Abigail Sylvester, Board President

 

Abigail Sylvester, Board President

Abigail worked as the Adult Education Program Director at St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) in Cairo, Egypt, 2007 - 2009. She has worked in the social sector for over ten years working on behalf of women, children and families around the world. Abigail currently lives in Chicago, Illinois where she works at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early childhood education organization. Abigail is a member of Women Employed’s Advocacy Council and of All Saint’s Episcopal Church where she serves as the liaison between All Saint’s and the Episcopal Diocese in Renk, South Sudan. Abigail received her B.A. in Foreign Affairs and Minor in Middle East Studies from the University of Virginia and her Master of Public Policy and Certificate of International Development from Duke University. She studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and the American Language Institute in Fez, Morocco.


     Grace Benton, Board Member

 

Grace Benton, Board Member

Grace worked first as a part-time legal advisor and then as Resettlement Coordinator in the Refugee Legal Aid Program at St. Andrew's Refugee Services (StARS) in Cairo, Egypt, 2014 - 2016. Grace holds a M.A. in Arab Studies and a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University, and she received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and study in Amman, Jordan from 2011-12, where she worked with the Sudanese and Somali refugee communities. Grace currently is a Research Associate at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration in Washington DC, where she focuses on issues of internal displacement in Iraq, refugee resettlement, and popular portrayals of refugees. 


     Cara Kiggins, Board Member

 

Cara Kiggins, Board Member

Cara volunteered as a legal intern with St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) in Cairo, Egypt in 2009. For more than 10 years Cara has offered support, compassion, and advocacy to survivors of trauma in the U.S. and internationally. Cara served as Executive Director of Community Outreach & Advocacy for Refugees in Phoenix, Arizona, and was on the Board of Directors of The Arizona Refugee Advancement Coalition. She also managed a Rape Crisis Center program for nearly 5 years in San Diego, CA. Cara worked and studied in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright Fellow, obtaining a Graduate Certificate in Migration and Refugee Studies from the American University in Cairo during this time. Cara received her B.A. in Anthropology from Arizona State University and studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo. 


  Chris Opila, Board Member

Chris Opila, Board Member

Chris has been involved in refugee work in varying capacities since 2012. He was a volunteer resettlement caseworker and legal adviser at St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) in Cairo, Egypt from 2012 – 2014 and the Cairo staffer for the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) from 2013 – 2014. He also served as a caseworker, a resettlement officer, and the supervisor of the African Regional Deployment Unit at the CWS-operated Resettlement Support Center in Nairobi, Kenya and assorted refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia from 2014 – 2017. Chris holds a B.A. in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College and a certificate in Arabic Language & Literature from the CASA Program at the American University of Cairo. Currently, he is a student at the University of Michigan Law School and intends to practice immigration and refugee law upon his graduation.