I work as the Transformation Catalyst at Alight (formerly American Refugee Committee). This primarily entails managing small-scale and high-impact projects we call Changemakers 365. In addition to this, I’m helping establish deeper relationships with academics, assisting in our brand role out, supporting proposals and more. In the last year, I’ve conducted ethnographic/human-centered fieldwork in Rwanda and Congo, spent seven weeks in Uganda implementing projects for teachers, schools, livelihoods, agriculture, tree planting and supported our World Refugee Day 5k celebration, travelled to Kenya to support urban LGBT+ refugees, Somalia for agricultural programming with farmers, and Pakistan to create greater food security for students in nonformal school. I’ve done a hodgepodge of other things here, too.
My academic interests lie at the intersection of identity and politics, especially as that relates to nationalism in Western Europe, and its manifestations in in-group/out-group dynamics, political discourse, immigration policy, party politics, and foodways. During my master’s program, I focused primarily on Denmark and Scandinavia as compared to other Western European nations. I’m now especially interested in how the Danish case compares to Germany and Sweden, as well as pan-European trends.
I received my MA in May 2016 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My MA thesis, titled “Islamophobic Sentiment in the Danish Asylum Process: Denied Acceptance to Those in Need,” analyzes the ways in which a Muslim identity–perceived or actual–impacts the likelihood of being granted asylum in Denmark. The Washington Post article I published in March 2017 is based on this research.
Language and cultural exchange have always been important parts of my work. I’m fluent in Danish, competent in Swedish and Norwegian, proficient in Arabic, improving my German, and have previous experience with Spanish, French, and Sierra Leonean Krio. I continue to translate (mostly Danish to English) and I previously worked as a High School Credit Program Facilitator and Language Instructor at the Danish language program Skovsøen, and Arabic language program Al-Waha. I continue to participate in curriculum development and otherwise support these programs. Before that, I taught Danish at the University of Wisconsin and worked as a scholarship program facilitator for a number of years.
Additionally, I am an avid cook, traveler and podcast enthusiast.
I lived in Scandinavia for over two years and have travelled extensively. When I was in last living in Copenhagen, I volunteered with asylum seekers and refugees at the Trampoline House, worked on the editorial team of the visAvis magazine–a magazine that focuses on challenges presented by asylum and migration–and worked as a journalist for University of Copenhagen’s newspaper University Post as their politics and immigration specialist.