Staff Biographies

Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center

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Shawn Ellis photo

Shawn Ellis

Acting Director
Multilingual/cultural Communications & Outreach Manager
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Office: 240-401-6031
[email protected]
Pronouns: He, Him, His (what's this?)

Shawn Ellis is the Multilingual Communication and Community Outreach Manager for the Office of Community Partnerships. The son of an immigrant mother from the island of Barbados and a father who was a native Washingtonian, he has always been immensely proud of the cultures and experiences of both sides of his family.

A graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase Highschool, Shawn has spent most of his life living in Montgomery County. Originally intending to become a physician or medical professional and follow in his parent's footsteps, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His path changed after graduation when realizing that his passions weren't in medicine but instead in the plight of underserved and underrepresented people. Before his current role, Shawn managed Montgomery County's communication and community outreach campaign for the 2020 Census as the Census Manager. He has also served as the Language Access programs assistant manager and helped to manage the efforts of the County's Citizenship, Legal, & Legal Immigration Service Providers Coalition.

What does Shawn say about the County? It's easy to take for granted how fortunate we are to live and work in a place as diverse as Montgomery County. If my years away at college hadn't convinced me, my subsequent travels across the county and comments of friends who would visit me here from different places have always served as stark reminders of how unique the county is. The diversity of language, culture, and experience in our county should continue to be celebrated, embraced, and protected for all it offers.

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Kate Chance
Faith Community Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Rockville, MD 20850
Cell: 240-801-2904
[email protected]
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers(what's this?)

Kate Chance is the Faith Community Outreach Manager for the Office of Community Partnerships. She comes to this role with extensive experience working with faith leaders and houses of worship on a wide range of issues with a focus on interfaith initiatives. Kate earned her Master’s degree from the University of Oxford in the Study of Religion, with concentrations in Islam and Hinduism. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Flagler College, with degrees in Psychology, Philosophy and Religion.

She previously worked for the New York City Mayor's Office as the City-Wide Faith Liaison for the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, which is housed within the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit. The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships seeks to transform the way faith communities and mission-based community organizations connect to City services. Kate represented the Mayor’s Office and worked to amplify the voices of faith leaders in city hall. She managed PPE distribution to faith leaders and houses of worship in vulnerable communities in all five boroughs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and received the Brooklyn Salutes Award for her support to immigrant communities in Brooklyn and other boroughs.

Prior to working for the NYC Mayor’s Office, Kate worked for Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama as their Outreach Manager. She created and led initiatives for the SPLC on Campus program, including their #FirstWeRegisterThenWeVote campaign, which empowered over 200,000 students to register to vote across all 50 states. She also managed the daily operations of the Civil Rights Memorial Center, a museum that honors 41 martyrs who died during the movement including a monument created by Maya Lin. Kate provided tours and presentations to a variety of audiences at the museum, and represented various SPLC programs and projects at conferences and events across the nation.

Before her time at SPLC Kate worked for Islamic Networks Group in San Jose, California as their Community Engagement Manager, leading local and national programs to encourage interreligious understanding. She managed ING’s Know Your Neighbor program, which was previously a White House initiative focused on engaging people of faith across religious, political, racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. She also managed the Interfaith Speakers Borough, training faith leaders to speak about their faith in K-12, college and community settings to combat stereotypes and encourage interfaith understanding. She managed panels, acting as a facilitator, and gave presentations and speeches at rallies and events. Kate also implemented and managed interfaith events and programs throughout the Bay Area, acting as a facilitator and bridge builder across faith differences.

Kate also worked for the University of Florida’s Hindu and Islamic centers, planning conferences and events with a variety of university departments and student clubs. She helped advance interfaith initiatives within the Gainesville, Florida area such as being on the committee to make Gainesville a Welcoming City as a part of the Welcoming America program. 

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photo of Arwa ElBoraei

Arwa ElBoraei

Middle Eastern Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Cell: 240-432-8319
[email protected]
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers (what's this?)

Arwa is program/project Management and Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Specialist with long experience in international development and human rights law, particularly in public health, gender, and economic and social rights. Arwa worked for/with the United Nations, USAID, GIZ, private and public sectors, and non-governmental organizations. She is one of the International Labor Organization's (ILO) certified Evaluation Managers. Arwa holds a Master's Degree in International Development from Pittsburgh University, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a specialization in Governance and International Public Management (GPA: 3.967), USA, Master's of Arts in International Human Rights Law. She also holds a Gender, Social Justice, and Citizenship Fellowship from University College London (UCL), UK. Arwa is a Fulbright Scholar and a Chevening Scholarship awardee. In 2017, Arwa received the Program Faculty Award, from Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, for the most distinguished record among graduates of the International Development Program in terms of academic achievement and service to the School. She is fluent in English and Arabic. 

