Refugee Council USA is chaired by the executives of member agencies on a rotating basis and has two full time staff.
As the Director of the New York based Church World Service’s Immigration and Refugee Program CWS/IRP, Mr. Kekic directs CWS’ efforts to address the needs of forcibly displaced individuals domestically and overseas.
Before becoming the director of IRP, Mr. Kekic helped conceptualize and implement the CWS’ Durable Solutions for the Displaced Persons initiative with the main objective of complementing existing programs for refugees and IDPs in protracted situations working through community based organizations and communities themselves. Prior to the career with CWS, Mr. Kekic worked with other national and local NGOs in the US and abroad.
RCUSA Vice-Chair: Annie Sovcik, Director of Washington Office, Center for Victims of Torture
Ms. Sovcik has spent almost ten years working on refugee, asylum and immigration policies. In her capacity as the Director of the Washington Office, Ms. Sovcik coordinates The Center for Victims of Torture’s (CVT) federal policy advocacy and represents the organization on a range of issues impacting its refugee clients in the United States and around the world. Based in St. Paul, MN, CVT has a presence in 16 different countries where it provides mental health and rehabilitation services to survivors of torture and conducts training and capacity building to enhance the global treatment capacity.
Prior to joining CVT, Ms. Sovcik was most recently the Advocacy Counsel for the Refugee Protection Program at Human Rights First where she led Human Rights First’s legislative and administrative advocacy on laws and policies impacting refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Ms. Sovcik also worked in the Access to Justice and Children’s Services units at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the second largest refugee resettlement organization in the United States.
As a law student, Ms. Sovcik interned at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Washington, DC and the Pro Bono Asylum Representation Program in Harlingen, TX. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law and received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of Denver. Ms. Sovcik is admitted to practice law in the State of Maryland.
Naomi Steinberg is the Director of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA). In this position she coordinates and oversees the overall work of the Council. This work includes facilitating communication between RCUSA and other nongovernmental organizations and coalitions that share similar objectives, as well as fostering collaborations with federal and state partners and the Council. In addition, she is responsible for promoting strong communication between the Council and international bodies, including the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies. Prior to joining RCUSA, Naomi was the Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). At SEARAC she focused on building the capacity of community-based, refugee-led organizations. She holds an M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from Cornell University and a B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College.
RCUSA Associate Director: Kristen Aster
Kristen Aster is the Associate Director of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA). In this capacity she supports the Director in coordinating the joint efforts of the Council, particularly focusing on refugee resettlement in the United States, advocacy, and the regions of Africa and the Middle East. She also liaises with other NGOs, various U.S. government agencies, Congress, and international organizations concerning refugee policies. Immediately prior to joining RCUSA, Kristen worked in the External Relations section of the UNHCR office in Washington, DC. She also has previous experience at the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the International Labor Organization and was a Fulbright scholar in Morocco. Kristen earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy and a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Point Loma Nazarene University.