About Us

Immigrant Welcome Center

Our History

In 2005, former First Lady of Indianapolis Amy Minick Peterson led a study to determine how immigrant newcomers’ needs were being met in Central Indiana. Together with members of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC), chaired by community leader Yvonne Shaheen, Mrs. Peterson researched various immigrant populations and their needs, facilitated focus groups with service providers, and studied best practices in other cities for assisting immigrants and refugees.

By 2006 Immigrant Welcome Center, as it is known today, was established with the help of 12 volunteers known as Natural Helpers. One year later, an executive director was hired, and by January 2008, IWC moved its office into the John H. Boner Community Center.

After expanding, in 2015, IWC relocated to Fountain Square, where resided on the third floor of the Southeast Community Services Center. In May 2021, Immigrant Welcome Center moved to the main branch of the Indianapolis Public Library located on 40 E. St. Clair Street.

 

Mission + Vision + Values

Mission + Vision + Values

Our Mission

To be a trusted partner and advocate for all immigrants.

Our Vision

Every immigrant in Indiana is thriving.

Values

Equity • Accountability • Collaboration • Trust

Our Team

Christina Arrom, J.D.

Chief Operating Officer

carrom@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Christina Arrom is a first generation Cuban-American lawyer that uses her expertise to serve her community. She has experience working with nonprofits to build capacity, advocate for equality, and drive impact. Christina has directly served diverse populations facing housing insecurity and immigration challenges. In addition to direct services, she has helped organizations develop internal processes and structures to enhance their efficiencies and effectiveness. In her current role as Chief Operating Officer, she leads program design, implementation, and evaluation. Furthermore, she develops organizational processes and systems to support our work. Christina is a graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law, and in her free time she enjoys volunteering, spending time with her husband, and spoiling her dog.

Mary Leier

Development Manager

mleier@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Mary Leier grew up in Metro-Detroit where she was exposed to diverse groups of people and cultures. Dedicated to equity and social justice, she is a first-generation college student with a Bachelor of Arts in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies from Wayne State University. Mary is also a recent graduate from Indiana University with a Master of Public Affairs, concentrating in non-profit management and a focus on international development. During her studies, she worked with a non-governmental organization, a primary school located in Nairobi, Kenya, a local Indiana domestic violence shelter, and was the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator of the Indiana University Campus Farm. Prior to her studies at Indiana University, Mary was a Peace Corps Extension Agent in Cameroon where she learned the difficulty of learning new languages and customs, and the importance of participatory development.

As the Development Manager, Mary is excited to use her experience to help Immigrant Welcome Center grow sustainably to ensure the organization can continue to support communities in welcoming all immigrants while giving them the tools to thrive. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, biking, and practicing yoga. Mary is a native English speaker, an intermediate French and Fulfulde speaker, and is hoping to learn Spanish.

M. Merindy Carpenter

Director of Workplace English

mmcarpenter@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

As the Director of Workplace English, Merindy Carpenter leads Immigrant Welcome Center’s efforts to expand on-site English language learning opportunities at Indianapolis area businesses in ways that benefit employees, employers, and our community.

 

Merindy was raised in Indianapolis and was inspired by watching her mother obtain a GED. Her mom completed a bachelor’s degree the same year Merindy graduated from Culver Academies. Merindy’s early work experiences in disaster recovery took her into thousands of homes throughout the US and deeply instilled the importance of adult basic education and workforce training. After spending years teaching adults, Merindy continues to help students overcome barriers to learning.

 

Merindy earned a BA in Anthropology from Indiana University and an MA in Teaching from Marian University. Her time spent studying, working, and traveling abroad has fostered her deep appreciation for the challenges of navigating life in another language. In addition to her professional interests in family literacy and educational equity, Merindy is passionate about sustainability, mindfulness, and civic participation. Merindy enjoys being in nature, making music, and exploring with her daughter and husband.

Parvinder Gulati

Community Navigator

pgulati@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Parvinder Gulati was born and raised in New Delhi, India. His middle-class parents instilled in him the value of hard work and community service.  

As a Sikh, he believes in seva, selfless service performed without expectation of reward or personal gain. Seva means service, referring to selfless efforts for the community’s welfare (sarbat da bhala). Parvinder obtained his bachelor’s degree in commerce from Delhi University in 1997. He immigrated to the United States in 1998, and after experiencing life in New York City, he settled down in Indianapolis in 2012.  

Parvinder worked in the supply chain, logistics, and transportation, helping his customers and clients meet their business needs. In his professional experience, he has worked with people from different cultures, developing a deep appreciation of diversity in the community and workplace.  

