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.
Brooke Mead (Director) 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.
Hilary Greene (Volunteer Case Worker and former Director) 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.
Lorena Bello (Office Manager) comes from Venezuela via Ireland (where she spent the last four years). She has a degree in Political Science with a focus on Human Rights and is very passionate about helping immigrants. She has eight years of experience working for non-profit organizations where she devotedly helped indigenous people, refugees and displaced people as well as children at risk. She also has a very strong skill set with various computer programs, and a warm presence that helps clients feel at home when they walk through our doors. Secretary@berkshireic.com
Ben Fish (Senior Case Worker) is fluent in Spanish and has a BA in Developing Sustainable Societies from Cornell University. His travels all over the world have provided him with a deep appreciation for the great richness that immigrants bring to American culture. In addition, he has helped organize immigrants in New York City and helped Burmese refugees adapt to American school life in Ithaca, NY. Benjamin@berkshireic.com
Gulmira Churokova (Case Worker) moved to the Berkshires from Kyrgyzstan and is a native speaker of Kyrgyz and Russian. She holds an M.Sc. in Economics from Mainz University in Germany and a BA in Sociology from American University in Central Asia. Gulmira has taught Sociology at the University level and conducted research on the economic aspects of migration. Gulmira@berkshireic.com
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. Jennifer@berkshireic.com
Michele Sisselman (licensed immigration attorney) provides pro-bono consultations and advice on behalf of the Center’s clients and staff with her many years of experience. smichele
Janie Strachan (Community Support Coordinator), 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 company conducting business 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.
Sheryl Lechner (Development Coordinator) joined BIC in May 2017 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. Sheryl@berkshireic.com