Tess Grossi, Co-President
Tess has been a member of the SMI Board since 2011. She enjoys serving on the Board and becoming more involved in the immigrant and refugee community. She volunteers as often as possible at local events such as ILAP’s CeleSoirée and Immigrant & Refugee Day, as well as volunteering regularly at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook. Tess has over a decade of experience in the field of international education as well as customer service. She has a B.S. with a concentration in International Business and an MBA from Endicott College.
Susan Webster, Co-President
Susan joined the SMI Board in 2016 and is a member of the Newsletter Committee. She is proud to live in a community that welcomes immigrants and refugees and to be part of an organization that supports their efforts to make a new life for themselves here in their new home country. Her other work includes providing technical writing services in support of engineering proposals, reports and publications and developing workshops and webinars on the topic of food waste reduction/recovery in K-12 school cafeterias. Susan lives in Portland with her family and their new bee hive. She is a fan of travel, crossword puzzles, hiking and murder mysteries.
David Currier, Treasurer
David has been an SMI Board Member since 2014 and served as Board President from 2015 to 2017. In addition to his work for SMI, David serves as Treasurer of The Katarzyna Fund. He served as Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the RSU5 (Freeport) Student Aspirations Partnership from 2007-2012, as a Board member of The Iris Network from 1996-2005 (Chairperson from 2002-2003) and as a Board member of the Maine Civil Liberties Union from 1990-96 (Board President from 1993-1994).
David has practiced law at Warren, Currier & Buchanan (or its predecessor) as a principal since 1988. Before that he was an associate at the Portland law firm of Murray, Plumb & Murray. David received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1982 and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review from 1980-1982. He received his A.B. from Brown University in 1979. David lives in Portland with his wife Adele Ngoy (a former SMI recipient) and family.
Emma Adams, Secretary
Emma joined the SMI Board in 2018 after returning to her home state of Maine following six years of living abroad. Most of her professional career has been in international education and travel, from designing customized group tours of Italy, to serving Foreign Service officers and diplomatic staff at the Rome American Embassy, to working as a travel specialist at AAA, to her current position managing the international curriculum of college study abroad students at CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange, Inc.). Emma also teaches Italian language and culture at a local language school. After being away for so long and having played a part in many people’s intercultural and language experiences, she is deeply appreciative of the growth in diversity in Maine and wants to make sure that appreciation is felt and heard through the community’s financial and educational support and that everyone who needs SMI can find us.
Kim Lehigh Crabill joined SMI’s board in 2020. Kim calls Maine home, as she spent her formative years on the coast in Downeast Maine. After graduating from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, Kim worked in a sales and management career in Maine, Boston, San Francisco and then Seattle where she and her husband and two children lived for many years before moving back East to Portland.
Kim is grateful for the opportunity to assist new Mainers in their journeys to become successful participants in our community. If she isn’t working, you can usually find Kim outdoors on her bike, skis, or in her hiking boots enjoying all the wonders that Maine has to offer.
Charlie grew up in New Gloucester, Maine, and attended Portland High School before studying anthropology and global studies at Colby College. He spent a semester abroad in Madagascar in a program for biodiversity and natural resource management — providing truly unique experiences but also lessons around cultural adjustment and being “from away”. Returning from Madagascar in summer 2017, Charlie began volunteering at Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services teaching English to elderly Somali refugees. Experiences in Lewiston that summer led to writing a senior honors thesis that initially was exploring how Somali identity was influenced by physical and social spaces in Lewiston, but ended up focusing more closely on how “placemaking” and diaspora were intrinsic parts of Somali identity, and ended up accounting for how Lewiston the place was influenced by the arrival and “placemaking” efforts of Somalis. Charlie began volunteering at Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services in October 2018, and was hired full time employment case manager in June 2019. Following two years of making job placements and promoting workforce accessibility for new Mainers, Charlie changed roles to the Director of Outreach and Education, where he is currently focusing on client education, staff training, and outreach with community partner organizations.
Shoshana joined SMI in 2020 and has taught English to Speakers of Other Languages at Portland Adult Education since 2014. She also has led professional development workshops on ESOL teaching at the University of New England, at state and regional conferences and as part of a program that trains English teachers in several Chinese cities.
Shoshana helped found Welcoming the Stranger, a program that matches asylum seekers in southern Maine with volunteer mentors. She serves on the group’s steering committee and mentors a family from central Africa. For SMI, she serves on the Scholarships Committee.
A Congolese-American originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, E’nkul is a grassroots organizer who truly believes in the American Dream. For more than a decade, he has worked hard for the full integration of all new Mainers. He joined the SMI Board in 2000 and served as Board President from 2003 to 2009. E’nkul presently works as the Director of Operations and Continuous Quality Improvement for Granite Bay Care, Inc. and as an Adjunct Professor of African Politics at University of New England. A volunteer for various nonprofit organizations and a trained educator with more than 20 years of teaching and teacher training, E’nkul has experience in International Relations working for the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. He has also worked as a United Nations translator and interpreter. He holds a Master’s in Education with Specialization in English as a Foreign Language and an MBA with Specialization in E-Business from the University of Phoenix.
Rachel joined the SMI Board in January 2020, and serves on the Scholarships and Fundraising Committees. She has spent most of her career working in the international sector. She currently works as an English Language Teacher at Reiche Community School. Previously, she worked at a boutique law firm in Portland, Maine that specializes in business and family immigration, and with the international work and study programs at CIEE.
Rachel spent more than 8 years living, working and studying abroad in Asia, Europe and North America, including 2 years teaching English in southern Japan through the JET Programme. Since returning to Maine she has been involved with the Portland immigrant community tutoring adults in English through Learning Works and assisting in the classroom at Portland Adult Education.
Debby has served on the SMI Board since 2003. Her initial involvement grew out of a passion for teaching English as a Second Language at Portland High School, Barber Foods and Portland Adult Education. She previously served as Board President in 2010 and 2019, and has chaired the Scholarship Committee.
She grew up in Connecticut, attended the University of Denver, and graduated from the University of Southern Maine. Debby went back to school at a later stage in her life to earn an M.S. in Education from USM. Having children in the Portland school system inspired her to teach ESOL students and later their parents. Other interests include serving on the Portland Ovations Advisory Board, and in various leadership positions at her church and on the island where she spends summers. She volunteers her time for the Animal Refuge League and Crossroads for Women. In addition, Debby loves to travel, keep bees, hike and read.
Alex joined the SMI Board in 2021 and serves on the Fundraising and Social Media Committees. She has spent most of her career working in international education. She earned her TEFL Certification from CIEE and currently volunteers as an ESOL classroom assistant at Portland Adult Education. She has spent time studying and interning in France and Switzerland and leading high school abroad trips to Asia, Africa, Central America, and Europe. She is excited to have the opportunity to step outside of the ESOL classroom and become more involved in supporting members of the immigrant and refugee community who are seeking to further their educational, professional, and vocational goals. Alex has a B.A. in Global Studies and French Studies from Colby College and a M.S. in Global Studies & International Relations from Northeastern University
My Hanh Thai
My Hanh Thai joined SMI’s board in 2021. Her parents moved from China to Vietnam where she was born. She was educated in Vietnam and earned a BA degree in Chinese and BA degree in Japanese. She taught in primary school as a Chinese teacher. She also worked for Bosch, a German company, as a purchasing agent and spent some time in India, China, Singapore, and Japan. She emigrated to the United States in 2017 to join her parents and sisters and brothers. My Hanh also earned an Associate’s degree in Hospitality from SMCC, and teaches Chinese at Portland area high schools. As an immigrant in Maine, she is excited to have the opportunity to do meaningful work with SMI. She believes in SMI’s mission to provide scholarship opportunities to immigrants and refugees who need language skills and job skills to succeed in the Greater Portland area.