In 2012, Arwa founded the Sisters' Arts and Crafts for Economic Empowerment (SACEE) to boost mutual understanding between immigrants and host communities and to shine the light on the remarkable economic and cultural contribution of immigrants, particularly refugee and asylum seekers, to host communities, and thus, enhance social inclusion and integration. SACEE aims at altering the widespread perception that consider immigrants as burdens on host government and communities to a perception that recognize them as a value added to host countries. SACEE supports immigrants to recognize their existing art and craft skills, leverage them, and invest in them as a means for living and tools to channel their culture and values.

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Dr. Amena Johnson
LGBTQ Community Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone (240) 462-1319 
[email protected]
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers (what's this?)

Dr. Amena Johnson serves as the LGBTQ Community Liaison. She has a deep commitment to social justice, diversity and inclusion, advocacy, and educational equity.  This passion began at the age of 5 on a ride with her grandfather to take people to the polls to vote in her hometown of Appomattox, VA.

Amena has 13 years of experience working in organizations with a focus on outreach and engagement to the LGBTQ Community. She has done this work at Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, George Mason University, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) and Georgetown University.

Dr. Johnson specializes in training, facilitation, and curriculum development. For 20 years she has engaged communities in dialogue and learning around: urban bias, intersectionality, the intergenerational workplace, LGBTQ topics, and diversity and inclusion in educational and nonprofit organizations. Dr. Johnson received a BFA in Drama Therapy from Longwood University. She received an MS in Organizational Leadership and Ed,D in Higher Education Leadership from Wilmington University.

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Jessy Mejia Terry

Latino Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Office: 240-777-8321
[email protected]
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers (what's this?)

Jessy has over 17 years of experience in the political and legislative arenas to build coalitions and reinforce community organizing, advocate for and strengthen the safety net to ultimately strengthen the inclusion and representation of the Latino and immigrant perspective in government. Prior to joining the Office of Community Partnerships, she focused on outreach and political communications as an independent consultant to political candidates aiming for positions at various levels of government. This experience opened her to campaigns throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Before her consultant role, Jessy was the Administrative Director of both the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and the Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs for then-Governor Martin O’Malley from 2007-2015. Highlights while serving in that position include enhancing the Executive’s outreach with the State’s Latino community and leaders, specifically, the Salvadoran diaspora which is the largest share of the Latino population in the State. That enhanced relationship resulted in traveling as part of the delegation accompanying Governor O’Malley in his trade and cultural mission to El Salvador, by invitation of El Salvador’s President. Other highlights include working with State agencies and Departments to; increase the number of minority-owned businesses registered to contract with the State; creating a legal, bilingual pro-bono network of attorneys statewide to help mitigate foreclosures in the most vulnerable jurisdictions in Maryland; support the Governor’s Commissioners to advise the Governor on immigrant-friendly legislation around the REAL ID, the DREAM ACT; and establish resources to facilitate the integration of highly-skilled, highly-educated immigrants into Maryland’s workforce.

The creation of the first-in-the-nation Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs in Maryland stimulated similar initiatives around the country; in New York, Florida, and Washington, DC. It was in the capacity of Administrative Director for this Commission that she helped to support efforts outside the state and collectively lift the Caribbean community within other state and city governments. 

Prior to her time at the Governor’s Office, Jessy was a legislative staffer to then-County Councilmember Marc Elrich. In that role, she focused on housing, economic development, and immigrant issues for the office. Working closely with community stakeholders, she was empowered to help reinforce housing code enforcement for multi-family units, and in the creation of the domestic worker’s “bill of rights”, that resulted in enhanced safety and worker protections for domestic laborers.
Jessy is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park where she focused on Government and Politics, and a minor in History. A native of El Salvador, she enjoys traveling and reading. She is a wife and mother to her two girls, Jujea and Mayah.



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photo of Yi Shen

Yi Shen

Asian Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Office: 240-777-8207
[email protected]
Pronouns: He, Him, His (what's this?)

For almost a decade, Yi Shen has accumulated knowledge and insight from his career in all levels of Maryland’s government.  He wants to use the experiences gained to assist and support the Asian community in Montgomery County.

