Our Staff

Joan Hodges-Wu, MA, MSW, LGSW

Founder & Executive Director


A social worker by profession and a torture treatment specialist by training, Joan Hodges-Wu has dedicated her career to serving low-income, English limited, vulnerable immigrant populations. Joan is a nationally recognized torture treatment subject matter expert, a regular advisor to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and the lead author of the Survivor of Torture Psychosocial Well-being Index. A version of her tool serves as the national program evaluation measure for ORR's $14 million Survivor of Torture program. Joan founded the Asylum Seeker Assistance Project in 2016 to connect all persons fleeing persecution, including survivors of torture, to critical services and support. Joan holds a Masters in Refugee Care from the University of Essex in England and a Masters in Social Work from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia.


EMPLOYMENT Program Manager


Nick is a graduate of Towson University where he received his bachelor’s in Environmental Studies. After graduation, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer along Zambia’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nick’s diverse work experience also includes English language tutoring and resident assistance for affordable housing projects within Montgomery County, MD. Nick is committed to working collaboratively with clients to help them secure safe, legal, and meaningful employment.


Social work Program Manager


A lifelong community organizer, Holly Leon-Lierman has worked to promote the inclusion and integration of refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers for nearly 15 years. Holly has worked with a variety of immigrant serving nonprofits including the International Rescue Committee (IRC). During her time at the IRC, Holly co-founded CIVIC, a refugee speakers bureau, and Professional Pathways, a program to assist immigrant professionals re-enter their chosen careers. Holly is passionate about ASAP’s mission and vision.




Hailey Scatchard is currently working towards a Bachelor’s of Arts in International Affairs and Economics at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. Originally inspired by her brother’s work at the Calais refugee camp in France, Hailey began volunteering with ASAP in January 2018. Hailey is proud to support asylum seekers and the organization that serves them.    


Office Manager


Fikirte is an administrative professional with 19 years of work experience. Prior to arriving in the U.S., Fikirte worked as a senior administrator for an independent financial regulatory service in Qatar. She has also held senior management positions at a luxury hotel group. Fikirte has an Associate’s degree from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. She is fluent in English, Amharic, and Arabic, speaks conversational French and is learning Spanish. Fikirte is an asylum seeker.




A licensed CPA, Liesbeth is a graduate from Northeastern University with a dual Masters in Accounting & Business Administration. She has worked in both for-profit and non-profit settings over the past eighteen years, including ten years with the National Park Service. In addition to professional pursuits, Liesbeth also serves as the treasurer of Vermont’s Reading Historical Society. 

Summer 2019 INTERNS

Natalie lalama (George Washington University)

Catherine roe (Lawrence University)

To be considered for a future ASAP internship, please refer to our Get Involved (Students) page.