Staff & Leadership

Rusty Reynolds

Executive Director
Rusty has been with International House since February 2009 and she brings experience and expertise in project management, marketing, team building, process development and training. Her professional experience includes management positions with Bank of America, Belk Stores Services and Cadmus Communications. During her time at International House, she has managed financials, operations, volunteers and human resources. She has a bachelor's degree in business administration/accounting, and a Master of Project Management, both from Western Carolina University.
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Jelena Giric-Held

Immigration Clinic Director
Jelena first came to International House as a volunteer in 2004. In 2006 she joined the staff as operations manager and immigration paralegal. In 2014,she became our Immigration Clinic Director. She holds BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) accreditation which means she can represent clients in much the same way an attorney can. 
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Johnelle M. Causwell

Citizen Diplomacy Program Director
Johnelle has been working with International House since 2012. Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, she graduated from Warren Wilson College with a major in Economics and a minor in Political Science. After almost a decade in advertising, Johnelle transitioned her career as an agency Creative Director to her other passion, International Relations. She currently works on the local level to administer the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program along with other international professional and youth exchange programs. Johnelle was instrumental in the founding of the Young Professionals @ International House and she currently acts as Staff Liaison. She was selected as one of Charlotte's Top 40 Under 40 Professionals by the Charlotte Business Journal for 2016 and was the 2013 recipient of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional Newcomer of the Year Award. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Charlotte International Cabinet with a portfolio in international business and has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
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Jorge Fernandez

Development Director
Jorge joins International House as Development Director after 14 fruitful years as the Major Gifts Officer at WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR news station. Born in Havana, Cuba, Jorge emigrated to the U.S. as a seven-year-old with his family. After stops in Cranford, NJ, and New York City, the family settled in Southeast Florida, where his siblings remain. After the welcome he and his family received as Cuban immigrants, Jorge is delighted for the opportunity to “give back” through fundraising efforts to an organization as worthy and fundamentally essential as International House. In his free time, Jorge enjoys reading, cinema, music and cooking, especially Cuban fare, his specialty being flan. He’s a big fan of both ATP tennis and Jeff Beck and has been known to kneel at the altar of Roger Federer and cross state lines to see Jeff Beck in concert. Jorge holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Minnesota.
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Stephanie Galeotti, EdD

Director of Education
Dr. Stephanie Galeotti is an energetic educator, highly motivated servant leader, avid traveler, and distance runner. A native of Charlotte, she spent a decade living across the United States, as well as in Astana, Kazakhstan. She will have traveled to all 50 states and nearly 30 countries across six continents by the end of 2018. She brings professional experience in teaching, leadership, and nonprofit work. More specifically, Stephanie has expertise in second language acquisition, literacy, curriculum development, program evaluation, strategic planning, grant writing, and organizational development. Her passion for volunteerism is evident by her continued work with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (NorthStar Reading Program tutor) and Girls on the Run Union County (board member). She holds several degrees: Doctorate in Education from Seattle University, Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, Bachelor’s in Communications from UNC Charlotte, and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL certification). Stephanie loves working with Charlotte’s immigrant and refugee community, supporting both students and families in their quest to improve English literacy skills and gain U.S. citizenship.
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Liz Zipperer

Supervising Immigration Attorney
Liz studied International Studies and Spanish at Virginia Tech. She attended law school in North Carolina, and graduated with Pro-Bono Honors distinctions. Liz was recognized for the highest distinction of having completed over 300 hours of pro-bono service in the Charlotte area. Liz is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar, and American Immigration Lawyers Association. As a daughter of a first generation Mexican immigrant she has a personal as well as an academic understanding of the political and economic struggles in the countries from which many immigrants flee. Her understanding has inspired her desire to devote her legal career to the immigrant community.
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Maria Slater

Immigration Law Attorney
Maria joined International House in 2017 as an attorney in the Ginter Immigration Law Clinic. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before law school, Maria taught first grade in Atlanta for two years. Maria went to law school hoping to work with similarly-situated low income families. While in law school, she served as Notes Editor for the Virginia Law Review and worked at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, where she developed a passion for immigrant advocacy. Prior to joining International House, Maria provided immigration and family law services to underserved communities in Durham through a Kennedy public service fellowship.
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Alma Hernandez

Client Services Director
Alma has a bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University, (Dallas, TX). Volunteering for at-risk high school students inspired her to become a teacher. She worked for a decade in Education, teaching Bilingual/ESL elementary K-5; often leading after-school programs and tutoring for students and parents. Since her arrival in Charlotte six years ago, she has been a community and political activist and holds officer and board positions with organizations throughout Mecklenburg. She spends her free time playing sports and volunteering for various local groups. Working at the International House allows her to interact, work with and serve the community.
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Nina Batson

Citizen Diplomacy Coordinator
Nina is the Program Associate with the Citizen Diplomacy Program at International House. Originally from the Republic of Georgia, she has called Charlotte home for 13 years. She has a degree in International Relations and Political Science from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Nina has worked at the International House previously as an intern and during that time was chosen as the Global Ties’ Emerging Leader in 2015. She is genuinely happy about being a part of this team and contributing to this great cause that unites us all.
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Samantha Williams

Volunteer & Events Coordinator
Originally coming to International House as an AmeriCorps member, Samantha serves as the International House’s Volunteer Coordinator. She is a native of Charlotte but has spent the last 8 years living in Greensboro where she earned a BA in International and Global studies at UNC-Greensboro. She recently returned to Charlotte to work on a Master’s degree in Communications at Queen’s University.
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Charles Lansden

Winstead PC

T. Minh Tran

Vice President
Tran's Formation

Satoshi Watanabe

Wells Fargo & Company

Cynthia Aziz

Aziz Law Firm

Vince Altamura

Wells Fargo & Company

Dr. Maha Gingrich

Strategic Management and Education Leadership

Dana Hicks

BCR Environmental Inc.

John Barquin

Duke Energy

Stephanie Spicer

Luquire George Andrews

Arlene Cash

Atrium Health

Sam Smith

 Atrium Health

Alba Belegu

Wells Fargo & Company