Ashley’s passion for supporting refugees in the community along with helping individuals achieve academic success is what led her to becoming a GIL Board Member. As president she hopes to continue to help GIL expand services while meeting the needs of refugees in our community.
Ashley has several years of experience working with refugees in Michigan and overseas. She has helped resettle individuals and families, worked and researched in a refugee camp and developed a robust volunteer program to support unaccompanied refugee youth in Lansing.
Ashley is currently the Mentor Specialist for the FAME Program, a resource center for foster youth alumni attending Michigan State University. Prior to her role at FAME, she was the Work Based Learning Coordinator for the High School Diploma Completion Initiative at Lansing Community College and helped high school students obtain their degree while also providing opportunities to learn about future careers.
Ashley received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Christopher Newport University (VA) and her master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University (NY).
Judi Harris is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter. As
such, Judi supports eleven counties to recruit volunteers, encourage life-saving trainings, build
partnerships for blood drives and raise resources to be able to respond to increasing disaster
events locally and throughout the country.
Judi recently served as Program Director for Refugee Services at St. Vincent Catholic Charities
Lansing from December 2008 – November 2022. In this role, she managed Refugee Services
staff and coordinates programs for all refugees coming to the Lansing area. Judi led her program
to establish housing, health care, employment, education, and community connections for new
arrivals. Judi fought to keep the refugee resettlement program working and healthy by building partnerships and conducting outreach and education to community groups, schools and
universities, business and faith-based organizations around mid-Michigan.
Judi was a refugee foster parent for over 12 years and has fostered 10 children from five different
countries. She is one of the founders and board Vice President of the Global Institute of Lansing,
a non-profit organization that helps refugee youth earn high school diplomas. She also helped to
establish and advises the All Faith Alliance for Refugees (AFAR).
Judi earned a double Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and French from San
Francisco State University and a Masters in Health Education from Trinity College in Washington, DC. Judi has over twenty-five years of experience in international health education and project management having lived, developed and managed health programs in Africa, the Balkans, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. Judi has worked with refugees in the United States
John was drawn to GIL based on the organization’s role in enriching the Greater Lansing community by helping young refugee adults achieve a high school diploma.
John’s passion for working with refugees comes from a transformational experience while working as the Associate Director of Marketing & Community Relations with St. Vincent Catholic Charities (STVCC), the refugee resettlement agency in Lansing. It was at STVCC where he learned the powerful and heart-wrenching personal stories of the refugees STVCC serves and Lansing’s rich refugee resettlement history. His role on the board allows him to continue to be involved in assisting young refugees on their path to achieving the American dream.
John currently works at the Michigan Health & Hospital Association as director, communications. He has over ten years of professional marketing and communications experience, including previous roles at STVCC, Walsh College and the Plymouth Whalers. John holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Walsh College and a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing degree from Michigan State University.
Sharon Carr has been a tutor with the Global Institute of Lansing’s program for over 10 years. Now she serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors. She is a retiree of Michigan State University as the Budget Director for the College of Veterinary Medicine. Previously, she was a classroom teacher for the Lansing Public Schools.
Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in Education and a master’s degree in Education Psychology – both from Michigan State University. She also earned a doctorate degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University.
Sharon believes in supporting community services by using the skills learned from previous experience. She volunteers with the Greater Lansing Food Bank and works as an income tax preparer with the AARP Tax Aide Program.
As a refugee foster parent to eight teen youth since 2001, Yasmina has direct experience with the educational challenges of high school completion, especially for youth that arrive in their late teens and have no time left to complete high school in the traditional system. This firsthand experience led directly to her involvement as a founding member of GIL, representing the foster parent community. Yasmina is also active as a member on the Greater Lansing United Nations Association (GLUNA) Board, where she has specific interest in advancing the sustainable development goals. Professionally, she has served over 15 years working at the city, county, and state level in the planning and delivery of maternal, infant, and child health services, and currently works towards the full inclusion of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities as the Deputy Director of the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, a position she has held since 2007.
Peggy Champion is currently an ESOL instructor at the Refugee Development Center of Lansing. She works with speaking, listening, reading, & writing skills at different levels with refugee and immigrant students from all over the world. She has dedicated the majority of her long career to working in this area. Peggy was also an ESOL instructor at Lansing Community College for a number of years teaching in a similar capacity. She worked for the Lansing School District with elementary students in migrant and bilingual education as well as ESOL. Her knowledge of and proficiency in Spanish has helped her greatly in relating to the needs of her students. Volunteer work has been a big part of her professional and personal life. She has given countless hours in many areas. Peggy worked as a teacher/tutor at the GIL for about three years with adult refugee students helping them reach their goal of receiving a high school diploma. Although she has also worked in different areas of education including administration, being able to teach, guide, & learn from newcomcomers to the Lansing community has been her passion. She has always been grateful for these opportunities.
Kelly Jo Kitchen is the past President of the Global Institute of Lansing and has been a board member and tutor for 5+ years. Kelly is a retired teacher with over 32 years’ experience. She began her educational career in speech pathology and taught math and science the last 20 years of her tenure. Kelly has volunteered in her communities; coaching, tutoring, managing community gardens, working in festivals, assisting environmental nonprofits and tutoring.
Kelly Jo Kitchen earned a bachelor’s degree in audiology and speech sciences and a master’s degree in speech pathology with a minor is physical science from Michigan State University. Ms. Kitchen earned her Juris Doctorate from Thomas Cooley Law School and is a licensed attorney in the State of Michigan.
Kelly has been a passionate advocate for her students and community. She believes America is made stronger by the diversity within its population as it is in the environment. Helping people feel a sense of belonging and commitment to their community has been her life’s work.
Ivana Lambaria is a first-generation immigrant, and is proficient in seven languages. In her current role as a Diversity Project Coordinator at LCC, she implements her passion for promoting diversity, equity,
and inclusion in the community. She fiercely advocates against bias, and her projects provide support on LGBT, refugee, and racial diversity issues.
Ivana earned her BA studying Industrial Arts at Southwest University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Ivana lived in countries across Europe, as well as Alaska, Colorado, and Illinois before settling down in Lansing,
MI. Prior to working in an academic setting, Ivana founded an event planning business in Chicago, specializing in diverse celebrations. Ivana’s entrepreneurial spirit, business ownership and management experience, and DEI background will be an asset to the Global Institute of Lansing.
The Board of Directors meets monthly via Zoom. All meetings are open to the public.
2023 Board Meeting Dates
January 5, 2023 at 4:30 pm - Annual Meeting
February 2, 2023 at 6:00pm
March 2, 2023 at 4:30pm
April 6, 2023 at 4:30pm
May 4, 2023 at 4:30pm
June 1, 2023 at 4:30pm
July - no meeting this month
August 3, 2023 at 4:30pm
September 7, 2023 at 4:30pm
October 5, 2023 at 4:30pm
November 2, 2023 at 4:30pm
December 7, 2023 at 4:30pm
If you would like to attend the Zoom Board Meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the meeting ID and password