COVID 19 STAFF SCHEDULE
We are now open Monday through Friday, for in-person services. Please see our Contact Page for location information, or contact a staff member below for more detailed services.
RISNW MAIN OFFICE – Rainier Hall #228
BIO: Van Dinh-Kuno, a former refugee from Vietnam, has dedicated most of her adult life helping others at Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest where she has been Executive Director since 1991. Following her arrival to the US after the Fall of Saigon, she obtained a BS degree in Bio Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. After moving to WA State, she was hired first as a job developer, then assistant director before assuming her current position of 28 years as Executive Director. As the result of her own experience, she brings passion, understanding and commitment to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services so all refugees and immigrants can build a better life for themselves and their families.
Under her strong leadership and fiscal management, the annual operating budget has increased significantly over time with multiple revenue streams giving RISNW a strong and stable financial position. She developed numerous successful and strategic partnerships with local community colleges, DSHS/CSO, Employment Security, WorkSource and other local nonprofit providers to leverage services and resources while expanding RISNW’s service populations and geographic area reach beyond Snohomish County to Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan and Island Counties. She is a founding member of the Snohomish Local Planning Area (LPA) which now has more than 140 members.
Van is a recognized and tireless community advocate and civic leader. She is the recipient of numerous awards. The Outstanding Partnership Award from Everett WorkSource in 2002, Outstanding Service to Minority Communities Award from Baker St. Ministries, Asian Weekly Top Contributor Award in 2015 and, most recently, the Oscar Eason Jr.Community Service Award from the NAACP are among the many awards received.
Our team of 20 full-time and 137 on-call interpreters are fluent in 40 languages and dialects. We value partnerships, collaborations and services delivered by culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate staff who reflect the clients we serve.
My name is Vahida Polovina. I came to USA as refugee from Bosnia in 1995 and joined RISNW 1999 as bilingual case manager. Since that time, I have been continuously providing support and assistance to refugees and immigrants. It is my passion to work with diverse population and guide them through in the new beginning. My job allows me to touch the life of most vulnerable population, learn about their barriers and struggles and help them to resolve some of them. I have been working in all LEP pathway programs, WNA, Community Jobs.
Lead Bilingual Case Manager
My name is Kamal Acharya. I was born in Bhutan and raised in Nepal. My family and I moved to the United States as refugees in 2009 in search of a better life and opportunity. I worked as a teacher back in Nepal. Since July of 2013, I have been with RISNW as case manager and authorized social services interpreter. At RISNW, I help limited English refugees and immigrants move toward self-sufficiency by enrolling them into Work Experience Program, Community Job Program and job placement. I also provide social services, conduct citizenship training class and finally help them with naturalization application process.
Bilingual Case Manager
My name is Irina Chop. My family and I moved to the US from Russia as refugees in 1999. I joined RISNW team in March of 2018 and am working as a bi-lingual case manager. I speak English and Russian. Knowing from experience how hard it is to leave everything behind and go to a different country, my goal is to help immigrants in any way possible to settle and get used to a new way of life such as aid in registration for ESL classes, help with finding employment, providing information about available resources, etc. In addition, I provide assistance with applying for Green Cards and the US Citizenship.
AHMAD FAWAD AMIRZAI
Bilingual Case Manager
Persian, Pashto and Urdu
My name is Ahmad Amirzai, I was born and raised in Kabul Afghanistan and I moved to United States with a Special Immigration Visa in 2017 in search of a safe and better life. I worked as an Interpreter/Translator back in Afghanistan on behalf of US Special Forces , US Marines and US Army from February 2007 – March of 2017. Now I work as a Case Manager for RISNW, helping refugees and immigrants with employment, social service and other needed support and assistance.
Dari, Pashto, Urdu
My name is Tamana Frotan. I was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. When my husband was working as an interpreter with the U.S military in Afghanistan, I moved to the United States with a special immigration visa in 2016 to have a safe life. I speak Dari, Pashto, and Urdu. Now I work as a Navigator for RISNW helping women and children.
