Meet Our Team

Leadership

Caterina Passoni

Executive Director and Co-Founder

Caterina is from Trieste, Italy. She studied Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale, with a focus on experiences of resettlement of Muslim female refugees to the US. She speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and has worked for Human Rights Watch Amman and in refugee education in Morocco. Caterina has worked with IRIS, our local resettlement agency, for more than 6 years - as a cultural companion, in employment counseling, and with their girls’ youth group. She has been an entrepreneur fellow at Collab CT, Tsai City at Yale, and the Miller Center for Social Enterpreneurship. In her free time, Caterina LOVES to dance, read, and try and fail to cook, to the entertainment of everyone on the team.

Nieda Abbas

Head Chef, Trainer, and Co-Founder

Nieda owned 3 food businesses in Baghdad, Iraq. She has a degree in business management and has always been an entrepreneur. In 2005 when her restaurants were bombed, Nieda resettled to Syria, where she opened a laundromat and supermarket. After 9 years in in Turkey, where she ran an informal hair salon, Nieda finally resettled to New Haven in 2014 with seven children. She could only find informal work in a cigarette rolling factory, and was unemployed for five years after quitting the job due to labor rights abuses. She was a venture in the Collab CT Fall 2018 accelerator. Nieda has an incredible talent for teaching, mentoring, and rallying her community.

Camila Guiza-Chavez

Fellowship Director

Camila majored in Ethnicity, Race and Migration at Yale. She gained a passion for organizing with others against injustice by watching the work of her parents and learning from the rich political history of her home, the Bay Area. In New Haven she has spent years working with organizers at the Semilla Collective, a community that fights for immigrant justice. She plans to dedicate herself to organizing for many years to come.

Jad Maayah

Marketing Director

Jad Maayah is a recent graduate of Harvard College, where he studied political science and economics. Originally from Jordan, Jad has volunteered at the Zaatari refugee camp and worked directly with Syrian refugees, specializing in aid programs. His passions lie in immigration reform and he hopes to become a legal advocate for refugees and immigrants in the United States.

Board of Directors

Samra Ali

Samra Ali is a lifelong student, educator, and non-profit management professional. With an extensive arts, nonprofit, and volunteer background, she began her formal career in a MomPreneur venture that grew to be a multi-brand year-round design house, which saw an exponential growth of 500% in the three years of operation. Samra has spent over 10yrs in private education, helping to grow one of the most prominent Islamic private schools in North Texas, and establish a few upcoming ones. Samra remains focused on community driven and centered projects, incorporating her faith, arts, and education backgrounds.

Barbara Bettigole

After ordering her first box of baklava in November 2018, Barbara volunteered to deliver Havenly treats by car. She became well acquainted with the Havenly team and its operations on the ground and joined the board with whole-hearted admiration for the people and the mission of Havenly Treats. Her connection to New Haven, years of experience in elementary education, editing, and outreach in sustainability efforts allow her to contribute energy, strategic planning, and understanding of community spirit to the board’s functions.

Aziza Mohamad

Aziza Mohammad, MA is a recent graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She previously worked with refugee communities in North Carolina at a refugee resettlement agency and founded a tutoring program for former refugee children. Her passion to work with underrepresented minorities drives her desire to pursue a career in medicine.

Kris Oser

Board Director

Kris Oser had been a business journalist for 20 years, focusing on digital marketing, before changing direction and becoming an ESL teacher for adults. In addition to teaching, she volunteers full-time son behalf of refugees and immigrants to the U.S. She is the parent of five adult children and lives with her husband in Milford, Conn.

Jodie Ousley

Board Chair

Jodie L. Ousley is a founding Partner of d’Arcambal, Ousley & Cuyler Burk LLP (“DO&CB”), a women-owned litigation firm with offices in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She is committed to the advancement of women and persons of color in the field of law and to ensuring that all women are provided with flexible, workable opportunities and ways to have their voices heard and needs addressed.

Dr. Ivette Ruiz 

Dr. Ivette Ruiz, Ph.D. MHS, HS-BCP, has over three decades of professional experience working in the Health and Human Services field as an executive and clinician. She has volunteered for dozens of grass-root efforts impacting disadvantaged communities from the National Council of La Raza to the United Way, FEMA, NAACP, USDA, Yale Diversity Group, National Ministries, and many others. Today in her micro-farm in East Haven, CT, she raises chickens, grows food and plants with a purpose. As the founder of Healing by Growing she consults, coaches, offers REIKI, educates, empowers and mentors Latinx immigrant/migrant farm workers, disabled communities and other marginalized groups providing a healing and learning environment in nature. Ivette is grateful for the privilege to advocate on behalf of the Latinx immigrant/migrant farm workers and disabled farmers impacted by trauma. 

Keren Salim

Organizing Committee Member

Keren Salim is a community lawyer at New Haven Legal Assistance Association, where she assists low-income, primarily people of color, with labor and employment issues as well as housing related matters. She also provides legal and technical support to organizers and coalitions in the community. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law. Ms. Salim is from a working class immigrant community in North Carolina and has organized around issues affecting BIPOC communities and racial justice broadly. She aspires to be a movement lawyer, and continues to center anti-racist and organizing principles in her work as an attorney. Havenly was a natural fit given its mission to organize and build power around issues impacting immigrant women in the New Haven community.