ZAID HYDARI

Executive Director, Co-Founder

A member of a family split up by the largest migration of modern history (The 1947 Partition of India), Zaid has always maintained a keen interest in human mobility. He volunteered informally with his mother to assist resettled refugees from Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq during his adolescence in Houston, TX.

Zaid received a B.A. in History and Government from the University of Texas at Austin, and a law degree from Fordham University School of Law in New York. During law school he worked on civil rights and employment discrimination with the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the plaintiffs-side employment law firm Outten & Golden. He was an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he contributed to government misconduct, international human rights, and corporate accountability cases. While at Fordham he was also a student in the Community Economic Development Clinic and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic (Leitner Clinic), which took him to Malawi to carry out interviews in prisons with detainees experiencing prolonged pre-trial detention and to deliver training to prison and police officials from across the country. Following graduation, Zaid co-directed a Leitner Clinic project that addressed the human rights implications of U.S. immigration law, particularly deportation of Cambodian-Americans previously admitted to the U.S. as refugees.

As a recipient of a 2010 James E. Tolan Human Rights Fellowship, Zaid served as a legal adviser with Turkey’s primary refugee legal aid NGO. From 2011 until 2014 he continued to contribute to legal assistance for refugees in Turkey, with a focus on UNHCR status determination procedures and policies. He also contributed to know-your-rights training for refugee communities and nonrefoulement litigation using regional instruments.

Zaid is a co-founder of RSN and was the Chair of the founding Board. He led RSN through the start-up process, from incorporation to tax-exemption. In August 2014 he transitioned to the RSN Executive Director position.

Zaid is licensed to practice law in New York State, has served as pro bono counsel on cases before the BIA, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

KAMYAR JARAHZADEH

Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Manager

Kamyar’s educational and professional career has focused on his passion for understanding migration and refugee issues. He received his B.A. in the interdisciplinary study of migration from the University of California Berkeley, and went on to complete the MSc in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford. In and out of the field for years, his main research has been on the experiences of Afghan refugees in Turkey from a socio-legal perspective.

Before joining the RSN team, Kamyar contributed to the Afghan refugee civil society movement in Turkey, and has offered various organizations analyses of migration issues to support refugee aid and policy. His previous professional experience includes work in the global health and development sphere, along with an ongoing editorship at an online regional studies platform: Ajam Media Collective.

His interest in migration is largely rooted in his family’s transnational experiences, particularly their experiences fleeing the Iran-Iraq war. After committing his educational and professional career to working with refugee and migrant communities, he is proud to contribute his knowledge and expertise to the RSN mission.

PATRICIA TALISSE

Communications Manager

Patricia holds a B.A in Counseling Psychology from the University of Aleppo in Syria, and a Masters in Social Services from Fordham University in New York.

She comes to RSN with dedicated experience from her background in social services and non-profit organizations in both Syria and New York. Patricia has demonstrated contributions to the field of international social work education and received the PIE Award’s from the CSWE’s Commission on Global Social Work Education. She had also been selected as the student of the year from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NYC Chapter).

During her undergraduate studies, Patricia volunteered extensively both as a Girl Scout leader and as counselor with the Jesuit Refugee Services in Aleppo, Syria. In New York, she was heavily involved with UN NGO Committees, such as the Committee on Migration and the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Patricia is passionate about humanitarian matters and has been invited to speak at the UN in different forums on human rights, migration, and Syrian women's issues. Her recent educational experiences have equipped her with a global perspective which allow her to provide creative solutions for addressing issues that face refugees.

Patricia is inspired by RSN’s mission and commitment to transparency, and she hopes her career will be defined by raising awareness of 21st century humanitarian crises.

MELANIE HOPKINS

FINANCIAL MANAGER

Melanie serves as financial controller for over 30 nonprofits and small businesses. Prior to starting her own financial consulting business, Melanie served as the manager of operations and finance for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Melanie is also the managing director of Fault Line Theatre, with whom she has produced the GLAAD award winning “From White Plains” and “Breathing Time” by Beau Willimon (House of Cards) among others.

MAYA CASAGRANDE

Development Coordinator

Maya has worked in international development for the last decade and has worn hats ranging from Volunteer Manager to Managing Director at various organizations. Currently, Maya works as a consultant, primarily supporting organizations pursuing grant funding. She brings to the organization intimate knowledge of the grants process from prospecting through reporting, as well as a strong ability to transform seemingly dry financial and programmatic data into compelling narratives. Maya holds a Master’s Degree in International Development, and is currently based in Ireland by way of New York and Colorado. Outside of international development and humanitarian assistance, Maya is driven by a love for photography, reading, and being outdoors.

 

 
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