Parvinder has been active in the Sikh community of Central Indiana, helping and volunteering at the Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) and other community-building and cultural events.  

As a community navigator, Parvinder is committed to helping all individuals access the resources they need to heal and recover from the impact of the mass shooting in Indianapolis in April 2021. Parvinder speaks English, Punjabi, and Spanish. 

 

Gurinder Kaur

Chief Executive Officer

gkaur@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Gurinder Kaur is a servant leader, compassionate advocate for equity, and champion for social justice.

Gurinder was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. Her formative years were influenced by her middle-class working parents—both teachers.  As a Sikh, Gurinder learned the principles of seva, which means selfless service for altruistic purposes on behalf of, and for the betterment of a community, early in her life. Gurinder endeavors to make an impact on the lives of those who need it most through her service on the boards of local nonprofits and by working in the community gardens to provide fresh produce to food-insecure neighbors in south Indy.

Professionally Gurinder trained as a physical therapist in India and arrived to work at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan in the early 1990s on an H1B visa. She fondly remembers the day her plane was preparing to land at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and she saw white clouds on the ground. As she stepped outside, the bitter cold Michigan winter wind hit her face and she realized that the white cloud on the ground was snow. Gurinder still is amazed by snow to this day.

Gurinder earned her post-professional master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Indianapolis in 1995. In October 1999, Gurinder became a proud citizen of the United States of America. In 2001, Gurinder earned her master’s in public health from the Fairbanks School of Public Health. Since then, she has worked in leadership roles in public health, nonprofit, and most recently in higher education at the University of Indianapolis. Gurinder is the proud mother of two children. She enjoys walking on the canal towpath near the 100 Acre Woods, reading, and doing yoga.

In her role as the CEO of Immigrant Welcome Center, Gurinder focuses on initiatives to increase community-wide awareness of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity that our new immigrant and refugee neighbors bring to the City of Indianapolis. She is excited to work with the board and key stakeholders to clearly describe the impact of barriers and challenges that our new neighbors face and work with policymakers to identify and implement innovative solutions to address these challenges.

Gurinder serves on the board of the Indiana Public Health Association as well as WFYI’s Community Advisory Board.

Ginger Kosobucki

ELL Director

gkosobucki@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

A life-long language learner, Ginger Kosobucki appreciates the difficulties immigrants face in a culture whose dominant language is not their own. Her work focuses on creating more opportunities for English language learning for immigrants in their workplaces and communities. She has been a board member of INTESOL since November 2021. She is developing a program for immigrants with limited formal schooling and beginning literacy skills.

Ginger earned a BA in French from the University of Vermont and an MA in English (TESOL concentration) from Indiana University. She has lived in five different countries and has been a language teacher for over 20 years. While teaching international students, her interest in community work grew, and she became a volunteer with the Immigrant Welcome Center. In 2019, she led a research team to discover the barriers facing immigrants for learning English, and in 2020 she led the Pathway to Literacy team in developing curriculum, assessment, and classes for beginning learners. She believes that every immigrant deserves access to language learning to thrive in their new culture from their starting points. She agrees with her Eritrean student, who said, “Language is wealth.” Ginger enjoys walking, biking, discovering new places, and visiting family and friends.

Kayla Bledsoe

Manager of Policy and Resource Initiatives

kbledsoe@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Being able to vote for the first time in the election of 2016 raised Kayla Bledsoe’s awareness of the negative rhetoric against immigrants at the local and national levels. 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 Manager of Policy and Resource Initiatives, she leads the detailed research and analysis 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 IWC team.

Kayla is a recent graduate of Marian University and Public Allies. In her free time, Kayla is usually canvassing for Faith in Indiana, supporting local businesses, and playing card games.

Mistie Cisneros

Naturalization and Legal Services Coordinator 

mcisneros@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Mistie Cisneros is passionate about assisting and connecting the immigrant community to the resources they need. As an immigrant and first-generation college graduate herself, she understands the obstacles newcomers and minorities face every day and looks forward to being able to connect with community members with compassion. Her role as the Naturalization and Legal Service Coordinator allows Mistie to help bridge the gap between immigrants and legal resources offered in Indianapolis.

Mistie is a recent alum of IUPUI where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. After years of being undocumented, a DACA recipient, and lastly, a legal permanent resident, she became a Naturalized Citizen in 2022. She looks forward to using her experience to assist immigrants navigating different legal statuses. Mistie looks forward to using her strong networking and communication skills to connect with community members and program leaders to work on ways to help immigrants find legal resources and become naturalized citizens.