WIOA Career Specialist
My name is Mariya Kazantseva. I immigrated to the United States with my family from Uzbekistan when I was four years old. I have worked for RISNW since October 2018, helping people of Snohomish County overcome barriers to employment, become self-sufficient and obtain quality jobs and careers.
Russian and Ukrainian
My name is Elvira Nazarova. I immigrated to the USA from Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2004 with my husband and two sons. I have an Associate of Arts Degree from Edmonds Community College and a Bachelor’s in Construction Management from UW in Seattle. From 2005 to 2010, I used to work as a teacher assistant at Edmonds Community College in their computer lab, helping other immigrants learn English grammar and improve their computer skills and literacy. Simultaneously, I was an interpreter for the Russian and Ukrainian communities to facilitate the communication between the students and advisers. My job was always interesting and socially important because I had the opportunity to help other people. My primary language is Russian, and I joined the RISNW team in May 2019. I enjoy working with immigrants because I feel pleased to help them.
Bilingual Case Manager
My name is Hung Nguyen. In 2008, I left my job as a medical doctor in Vietnam and immigrated to the US with my wife and two young children. Because of the language barrier, I took on minimum wage jobs to provide for my family and to make sure my children can have a brighter future in this new country. During that transition time, my family received a lot of support from the RISNW, something I will never forget. After many years of work and schooling, I graduated with a BA from Western Washington University. My family has also adjusted well, as my wife currently owns a hair salon in Bellingham, my daughter is pursuing her PhD in Chemistry, and my son is finishing up his degree in Computer Science. Now, I am proud to be a part of the RISNW. I hope to share my experience of transitioning to a new country to support refugees and immigrants who have just arrived in the US, just like how the RISNW supported my family many years ago.
TARSENY OTTIS APHKAS
My name is Tarseny Ottis Aphkas. I am from the Federated States of Micronesia, the State of Chuuk, and speak Chuukese. When I was nine years old, my family migrated to the United States and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii. My passion is to provide services to others that are in need. It is a privilege to work for RISNW serving the people of Snohomish County since December 2019.
My name is Zander Refilong. I’m from the island of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, part of what is known as the Compact of Free Association (COFA). I left my home country in 1986 to attend college in Guam. I completed my undergraduate study in Criminal Justice and graduate study in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and a graduate certificate in Micronesian Studies. I worked in Guam in the education field for over 15 years. My family and I moved to the United States mainland in 2014 in search of a better life and opportunity. I joined the RISNW team in February 2021 as an Employment Specialist and currently with the SnoCo Futures Youth Program. I feel fortunate to be part of RISNW and its professional team helping and seeing our youth in Snohomish County overcome barriers to obtain their GED/high school diplomas, obtain employment, and become self-sufficient and productive members of the community.
My name is Lochryn Selifis and I am from Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia. I came to the United States in the late ‘80s to further my education. I work as a Scheduler for Interpretation and Translation here at RISNW. As an immigrant, I was particularly attracted to this position because of my interest in assisting individuals from all walks of life. I appreciate this opportunity given by RISNW to use my skills and community connection to develop a more broadly-based career. My belief is to treat each individual with value and respect.
Dari, Pashto, Urdu
I am Ahmad Elias Zafar. I am from Afghanistan. I moved to the United States in November 2016. I recently graduated from Washington State University majoring in MIS (Management Information Systems) and I worked as an IT Provisioning Analyst for Etisalat Telecommunication Company for about 6 years. I am interested in data and data analytics and comfortable connecting with people of all backgrounds. I speak English, Dari/Farsi, Pashto, and Urdu.
Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Statement
Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest (RISNW) is an equal opportunity employer. We value diversity, equity and inclusion. We do not discriminate in any area of employment, programs or services on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, marital status, race, creed, color, national origin, religion or beliefs, political affiliation, military status, honorably discharged veteran, Vietnam Era, recently separated or other protected veteran status, the presence of any sensory, mental, physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, equal pay or genetic information.