Yi served four years in Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration as the Director of the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (GCAPA) and the Governor’s Commission on South Asian American Affairs (GCSAA).  Both the GCAPA and the GCSAA initiated and supported a wide range of activities which promoted the welfare of Maryland’s Asian American population and increased the understanding of Asian American culture and history.  Afterwards, Yi continued his career in public service as a Constituent Service Representative in the Office of Senator Chris Van Hollen.  He managed casework in the areas of immigration and consular affairs, taxes, environmental, census, and elections.  Yi also handled all the outreach to the Asian community organizations.

Prior to joining the Office of Community Partnerships, Yi worked as a Senior Legislative Aide in the Office of Councilmember Sidney Katz.  He managed constituent and legislative issues relating to transportation, environment, infrastructure, energy, land use planning, parks and recreation, housing, and economic development for District 3 in Montgomery County.
Yi is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and received his Juris Doctorate from David A Clarke School of Law.

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Rodrigue Vital  
Caribbean Liaison 
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
1401 Rockville Pike, 3rd Fl., Suite 300
Office: 240-777-8207
[email protected]
Pronouns: He, Him, His (what's this?)

After spending six years developing and managing the State of Maryland’s New American Workforce Program housed at the Department of Labor Licensing & Regulations, Rodrigue Vital is thrilled to join the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP), to support its mission of strengthening relationships between the government of Montgomery County and the diverse residents it serves.  

Rodrigue will utilize his community engagement and policy development skills to help coalesce and support the Caribbean American community in the county, as he did while directing the New American Workforce Program that sought to accelerate the socioeconomic integration of all immigrants in Maryland.  

Hailed from the Caribbean island of Haiti, Rodrigue studied journalism in Berlin, Germany, before he completed graduate studies in International Affairs and Public Policy at Georgetown University.  The author of one book and dozens of articles published in both Haiti and the U.S, Rodrigue has been a Montgomery County resident for over 30 years.     

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Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center 




Julien Labiche
Gilchrist Center Manager
Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center
11002 Veirs Mill Rd., Suite 506
(Westfield South Building)
Wheaton, MD 20902
c: 301-213-8981
[email protected]
Pronouns: He, Him, His (what's this?)

Julien Labiche is the manager of the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center, Office of Community Partnerships. The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center is Montgomery County's welcome center for immigrants, providing information and referral services and other programs and services that support and help low-income immigrant residents succeed. Julien is responsible for leading the management team and coordinating the center’s operations while aligning its work with the mission of the Office of Community Partnerships.

Julien immigrated to the U.S. from France in 2006. He holds degrees in English and French as a Second Language. He taught middle and high schools in Southern France, then taught French upon moving to the U.S. In 2009 he joined Liberty’s Promise, a nonprofit organization serving low-income immigrant youth in the D.C. area. More specifically, Julien led civic engagement and professional internship programs at John F. Kennedy and Gaithersburg High Schools in Montgomery County. Julien worked with more than 900 low-income immigrant youth in the county to promote civic participation and increase youth access to educational and professional opportunities. He directly assisted youth in earning more than $1 million in scholarships for higher education. Additionally, Julien organized a Gaithersburg youth job fair and led a youth employment program in Gaithersburg. Later, as the Director of Montgomery and Prince George’s County Programs at Liberty’s Promise, he oversaw operations for 14 programs in suburban Maryland.

A proud Montgomery County resident, Julien has lived in Silver Spring since 2008. He joined the Office of Community Partnerships in 2021.
 

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Cornelius Photo

Cornelius Kuteesa
Program Manager
Gilchrist Center Immigrant Resources Center
East-County Regional Office
3300 Briggs Chaney Rd.
Silver Spring, MD 20904
240-277-6756
[email protected]

Cornelius brings an array of skills and talents to our team, with extensive experience in mental health rehabilitation, homeless services, policy research, and knowledge of Montgomery County's Continuum of Care. Prior to joining our team, Cornelius worked as Program Manager for a Montgomery County partner agency that works with individuals experiencing homelessness in down and East parts of the County. In that position, he played a key role in helping dozens of people move off the streets and into subsidized permanent supportive housing and connected many individuals and immigrant families in need to available county, state and federal resources and services.

Cornelius is passionate about inclkusive social policies and continues to use his background in social policy to advocate for vulnerable people in the community to make sure no one is left behind. He has served on various county and community committees focused on social justice issues and serves as board member on a local nonprofit that focuses on environmental conservation. He is also a reservist in the United States Air Forcec and prides in his service. Cornelius earned his master's degree in development studies from Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

Cornelius Kuteesa manages operations for the Gilchrist Immigrant Resources Center in East-County. He also oversees implementation of the Gilchrist Center's basic computer classes County-wide.


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