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Get to Know Our Chief Human Resources Officer  

  May 21, 2024

Our Chief Human Resources Officer Nina Nova-Duran reflects on IINE’s culture, how the organization has grown since she joined in 2021, and her advice for potential employees.   

Tell us about your path to the International Institute of New England.

I came to the role with over 20 years of experience in human resources and eight years of experience in operations management. I had previously been part of the executive team at Table Talk Pies, where I oversaw all three manufacturing facilities and corporate offices. In that role, I had a strong connection to the employees working on the ground floor, most of whom were immigrants. That aspect of my work was very rewarding – arranging ESOL classes, offering professional development opportunities, and strengthening career paths so these employees could stay and grow with us.  

When I learned about the role at IINE, I was excited for the opportunity to bring my experience—specifically around strategic planning, creating culture change, and growing rapidly—to an entirely new sector, and most of all, to a mission I was immediately drawn to.  

I also grew up in IINE’s backyard, basically! My parents and I immigrated to Roxbury, MA from the Dominican Republic when I was five years old. I always think about how if my parents had known about IINE—and had received the help, ESOL classes, employment support, etc. that IINE provides—their experience in the U.S. would have been so different. I’m glad to be part of an organization helping people like my parents to find a fresh start in their new country.  

How has the organization evolved since you first joined? 

When I first arrived at IINE, there were around 60 full-time and part-time staff and around 30 on-call. Two and a half years later, we have tripled in size. We have added new Programs staff to our Boston, Lowell, and Manchester offices; expanded the Unaccompanied Children’s Program by building a whole new team in New York; and ensured all of these new staff have the support they need by hiring additional roles across the Finance, Operations, HR, and Advancement departments. While growing the organization, we have also focused on diversifying our staff to reflect the client populations we serve. When I first started at IINE, the organization was welcoming hundreds of Afghan evacuees. We were able to identify several clients with strong professional backgrounds, who we were then able to hire as full-time staff. Currently, we are supporting thousands of Haitian immigrants, and have hired many to the team. They join us with a unique understanding of our mission, the immigrant process, and our client’s cultures and backgrounds. Today, 48% of our staff were born outside of the U.S. 

In addition to offering us a chance to diversify our staff, our growth has allowed us to strengthen our policies and infrastructure. I’m proud that we have been able to equip our staff with the tools and training needed to advance in their careers, so we can frequently promote from within.  

How would you describe IINE’s culture? 

Everyone is very genuine about their commitment to the mission. Our work isn’t easy, but our staff are so dedicated. They truly care about helping refugees and immigrants, and we make sure to celebrate and recognize that.  

We also know how to have fun! It’s so important that people have an opportunity to get out of their shells, express their unique personalities, and get to know each other. Our quarterly in-person events allow everyone to disconnect from work and enjoy themselves.  

Staff Photos

Those events are also an important tool for fostering a sense of community across our three sites and virtual staff. My team is always thinking about how we can build relationships and communication across the organization. Part of that is ensuring the HR team is always present and reachable. We make a point of attending staff meetings at each of our sites and regularly sharing updates on policies, events, resources, etc. It’s important that all staff feel engaged and informed.  

What do you look for in potential employees? 

I look for candidates who display what we call our Core Competencies: 

  • An ability to collaborate effectively and compassionately and consider the impact of one’s actions on others 
  • A commitment to excellence and to bringing one’s best to work every day 
  • A desire to continuously improve and the ability to embrace challenges as the fuel for learning 
  • An awareness of culture, bias, and privilege, and a desire to seek out insights and perspectives from under-represented voices 
  • An ability to communicate effectively and respectfully with everyone they encounter 
  • A genuine belief in IINE’s mission, which drives all of our work 

In addition to our core competencies, I look for candidates who are innovative, eager to bring ideas to the table, and who are excited at the prospect of growing with the organization.  

What advice would you give someone interested in joining IINE? 

This might seem obvious, but do your homework! Understand our mission and our clients, and then help me understand how your vision and passions align with our work. The cover letter, in particular, is a great opportunity to capture your experience and interests. Sometimes a resume doesn’t tell the full story, especially if you do not have direct experience for the role, so I always advise candidates to use the cover letter to sell themselves. 

Anything else you would like to share with our readers? 

I’d like to say how grateful I am to work beside such collaborative, insightful professionals – both on my team and across the organization. We are only as strong as the people we have around us, and I really value the feedback, insights, and perspectives of my colleagues. It makes IINE a special place to work!  

HR Team
From L to R: Talent Acquisition Specialist Courtney Good, Chief Human Resources Officer Nina Nova-Duran, HR Coordinator Jayne Cormier, Senior HRIS Generalist Lisa Stewart

Interested in joining our team? Our collaborative, team-oriented environment offers opportunities to serve refugees and immigrants, while learning from other staff and departments. View career opportunities here.


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