Gloria Namugaya is the Executive Director at Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc (WEE). WEE’s mission is to educate, advocate, protect and advance the rights of immigrants, refugees and low income women and their families through organizing, leadership development, and service delivery. Gloria is originally from Uganda, East Africa. She was born in Jinja, Uganda, a small town best known for where the River Nile starts (Source of River Nile).
During her time at WEE, Gloria has started and directed multiple programs aimed at effectively helping refugee & immigrant families thrive, promoting integration and self-sufficiency. She currently directs
several programs and fundraising efforts, is responsible for overall agency direction, board development, fundraising, advocacy and managing external relationships and collaborations. She has a Bachelor in Laws and a MA in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy & Management, Brandeis University. With extensive experience working on development projects and management in Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa and United States.
As Executive Director, Ms. Gloria Namugaya, who is a lawyer by training has experience in nonprofit management, is responsible for the management and operations of the organization, including all programming, fundraising, finances, marketing, and staffing. She has been at Women Encouraging Empowerment since March 2016.
"As an immigrant I know the struggles and challenges first hand because it is a lived experience, I do
empathize with the struggles and challenges they do go through on a daily and I want to be someone who
can help make a difference in their lives. That is the reason I have a passion and dedication to help
immigrants and refugees amplify their voices so they can have a VOICE in their lives, families and
communities. Immigrants and refugees often feel out of control in a new culture, so one of our focus at
WEE is on issues of environmental mastery—helping them understand how systems work, where to get
assistance, and how to access resources—in addition to programs at the center.” Says Gloria. “ So the
local refugee and immigrant community sees WEE as a home-base, where they can overcome the barriers
they face, connect with opportunities, and network with one another. Because community members feel safe
and supported, WEE has a positive and far-reaching reputation. Immigrant and refugee residents are
familiar with our programs, and readily refer their friends, family and new arrivals in their communities.
Our reputation goes a long way toward increasing program accessibility for local and newly arrived
immigrant and refugee residents."
Elaine Abrams, a Chelsea, Mass. native, came to Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) in 2017 after learning firsthand the challenges of immigrating and starting a new life in a foreign country. After living in San Francisco, Calif. for nearly 10 years, working as a docent at the Asian Art Museum and pursuing a degree in Asian Studies at the California Institute of Asian Studies, she was inspired to move to China. In 1981, she packed up and moved to China where she studied art and culture for two months before embarking on a 14-year adventure in Japan. With little money, no job, no friends, and no Japanese
language skills, she began teaching ESL classes at adult education centers, businesses and universities. While in Japan, she traveled to Burma where she fell in love with a Burmese man with whom she eventually married. Together, they survived the Kobe-Hanshin earthquake in 1995, but they lost everything, including their home. One month later, the couple returned to Massachusetts, but the struggles of starting over yet again took a toll on their marriage. Although she and her husband divorced, Elaine remains active in the Burmese refugee community. Since her return, Elaine has taught ESL classes to adults and children. In addition to teaching at WEE, Abrams teaches at Revere Community School and volunteers mentoring first graders at the Garfield School in Revere. In addition, she is currently involved with Syrian refugee resettlement programs.
“When I moved to Japan, I experienced the struggles and loneliness of being ‘a stranger in a strange
land.’ I often felt like a child with no one to guide me and struggled as a foreigner in an otherwise
homogeneous society,” says Abrams. “However, I was determined to live this adventure and experience.
It is my pleasure to be part of WEE where women of all racial, cultural, religious, and economic
backgrounds mesh as one.”
Maja Nadel came to Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) in November 2016 through the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) for AmeriCorps New American Integration Program. A Croatian native, she immigrated to the United States in 2013 to build a better life for herself. At WEE,Maja Nadel works in administration and marketing, helping students with registration, managing the nonprofit’s social media platforms and performing general administrative tasks, such as designing marketing materials and navigating individuals through the immigration application process. Previously, Maja Nadel worked as a junior accountant in Croatia,taught ESL classes in Spain and worked many years in Hospitality. She holds a Master’s degree in Hotel management from University of Rijeka, Croatia and business diploma from Westmoreland College in Dublin, Ireland.
"Being an immigrant myself, I know how hard starting a life in a new country can be,” says Maja Nadel.
“Learning a new language and culture, entering the workforce and understanding your rights can be
challenging. WEE provides services that help immigrants and refugees through this process to make their
Siham Sherif is originally from Libya. She was born in the United States, but her family decided to go back to Libya when she was only 2 years old. She went to University of
Libya and earned her Bachelors Degree in English.
