Meet the Speakers: Immigration in America

An America’s Civic Square Event

The Moderator:

JoeCimperman-HeadshotJoe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland

After a successful tenure with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Joe returned home to Cleveland to serve as an outreach worker at Cleveland’s West Side Catholic Center. In 2003, Cimperman was selected as a Fellow for the prestigious German Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a program of the German Marshall Fund. Cimperman was elected to Cleveland City Council in 1997 and served until 2016. Cimperman is currently the President of Global Cleveland, an organization whose vision is to create a welcoming region that is a place of opportunity and prosperity for people of all racial, ethnic and international backgrounds. Cimperman lives in Ohio City with his wife Nora and children.

The Panelists:

Danielle DrakeDanielle Drake, Community Relations Manager, US Together Inc.

Danielle Drake is a native of Buffalo, NY and graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a BA in Communication and a certificate in Linguistics. She spent almost a decade in the fields of marketing, sales and corporate training in financial service companies and both commercial and residential real estate before relocating to Cleveland OH in late 2008.  In 2011 she moved to the non-profit sector working at a refugee resettlement agency.  She obtained an adult ed. teaching permit and an advanced TESOL certificate from Cambridge University while continuing to teach ESOL full time and coordinate the volunteer and intern program at a refugee resettlement agency.

In January 2013 she moved to Us Together Inc. and was the Resettlement & Housing Specialist before being promoted to Community Relations Manager. She oversees pre-arrival planning & housing for all new refugee families, tutoring and mentorship programs, community outreach and education.  She is the Public Affairs Chairperson for the Refugee Services Collaborative of Cleveland and serves on the housing committee and the refugee advisory council.

Ms. Drake has traveled the country speaking at conferences including the National Refugee and Immigrant Integration Conference, Welcoming Economies, Ohio TESOL and more. She educates community groups, private organizations as well as K-12 schools and Universities in NE Ohio on refugee resettlement and the collaborative work happening in Cleveland.  She regularly presents for on-line trainings and has spoken on webinars for Welcoming America, Cities of Migration, HIAS and others.

Veronica DahlbergVeronica Dahlberg, Executive Director of HOLA Ohio

Veronica Isabel Dahlberg was born in Canton, Ohio, the daughter of Mexican and Hungarian immigrants. She has been an advocate in northeast Ohio’s Latino immigrant community for over 20 years. She is the founder and executive director of HOLA Ohio, an independent grassroots organization that works to empower Latinos through community organizing, leadership development, civic engagement and advocacy. With Ms. Dahlberg’s vision and leadership, HOLA’s work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer and a three-part series on Telemundo.

She is a frequent public speaker. In 2016 she was a presenter at the Lorain Hispanic Leadership Conference, as well as Keynote speaker for the Zonta International Spring Luncheon for International Women’s Day. In 2014, HOLA won the Torchlight Prize, a national award recognizing its work in empowering the Latino community, as well as the Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Award from the Ohio Commission on Latino Affairs under Gov. John Kasich, and a special recognition from the City of Cleveland.  Veronica Dahlberg was the 2013 keynote speaker for Hispanic Heritage Month hosted by the Department of Defense (DFAS) at the Cleveland Federal Building for federal employees, receiving recognition during a presentation entitled, “Hispanics Leading and Serving our Nation with Pride & Honor.” She received the 2013 Community Advocate of the Year from the Hispanic Roundtable, in Cleveland. In 2012 she received a “Characters Unite” award from NBC Universal. In 2009 she was named an “Upstander”, as one of 24 people who make a difference in northeast Ohio.

Eileen WilsonEileen Wilson, Director of Refugee Ministries at Building Hope in the City

Eileen Wilson has her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and is a certified ESOL teacher with 10 years of experience teaching both here and abroad. She has traveled extensively on short term missions trips and longer term ESOL teaching assignments. After volunteering with Building Hope in the City as an ESOL teacher for 2 years and working with the refugee population in the city, she was able to come on staff as the Director, Refugee Ministries in April 2011. In this role she helps to facilitate public education pertaining to refugees by running a Refugee Mentor Program in partnership with the local refugee resettlement agencies and health clinics. In addition to those duties, she coordinates Refugee ESOL classes and Tutoring for children within the refugee neighborhoods of Cleveland through her work as the Director of the Hope Center for Refugee & Immigrants on the near Westside of Cleveland.

George KoussaGeorge Koussa, Public Relations & Translation Services at Margaret W. Wong & Associates

George J. Koussa is the Public Relations Administrator and Arabic translator for Margaret W. Wong & Associates, where he oversees business development, proposal writings and helps implement initiatives for the international and immigrant communities in the greater Cleveland area. A native of Syria, Koussa served as a Liaison Official and Translator at the United Nations Damascus headquarters as well as the United States Embassy in Damascus. Koussa has been heavily involved in Cleveland for 30 years as a lecturer, instructor, translator and project director for Cleveland Public Schools, University Hospitals, the Greater Cleveland Roundtable/International Community Council and Cuyahoga Community College. Koussa holds a Master of Arts degree in Applied Communication from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Aleppo University in Aleppo, Syria.