Staff

Mitra Shavarini

Executive Director, Farsi and Spanish

Dr. Mitra K. Shavarini joined Project Citizenship in January 2021. She is a first-generation immigrant with wide-ranging expertise both domestically and internationally. More recently, as executive director of WorldTeach, she led the organization through a period of mission recalibration and fiscal stabilization. Throughout her career, Dr. Shavarini has addressed issues by building partnerships with synergistic organizations, community stakeholders, and thought leaders. Dr. Shavarini is the author of three books and several papers in peer-reviewed journals. The publication she is most proud of is a personal narrative that chronicles the events and people that brought her parents from Iran to America, and then back again: Desert Roots: Journey of an Iranian Immigrant Family.  Dr. Shavarini earned her doctorate in Administration, Planning ; Social Policy from Harvard University. She fully believes in our mission that citizenship leads to a stronger U.S. society: economically, socially, culturally and civically.

Melanie Torres

Deputy Director, Spanish

Melanie joined Project Citizenship in 2015. She served as Director of Programs and Operations and a DOJ Accredited Representative at Project Citizenship for five years. She manages citizenship workshops, immigrant outreach, grants to community partners, and finance. As the daughter of a naturalized citizen, her interest in immigration and citizenship has shaped her studies and career. Melanie graduated from Boston University with a degree in International Relations, and then spent some time working abroad in Latin America. Prior to her position at Project Citizenship, she worked as a Site Manager at Chelsea Community Schools, providing ESOL, arts and recreation courses for families of the Chelsea community. Melanie previously served on the Commission for Immigrant Rights and Citizenship for the City of Cambridge from 2016-2018.

Erin Fricker

Legal Director

Erin joined Project Citizenship in August 2019 as a Staff Attorney. Erin’s interest in immigration issues began after she studied abroad in India and worked in refugee resettlement. The great-granddaughter of immigrants, Erin previously worked as an immigration attorney at a legal services organization and for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Erin graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Boston College Law School.

McKenzie Bell

Program Manager, Spanish

McKenzie joined Project Citizenship in September 2020 as a Program Manager focused on community outreach, volunteer communication, and citizenship workshops. She most recently worked as a legal advocate for Rosie’s Place, a women’s shelter in Boston. Previously, she was an AmeriCorps member and then service fellow at a local community health center assisting primarily immigrant patients. Experiences studying Spanish at university, particularly volunteering in adult ESL classrooms and spending a semester in Spain, reinforced her desire to work with immigrant community members. She’s thrilled to continue learning and collaborating.

Lauren Gottlieb

Program Manager, Spanish

Lauren joined Project Citizenship in 2021. Lauren served on staff in the Massachusetts State Senate and in the immigrant services sector. As the great-granddaughter of Eastern Europeans Jews seeking opportunity, safety, and community in the United States, Lauren is drawn to Project Citizenship’s mission and understands the opportunities citizenship affords not just those who are naturalized, but also the compounding effects it has on their social, cultural and economic well-being of communities and future generations. After living and studying abroad Spain, and providing English education to young girls in rural Mayan communities, Lauren is excited to continue her work with diverse populations. Lauren graduated from the University of Rhode Island with Bachelors degrees in Political Science and Spanish Language and Literature.

Gloria Donati

AmeriCorps Legal Advocate of MA, French and Italian

Gloria joined Project Citizenship in September 2020 as an AmeriCorps Legal Advocate of Massachusetts. Holding American and Italian citizenships, while also being of Ethiopian descent and having lived in several countries abroad, Gloria understands the importance of supporting immigrant communities in achieving their goals. Gloria earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in Italian and French laws from the University of Bologna and the University of Nanterre, as well as a Master’s degree in law from the University of Bologna. She recently graduated with an LLM degree from Boston University School of Law.

Jennifer Gonzales

AmeriCorps Legal Advocate of MA, Spanish

Jennifer joined Project Citizenship in January of 2020 as an AmeriCorps Legal Advocate of Massachusetts. She recently received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Boston University. As the daughter of two Peruvian immigrants, she has always felt compelled to serve immigrant communities. Jennifer has studied abroad in London and Madrid and worked as a legal intern at various immigrant-serving nonprofits. She is interested in eventually practicing immigration law and serving underrepresented immigrant populations, including but not limited to asylees, refugees and undocumented immigrants.

Sara Kniaz

NAIP AmeriCorps Member, Spanish

Sara joined Project Citizenship in September 2020 as a NAIP AmeriCorps Member. She recently received a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tufts University. Sara’s interest in citizenship stems from volunteering with a few immigration organizations in college and studying refugee policy while abroad in Copenhagen. She also loves to cook and travel to learn about different cultures. Sara plans to go to law school in the future.

Gigi Vujovich

NAIP AmeriCorps Member, Spanish

Gigi is serving with Project Citizenship as a NAIP AmeriCorps member. She became interested in working in the immigration field through an internship she did at the LGBT center OC, which provides support to asylum seekers in Orange County. She received a B.S. degree in Environmental Science & Policy from Chapman University last year, and would like to continue her education in immigration/refugee law.

Lissa Damus

Intake Specialist, Haitian Creole

Lissa Damus joined Project Citizenship in September 2020. She graduated at the University of Massachusetts Boston with a degree in International Relations. She is currently pursuing her master’s International Relations as well. Lissa speaks Haitian Creole, French and English. Her interest in immigration comes from the fact that she and her parents are immigrants from Haiti. She understands the importance of getting citizenship and is passionate about helping others accomplish that goal.

 

 

Owen Diana

Development Associate, Spanish

Owen Diana joined Project Citizenship in the fall of 2018. Owen graduated from Oberlin College in 2017, majoring in Latin American Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Since then, he has volunteered at numerous workshops with Project Citizenship as a Spanish translator. In addition to his volunteer work, Owen is the founder and editor of Just For Kicks, a blog about soccer around the world.

Jessye Kass

Communications Strategy Consultant

Jessye Kass joined Project Citizenship in 2021. She is focusing on communication strategy and working to use storytelling to transform the way supporters understand the work. Having 12+ years of experience helping folks from all backgrounds navigate complicated systems, she is proud to support Project Citizenship’s important work in decreasing barriers to eligible immigrants gaining citizenship. Outside of this work, she also runs her own coaching, training, and consulting business providing a range of burn out prevention, leadership, equity practice, career visioning, and strategic communications support. Previously, she was the Director of the Cambridge Women’s Center. She has also managed affordable housing programs, been a teacher in Thailand, and co-founded an NGO in Ghana. She attended Brandeis University.

Eva Ng

Grant Writer/Development Officer

Eva comes to Project Citizenship to assist in grant writing. She is very appreciative of the fantastic work Project Citizenship does, both for the client and for our society at large.  She has been working for 6 years as the Finance Director of WorldTeach, a non-profit that sent volunteer teachers to many countries around the world. Now, she helps Project Citizenship to service people from 130 countries to unite as citizens of the United States.

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