She has experience in Lecturing. She taught English at the University of Libya, Tripoli, Libya for ten years. As a result of the political unrest and instability in Libya in which she lost her dearest brother, she decided to come to the United States in 2015. On getting to the United States, Siham says she had to start from “zero”. The transition was hard but she had a lot of support. She heard about WEE from her cousin that was taking English classes here. She knew what it meant to be an immigrant and starting from scratch in a new country. She wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. She became a member and very vocal and very influential in the immigrant community. Siham started teaching and instructing Level 1 ESOL Adult classes for beginners as well as volunteer as a translator and organizer in the Arabic speaking community.
She has a passion and dedication to work with women despite their religion, race, gender, culture and country of origin. She wants to be a voice in marginalized and low-income communities because she believes and has faith that we are here for a reason and a season, so make everyday count by reaching out and helping someone. It is that simple. with their struggles and challenges.
"I know what it means to lose everything and leave your family behind and come
to safety. Libya was a great country before the unrest, we were happy and had
everything we desired but after that it became so so bad and unsafe. We used to
hear gunshots every single night, you can not go outside because of fear to die
or get hurt. I did not want my daughter and son to go through that, they
complained of the gunshots and seeing people die. I did not want this situation
have power over my family and life so we decided to leave everything behind
and move. It was not easy at all since we did not have an American Embassy
anymore in Libya so we had to go all the way to Tunisia. It was not easy, it was
not easy at all...” Siham says
"I think WEE is special in a way that it
encourages and helps woman and low –
income families to be confident and be
able to advocate and organize for
themselves and also be leaders in their
families, communities and their lives. This
Leyla immigrated to United States from Turkey in 2011. Her transition to a new country wasn’t easy. She graduated at the Dicle University, in Diyarbakir ,Turkey with a Bachelors in Science and Education. She worked as an Elementary school teacher for 9 years in Diyarbakir and Istanbul. Leyla joined Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc in 2014 as an ESL student but soon got interested in other programs WEE was providing. She liked the fact that WEE helps and empowers immigrant and refugees and she wanted to be able to help and support other women like her.
As a Parent Leader, she helps during the workshops, trainings and she also helps with translations.
" WEE is a great place and space for immigrant and refugee women. English for Adult learners is so important and critical for the community to navigate and assimilate in the system. WEE helps and empowers us to be parent leaders. I always look forward to the trainings and presentations so that I can help my children, my family and other people in the community. I am happy that i acquire different skills and I can support my children too to succeed in school and at home.”
“I want to see women empowered, thrive and I want to be one of the parents voices. WEE helps parents like me to be leaders, involved and engaged. ”
Cihem emigrated from Libya to United States. She was born in United States where her father was studying Engineering at the time. Upon completion of his degree at the University in Texas, the family went back to Libya. Cihem was 6 months old at the time.In her home country she was studying Geography and earned Bachelors degree from
University of Libya. After completion of her studies she worked as a teacher at the same University for 15 years. She left Libya to come to the United States as result of instability and political unrest in Libya. It was not easy to leave everything and most of her family behind. The need for English language skills and get to know how the American system works brought her to WEE where she started attending classes but also involved in other programs that the organization was offering. After gaining all the resources, information and support from WEE. She was able to navigate the system with the help of WEE for instance, enroll her daughter to a school, get health insurance, knowing her rights, learning basic computer skills among others. She decided to follow her dream and passion to help and support others in the community. She became a volunteer and member at WEE and helped organize and translate for new comers and members who needed help and support. Cihem works as the Community Organizer at WEE and she is also in charge of translation services at WEE.
"Every single day is unique and special with the diverse community. The space is empowering,
informative, positive and safe for us to support and help each other. We share our experiences
and support each other. Telling our stories helps in our healing process as immigrants and
refugees and this is the perfect place and space to heal and learn and reach a hand to
someone else who needs it." Ciham says
“I always feel at home whenever I am at
WEE, its values and mission aligns with my passion.”
Qin is originally from Wuhan, China. She earned her degree in Public Policy at CCNU in China and worked as an Academic researcher and lecturer at Wuhan University in China. She immigrated to United States in 2016 to join her husband and children. In April 2017, Qin joined WEE to start on her ESL classes so she can advance her English skills and quickly got interested in other programs in organization.
“Gender equality and women rights are very important to me. That is why I am part of WEE.” Qin states.