Who We Are
Accelerating immigrant integration and economic advancement through education and training, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia.
We believe that a steady influx of new customers, workers, and entrepreneurs can reinvigorate Pennsylvania’s aging population, renew its neighborhoods, and re-energize our economy. By making Pennsylvania a magnet for immigrants, we will become a more vibrant, more creative, and more dynamic competitor in today’s global economy.
We work closely with government agencies, service providers, employers, business associations, trade unions, and economic development groups.
Meet Our Founder
A professional physical therapist from County Monaghan, Ireland, Anne O’Callaghan, founder of the Welcoming Center, came to the United States in 1970.
Anne aimed to build a career in Philadelphia, but she learned that because she was foreign trained, she could not take the Pennsylvania State Medical Examiners’ Physical Therapy licensing exam without which she could not practice in the State. It took three years for her to get her Pennsylvania Physical Therapy license at a time when Physical Therapists were very much needed in the State. Anne had a very satisfying career in community health and teaching physical therapy students at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2000 while volunteering for an immigrant resource center which primarily helped Irish-American immigrants, Anne encountered a woman from China, who spoke almost no English, but was seeking help finding an ESOL class for her son. Anne’s experience trying to find ESOL classes for this lady brought home to her how exponentially more difficult the integration experience is for immigrants with limited English-speaking abilities. Anne decided that she had to do something to create a centralized resource center for immigrants where they could easily access information about ESOL, jobs and establishing small businesses as they started their new lives in our region.
In 2003, Anne and her close network of friends and supporters opened the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.
This organization has carried out her vision for over a decade. To date, the Welcoming Center has served over 16,000 people from over 150 countries around the world, accelerating immigrant integration and economic advancement, just as Anne envisioned.
Meet Our Board
Anuj Gupta, Esq. – Chair
Reading Terminal Market
John Touey – Vice Chair
Salveson Stetson Group
David M. Albert, Esq. – Secretary of Board
Natalie Barndt– Treasurer
Daniel P. Bauder
Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO
Consulate of Canada
Peter J. Gonzales, Esq. – President & CEO
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
Jack Heuer, Ed.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Global Bioethics Initiative
Express Employment Services
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
J Nowak Strategy
Baaj Group, LLC
Meet Our Team
Click on each section to read more.
Bryce W. Bayer is the Welcoming Center’s Training & Curriculum Development Specialist.
From 2014-2015, Bryce worked as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at La Universidad Libre in Bogotá, Colombia. She became very interested in the international industry of English as a foreign language, and began to question the integrity of “voluntourism” and the detrimental effects of untrained English teachers on the quality of English language education both in the U.S. and abroad.
After her time in Colombia, Bryce knew that she wanted to hone her teaching practice and become an advocate for adult learners. While completing her M.S.Ed in TESOL at Temple University, Bryce worked as an ESL instructor with recently resettled refugees at local non-profits and also consulted with schools and community organizations to develop ESL programming for immigrant parents. She remains committed to developing programming that will help learners to succeed in their professional and personal lives, and ultimately foster a lifelong love of learning.
Bryce is an avid reader, occasional poet, and frequent traveler.
Miranda Berger connects work-authorized candidates to employers. She is originally from the Netherlands, and studied Human Resource Management at the University of Amsterdam. Before moving to the United States in 2012, Miranda worked in the Netherlands as a labor market adviser and as a recruiter.
Don’t hesitate to contact Miranda directly, to talk about that overdue life-changing move.
She looks forward to hearing from you!
Andrea Boozer oversees the general operations of the office and is also an assistant to the President and CEO.
Samuel Chanzi initially joined the Welcoming Center as a volunteer computer instructor.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Science in Kenya before immigrating to the United States and later attained an Associate’s degree in IT/Web Development from Delaware County Community College and a Master’s in Information Systems Technologies from Wilmington University in Delaware. With 15 years’ experience working in the IT industry both in Kenya and U.S., and a strong believer in giving back to the community, he has for the last 5 years been an active member and volunteer IT Director of StartUpAfrica, a U.S. based non-profit.
Samuel feels privileged and excited about the opportunity to help immigrants and U.S.-born Welcoming Center clients attain their goals of leading productive and fulfilled lives.
He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two loving, energetic, and fun sons.
Nina Chen joined the Welcoming Center in 2013 after a lengthy corporate career as an employee benefits lawyer at the Philadelphia law firm Montgomery McCracken; a recruiter with an executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group; and a partner at Mercer, a global human resource consulting firm.
As a child of Chinese immigrants who realized success after coming to the U.S., Nina is excited to be a part of a vibrant organization dedicated to helping other immigrant families realize the American Dream.
