Maria Vertkin (any pronouns)

Founder and Executive Director
Maria is a social worker, immigrant, formerly homeless, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. She was born in Nizhniy Novgorod in a multi-ethnic Chăvash and Jewish family. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, she immigrated with her family first to Israel and then to the US. In addition to English, Maria speaks Russian, Hebrew, some Spanish and Portuguese, and is relearning and reclaiming her Chăvash mother tongue.

Prior to founding Found in Translation, Maria studied Social Work at Regis College, and worked with adolescents transitioning out of foster care and homeless unaccompanied youth at the nonprofit Rediscovery. She has also volunteered with survivors of domestic violence, as a mentor to pre-teen girls, a parents’ support group facilitator, crisis phone counselor, and translator for a grassroots media project. She is the recipient of the 2009 Veronica Award, 2010 Pearson Prize, 2011 Kip Tiernan Fellowship, 2013 Echoing Green Fellowship, 2015 Richard Cornuelle Award, 2015 Grinnell Prize, 2017 Jaffe Award, 2017 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, and 2018 WeWork Creator Award.

Kelly Lynch (she/her)

Kelly Lynch graduated from UMass Amherst, where she majored in Political Science and French & Francophone Studies, while completing a certificate program in Interpretation Studies. After teaching ESOL through the UMass Labor Management Workplace Education Program and supporting low-income individuals through the LIFT Cambridge-Somerville office, she went on to serve as an AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring at On Common Ground.

Upon completing her year of service, she remained at On Common Ground as the first full-time program coordinator of the Mentor Center, which offers mentoring services to adults experiencing poverty through one-on-one support, guidance and resource referrals. Kelly joined Found in Translation in 2015 as a Career and Supportive Services Coordinator, while serving as the Outreach Coordinator at the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She also holds a certificate from Wheelock College in Nonprofit Organization Leadership.
Bindiya Jha

Bindiya Jha (she/her)

Program Director, Interpreter Training
Bindiya believes in language access and equity. She is a community-based healthcare administrator, an advocate, and educator with a focus on healthcare interpreting. She speaks Nepali and is actively involved with the Bhutanese refugee population. She has a Masters in International Development and Social Change from Clark University. She is a freelance CCHI certified Medical Interpreter and a Certified Court Interpreter in Nepali.

Ms. Jha has worked in refugee resettlement from 2007 to 2013 and has extensive experience in immigration law. Since 2013, she has worked at Caregiver Homes and provides operational support to Adult Foster Care programs along with online digital care coaching for Nepali speaking caregivers. Her most recent position before Found in Translation was as the Clinical Practice Manager for the Worcester branch. She is a trainer for Nepali medical interpreter students in various platforms across the state. In all her roles, she has been a passionate advocate for languages of lesser diffusion like Nepali.
Karen Walker - Career Advancement Manager

Karen Walker (she/her)

Program Director, Career Advancement
Karen was born in Massachusetts and is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica.  She studied psychology and Spanish at Oberlin College and later studied school psychology at Tufts University.  Karen has worked as a school psychologist in the public school system working with students from pre-school through high school.

She spent a number of years working with homeless youth providing academic and career development services first as a classroom instructor and later as an administrator.  Karen also spent four years working at a community college in Massachusetts overseeing a dual enrollment program for high school students with disabilities.

Abigail Setterholm (she/her)

Abigail grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she attended a Spanish Elementary school and became bilingual at a young age. Her passion for cultures, empathy, and social justice led her to Boston, where she attended Tufts University, earning a BA in Peace and Justice Studies and a minor in Drama.

Before coming to Found in Translation, Abigail completed two years of national service as a City Year AmeriCorps member at a public elementary school in Boston, serving as a tutor, mentor, and role model in a 5th-grade classroom. Abigail joined Found in Translation in 2016 as a Program Assistant and has since transitioned from program support to data, development, and communications.
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Cristina Silva (she/her)

Cristina is originally from Chicago where she was raised by immigrant parents from Mexico and Cuba. Surrounded by diversity and social justice activism from a young age, she developed a lifelong appreciation for multiculturalism and community-focused work. In adulthood, Cristina worked hard to reclaim her first language that was all but lost as a little girl. Today, she speaks solely Spanish at home with her family.

Cristina holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She spent six years working in arts education to provide arts integration resources in public schools. After becoming increasingly concerned with Chicago’s underserved communities’ lack of quality of life amenities, she pursued a Master’s in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since 2012, she has served as project manager and researcher for various nonprofits and community development financial institutions. Her work has encompassed multi sector research in the areas of affordable housing, K-8 education, food access, sustainability and transit oriented development.
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Maria Camila Romero (Camila) (she/her)

Supportive Services Manager
Camila was born in Bogota, Colombia, and she immigrated to New York with her parents as a toddler, where she was raised. Camila was zealous to develop her Spanish language skill growing up and into adulthood, thus she prides herself in being fluent in Spanish. Camila graduated from Boston University in 2018 with a degree in Psychology and a Minor in Education, as she was passionate about human development through means outside of academia, such as employment, overcoming hardships, traveling, interacting with people of varying identities, etc.

