SELIN YILDIZ NIELSEN
Dr. Selin Yildiz Nielsen, co-founder and president of Glocally Connected has worked in international education for the last 20 years as a director, professor, coordinator, manager, teacher and consultant. Her work with refugees started in Iowa International Center, a non-profit organization dedicated into making the immigrant and refugees’ lives easier. With grants from Mason City Human Rights Commission and Housing and Urban Development, she has lead research that made an impact in the refugees’ lives. Dr. Nielsen later on has lead projects providing educational assistance to teachers in Syrian refugee camps in Southeast Turkey during her time as a visiting professor there. Her work carried out in four camps and included training in cross-cultural integration, conflict, and trauma management. She has also presented in conferences and invited talks about refugee education in the United States and the world. Throughout her career, she has published articles and book chapters related to international education. Her latest work ‘Host Country Citizens’ Attitudes towards refugees and the public policies that shape them’ is still in process.
Sherry MacKay, co-founder and director of Glocally Connected, comes to the organization with over 20 years in the ESL (English as a Second Language) field. During her teaching career, she taught refugees in Toronto, Canada and international students at the University of California Riverside Extension (UCX). She is an Assistant Professor for an online MA in TESOL program at Westcliff University in California. During her career, she has also held leadership positions with UCR Extension, as Academic Coordinator for Special Programs and developed and taught numerous programs for international teachers.
She reconnected with the refugee community while working with the Refugee Well-Being Project (RWP) at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The program brings together newly arrived refugees and university students. There she supported the university students and, in particular, helped them teach English to their refugee partners and connect the refugees with local English programs. She also assisted in facilitating cultural exchange learning circles. The United Voices for Refugee Rights (UVRR) formed to address the lack of support and move to change current policies.
Sherry holds a Master’s of Education in T.E.S.O.L (Teaching English to the Speakers of Other Languages) from California State University of San Bernardino.
Kristina Fernandez, Director of Social Relations, is both a UCR alumni and J.D. Candidate. Her interest in global affairs and humanitarian causes were sparked at an early age when her family migrated from the Philippines and Ireland to the United States. As a direct product of migratory milieu, she has dedicated her undergraduate years studying international affairs with concentration in the Middle East. Outside of the classroom, Kristina has volunteered with the United Nations as an online correspondent, working directly with Papua New Guinea based NGO, Seeds Theatre Group Inc. where she advocated for women’s rights through the “Women Not Witches” campaign.
Her involvement with Glocally Connected started at the inception of the organization in 2015. She serves as the liaison to universities, media press coverage, partners and sponsors. In addition to advocating for our refugees at home and abroad, Kristina also manages our social media accounts. An avid human rights activists, Kristina continues her work in refugee advocacy and refugee integration.
Phong Au-Hong, a fourth year undergraduate student of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside, serves currently as Glocally Connected’s Project Management Director. As the director, he has organized a UCR student-led course on forced migration to raise awareness of global and local issues affecting the refugee community. Phong’s current research project with UCR School of Medicine examines structural barriers to health care access among low-income, immigrant families who utilizes free health clinics.
As an entomology student, Phong attempts to find the intersectionality between science and humanitarian work. While interning in Germany, he discovered an affinity with refugee work after community members introduced him to local refugees from the Middle East. Since then, he has developed his interest through Glocally Connected while working with the co-founders to expand support programs addressing health-related needs among women refugees.
Angel Lee is a rising senior at the University of California, Riverside studying History and Political Science with a concentration in International Affairs. She became interested in human rights and social issues during her trips to the Dominican Republic and Peru as well as her involvement in the Greater Los Angeles area, where she participated in community development and Microfinance programs. Through these experiences, she has witnessed the capacity for small-scale initiatives to enact real change.
During her time at UCR, she has interned with the Borgen Project, an organization dedicated to alleviating global poverty, and at the District Office of Congressman Mark Takano. She is currently the Head Delegate for the UCR Model United Nation's team and a research assistant for the Department of Political Science.