Participant Advisory Council

The Participant Advisory Council serves as the voice of our key participants. As a consultative body, the role of its members is to provide the organization with insight into the needs, challenges, and opportunities to help the Welcoming Center improve the realization of our mission of promoting inclusive economic growth through immigrant integration.


  • Provide information about the needs, challenges, and opportunities facing Welcoming Center participants in the region.
  • Serve as a sounding board regarding decisions affecting the Welcoming Center’s core programs.
  • Help ensure the Welcoming Center’s accountability to the community of past and present participants and help ensure that we are fulfilling our mission.
  • Promote the organization’s mission, programs, and services.
  • Provide guidance on participant engagement strategies and retention.

Current Members


Claudia Suarez


My name is Claudia Suarez Ortiz, a Spanish teacher from Colombia. Teaching is my passion since I was a child. I have been involved with the community working on action projects and I always get into voluntary work to build a better place to live. When I came to Philadelphia I discovered that teaching is a universal skill.  No matter the language, the culture, the religion or the country you are coming from, there is always a community ready to work together for a better society. That’s what Welcoming Center for New Penssilvannyans thought me when they invited me to be part of the Participant Advisory Council. It brings me happiness when we get together to listen to others with no judgment, when all our stories get connected and we feel that we are more than friends, we are a family. That makes the difference.


Deicy Mariana Rivera


Hi! My name is Deicy Mariana Pérez Rivera, I’m from Colombia. I arrived to Philadelphia a year ago. I’m an English and Spanish teacher, I work in a family Literacy program at the Center for Literacy. I was very lucky to join the Welcoming Center through the Immigrant Leadership Institute where I had a wonderful experience and later was able to join the Advisory Council, which is a great opportunity for us as immigrants to contribute to the decision making of this organization. Being part of this team has allowed me to learn from my colleagues, share my knowledge and be part of important projects that benefit the immigrant community.


Eduardo Gouvea


My name is Eduardo Gouvea and I am a mechanical engineer from Brazil. I worked as an engineer for 3 years in Brazil and moved to Philadelphia in 2017 to live with my wife. When I moved to Philadelphia, I joined the International Professionals Program, which was an invaluable program as I got my bearings and adjusted to the work culture here. I currently work as a Business Development/Sales Director at a railroad construction company, where I help to prospect new projects and assign those projects to our offices across North America. I joined the Participant Advisory Council because the Welcoming Center helped me a lot when I had just moved here and I want to help immigrants the way I was helped. I believe that my analytical skills and my ability to think outside of the box are great assets that I can bring to the table.


Felix M. Caballero


Hello, my name is Felix M. Caballero and I am from Philadelphia, but I am originally from Lima, Peru. I have been living here for the last 15 years. I have my MBA in Business Administration and I run my own business with my wife, F&D Cleaning Services. I feel honored to be in the Participant Advisory Council. I want to share my knowledge and skills to other individuals. I am a very determined person who always gets the job done. I am very organized and a sociable person and I feel like these skills will help me and others in the advisory council.


George Dong


My name is George Dong, I moved to Philadelphia in May 2017 from Shanghai, China. I worked as a software engineer for 20 years. When I moved to Philadelphia I found it difficult to get back into my profession. So I joined the International Professionals Program at the Welcoming Center. Now I work as an IT Analyst at Danella Construction Companies. I joined the Participant advisory Council because I want to help shape programmes for other immigrants like me. I believe my analytical skills is my greatest asset.




My name is Li, I moved to Philadelphia in 2018 from Shenzhen, China. I worked as a merchandiser following up with orders from factories. It is really an honor to be a member of the participant council. We give immigrants advice and help them with whatever they need. Through this, we find our own value in a totally new country. We are learning with each other and growing up while working together. This somehow makes me feel like I am actually apart of Philadelphia and feel that I have found my own community. I had the chance to be an English conversation club facilitator. I had the chance to urn events and speak in public. I have developed my communication skills and I feel as if I am culturally competent and proficient in English and Chinese.


Luciana Amorim


My name is Luciana Amorim, I moved to Philadelphia in 2017 from Brazil. I am a social worker with a masters in Public Health. I now work as a Logistical Support Coordinator for the ILI Program at the Welcoming Center. Being an Advisory Council Participant gives me the opportunity to maintain a bond with the institution as a participant of the program. I am able to give back everything that the Welcoming Center did in my life and help new participants that are coming to the center. I am a person who is in love with life and all of the opportunities it offers me. I like to be surrounded by people and it is what enriches my day. My joy and willingness to contribute to improving the programs offered are all some of my greatest assets.


Maureen Murugi Smith


My name is Maureen Murugi Smith a creative artist and dedicated  Community Resource Developer currently working towards finding foster homes for Refugee Minors in PA. Being in the Participant Advisory Council is an honor that enables me to work together in friendship and creative ways that promote community engagement. The greatest skill that i bring is my heart of encouraging others became  the best of who they are as we work together towards making a difference in our communities.


