About

Our Mission

ELNOR’s mission is to provide English learning education to adults seeking asylum across the globe. We do so by providing offline language learning materials, virtual 1:1 tutoring, and online group lessons. Language learning allows for self-expression which is critical for accessing professional and social opportunities when establishing a new life.

Refugees and asylum seekers face political, legal, and economic barriers that prevent them from accessing formal modes of education. Our goal is to break down those barriers by utilizing technology to cover their educational needs. In collaboration with our beneficiaries, we work with psychologists, educators, and software engineers to design the most impactful program.

Our Vision

ELNOR’s vision is to provide asylum seekers with educational tools and networks to improve social inclusion, employability, and wellbeing while creating a network of support to advocate for a world in which refugee camps cease to exist.

ADVOCACY.         EMPOWERMENT.         RELIEF.

Our Story

ELNOR, or pronounced as “El Noor” (النور), means “the light” in Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew. We consider this word as a guiding principle of our program as we seek to offer hope, support new beginnings, and promote long-term change for people experiencing forced displacement. During the fall of 2020, several recent graduates from the London School of Economics with backgrounds in education and public policy came together to discuss the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic was presenting in education in already under-served contexts. Considering the largest gaps in access to education, they began researching educational needs in refugee camps and how to provide an innovative English education solution to adults seeking asylum. After countless hours of collaboration and research, ELNOR was born, and launched its classes in February, 2021. 

Meet The Team

We are a multinational group of English teachers, former UN assistants, and graduate students from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) who are dedicated to serving refugee students. We have witnessed how education and dialogue among people of different lived experiences can have a positive ripple effect on lives. Based on field research with volunteers at refugee camps across Europe, we found a need to bring these life changing educational services to those looking to learn English.

Isabela in front of American flag

Victoria Jones, Cofounder and CEO

Victoria oversees program implementation and budgeting. She is a former teacher who has worked with students worldwide. Through a SITE fellowship and a Fulbright, she taught students, many from immigrant or refugee backgrounds, in Italy and Colombia from 2017-2019. She also served twice as an assistant at the United Nations FAO for the Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic, and has written about issues of statelessness of Dominicans of Haitian descent. Victoria graduated from Harvard in 2017 with a degree in Government, completed her master’s in International Social and Public Policy at the LSE in 2020, and began a PhD at Columbia University in 2022. She is passionate about the power of education and how it can be used to create a more just and equitable world.

Isabela Secanechia, Cofounder and COO

Isabela directs the operation of lessons, collaborates on the curriculum design, and manages administrative tasks and staff coordination. She has always been drawn to exploring the ways in which education, migration, and culture impact socioeconomic mobility. She has six years of teaching experience, and through the SITE fellowship and TAPIF, she taught English in underserved communities in both Italy and France. Her insight about international development and education grew through her experiences at the US Department of State and the French Embassy in Washington, DC. Isabela holds a BA in Italian and International Studies from Arcadia University. Currently, she is completing her MA in French from the Middlebury Language Schools, and is pursuing her MPA at the LSE.

Layana Abu Touq, Cofounder and CPO

As Chief Policy Officer, Layana manages and responds to the research needs across the spectrum of development, talent, grant proposals, and policy, and works with different stakeholders to bring resources and evidence-based solutions to education access in refugee camps. Prior to ELNOR, Layana has worked for the New York Public Interest Research Group where she managed six projects to deploy social justice advocacy ranging from higher education access to civic engagement, healthcare, and combating poverty. Layana holds a B.A. in Psychology from The City College of New York, CUNY, and an MSc in International Social and Public Policy from the LSE. She is passionate about education policy as it interplays with equity, social justice, and the global distribution of resources.

Suzanna Varrichione, Cofounder

Suzanna helped ELNOR get off the ground by building fundraising strategies, recruiting volunteers, and managing corporate partnerships. Suzanna’s entry into international organizations began in 2016 at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. Over the course of three years, she conducted research on humanitarian matters and assisted in the passage of resolutions dedicated to securing vulnerable groups from violence. Suzanna has a BA in Political Science from Vassar College and an MSc in International Social and Public Policy from the LSE. She is honored to be a founding member of ELNOR and now serves the organization as an advisor. She believes in the power of education to combat cumulative inequality.

Stanton Geyer, Research Program Manager

Stanton works on various aspects of ELNOR’s research, advocacy, and programming. He began volunteering with ELNOR in the spring of 2021, and joined as a full-time staff member in June. His responsibilities include researching educational needs in refugee camps, facilitating partnerships with NGOs on the ground, and maintaining social media and other marketing research and design. Stanton finished degrees in Global Politics and Arabic before joining our team, and has previously volunteered with related NGOs in Texas, Lebanon, and Egypt.

Aspen Brooks, Education Program Manager

Aspen oversees the day-to-day operations of the education programming, working with our tutor base and partners to meet student needs. She began tutoring with ELNOR in the spring of 2021, and previously worked in a variety of education positions. This included teaching English in Spain through a Fulbright, and substituting as a para-educator in early childhood classrooms for children from underserved communities and with disabilities. Aspen holds a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Linfield University, an M.A. in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University SAIS, and is completing an MSc in Politics of Conflict, Rights, & Justice from University of London SOAS.