The Berkshire Immigrant Center employs bilingual staff members (Spanish, Russian) who are culturally sensitive and thoroughly understand the needs and challenges faced by the immigrant and refugee community.
The Director, Brooke Mead, was formerly a high school Spanish teacher and holds her Masters degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. She has lived in Venezuela and Mexico and, having been an immigrant herself, brings with her the cultural understanding and sensitivity necessary to work with the immigrant and refugee population.
The Outgoing Director and Case Worker, Hilary Greene, holds a Bachelors degree in Soviet and Russian Studies and is a fluent Russian speaker. Hilary spent several years working in public relations in St. Petersburg, Russia and then worked as Program Manager of The National Young Composers Competition at Williams College prior to joining the staff of the Jewish Federation in 1999.
The Office Manager, Rosalia Padilla, originally from Puerto Rico moved to Boston in the late 1980s. She spent her senior year of high school as an exchange student in Belgium and is compassionate, welcoming to people from all backgrounds, and sensitive to cultural differences. She holds a BA from Goddard College and has worked as a professional medical interpreter and also installs and maintains perennial, annual, and native gardens in southern Berkshire County. She has been a wonderful addition since November 2014.
The Education Coordinator, Jennifer Smith, holds a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire. She worked for many years as the Program Coordinator, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, and Student Advocate for Jackson Mann Community Center and Veronica Smith Senior Center in Brighton, MA prior to joining the BIC staff.
Michele Sisselman, licensed immigration attorney with extensive experience, provides pro-bono consultations and advice on behalf of the Center’s clients and staff.
Janie Strachan, originally from Puerto Rico, moved to the US to go to college in 1991. She has a BS from Georgetown University and lived in DC for many years working in the restaurant industry where she interacted with immigrants from many countries. She then worked at a global Fortune 500 companies with their businesses in Central and South America, Spain, and Cameroon. Prior to moving to the Berkshires, she worked as Volunteer Coordinator and Case Manager for a non-profit organization in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana which helped rebuild homes damaged in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The Development Coordinator, Sheryl Lechner, who joined BIC in May 2017, has lived in the Berkshires since 1993 and is excited to be working on behalf of Berkshire immigrants and the cultural diversity of our community. She previously served as Capital Campaign Manager for the Stockbridge Bowl Association on its $2.8 million Save Stockbridge Bowl fundraising effort. She also was Outreach Coordinator for Berkshire Grown, supporting farmers in the greater Berkshires region; and was a longtime journalist, writing for newspapers and magazines and co-authoring two nonfiction books.