Monica Molina


My name is Monica Molina, I came here from Colombia 5 years ago. During 3 years I was working hard learning English, trying to be adopted to my new community and looking for professional opportunities in Philadelphia. During that time I was also working online as a software developer until I became a Data Integration Analyst at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Now I enjoy the opportunities to be a volunteer and help my community and other immigrants to have a better life in the USA. For that reason, I feel very motivated and committed to being apart of the advisory council because it’s a good way to keep connected with other immigrants and help each other. We can work together to suggest and participate in the construction and improvement of programs oriented toward immigrants. The greatest skill I bring to this group is that I am a teamwork.


Nawel Boubekri


I am originally born in a town called Madea, Algeria. I was a foreign language teacher in Algeria. I currently live in South Philly and work for the school district of Philadelphia as a bilingual counseling assistant. My job is to serve as a cultural broker and the linguistic bridge between school staff, students, parents, guardians, and the community. Joining the advisory council as a participant is one of the best experiences I have done. I feel great because my voice counts and it is my chance to share my expertize, experience and also raise my questions and concerns. The greatest skill I will bring to the participant advisory council is my own knowledge and experience as an immigrant living in the city of Philadelphia to effectively guide our organization. I am a realistic and honest person. I will give my advice, ideas and expertise that I have by working with immigrants to contribute to our organizations well being while spreading the word about our program services.


Qiwen Tan


My name is Quiwen Tan, I moved to Philadelphia in 2017 from Shenzhen, China. I worked as an Area Manager in a fashion company in my country. Now, I work as a Marking Coordinator in a medical group. I joined the Participant Advisory council because I want to serve the immigrants community and fulfill my expertise. I believe my trilingual understanding of Mandarin, Cantonese, and English culture are my greatest assets.


Reyna Hernandez


My name is Reyna, I moved to Philadelphia in 2011 from Puebla Mexico. I joined the Welcoming Center in 2012. Moving to a new country is difficult, but The Welcoming Center gave me a lot of help. I found so many people here that have helped me. I joined the Participant Advisory Council because I want to help shape programming for other immigrants like me.


Silvia Roldan


My name is Silvia Roldan, I am from Ecuador. I was born in Quito, the capital of my country, but I grew up in Santo Domingo de los T-sachilas.

In 2013, I graduated with a degree in Engineer of Administration of Tourism and Hotel Management from the Universidad Tecnologica America in Cuenca, Ecuador. I worked for the Minister of Tourism, but ultimately decided to move to the United States in April of 2014.

I am motivated by my passion to learn and in 2016 I applied for a scholarship which was granted and upon completion of the program became a member of the International Postgraduates of the Organization of American States. I also earned my MBA in Project Management from the University Rey Juan Carlos, Spain in 2017. During this year I formed part of the 1st Cohort of the ILI from The Welcoming Center which encouraged me to keep organizing events with the group “I Belong”, of which I am part of. Currently I work in a non-profit Health Care organization as an Office Technician Floater, where I have come to realize how fragile the immigrant community’s needs are.

I would describe myself as being ambitious, generous, and kind.  I enjoy helping and encouraging others to pursue their dreams. That is why through my passion to help people I served as a volunteer at the Jewish Relief Agency in Philadelphia by delivering groceries to families in need. Being a volunteer makes me feel connected to others and gives me a sense of community, belonging, and purpose.

I am part of the Advisory Council which fulfills me with the noble purpose of assisting others looking for programs that can help them become integrated into U.S. society.

I believe all immigrants face barriers and that the Welcoming Center can help them overcome them through the positive community outreach we provide. As a consultant, I assist the staff in making decisions about new programs that accelerate immigrant integration, economic advancement, and general well-being in our communities.


Srabanti Biswas


My name is Srabanti Biswas, I have been here in Philadelphia, USA for a year and a half. I came from Khulna, Bangladesh. When I was there I worked as a medical doctor for two years. When I moved to Philadelphia, I found it very difficult to get back into my profession. There were barriers like social isolation and lack of recognition. This led me to join the “Immigrant Leadership Institute’ at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. I joined the participant advisory council because I love to work with and for immigrants like me. I believe I can help people who are struggling to adapt here in the USA.


Youcef Kada

My Name is Youcef Kada, born in Algeria. When I was 18 years old I moved to Spain, where I got my Degree in Telecommunication Engineering at the University of Valencia,  also I got the chance to get a great experience in Solar Industry as Sales Engineer.
On September 2015 I’ve moved to Philadelphia, looking for something different, new challenges and adventures. Welcoming Center was one of the places who helped me to get English classes with one of the best Teachers , also to meet new people from different countries.
After 6 months in Philadelphia, I’ve found my first job, as BDM Latin America & Caribbean. At this time I was lucky because I visited beautiful places around Latin America. I thought to share my experience and help other people using my skills. Welcoming Center was the first place where I’ve though to be and the Participant Advisory Council is the right program where I could get my projects done. My knowledge on green energy could be a plus to our community, and also help our earth and environment.