Our staff is comprised of four full-time employees, a middle school and elementary school coordinator, two literacy coordinators, twelve tutors, four drivers, and many wonderful volunteers.
Safety is our main concern, for that reason every volunteer and staff person is carefully screened with a background check, references, and interviews before joining us.
We believe that actions speak louder than words, so to teach respect we must also show it to everyone.
Our goal is to create and maintain a nurturing environment for refugee and immigrant students to feel safe by respecting their individuality, experiences, and culture.
Before joining ourBRIDGE, we ask that each leadership staff member is CPR certified.
Sil Ganzó is the founder and Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS. Sil moved to Charlotte, NC in 2003 from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sil became involved with refugee and immigrant families in 2010, when she recognized the lack of educational and socio-emotional support for newly- arrived children. She was inspired to create ourBRIDGE; a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment where refugee and immigrant children can learn English, be encouraged to achieve academic excellence and cultural pride, and where their families could feel welcome and embraced as they strive to start their lives anew in the United States.Learn More
ourBRIDGE for Kids is a 501(c)(3) governed by a eight-member board of directors.
Emily C. Plauche', Board Chair
Nuru InternationalRead Bio
Meg Campbell Haynes, Esq., Secretary
Center for the Support of FamiliesRead Bio
Allen Shifflet, Treasurer
Bank of America Merrill LynchRead Bio
Charlotte Country Day SchoolRead Bio
Claudia JacobsonRead Bio
Dima DaherRead Bio
City of CharlotteRead Bio
Stefania ArteagaRead Bio
Teach For America
Sil Ganzó is the founder and Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS. Sil moved to Charlotte, NC in 2003 from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sil became involved with refugee and immigrant families in 2010, when she recognized the lack of educational and socio-emotional support for newly- arrived children. She was inspired to create ourBRIDGE; a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment where refugee and immigrant children can learn English, be encouraged to achieve academic excellence and cultural pride, and where their families could feel welcome and embraced as they strive to start their lives anew in the United States.
As a strong advocate for love, education, respect, and diversity among cultures and people, Sil has received several accolades for her work throughout the years including Charlotte Magazines 2014 and 2018 Charlottean of the Year and was recognized as a “Social Interruptor” by Community Building Initiative in 2018. She also received the 2019 Legacy Award for the work done at ourBRIDGE supporting the education of newly-arrived and 1st generation American children. Both Sil and ourBRIDGE have been widely recognized locally and nationally, with national media coverage and attention. In 2017 Sil was invited by Congresswoman Alma Adams to attend the State of the Union address in Washington DC. Most recently, ourBRIDGE was invited by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to present on how to ensure English Language Learners can have equal access to STEM. Sil continues to work as Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS, driven by her vision to make Charlotte a more welcoming, equitable city for immigrants and refugee families.
Born and raised in Scotland, Linda is a British-trained educator, with 25 years of global experience in special education, remedial therapy, elementary classroom teaching, learning support, and tutoring.
Linda has mentored tutoring staff and volunteers, with responsibility for lesson planning and individual scholastic assessments for literacy and numeracy.
Linda has passionately dedicated her career to educating children of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Linda studied Elementary Education at Dundee University in the United Kingdom, earning a degree in Remedial Education (cum laude) from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
After receiving her teaching diploma in the UK, Linda traveled overseas to hold international appointments at schools in Abu Dhabi and South Africa, including 14 years as a Senior Teacher and Learning Therapist at Crossroads School, a distinguished remedial ‘clinic-school’ in Johannesburg.
In 2011, Linda met our founder Ms. Ganzó and began serving Charlotte-area immigrant and refugee children. Linda has mentored tutoring staff and volunteers, with responsibility for lesson planning and individual scholastic assessments for literacy and numeracy.
Emily C. Plauche’ is a CPA who is dedicated to utilizing her financial and operational expertise to build infrastructure and support the financial accounting and procedural needs of nonprofit organizations.
A native of Louisiana, Emily acquired a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the Honors College of Louisiana State University before pursuing a Master of Science in International Security from the School of Public Policy at University College London where she focused specifically on which justice institutions are most efficacious in achieving reconciliation between ethnic groups after genocide.
Emily relocated to Charlotte in 2012 to work as an auditor in the Banking and Capital Markets space for PwC before transitioning into the nonprofit sector where she first worked as the Director of Accounting and Subsidiary Controller for Girls on the Run International and now as Accounting Manager for Nuru International, an NGO dedicated to ending extreme poverty in remote, rural areas of Africa.
Although she knows how to be an accountant, Emily’s true passion is for marginalized groups both locally and globally. Emily has volunteered extensively throughout Africa and South Asia and remains involved with the immigrant community here in Charlotte, NC as a group teacher with the Citizenship Prep Program at International House and one-on-one ESL tutor in her spare time.
Meg Haynes serves as Secretary of ourBRIDGE. She is a lawyer with the Center for the Support of Families. Her focus is on policy and procedures development, legislative analysis, and training on child support.
