Dana L. Harrison
Interim Executive Director
Dana has been a leader and advocate in social justice work for nearly 20 years, focusing on un/underemployed women, marginalized youth, ex-offenders and other uniquely challenged populations.
Her earliest experience with immigration matters dates back to the 1980’s when her family, through their church in Kentucky, provided significant support to a refugee family who fled Afghanistan. Direct work with immigrant populations since then has included employment as a Human Resources leader at a company with a large immigrant workforce and volunteering with Bethany Christian Services’ Transitional Foster Care program that provides short-term foster placements for unaccompanied youth. Her husband became a naturalized U.S. citizen in November 2017 and even with the resources they had at their disposal, she distinctly remembers how stressful, complicated and challenging this process was. She has followed the Immigrant Welcome Center since its inception and is honored to have this leadership role.
Through her own business, Synergy Consulting Services, for the past five years Dana has focused on helping leaders of non-profit organizations and small businesses find clarity and improve performance. She previously served in interim executive roles at TeenWorks and Forest Manor Multi-Service Center.
Her volunteer work includes serving as an agency evaluator for the United Way of Central Indiana, treasurer of the parent’s support group for Northside Montessori School, President of the Rolling Ridge Neighborhood Association, a contributor to the Near Eastside Quality of Life plan (2020), and an active member of the Marion County Re-entry Coalition.
Amy Shackelford, MSW, MPH
Amy Shackelford is passionate about helping refugees and immigrants. Her role as the Program Director at the Immigrant Welcome Center allows her to develop programming to not only assist immigrants in our city, but to also encourage more awareness and inclusion within our community. She also believes in a healthy and progressive work environment for her staff and has established several staff wellness programs to empower and promote advancement and knowledge of the members of her team.
Amy’s drive to help immigrants and refugees grew during three years of employment in Cape Town, South Africa. The experience exposed her to unique perspectives and ideas, which she is now successfully implementing into strategies for IWC.
When she isn’t working, Amy enjoys teaching classes at the university, doing yoga and cooking vegan dishes, and exploring Indianapolis on her bicycle.
Community Impact Coordinator
Graham Melendez is inspired by powerful motivation to make life better for immigrants in Indianapolis. As the Community Impact Coordinator, his priorities include building relationships with community partners. These partners then become resources for immigrants – resources to better navigate a smooth transition into their Indianapolis communities. When Graham decided to become a Natural Helper volunteer for IWC in 2017, he did so in order to help people. In turn, this experience provided him the skills needed for him to step into his permanent role at the center.
Graham moved to the United States from Peru when he was eight-years-old. His experience has promoted an acute awareness of the unique journey and circumstances for immigrant children, and he notes that there is an admirable resiliency to immigrant children.
Graham takes breaks from work by doing what his family has always done for celebrations and as a way to express themselves – he goes dancing. Whether it’s country-line dancing or salsa dancing, he says it’s rare to see someone unhappy while taking part. Graham’s motivation stems from seeing people happy – both inside and out of the Immigrant Welcome Center.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Nonprofit employees typically wear many hats and Jackie Rodriguez is no exception. She is the Immigrant Welcome Center’s Marketing & Communications Manager. Not only does she prepare and execute the quarterly naturalization clinics, which help guide immigrants through the lengthy and intimidating naturalization process, but she also handles the daily marketing tasks for the organization. Jackie works behind-the-scenes, creating content and material for social marketing, print material for events, and even filling in on the occasional radio interview.
The daughter of immigrant parents, Jackie has witnessed first-hand the challenges that exist for newcomers to the United States. Watching her parents navigate immigration obstacles inspired Jackie to apply specifically for her role at IWC – giving her a chance to give back to her community by helping to empower and uplift other immigrants in search of the American dream.
When she’s not working toward making the IWC goals a reality, Jackie enjoys spending time with her friends and family, and she is currently working to complete her bachelor’s degree in marketing.
Legal & Naturalization Services Coordinator
When a client calls the Immigrant Welcome Center, the first person they speak to will be Adejoke Awolusi. As the center’s Legal & Naturalization Services Coordinator, Adejoke serves as the initial point of contact and provides referrals and resources to clients. She also helps facilitate the Cultural Humility Workshops and helps the center’s Department of Justice representative with her appointments and paperwork. Adejoke stays busy each day but she wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s important to her to serve as someone who immigrants can relate to – someone who has been through the process herself.
When Adejoke first moved to the United States from Nigeria, finding the information she needed was challenging. A few years ago, she decided to apply to become a Natural Helper for the Immigrant Welcome Center. As a volunteer, she began her journey in connecting with and supporting other immigrants.
With her fun-loving, playful nature, Adejoke is a friendly face for immigrants to find when they visit the center. When she’s not working, she stays busy with her kids and enjoys relaxing with a good Netflix drama series.
Community Connect Coordinator
Cynthia is a first-generation American and comes from a family of resilient Nicaraguan immigrants. Cynthia currently serves as the Immigrant Welcome Center’s Community Connect Coordinator. Cynthia is a strong advocate of immigrant rights, language access, and equity.
Serving the immigrant population is not something new for Cynthia, she volunteers regularly on the west side of Indianapolis registering voters, promoting community resources and providing language access services.
Her drive, energy, dedication, and passion for advocacy have always made her stand out of the crowd. When she is not working, Cynthia is, trying out a new dish, practicing yoga and working on her classes to finishing her Masters in Public Affairs at IUPUI’s Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Being able to vote for the first time in the election of 2016 raised Kayla’s awareness of the negative rhetoric against immigrants at the local and national level. It was at this time she was also introduced to community organizing in Indianapolis where she became close with Spanish-speaking people, leading her to commit to learning the language herself.
As the Resource Coordinator, she does the detailed researching and organizing of the information and resources available in Indianapolis, keeping in mind barriers that immigrants often face when trying to obtain assistance. She works collaboratively with Natural Helpers, partners, and the IWC team.
In her free time, Kayla is usually canvassing for Faith in Indiana, supporting local businesses, and playing card games. She is a recent graduate of Marian University with her BA in Sociology and Spanish.