Dorothy Wetzel

Dorothy became involved in First Friends 6 years ago through the Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church immigration ministries. Dorothy is the CEO of Extrovertic Communications, a healthcare marketing communications consultancy now in its 11th year. She is married with 2 adult children, a cat and a dog.

Alexandra Goncalves-Pena
Vice President

Alexandra is an immigration attorney specializing in removal defense and asylum law.  Alexandra’s passion for her work and immigrant rights is deeply personal and is driven by her unwavering commitment to working alongside immigrant communities and her belief that all persons in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, must be afforded equal and humane treatment and due process under the law.  Alexandra has been a board member since 2021.

Lorna Henkel

Lorna Henkel, Former Board President, has been visiting asylum seekers and detainees since 2008. She is a member of the First Reformed Church of Secaucus, PeaceWorks, and NJ Peace Action. Lorna is married to Rev. Will Henkel. They are parents of 3 grown children and grandparents of 8.

Charlotte Bennett Schoen

Charlotte Bennett Schoen has been active in various leadership roles for different organizations since she moved to Englewood NJ decades ago. She serves as a Board member of First Friends and has been part of the First Friends’ community for 4 years.

Her focus combines being a change agent in combatting the global culture of violence and strengthening advocacy and justice for immigrants.

John Curry
John Curry

John has volunteered with First Friends since 2019, after spending nearly 25 years as a NYC middle school principal. Back in the 80s, he was active in the Sanctuary and Central American solidarity movements. He’s inspired by First Friends’ mission, especially in the face of unjust immigration policies.

Jane Ehlers
Jane Ehlers

As a member of her local church youth group, Jane began visitation through First Friends in 2012. Since then, she has become increasingly involved in the work. She now works as a Registered Nurse at a local NJ hospital and is endlessly grateful to be a part of what First Friends is able to do.

Edwin Evans Koi

Edwin Evans Koi is an asylee from Sierra Leone where he was a video journalist and entrepreneur. Edwin was granted asylum in March 2019 and currently works as a concierge at Equity Residential in Jersey City

Zachary Holder

Zachary Holder is a native of Barbados who enjoys working closely with young people. His passion and determination have led to his work with the United Methodist Church and Next Generation Ministries. He is currently working with the communications committee of First Friends and seeks justice to remedy the despair of those in detention.

Leslie Neve

Leslie started visiting at the Hudson County jail in the 1990’s. Back then First Friends operated out of a former convent in Elizabeth. She strongly believes that no matter how a person comes to the States, that person should be treated as a human being; and be recognized as somebody who someone loves.

Rohit Ruhella
Rohit Ruhella

Learning about First Friend’s mission and seeing the passion, Rohit Ruhella started participating in the outreach programs as a volunteer two years ago and later joined the board. He is one of our past Presidents of the Board and also chairs the Development committee, working along with the colleague board members and awesome volunteers. It is a pleasure for him to be part of this great mission.

Rachel Siamon
Rachel Siamon

Rachel is a project manager who joined First Friends in June of 2018 after hearing about their mission on NPR. She started her involvement by visiting detainees at Elizabeth Detention Center. Before joining the board, she was a member of the volunteer council. Her favorite way to volunteer with First Friends is to greet friends when they are released.

Bill Westerman

Bill Westerman has been visiting immigration detainees since 1994 and was part of the team that founded First Friends (then IRATE) back in 1999. He teaches sociology, anthropology, and immigration studies at New Jersey City University.

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