CEO’s Management Team has more than 40 years of combined experience operating consumer lending programs for new Americans. This core CEO team works in close collaboration with IRC economic empowerment staff in the locations where CEO is operational.
CEO is guided by its Board of Directors and an Advisory Committee.
CEO’s Members and Board of Directors:
- Sean Carpenter, Chairman
- Hans Van de Weerd, President
- Ellen Beattie, Treasurer
- Michael Aikins, Secretary
- Sutanto Widjaja, Director
Follow this link to see the members of the CEO Advisory Committee.
Kasra has led CEO since 2014. Prior to CEO, he worked as the Deputy Director for the IRC in San Diego, where he implemented a consumer lending program that would serve as the basis for CEO’s national efforts. He offers support and guidance to IRC’s U.S. network of 27 community-based offices – which serve over 50,000 primarily refugee and immigrant families each year. Kasra holds a BSBA in Economics and an MA in International Business from the University of Florida. He is fluent in Farsi.
Mary Grace Ner
Deputy Director, Finance & Administration
Mary heads CEO’s finance and accounting functions and ensures CEO is in compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations. She joined the CEO team after serving as the Site Coordinator for the VITA Tax prep program at the IRC in San Diego. Mary also provided clients with financial literacy education, credit counseling, coaching and assisted with loan applications. Mary speaks Tagalog and holds a BS in Business Administration from San Diego State University.
Senior Lending Manager
Senad oversees the entire lending process for clients from the initial application through the final payment. He was resettled in the U.S. by the IRC in 1998, and began working with the organization in 2000. Senad has lived the refugee experience, and understands the difficulty of transitioning to a new country. He believes CEO aides those struggling financially as he did many years ago. Originally from Bosnia, he speaks Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian as well as English.
Senior Operations Manager
Zachary oversees customer and partner support, offers training to our non-profit implementing partners and identifies data-centered solutions to increase efficiency in a scaling enterprise. He previously worked for the IRC in San Diego, in their microenterprise program, helping entrepreneurs navigate the new business process in the U.S. He believes all financial institutions should prioritize the financial well-being of their clients over profit. He has a BBA from James Madison University, speaks Spanish and has TEFL certification.
Senior Microlending Coordinator
Gokcen leads CEO's small business lending efforts as the Senior Microlending Coordinator. Gokcen previously worked for an international accounting firm in her native country, Turkey, before working at the IRC in San Diego for three years. She graduated from Ankara University with a degree in Business Administration.
Admin & IT Coordinator
Nawfal handles many responsibilities at CEO, lending technical and customer support to CEO’s 25+ partner organizations. Nawfal previously worked at the IRC office in San Diego, as a senior financial education specialist, working with CEO products and IRC clients. He joined the CEO team, taking on a new challenge and bringing his valuable experience from working on the other half of the IRC-CEO model. He has a Bachelor’s of Science from Al-Mustansiryia University, focused on computer science, and speaks Arabic.
Josh is CEO's Communications Coordinator, developing and executing communication plans for the organization. He joined CEO after serving for a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. He brings experiences from time spend in Michigan at a public relations firm and his previous AmeriCorps service year at a mental health nonprofit in South Carolina. He believes in CEO's ability to illustrate the common financial barriers facing refugees and their new neighbors. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations with minors in Public Affairs and Leadership.
Customer Service Representative
Najeeb joins the CEO as a customer service representative. Before working at CEO, Najeeb worked for USAID as a senior administrative specialist in Kabul, Afghanistan. He also worked for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as an interpreter and linguist. As a refugee, Najeeb knows how overwhelming the U.S. financial system can be when you are new to the country. Najeeb is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. He wants to help clients learn financial skills and build credit so they can be self-sufficient, have a better life, and have more financial opportunities. Najeeb completed his bachelor's degree in economics at Pune University in India and is currently pursuing a master's degree in economics. His native language is Pashto, and he can also speak Dari, Hindi, and Urdu.
Information Systems Coordinator
Terrence serves as the Information Systems Coordinator and is responsible for project and technology management and system/process improvements at the organization. He joined the CEO team as an AmeriCorps VISTA member after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Terrence believes every resident in the United States deserves the same financial opportunities to achieve higher economic mobility regardless of social or legal status. Terrence is bilingual in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese.)
Communications AmeriCorps VISTA
Sara is an AmeriCorps VISTA member contributing to CEO’s ongoing efforts to integrate refugees into their new homes and equip them with the education and skills needed for a sustainable life. She has a PhD degree is in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) from University of Wisconsin-Madison where she specialized in the ethnography of migrants. In her postdoctoral research, Sara addressed the issues in the education of Afghan refugees in Iran. She did her undergraduate and master’s studies at the University of Cologne in Germany. She has broad experience teaching Persian and German, and volunteering with non-profit and community supported organizations such as Open Doors for Refugees. CEO allows Sara to utilize her own migration background and education in the humanities to improve the financial well-being of the most vulnerable individuals.
IRC Economic Empowerment Team
CEO was born after years of economic empowerment work from the IRC, championed by current CEO staff. IRC’s National Economic Empowerment leaders collaborate closely with CEO on nearly all areas of operation, including serving on CEO’s Internal Loan Committee.
INTERNAL LOAN COMMITTEE
Erica is a member of CEO’s Internal Loan Committee, in addition to her responsibilities with the IRC as Director of Economic Empowerment. She has worked at the IRC for 10 years after time spent in higher education and economic development. Erica knows moving the needle on poverty moves the needle on so much more, and that accessible finance is an important part of lifting people out of poverty. She helps integrate CEO products into IRC’s work. Erica earned a PhD in International Studies and MBA from the University of Denver and speaks French.
INTERNAL LOAN COMMITTEE
Jon is a member of CEO’s Internal Loan Committee, in addition to his responsibilities with the IRC as Deputy Director of Economic Empowerment. Jon is a licensed trainer of financial coaches, training nationally under a CNM Ingenuity license, and holds a master-trainer license for Credit as an Asset through Credit Builders Alliance. Jon believes CEO can directly address systemic issues facing low-income families and help make climbing the ladder a little easier. He attended Minnesota State University, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, with a post-graduate teaching certificate in ESL.