ADVISORS TO THE BOARD
Lorie Dana, Advisor
Lorie served on the SMI board from 2016 to 2019. She served on the Scholarship Committee before becoming Secretary and joining the Newsletter Committee to help promote the organization and expand awareness of our mission throughout the community. She lives in Portland with her husband and two teenage children. Lorie and her husband travel extensively in support of their Portland businesses, Asia West and El Rayo Taqueria, and have a strong interest in other countries and cultures. Living in Portland and having children in the Portland Public Schools has connected her with the many immigrant families living in the city and the hardships they have endured to get here. Her desire to help in their transition inspired her to join the SMI Board. Lorie believes in SMI’s mission to provide scholarship opportunities to immigrants and refugees who need language skills to succeed and is grateful for the opportunity to help English language learners in the Greater Portland area.
Valerie DeVuyst, Advisor
Valerie has served as Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Scholarship Committee chair since joining the SMI Board in 2001. Valerie recently retired after 18 years as ESOL Program Coordinator and Student Advisor at Portland Adult Education. At PAE, she met hundreds of immigrants who want to become productive members of the Portland community. One of the things she enjoys most about SMI is having the opportunity to see students achieve their educational and career goals. She currently works as ESOL Program Coordinator at Westbrook Adult Education and as administrative assistant at Furniture Friends. Valerie is also a member of the Windham Adult Education Advisory Board and a Board member of Friends of Portland Adult Education.
Prior to PAE she worked as Barber Foods’ on-site education coordinator for the USM Center for Workplace Learning. Her 10 years spent in Japan gained her a great empathy for the challenges of learning a new language and culture. Valerie’s first job was at the United Nations doing publicity and promotion for UNICEF greeting cards. Ever since she can remember she has had a great passion for learning about new cultures and languages. In her spare time she likes to garden, read and learn new languages.
Eleanor Goldberg, Advisor
Eleanor has been an SMI Board member since 2009. She has taught English to adult immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers at Portland Adult Education for over 10 years. Her students typically are beginning English language learners and she welcomes the opportunity to support students who want to further their education at the college level or pursue their professional and vocational goals here in the US. SMI provides her the opportunity to fulfill this objective. At SMI she has served as Board Vice President and President as well as a member of the Scholarship Committee.
Eleanor is a founding member and current Steering Committee member of Welcoming the Stranger, a Portland-based program that matches volunteer mentors with asylum-seekers.
Anne Grimes, Advisor
Anne is a former SMI Board member who now serves as an advisor. She has been co-editor of the SMI Newsletter and chaired the Oral History Project. She has volunteered for Preble Street Resource Center’s Food Pantry and for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project’s Friday Immigration Clinic and held a teaching internship at Portland Adult Education. Anne has also served on the Board of the Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic, and is a past President of the Maine Arborist Association’s Pine Tree State Arboretum Board. Anne received a B.S. in Plant Science from University of New Hampshire, and a B.A. in Hispanic Studies from University of Southern Maine.
Solange Kellermann, Advisor
Solange has been on the SMI Board since 2001. She served as Secretary-Treasurer and as a member of the Scholarship Committee. She was drawn to serve by its mission and her experiences as an immigrant, adding “If there had been a program like this when we came to the U.S., it would have made my mother’s life and, by extension, made my life so much easier.”
Solange has a B.A. in Education from Paterson (NJ) State College, a B.A.in Studio Arts from the University of Southern Maine and an M.A. in Public Policy from USM’s Muskie School of Public Policy. She has served on the boards of Congregation Bet Ha’am, Cumberland County Cooperative Extension and Tengo Voz. She has worked as a program coordinator for Portland Adult Education, co-owned a small retail store, owned Clutter Doc, personal organizing services, and been an event coordinator. Her interests include Balkan dancing, reading and visiting family in Peru, Canada and France.
Susan Martens, Advisor
Susan Martens was a member of the SMI Board from 2008 to 2019, served as Secretary of the Board for two years, and chaired the Scholarship Committee. She was Secretary/Treasurer of her husband’s company and taught Junior High School English for almost 20 years. Susan also volunteers weekly in the ESOL classrooms at Portland Adult Education and at the Food Pantry in Brunswick, which is a vital part of the Mid-Coast Hunger Prevention Program. As a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Brunswick, she has many opportunities to contribute her time and efforts to the ongoing programs and groups. Susan is passionate about education. The privilege of serving on a dynamic Board that provides scholarship opportunities to immigrants and refugees who need language skills to succeed fuels that passion.