Staff

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Fereshteh Ganjavi
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FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Fereshteh Ganjavi
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Fereshteh is a refugee from Afghanistan who founded Elena’s Light in 2017 with the goal of educating and helping other refugees in Connecticut. She is a passionate advocate for the most vulnerable communities and works tirelessly to help others. She is a mother of two girls, Elena & Diana and enjoys spending time with her family

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Yasmeen Abed
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PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Yasmeen is a sophomore at Yale University majoring in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. She is passionate about refugee rights, particularly the education of refugee women and children. She is the co-president for the Refugee and Immigrant Student Education organization which provides tutoring services to refugee children in the New Haven area. She hopes to bring this experience to her role as a Program Development Coordinator for Elena's Light. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, trying new foods, and exploring New Haven.

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Emily Gordon
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EVENT SPECIALIST

Emily is a longtime editor, writer, and marketer who works in the communications department of the Yale School of Management. She's proud to host live online events and fundraisers for Elena's Light that showcase the essential voices of former refugees and other experts. She attended Barnard College and New York University and lives in New Haven.

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Rachel Schaffer
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HEALTH & WELLNESS COORDINATOR

Rachel is working towards her degree in Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University. Having spent five years of her career in childcare and within schools, Rachel saw the disparity between the extensive needs of families and the lack of resources made available for their success. She is now committed to work on implementing actionable change for those who are in need. With a strong emphasis on social justice, Rachel has taken on many leadership roles within her university, including helping to publish research on the impact of COVID-19 on the New Haven community and its people of color. She is honored to be a part of Elena’s Light and help make a difference.

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Yalda Jabarkhyl
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HEALTH SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Yalda is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and a second year MPH student. She is originally from Afghanistan and comes from a family of refugees. By working at Elena's Light she hopes to bring a cultural perspective and help to ease the transition to life in the United States for refugee families.

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Asma Rahimyar
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GRANT WRITER SPECIALIST

As the daughter of Afghan immigrants, Asma is attuned to the corrosive effects of impunity—her aspirations, therefore, revolve around the imperative of prioritizing human rights within transitional justice initiatives. Asma is currently pursuing a double baccalaureate in political science and philosophy, as well as a minor in English literature, at Southern Connecticut State University. She is president of SCSU's Muslim Student Association, the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, and Pi Sigma Alpha. She is also a representative-at-large for the Student Government Association, a member of the Multicultural Leadership Council and the Interfaith Council, a writing, philosophy, and first-year research tutor at the Academic Success Center, and an associate editor for Society, Justice, and the Law, the Pre-Law Society’s student journal. She has advocated for increased bilingual literacy support, facilitated interfaith dialogue, and organized SCSU’s first Refugee Thanksgiving in conjunction with Elena’s Light. Asma intends to pursue a joint JD/PhD with the goal of practicing international human rights law and fortifying the rule of law in Afghanistan. She is the first Rhodes Scholar, as well as the first Truman Scholar, in both SCSU and CSCU (Connecticut State Colleges and Universities) history.

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Hillary Jean-Bart
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ESL COORDINATOR

Hillary is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and is currently attending Yale University. She is studying the History of Medicine and Public Health along with Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. As a child of Haitian immigrants, she is incredibly passionate about amplifying the voices of minority communities and advocating for HealthCare rights. In her free time she enjoys listening to podcasts, painting, and traveling.

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Yeonie Heo
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MEDIA/MARKETING COORDINATOR

Yeonie is from South Korea and is currently attending New York University Abu Dhabi. She is highly passionate about diversity and equal rights regardless of gender, race, and vulnerability of individuals. At Elena’s Light, she hopes to contribute to making the minorities’ voices heard even further both in the community and the media.

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Natasha Ghazali
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MEDIA/MARKETING COORDINATOR

Natasha Ghazali is a rising-senior studying Ethnicity, Race, & Migration at Yale University. Her concentration combines immigrant/refuge studies with spatial-identity formation, focusing on broader themes of diaspora and displacement. As of child of Malaysian immigrants born-and-raised in New Haven, she hopes to build upon the already amazing work being done at Elena’s Light. 

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Mahboob Sharafi
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INTERPRETER SPECIALIST

Mahboob is born in Afghanistan and has worked with USAID funded projects for Afghanistan both primary and higher education for 16 years. He feels honored to work with Elena’s Light as he is largely motivated to play a role among a group of people whose works with immigrants allow them to get closer to their dreams and goals.