many non-profit boards as board chair, board member and advisor.   She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Cincinnati  and served as the founding advisor of RefugeeConnect during its incubation in the Junior League.  She was a Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year in 2007.

Alicia Kappers is a board member at large at RefugeeConnect. She is the Director of Professional Development for the law firm Frost Brown Todd focusing on Training, Mentoring, and Career Development. She is a member of the Junior League of Cincinnati and was a part of the leadership in developing RefugeeConnect’s organization and vision. Kappers served as committee chair and designed the annual scholarship program that awards local refugee students pursuing higher education.

Greg Maggard is a board member at large at RefugeeConnect and the Chair of the Finance Committee. He is a Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP. He has 10+ years of public accounting experience leading external and internal audit engagements for Fortune 20 through Fortune 1000 companies.  He holds a BSBA (Accounting with a minor in Computer Information Systems) from the University of Louisville.   

Bryan Wright, PhD is a board member at large at RefugeeConnect. He currently serves as the Interim Executive Director for Cincinnati Compass and has a background in education and international studies. He also serves as a board member for several other charitable organizations on immigration matters.