Camila utilized her passion for human development to promote family stability working as a social worker for the Department of Children and Families (DCF), where she provided case management for children, and their families, impacted by neglect/abuse, and/or facing risk factors such as domestic violence, substance misuse/disorders, mental health challenges, immigration barriers, etc. While at DCF, Camila strove to center a racial equity lens in both her individual work with families and created opportunities to educate frontline staff and management on inequitable case practices common in the field. Camila worked to break down systemic barriers to a family’s ability to thrive, as she advocated for meaningful language access to families and culturally sensitive services.

Renée Metelus (she/her)

Renée was born in Massachusetts to Haitian parents and grew up outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Her Haitian heritage and first generation identity inspired her to pursue mission-based work at the intersection of racial and social justice, educational equity, and human rights advocacy. She began her professional career at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, where she supported international human rights advocacy in strategic communications, operations, and development. She currently serves as a Charities Specialist at the Office of the Attorney General. Previously, she worked extensively to further family and community engagement in education in Atlanta and expand equitable education opportunities for students in early childhood education programs, adult English Language Learners, and hospitality union workers in Roxbury and Chinatown.

Renée received her undergraduate degree from Boston University in 2018, where she studied sociology and international relations. She is working towards proficiency in Portuguese and is fluent in Haitian Creole and Spanish.
Denise Muro Interpreting and Translation Coordinator

Denise Muro (she/her)

Interpreting and Translation Coordinator
Originally from Denver, Colorado, Denise has a background in nonprofit and higher education work in gender and racial justice and equity. She has several years of experience working, advocating, and conducting research with asylum seeker, refugee, and immigrant communities and currently leads a volunteer-based initiative to strengthen and connect services for these communities in the Boston area. Denise has also spent four years working with UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy on women’s leadership programming and bringing attention to social and political issues of importance for women, and especially women of color and low-income women.

Denise earned her master’s in International Studies with a graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Wyoming and has bachelor's degrees in English and in International Affairs from the University of Northern Colorado. She is a doctoral candidate in the Global Governance and Human Security program at UMass Boston.
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Makiz Nasirahmad (she/her)

Makiz was born in Afghanistan and lived in Moscow, Russia before moving to Boston in the United States. She speaks Dari, Russian, English and some Urdu/Hindi. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UMass Boston. While at UMass Boston, Makiz travelled to Russia, Ireland and India to volunteer with nonprofit organizations and study. She spent a semester at the Moscow State University in Russia, where she also volunteered with a nonprofit organization that assisted refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Angola etc. She has also travelled to Ireland to participate in a program on human rights, advocacy and cinema.

Throughout her years at UMass Boston she worked as a journalist and editor for the Mass Media, the university newspaper. During her gap year, she worked as a researcher for Samuel Hall company, where she assisted to conduct research for UNICEF on child marriages in Afghanistan. Upon completion of her degree, she traveled back to Afghanistan, where she worked as a Communications and Advocacy Officer with the United Nations Mine Action Service. During her time outside of work, she works on a campaign she founded in 2017, to provide families in need with food, hygiene products and financial assistance.
Beatriz Moreno

Beatriz Moreno (she/her)

Beatriz was born in Honduras and grew up in both Southern California and her native country. She completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science at UCLA, with substantial additional coursework in accounting, business, and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Found in Translation, she spent 6 years at Focusing Philanthropy, a grant maker in the social impact space. During her time at the organization she cultivated expertise in fundraising communications, managing capacity building projects, and overall donor and grantee relations. She went on to assist 2 other emerging nonprofits in the US with their fundraising activities before joining our team. Her unique experience as both a funder, alongside her commitment to seeing immigrant women succeed, makes her an asset to our team.

Outside of her work with Found in Translation, Beatriz enjoys mentoring high school and middle school students from across the country. She is passionate about all things related to social entrepreneurship, travel, and most importantly culture.
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Julia Hickey (she/her)

Julia Peçanha Hickey was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is a dual citizen of Brazil and the U.S. Julia graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a BA in Creative Writing in 2012. She began working in nonprofit development in 2014, and since then has worked with a range of organizations in the arts, education, social justice, and conservation. In her spare time, Julia writes poetry (her work can be found in Issue 38 of New American Writing and in the forthcoming Haunted issue of Hayden's Ferry Review) rides horses, and has adventures with her dog, Milo.