Kristen Bloom, Executive Director & Founder
Kristen’s background in Global Education combined with her passion for helping others and getting to know people from various backgrounds drove her to get involved in teaching English to refugees. Having lived and worked in South America as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and later in Asia for four years, Kristen has a lot of experience adapting to new cultures and learning to navigate a new home. Prior to moving to Miami in October 2016, she worked at Mississippi State University both in the English Language Institute and the Office of Study Abroad. Kristen taught English as a Second Language to students from all regions of the world while working at MSU. She also taught English while living in Japan. Her experience has taught her to understand and appreciate the cultural nuances associated with working with people from many different parts of the world. She holds a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish/Latin American Studies from American University and an M.S. in Global and International Education from Drexel University.
Jamie Scotti Everett, Director of Operations
Jamie joined RAA in the summer of 2018. She has experience working with refugee women for the International Rescue Committee’s Women’s Empowerment and Protection program. Jamie did consulting work and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Set Her Free, a Ugandan non-profit which rescues (from brothels), shelters and educates girls. She circumnavigated the globe on a Semester at Sea ship with her husband, 6 year-old son and 600 undergrads in 2015, where she mentored students and led Impact Travel Excursions in places like China, India, Myanmar (Burma) and South Africa. Prior to that, Jamie lived in the Brazilian Amazon for several years, where she worked alongside indigenous women to create a micro-enterprise which still continues today. She holds a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.A. in Theology, where she studied Liberation and Feminist Theologies, as well as an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami, where she studied poverty and development, human rights and non-profit management.
Allison Insley-Madsen, President
Allison Insley-Madsen is a former career Foreign Service Officer who served primarily in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Paris, France. After 18 years overseas, she moved to Miami a few years ago. She worked in the private sector prior to joining the State Department. Allison served six years on the board of Union School, the American school in Haiti, as both chair and secretary of the board. She also helped found a therapeutic riding program for disabled orphans in Haiti which continues to send riders to compete in Special Olympics programs in Florida. She tutors a family in the RAA program in addition to serving on the board. Allison holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan and has done advanced studies at the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State in Washington, DC.
Mirva Cadet, Secretary
Mirva Cadet is the current President of Cornerstone Global Collaborative. Cornerstone Global Collaborative’s mission is to improve outcomes for children and families by providing support to community-based organizations in the areas of program design, development, and implementation. She is a successful grant writer who uses her skills to support the vision and mission of her clients. Ms. Cadet possesses a Master of Science and an Education Specialist Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling with a concentration in mental health, multicultural issues, assessment, and evaluation from The Florida State University. She holds a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certificate, which is a national certification in the Rehabilitation Counseling profession. For the past ten years Ms. Cadet served as the Chief Operations Officer for Gang Alternative, Inc. Her efforts permitted the organization to secure local, state and federal funding which resulted in over $18 million dollars of funding over the years to sustain seven major departments; all of which were created and implemented under her leadership. She accredits her effective leadership skills to her experience in direct services and her passion for children.
Cynthia Ow, Treasurer
Cynthia R. Ow is a partner of Prager Metis CPAs, LLC, a member of Prager Metis International Group. Ms. Ow has been in the accounting industry for over 20 years. Cynthia specializes in the areas of freight, logistics, and construction accounting. She prefers to build strong, healthy professional relationships with all of her clients. Prior to joining Prager Metis, she was a partner of Vizcaino Zomerfeld, LLP, joining the firm in 1998. Cynthia is fluent in English, Spanish, and Cantonese. She is a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Cynthia holds a BA and MA in Accounting from St. Thomas University.
Martine Dherte, Board Member
Originally from Belgium, Martine studied mostly in Switzerland with sporadic years in the UK and Senegal before crossing the ocean towards Canada where she completed her college years. Traveling reinforced a keen interest in understanding dynamics of divergent societies and pushed Martine to explore the world. Martine’s volunteer work includes: supporting victims of female genital mutilation (MFG) in DRC, working in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, empowering new Muslims through educational group series, caring with children living with HIV/AIDS with the Francis house, and feeding families staying at the Ronal Mc Donald house charities. Martine’s experience with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and refugees in Miami started in 2009 when she became a volunteer in the resettlement program and was given the opportunity to assist clients with their initial needs. In 2010, she was granted the possibility to provide full time assistance as a caseworker and initially worked with clients arriving from the African continent. Nadine now oversees numerous programs that she has developed.
Renee Gifford, Board Member
Ms Gifford has nearly two decades of experience providing business development, grant management, and project management services for international development firms and non-profit organizations, including FLAG International, the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance, the QED Group, International Relief and Development, and World Learning. Her areas of expertise include economic development, private sector development, small and medium enterprise development, access-to-finance, community stabilization, poverty alleviation, and humanitarian assistance. She has managed projects throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa, Central Asia, West Africa, and Eastern Europe. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.B.A. in International Business from the George Washington University.
Nada Halwani, Board Member
Born and raised in Baghdad – Iraq, Nada Halwani left her country in 1997 with a B.Sc. in Architectural Engineering. She moved to Dubai – UAE, and worked as an Architect Designer and Project Manager before moving to Miami in 2001. Nada manages a family owned real estate property and a water well drilling company. She is a mother of four and an active member of the school Parent Teacher Association. Nada is fluent in Arabic, English and knows some Spanish. Nada is so passionate about working and helping refugees. She can relate in so many ways since she lived through wars in her own country. Nada believes that helping refugee families has been life changing, and she’s so happy to be a part of RAA.
Todd Heustess, Board Member
Todd Heustess, AVP of Corporate Partnerships at New World Symphony, has worked in the non-profit/NGO development sector for over 12 years focused in corporate sponsorships and fundraising events. He has run corporate development at New World Symphony since January 2014. Prior to that he served in the Peace Corps in Botswana, working in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education with Botswana Ministry of Health and teaching business to refugees at a UNHCR site in Dukwi, Botswana. In addition, he directed corporate development at San Francisco Opera and produced large scale fundraising events for non-profits in South Florida. He has an MBA in International Marketing from the Thunderbird School of International Management and has served on the Board of Directors for National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco and Lifeworks Mentoring in Los Angeles. He is a passionate volunteer for First Descents, an organization that offers outdoor adventure therapy programs to cancer survivors and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has lived, worked and volunteered around the world and is proud to be back in Miami working for America’s Orchestral Academy.
Nida Khan, Advisor
Nida is a displaced Brit, who moved to Miami in the summer of 2017 with her husband and children. Nida worked for Ernst & Young in London for many years, where she was an economic and business consultant working with large multinational corporations. She dabbled in the non profit sector from early on in her career. Examples include working on developing an internship programme for students in the U.K. and U.S. with charities and NGOs in Pakistan, and working with a private equity backed social venture partnership in London to select social enterprises to support with grants and pro bono capacity-building consulting services. In Miami, alongside her role with the Refugee Assistance Alliance, Nida is a Partner with the Social Venture Partnership (SVP Miami). Nida has an MA Hons (Cantab) in Economics from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental & African Studies (part of the University of London). Nida enjoys reading, learning about history, and setting the world to rights over tea and biscuits.