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Alisa Roadcup Bhachu

Chicago Refugee Coalition

United States

Alisa is the CEO of the Chicago Refugee Coalition, an NGO dedicated to innovative, dignity-driven, and community-led relief services for Chicagoland refugees. Her 20 year career has focused in human rights as an advocate for women and girls, namely refugees and asylum seekers.
From 2012-2018 she led RefuSHE, an award-winning international NGO based in Nairobi, Kenya. Alisa's leadership has been honored as an International Leader by Chicago Woman magazine and named a 2018 Emerging Leader by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She has led national campaigns on Refugees and Asylum for Amnesty International. She has appeared on BBC, WBEZ (NPR) radio, MSN, Refinery29, Chicago Tribune, ABC, NBC and CBS primetime news, and frequently speaks on issues of forced migration and women's rights. Alisa holds certifications in Forced Migration from Northwestern and Oxford Universities, a BA in Humanities, and an MA in Comparative Religions. Alisa currently serves on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Women and Global Development Advisory Committee and is a co-founder of Refugee Can Be.

Alisa Roadcup Bhachu


What is your story?

What drives your work?

I am driven by the vision of a world free from violence against women and girls. This is my life's calling. I am a survivor of sexual violence and a preacher's kid. I grew up being told women did not have a place in leadership. That repression, along with my experience as a survivor of sexualized violence, fuels and ignites my vocation and clarity of purpose.

Describe your biggest strength as a leader

I love people and am gifted in drawing out the light in potential in them. I love inspiring people around a cause and am good at it. I am a gifted communicator and love expressing ideas, hopes, dreams, visions for a safer world for women and girls.

Describe your biggest challenge as a leader

My biggest challenges have been learning how to balance my work and professional ambition with my family life. Fortunately I've had mentors who have helped me navigate key decisions at critical junctures and I'm fortunate to have had that support.

About the
and the Project.



Vision & Mission

Mission: The Chicago Refugee Coalition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the alleviation of human suffering through innovative partnerships, advocacy, and community empowerment.

Vision: The Chicago Refugee Coalition is rooted in the values of anti-racism, dignity, equity, and accountability. We believe in building a better, more innovative, and responsive, system for refugees to access critical resources.
This system requires a paradigm shift away from the Global North and tasks the staff, volunteers, and leadership to be conduits to ensuring our constituents are able to equitably access resources.

Year Founded


No. of Employees


Years in the Organization

4.5 years

Annual Budget (USD)


Geographical Area Served

Greater Chicagoland primarily the north and west neighborhoods.

Organizational /

Project Description

With my passion for empowering refugee women to lead, I am co-founding an NGO that will be operating in Uganda called Refugee Can Be:
I am hoping to draw on the deep expertise of others who have launched their own start up INGO's to establish a long term operational plan and capital campaign to fund the establishment of Refugee Can Be.

Why is this project important and timely?

What is the target population of your project? 

It will serve the young women in secondary school from Rwamwanja Settlement Camp in western Uganda, near the Congolese Border. the school will eventually serve 300 young women each year in a wrap around campus located in Fort Portal, Uganda.

How will you know that you have achieved that impact? What data will you use to assess your impact?

We utilized pre and post surveys to conduct needs assessment in 2022; to know we are achieving impact we will run quarterly surveys to ensure girls academic performance is surpassing Ugandan educational requirements and that holistically, young women in our programs are receiving the wrap around supports they need to pursue their dreams. Long term, our goal is that 90% of the girls who come through our program go on to graduate college or university. Currently, zero percent of young women in Rwamwanja have graduated college. We plan to change that.

How do you anticipate this unique leadership education impacting you personally? What new skills are you hoping too develop & grow through this experience?

I am hoping to develop my understanding on organizational development and leadership in working cross culturally, specifically in Uganda.

Where would you like to see yourself professionally in the next 3 years?

Lifting up refugee young women, centering their voices, facilitating resources, growth and joy!

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