Fatima Said, Executive Director
Fatima joined Project FINE as Executive Director in July 2005. A refugee to the United States from her native Bosnia, she came to Project FINE with a background in education and business, as well as 12 years of experience as a teacher and director of the Head Start program at Child Care Resources and Referral in Rochester. As Executive Director, Fatima provides direction for the organization and builds partnerships with businesses, service providers and organizations in the Winona community. Fatima and Project FINE seek to sustain Winona as a community that welcomes all newcomers and is sensitive to cultural diversity. The organization continues to help immigrants and refugees adjust to life in their new homes and become active, contributing members of the community.
In addition to her duties at Project FINE, Fatima is also very involved in both the Winona and Rochester Communities. She currently serves on the Winona Human Rights Commission, Winona County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Winona County Community Services Advisory Committee, University of Minnesota Extension Advisory Committee, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical Foundation Board of Directors, Cotter School Board of Directors and the Winona Health Board of Directors and is a member of the Winona Rotary Club. She is a former Board Chair of the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association and member of the Rochester Public Health Advisory Board.
Under Fatima's leadership, Project FINE has received a number of awards, including the 2009 League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions Award; the 2010 Engaged Partnership Award from Winona State University; the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Award from the MN Council of Nonprofits; a 2014 Community Partner Award from the Winona Education Association; the 2015 Outstanding Leadership in Community Citizenship Award from the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce; and a 2016 Equity Recognition Award from Winona State University. Fatima has also been recognized for her personal commitment with a 2010 Woman of the Year Award from the Winona Women in Business organization, a 2013 Virginia McKnight Binger Award in Human Service from the McKnight Foundation, a 2013 Welcoming America Champion of Change at the White House in Washington DC, the 2016 Presidential Award for Outstanding Merit from Saint Mary's University, and a 2017 Outstanding Refugee Award for Civic Leadership from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Chong Sher Vang, Program Development Director
Chong Sher has been working with Project FINE since 1999. His family came to the United States from Laos & Thailand in March of 1980. When they arrived in Burnsville, MN they experienced many challenges adjusting to the language and culture. Chong Sher graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. He is responsible for program development and is involved in all organizational programs and services. Chong Sher says that it is an honor to work for such a wonderful organization that provides important services to meet the needs of refugee and immigrant families in Winona County and the surrounding area.
Katie van Eijl, Program Manager
Katie joined Project FINE in June of 2009. She grew up in Minnesota and completed her bachelor's degree at Winona State University in 2004. Katie has experience working with children in the school and day care settings. She ensures that day-to-day operations for Project FINE run smoothly and is involved in program planning, grant writing and implementation.
Maria Rodriguez-Ramirez, Hispanic/Latino Community Liaison
Maria grew up in Winona and attended Winona Senior High School. In July 2005, she began as a VISTA Volunteer for Project FINE and in 2009 she joined our staff. Maria's time is spent helping newcomers in Winona and St Charles, both as an interpreter and cultural consultant. She says that working with the diverse population of Winona County has been a good experience. Outside of work, Maria dedicates her time to her little sister and her family. In the future, Maria plans to continue helping people in Winona County and pursuing a career in nursing.
German Victoria, Program Coordinator
German coordinates the Language Services program at Project FINE. He was born in Michoacan, Mexico and moved to the United States when he was 15 years old. He started working for Project FINE as an interpreter in the summer of 2006 and joined our staff in 2011. German is involved in all organizational programs and services as an interpreter and cultural consultant. In his free time, German enjoys cooking, running and learning about other cultures. In the future, he would like to travel to South America and help people of low socio-economic backgrounds.
Pang Vang, Hmong Community Liaison
Pang joined Project FINE in May of 2016. Her family came to the United States from Thailand when she was two years old. She grew up in Hildebran, North Carolina and later moved to Winona to start a family. Pang has an A.A.S. degree in Medical Coding Specialist from Minnesota State College-Southeast. In her free time, Pang enjoys being with her family and crafts such as: knitting, crochet, sewing, or and any do it yourself crafts. She enjoys working with the diverse community and helping those who are in need.
Paola Arevalo, Program Coordinator
Paola’s parents came to the United States when they were 18 and 13, and she grew up just an hour north of Chicago. As a first generation student, she grew up knowing how hard it was for her family to learn of the resources available to them. She got her Bachelor’s Degree at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and majored in Human Services. Paola has always had a passion with working with others and helping those in need. During her free time she enjoys creating crafts she finds on Pinterest or online. Paola joined Project FINE in May of 2017.
Christian Cruz Cartagena, Hispanic/Latino Community Liaison
Christian was born and raised in Caguas. Puerto Rico and moved to Winona MN in early 2018. He started as an on call Spanish interpreter at Project FINE and joined our staff in June 2018. Christian enjoys being with his family, reading and playing video games. In his spare time, he cuts hair and is planning to become a licensed barber and open his own barbershop in Winona.