Meg has also served as Chair of the U.S. Commission on Interstate Child Support. Additionally, she was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Maintenance. She also served as an official observer to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) Drafting Committee of the Uniform Law Commissioners. Meg has been extensively honored for her work including: the OCSE Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award for her work on behalf of children; ERICSA’s Felix Infausto Award for outstanding contributions in the area of interstate child support; and NCSEA’s Child Support Community Service Award. Meg is a former Trustee of Davidson College and a partner with Social Venture Partners. She earned a B.A. degree cum laude from Davidson College and a J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.
Allen Shifflet manages a Credit Asset Financing team within the Global Credit and Special Situations Group at Merrill Lynch, focusing on financing portfolios of high-yield loans, bonds and similar securities. His background includes a variety of marketing, product development, structuring and execution of interest rate and credit derivatives, loans and securitization.
He began his career with a Bank of America predecessor bank after receiving a MBA from Harvard Business School. Allen earned a B.A. from Haverford College. He is a partner with Social Venture Partners Charlotte and serves as the Treasurer of ourBRIDGE.
Scott Waybright is a life-long educator and community volunteer. Scott found his passion for the Charlotte immigrant and refugee community after traveling to Africa and experiencing the isolation of being different for the first time.
Scott is the Assistant Head of School at Charlotte Country Day School. Prior to serving on the ourBRIDGE board of directors, Scott served on the board of Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency for six years.
A native of West Virginia, Scott has degrees from Marietta College (BA in Sports Medicine) and Winthrop University (MA in Middle Level Education).
Claudia Jacobson is a Marriage and Family Therapist originally from Brazil. Long before moving to the US she developed a passion for Cultural Diversity and Immigration. For the past few years she has been studying, working, and writing about the impact intercultural experiences, such as immigration, have on one’s sense of identity and belongingness. She has also been developing strategies to help immigrants overcome trauma so they can build new homes in all possible levels - social, emotional, and communal. Claudia is a volunteer counselor at OURBRIDGE for Kids providing group therapy for children and parents.
In Brazil Claudia worked in private practice for 25 years providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families. She also worked as the Couples Department Coordinator at the Kaplan Institute - Center for Study of Human Sexuality where she was responsible for a project that was co-funded by UNESCO and the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s Department of Coordination & Prevention of STD/Aids.
Claudia earned a BA degree in Psychology from Universidade Paulista. She also earned a post BA degree in Marriage & Family Therapy and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from PUC - University of São Paulo.
A native of Jordan, Dima Daher migrated to United States and permanently settled in Charlotte, North Carolina in the year 2000. After acquiring a degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dima worked in the Imaging Software industry at LEAD Technologies, Inc. from 2004-2017. There she led the Multimedia department. Dima and her husband continue to live in Charlotte with their two children.
Dima has a passion for volunteer work and giving back to the community. When her children were both in school, Dima became heavily involved in volunteering within their school community. 2019-2020 will be the year Dima leads the Parents’ Association at the Providence Day School, a community that she loves and calls home.
As a Jordanian with a mother of Syrian decent, Dima felt that she could put her Arabic speaking skills to good use when the war in Syria broke out and the influx of Syrian refugees increased. That is when she became involved with the refugee community in Charlotte through organizations such as the CRRA (Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency) and ourBRIDGE for Kids.
Being a migrant herself, Dima knows the challenges that one goes through trying to acclimate and fit into a new culture. She is thrilled to help other families as Charlotte becomes their home.
Emily Yaffe is the Immigrant Integration Specialist for the Office of Equity, Mobility & Immigrant Integration and an employee of the City of Charlotte since May 2014. She is committed to supporting the success of diverse, welcoming and globally connected communities. Prior to joining the Office of International Relations, she worked as a Small Business Program Specialist for the Charlotte Business Inclusion Program.
Emily dedicated three years working as a Peace Corp volunteer in the Dominican Republic. For the first two years Emily lived in a small town strengthening a beekeepers cooperative, forming a branch of an entrepreneurship youth group, and developing a business skills curriculum for a technical school. Her final year with the Peace Corps was spent managing the national entrepreneurship youth group program. Emily prepared herself for the Peace Corps life by first serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA where she managed operations in Washoe County for an ESL program based in Northern Nevada.
Emily Yaffe earned a B.S. in Business Administration/International Business & B.A. in Spanish from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She earned a certificate for Diversity & Cultural Competency from Wake Forest University. She was a Spark Fellow with Welcoming America, a two-year program on racial equity and immigrant inclusion.
An organizer and strategist, Stefania Arteaga has played a crucial role in advancing immigrant organizing in North Carolina, co-founding the grassroots Comunidad Colectiva and helping push back the tide of sheriffs joining 287(g) jail deportation agreements with ICE. As an immigrant from El Salvador, she spent years organizing undocumented students, deportation defense campaigns, and toward the successful end of 287(g) in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County. She most recently joined the ACLU of North Carolina as Statewide Immigrants’ Rights Organizer and is a Z Smith Reynolds ALL for NC Fellow.