Who We Are

Leadership Team

wwa-1Anish Kanoria ‘18 is an international student from India and an Economics and Political Science double major. Together with Prof. Maria Hoehn, he has founded Vassar Refugee Solidarity and is the student leader of the initiative. He also serves as the President of the Vassar Student Association. 

wwa-2Elise Shea ’19 is the Founder and Director of Conversations Unbound. She is also the project manager of the digital initiatives of Vassar Refugee Solidarity. She’s currently a junior majoring in International Studies with concentrations in Political Science and Economics. Elise is also pursuing a correlate in French and will be spending a semester abroad in Paris. In addition to her work with Vassar Refugee Solidarity, she is a member of Vassar Repertory Dance Theater and Vassar Alliance of Women in Foreign Affairs.

Patrick DeYoung ’18 is a Political Science major at Vassar. He is a Vassar Veterans Posse Scholar and the Chair of Organizations for the Vassar Student Association. Pat is the coordinator for the initiative’s refugee resettlement efforts.


Jessica Schwed ’18 is the assistant director of Conversations Unbound and co-manages the VRS Digital Initiatives.  At Vassar, she is an International Studies major with Political Science and History as her areas of concentration.  She also has a correlate in French and Francophone studies with the possibility of a second correlate in Arabic.  When not working, you can find Jess climbing a mountain as part of the Vassar Outdoors Club.

Student Team


Sophia Slater ’18 is a Political Science major at Vassar. As part of Vassar Refugee Solidarity she is taking charge of this website with WordPress skills developed in past internships, and is primarily taking media and research roles.



Camelia Manring ’20 is a sophomore majoring in Geography and Minoring in Hispanic Studies and Arabic Language and Culture. She is the Spanish Language Tutoring Head for Conversations Unbound. Cam is also a member of the Vassar Women’s Soccer Team, a student fellow, and an art model on the side.


Gabbi Chwae ’19 is a junior, double majoring in International studies and Russian studies with a minor in mathematics. She currently works as the Marketing Director for Conversations Unbound and oversees the English Language Exchange for Vassar Refugee Solidarity. She also works as a mathematics supplemental instructor and an online math tutor for ONEXYS through Yale University and with Vassar College’s Posse Program. In the rest of her free time, she volunteers in marketing with Pets for Patriots.

Zuzanna Wisniewska ’20 is a sophomore majoring in History at the University of Washington. Zuzanna spent her freshman year at Vassar and continues to maintain close ties with the school through her work as the Finance Manager and Satellite School Program Assistant for Conversations Unbound. Outside of school she grows her love for coffee by working as a barista.

Ilayda Takil ‘19 is majoring in International Studies and French at Vassar. She conducted research for the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement and Education during the summer of ‘17.



William Zemp ’20 is a sophomore undecided major, but is leaning towards majoring in Biology with a possible correlate in International Politics. He is doing research for the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement and Education during the summer of ’17 and is also a member of the Sailing Club.

Faculty Director

wwa-8Maria Höhn is the Marion Musser Lloyd ’32 Chair of History and International Studies. She is a German historian and scholar of the American military presence in Germany after WWII, with a special focus on the interaction between African American GIs and German society. Together with Anish Kanoria, she founded Vassar Refugee Solidarity to get the Vassar College community involved in findings ways to help with the unprecedented global movements of people and the resulting crises in states responses.

Ex-Officio Advisor

wwa-9Sam Speers is director of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life and assistant dean for Campus Life and Diversity. He is past president of the Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA). He recently completed an eight-year project as director of Secularity and the Liberal Arts, a Teagle Foundation working group of faculty and chaplains that asked what higher education leaders really mean when we call ourselves “secular.”  He is an ordained Presbyterian minister.
He advises Vassar Refugee Solidarity in the Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance.