The Center for Victims of Torture Welcomes New Board Chair, Vice Chair and Members | Center for Victims of Torture

The Center for Victims of Torture Welcomes New Board Chair, Vice Chair and Members

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Center for Victims of TortureTM (CVT) today announced the election of two new members to its board of directors. The new members were elected at the December board meeting and began their terms immediately. In addition, Carleen Rhodes was elected board chair, Charles P. Henry was elected vice chair and Connie Magnuson was elected treasurer. And, after serving for 19 years on CVT’s board, Nancy Feldman has been appointed as a director emerita.

A Minneapolis-based small business owner, researcher, and activist, Kadra Abdi is the founder and curator of Ubuntu, a platform that spotlights emergent issues impacting the global black diaspora. Abdi serves as the founder and CEO of Synergy LLC, a consulting business dedicated to helping BIPOC businesses and nonprofits craft strategies and counteract the often-negative assumptions that arise between historically marginalized communities and mainstream communities. Abdi also works for the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers as a Business and Community Wealth Building advisor. The focus of Abdi’s work includes issues of equity, inclusion and accessibility. Previously, Abdi served as an equity advisory committee member with the Metropolitan Council and as a research consultant for the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She is an executive board member of the international relief organization ARAHA and a board member for the Twin Cities Media Alliance. Abdi holds a Master of Public Policy degree with an emphasis on gender and global policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies from Luther College.

Gerald LeMelle is a partner at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig. With more than 30 years of experience in immigration law, he assists families, finance professionals, investors, startups and corporations to achieve their goals. From 2007 - 2010, he served as executive director of Africa Action, the former U.S. Committee on Africa, and prior to that he served as deputy executive director of Amnesty International. LeMelle has also served as principal attorney with LeMelle Law Group; vice president of operations, OIC of South Florida; and immigration attorney/director of programs with the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Today, he also teaches Immigration Law for the Virginia Bar’s Continuing Legal Education program. LeMelle holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. LeMelle is a member of the New York Bar, the District of Columbia Bar and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“We are truly fortunate that Kadra and Gerald have joined CVT’s board,” said Curt Goering, CVT’s executive director. “Both have long worked to defend and protect human rights, and their distinctive perspectives will augment our efforts to support torture survivors in rebuilding their lives.”


The Center for Victims of Torture is a nonprofit organization headquartered in St. Paul, MN, with offices in Atlanta, GA, and Washington, D.C.; and healing initiatives in Africa and the Middle East. Visit

Jenni Bowring-McDonough
jbowring [at]

Media Contact

Jenni Bowring-McDonough
Media Relations Manager
+1 612-436-4886 (office) or +1 651-226-3858 (mobile)
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