Leadership Team

Student 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.

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.