Lina Duffy is Director of Communications at Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. She is responsible for developing communication strategies that help advance the Welcoming Center’s efforts to catalyze broad impact through the sharing of stories and ideas. These strategies include publications, web development and marketing, social media, media outreach, and development communications. Prior to joining the Welcoming Center, Lina worked in both government and private sectors in Singapore, where she is originally from. She has over 9 years of public relations experience.
If you want to share your thoughts about the Welcoming Center website or social media, want to collaborate on a story, or have any other questions, get in touch!
John Findley is the Outreach Specialist for the Welcoming Center’s International Professionals Program. This puts him on the lookout for immigrants in the city who hold a professional degree from their own country and who hope to pursue a similar career in the United States. John is a Philadelphia native yet lived in North Africa for 10 years. In those years he worked as a teacher, business owner, consultant and consumer of all foods Moroccan. He speaks some Arabic, is married to Caroline and has 5 children. John also moonlights as director of an ESL program in Northeast Philadelphia.
Peter Gonzales is the President and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. Over the past 25 years, Peter has gained valuable experience providing many of the same services we provide at the Welcoming Center. After graduating from the University of Scranton, he was an ESL and U.S. Civics teacher in Poland and South Korea and served as an International Development Fellow at USAID. After returning to Philadelphia, he managed a community economic development program along a commercial corridor in North Philadelphia while attending law school at Temple University in the evenings. For 10 years, Peter worked as an attorney, first for City of Philadelphia and then in private practice as an immigration attorney prior to joining the Welcoming Center.
As a 2017 Eisenhower Fellow, Peter is exploring strategies to promote immigrant integration and entrepreneurship in Germany and South Korea.
Peter has completed the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program and currently serves on numerous boards including the Douty Foundation, The Merchants Fund, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Global Philadelphia Association, and Philadelphia Works, Inc.
Qadeer Gulzari provides training and one-to-one technical assistance for business owners and entrepreneurs. He walks them through what it takes to be successful in today’s business world.
Formerly, Qadeer worked as a Finance Development Manager for American University of Afghanistan and as a Business Analyst for US Department of Defense. He has more than 10 years of teaching experience. Qadeer is also an entrepreneur importing saffron from Afghanistan. He earned his MBA degree from Akron University in Ohio.
Elizabeth Gutierrez is responsible for managing program development for the International Professionals Program (IPP), which assists foreign-educated professionals integrate into the professional workforce in the U.S. She designs and manages curriculum content and training materials for the program, as well as assists with ongoing program evaluation.
Before joining The Welcoming Center, Elizabeth volunteered teaching ESL, the Business Entrepreneur class and tutoring. For the past 17 years, Elizabeth was a founding partner in an architecture and urban planning firm where she worked extensively in community development. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, a Master of Arts in Geography from Temple University, and a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages).
Neveen Kedi is Front Desk/Intake Specialist at the Welcoming Center.
Mira Keldani is dedicated to helping immigrants succeed in the United States.
Mira worked as a case worker in Beirut for almost two years, where she used to counsel refugees in order to resettle them to the U.S.. Three years ago, Mira immigrated to the U.S. from Beirut, Lebanon. Since then, she has worked in development as well as in case management, providing services to vulnerable refugee families.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Saint Joseph University in Beirut and a dual Masters degree in Political Studies from Saint Joseph University and Paris I Sorbonne in France.
Mira speaks Arabic, French, and Spanish.
Nicole Marcote is a Philadelphia native who moved to Spain as a small child, spending most of her youth in the Basque Country. She returned to the U.S. to complete her last year of High School in California, with the intent of returning back to Spain, but after a semester at Santa Monica Community College she knew she would miss the multicultural aspect the U.S. offers and decided to stay, later completing her university degree in English Literature at UCSC.
She arrived to Philadelphia, via NYC where she worked as a translator and web producer. She owned and operated a food business on Girard Avenue for seven years, and some of her entrepreneurial passions include being on the lookout for new opportunities, visual merchandising and networking.
She recently worked at the School District of Philadelphia as a Language Access Coordinator where she supported multilingual families in navigating a new education system and providing resources.
She lives in South Kensington with her husband and two young children.
Herman Nyamunga provides technical assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners to successfully establish, stabilize, and expand their microenterprises.
He has an MBA from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya.
Manuel Portillo is a seasoned non-profit leader who comes to the Welcoming Center after a substantive career in non-profit program development and community organizing. Manuel is a 22-year Philadelphia resident who is originally from Guatemala.
Nicole Pumphrey (Nikki) has dedicated her career to fostering cultural understanding and promoting inclusion through education and workforce development. She joined the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians as Director of Strategic Partnerships in 2014 and currently serves as the Deputy Director, where she leads the organization’s external engagement strategy, building collaborations and advocating for the valuable contributions of immigrants to the region’s social stability and economic prosperity.
Nicole earned her B.A. in French and Korean Studies and an M.S.Ed. in Intercultural Communication from the University of Pennsylvania. Her own experience studying abroad motivated her to spend ten years developing international programs to educate the next generation of leaders. Prior to joining the Welcoming Center, Nicole supported global initiatives at Temple University’s Fox School of Business and at the University of Pennsylvania.
She currently serves as the President of the Pennsylvania Council for International Education, advocating for global competence in policy and practice throughout the Commonwealth and in 2016 she received the Rising Star Award from Drexel University’s Institute for Strategic Leadership.
Nicole is a lifelong Philadelphian, who has lived in France and Korea, but sees her deep roots in the region as a valuable asset, motivating her to invest in making her hometown a place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, both newcomers and long-time residents.
Rebecca Rathje joined the Welcoming Center in 2015. She earned her B.A. in Social Science from the University of Michigan and holds a Certificate in Fundraising from the Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University’s School of Business. Rebecca has over 25 years’ experience in non-profit fundraising and management.
Eric Rosenfeld heads the International Professionals Program (IPP) supporting international professionals and businesses in Philadelphia. IPP focuses on helping professionals re-enter the field in which they worked in their own countries, and attracting and supporting foreign business in Philadelphia.
Prior to joining the Welcoming Center, Eric practiced corporate law. He earned his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and obtained a BA in History from Penn State University’s Schreyer Honors College.
Elbert Sampson is the Director of Education and Training for the Welcoming Center. He provides supervision to the instructional and case management staff and oversees compliance of contracts.
Elbert holds a degree in law and has a background in education management having served as the CEO of a Philadelphia charter school. Additionally, he was a Certified Financial Manager providing financial planning and consulting services to high-net-worth individuals, non-profit organizations and businesses. Elbert studied Chinese in the People’s Republic of China and while he practiced law he built a component of his law practice that entailed providing advisory services to businesses interested in operating in China.
Elbert was awarded a prestigious Arts, Inc. Fellowship in nonprofit management and was a visiting scholar in Asian Studies at Temple University.
He is active in many community activities and serves on the Board of Directors of several nonprofit organizations throughout the greater Philadelphia area.
Jennelle Seiden is an ESL Instructor with the Welcoming Center, teaching at Cardone Industries, Inc. in North Philadelphia.
She graduated from Arcadia University with a BA in International Studies. While at Arcadia, Jennelle volunteered with the Welcoming Center, where she tutored students preparing for their naturalization exam.
Prior to joining the Welcoming Center, Jennelle served as a TEFL volunteer with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso. She taught 7th and 8th grade English in her village’s public high school and was involved in girls’ empowerment.
Gretchen Spencer is an ESL Instructor with the Welcoming Center, teaching at Cardone Industries, Inc. in North Philadelphia.
She earned her M.S.Ed. in TESOL from Temple University and her B.A. in English from the University of Delaware. She has been teaching adult ESL at a variety of non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia area since 2014, and loves sharing her passion for studying language and culture with her students. She also hopes to continue participating in research/advocacy projects related to language access and women’s issues.
Judy Stavisky, MPH, M.ED joined the Welcoming Center as a Senior Advisor with a long career in non-profit management and philanthropy.
She served as the National Executive Director of Friends of the Children, a five state mentoring program that matches vulnerable children to paid mentors. Prior to assuming the helm at Friends, Judy served as a Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where she managed a portfolio of $100 million of human service investments that supported vulnerable populations. Judy has written a book with two nuns about the journey of the children of immigrants in a West Philly parochial school. She attended University of California and earned a pubic health degree from Yale Medical School.
Joe Walsh started at The Welcoming Center in 2013 as a volunteer in what he thought was his retirement from medicine. He loved the mission here and is now on staff teaching adult basic and secondary education for those students seeking a high school equivalency diploma. He is a Pennsylvania certified science teacher.
The generosity of our individual donors, and corporate and foundation funders is what fuels the Welcoming Center’s mission. We’re grateful for their support and optimistic about what we can do together to build Pennsylvania’s economy by providing employment resources for immigrants.
Bank of America
Samuel S. Fels Fund
Independence Blue Cross Foundation
Patricia Kind Family Foundation
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The Philadelphia Foundation
Ukrainian Community Foundation