Staff & Board Members
Our Center for Refugee Services is proud to have these amazing board and staff members. They selflessly volunteer their time and services to benefit the community.
We are happy to have them be a part of the team.
Margaret Costantino, MA, LPC
Executive Director and Board Member
Margaret is a lifelong resident of San Antonio and has spent more than 20 years as a career counselor in higher educational settings.
She has three years of experience working in a community mental health program that she co-founded in San Antonio, Texas.
She has worked with the resettled refugee population in San Antonio since 2008, teaching ESL, citizenship classes, and addressing their psychosocial needs.
She earned her Master's in Counseling from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is a licensed professional counselor.
She also has six years' experience teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Board President and Assistant Director
Jean is a retired pharmacist who earned her BS in Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina while husband Jody was assigned at Fort Jackson, S.C.
During Jody's 20 years as an Army officer, Jean was active as a per diem pharmacist, a Red Cross volunteer at military bases, and a community and chapel activities volunteer. The Sherrills retired to San Antonio in July 1993, where Jean began her 18-year career as a pharmacist with CVS Caremark Mail Order Division.
She retired again in April 2011. In 2008, Jean became aware of the significant refugee influx into San Antonio and began to serve at the Center for Refugee Services as ESL teacher, transportation provider, and addressing other needs of the community.
In July 2014, Jean organized the all-volunteer craft shop, World Mosaic Market, at CRS to provide a sales outlet as well as work experience for our many talented local refugee artisans.
Ayad Kaisi is a refugee from Iraq. He has a college degree specializing in the petroleum industry. Mr. Kaisi is the former owner and CEO of Ayad Al Kaisi Bureau - Hospital Supplies and Contracting.
Ayad has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. He has taught the Arabic language and culture to many organizations that have sent missionaries to the Middle East.
Mr. Kaisi suggested teaching the Arabic language as a class with Bible Study Fellowship International. He started such a class as a Group Leader in 2018 in San Antonio.
Dr. Veena Prasad, Ph.D., is a long-time resident of San Antonio. She was a researcher at the UT Health Science Center. During her tenure at UTHSCSA, she was on the board of the International Alliance, an organization that helped settle researchers who visited the University for training.
She has organized several fundraisers for United Way, the India Association, and the Bexar County Justice Center along with her daughter, Miss Sapna Prasad.
She teaches music and is very involved in local charitable organizations.
She also conducts religious Hindu ceremonies such as weddings, naming ceremonies, and the like.
She enjoys singing and playing the Veena, which is a musical instrument.
Brooks Von Biberstein, JD
Brooks von Biberstein is fairly new to the San Antonio area. She grew up in North Carolina but lived for many years in Boston.
Brooks is an attorney in private practice. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a BA in English and a Juris Doctor.
She has been involved in social justice advocacy throughout her life and feels fortunate to have the opportunity to work with refugee families who are struggling to establish a new life in Texas.
Howaida M. Werfelli, DrPH, MPH, CHES
Howaida M. Werfelli, DrPH, MPH, CHES, serves as the Founding Executive Director of SALVERE. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Middle Eastern Studies from The University of Texas at Austin, and a Master’s degree in Public Health from The University of Texas School of Public Health.
She received a DrPH in Management, Policy and Community Health Practice from The University of Texas School of Public Health.
She has seven years’ experience working on federal grants, including SAMHSA/CSAP and U.S. Department of Education. She has served as the principal investigator on several grant-funded projects.
She has management experience and has led several teams to successful completion of grant-funded projects. She also has focused experience conducting HIV-related epidemiologic studies. She has authored two papers and has presented her work at local, state, and national conferences.
Maurya Villarreal was raised in San Antonio. After completing her BA in Psychology and a Religious Studies Certificate at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), she was awarded the Outstanding Academic Achievement in Psychology Award from UIW. She holds a Six Sigma Black Belt certification in Project Management.
After graduation, Maurya spent several years teaching in San Antonio private religious schools. In 2008, she began volunteering at the Center for Refugee Services, a nonprofit dedicated to helping legally resettled refugees. Maurya began serving on the Center for Refugee Services’ Board of Directors in 2012, and then served as board president from 2016-2018. In 2016, she completed the Certificate for Lay Pastoral Caregivers Community of Hope (lay chaplaincy program) in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Maurya worked with the State of Texas doing case management work at the Health and Human Services Commission from 2016 to 2018. In 2018, she began working as a Program Support Manager at the Center for Refugee Services to present. She currently works with refugees from all over the world on a daily basis, both in her job and through her church, St. Francis Episcopal Church, which focuses on community outreach for both refugees and other neighbors in need. Maurya received the Trauma Healing Institute Certificate as a facilitator in 2018, and is now facilitating healing groups in San Antonio.
In her downtime she enjoys planning events, singing and cooking.
Jill Rips began volunteering at CRS in 2017 as an ESL teacher and grant writer. She became a full-time staff member, one of two Program Support Managers, in 2018 and continues to serve in that position, with principal oversight of maternity and public health-related programs, grant writing and program evaluation.
Prior to CRS, Jill served in a variety of Public Health research and service delivery programs for most of her career. Jill has a BA in Anthropology from Wesleyan University, an MA in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research (NY, NY) and a MPhil in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University (NY, NY).
A native San Antonian, prior to moving home in 1999, Jill had more than 15 years of experience in HIV/AIDS, reproductive, and general public health work, both domestically (New York City) and internationally, including the publication of articles in scholarly journals and books. Additionally, Jill oversaw federally funded asthma health education and childhood obesity prevention programs among Dominicans living in NYC. She taught Cross Cultural Perspectives on Health and Illness and The Social Construction of Women’s Health at Columbia University’s School of Public Health and Teacher’s College in New York City.
In San Antonio, Jill was the Deputy Executive Director of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation for 16 years, where she also served as Director of Development, had program development, evaluation, and oversight, as well as general agency operational duties. Jill has been involved in establishing syringe exchange as a public health intervention in San Antonio and served on the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s Advisory Board of Health and the HIV/Syphilis Task Force.
Lauren C. Deal
Originally, from North Carolina, Lauren received a bachelor’s degree from Presbyterian College in South Carolina.
After graduation, she traveled to San Antonio with a year of Volunteer Service, The Young Adult Volunteers. Her placement landed her in the middle of the west-side working with middle and high students at Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Flash forward 11 years, Lauren is still living in San Antonio working with the San Antonio Food Bank as their Interfaith Engagement Manager.
Lauren’s background includes a mixture of experiences in Camp & Conference, Service Industry, other non-profit always fulfilling her desire to build relationships to support the larger community.
New to the Board, Lauren is excited to find ways to serve the Center for Refugee Service.