Sergio Roldan

Natural Helper Volunteers Coordinator 

sroldan@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Sergio Roldan was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and relocated with his family to Atlanta, Georgia shortly after the 1996 Olympic Games. Growing up in a multicultural city such as Atlanta influenced Sergio to have a deep appreciation for diversity and a commitment to empowering immigrants to thrive in a new country.

Sergio is a graduate of Georgia State University where he majored in Political Science.  During his studies at Georgia State, Sergio quickly developed an interest in global issues, geography, and political philosophy.  Influenced by his catholic faith, Sergio is committed to the Church’s social teachings and its ‘preferential option for the poor.’

Professionally, Sergio has worked in the non-profit sector for six years and has implemented his case management experience to assist refugees in finding employment, reuniting unaccompanied minors with their parents, and fighting against homelessness in the Latino community of Atlanta. He has worked to assist victims of domestic violence and other crimes to apply for immigration benefits in Indianapolis.

Before joining Immigrant Welcome Center, Sergio worked at different organizations including, World Relief Atlanta, Lutheran Services of Georgia, the Latin American Association of Atlanta, and the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic of Indianapolis.

In his free time, Sergio enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and traveling to Atlanta whenever possible to visit his siblings and nephew.  As an avid soccer fan, he also enjoys playing in recreational soccer leagues and supporting his beloved club, Real Madrid.

Yadsy Prisciliano

Community Navigator 

yprisciliano@immigrantwelcomecenter.org

Yadsy Prisciliano was raised in Indianapolis by immigrant parents from Mexico. From a very young age, she learned and witnessed the struggles immigrants faced daily. When she was 5, Yadsy became a member of Si Se Puede movement with her parents. This fueled a passion in her to fight for immigrant rights and give back to the community where she was raised.

As she grew older, she also grew a passion for mental health advocacy. She saw there was a huge gap in mental health providers and services in Indiana that were accessible to immigrants. She wants to change that by becoming a trauma therapist herself and offering services to the immigrant community.

Yadsy holds an associate degree in psychology and is currently attending the IUPUI School of Social Work. She has experience in mental health, domestic abuse, and trauma-informed care. In her previous work at an immigration law firm, she served the community by providing immigration services. With her personal and professional experience with immigrants and mental health, Yadsy is committed to helping the immigrant community in Indiana connect to mental health resources. She is also committed to serving the Sikh community of Indiana which was impacted by the FedEx mass shooting by providing psychosocial support.

She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, trying new foods, thrifting, and volunteering.

Our Board

  • Neelay Bhatt

    Neelay Bhatt

    Chair

    Principal, PROS Consulting, Inc.

  • M. Jaqueline Nytes

    M. Jaqueline Nytes

    Treasurer

    Retired, Indianapolis Public Library

  • Ashley Overley, M.D.

    Ashley Overley, M.D.

    Secretary

    Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center

  • Celia Campbell

    Celia Campbell

    Commercial Banker, JP Morgan

  • Naomi Kwang

    Naomi Kwang

    Attorney, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

  • Angela Adams

    Angela Adams

    Attorney/Owner, Adams Immigration Law

  • Richard C. Miller

    Richard C. Miller

    President/CEO (retired), E.D. Bullard Company

  • Linda Simba

    Linda Simba

    Clinical Labs & Data Sciences Advisor, Eli Lilly and Company

  • Lisa Sirkin Vielee

    Lisa Sirkin Vielee

    Owner & President, Well Done Marketing

  • Nida Ansari

    Nida Ansari

    Managing Director, The Heritage Group Accelerator

  • Mike Murphy

    Mike Murphy

    Senior Vice President, Hirons

  • Luisa Macer

    Luisa Macer

    Community Outreach & Fan Engagement Manager, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

  • Charles J. Garcia

    Charles J. Garcia

    President & CEO, C GARCIA ASSOCIATE, INC

  • Amy Minick Peterson

    Amy Minick Peterson

    Founder and Board Member Emerita
    Decorate

  • Dulce Vega

    Dulce Vega

    International Research and Programs, IUPUI Lilly School of Philanthropy 

  • Mario Rodriguez

    Mario Rodriguez

    Executive Director, Indianapolis Airport Authority

  • Leonard Hoops

    Leonard Hoops

    President & CEO, Visit Indy

  • Cheryan Jacob

    Cheryan Jacob

    Senior Vice President of Engineering, Salesforce