top of page

About Us

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-02 at 5.10_edited.jpg

Sharon Ndikurugamba is the co-founder and executive director of African immigrants and refugees transition services (AIRTS)

Sharon is originally from Rwanda but was born in Kenya where her parents lived as refugees, She and her family were resettled in the United States in 2009.

Before co-founding AIRTS she worked as a multilingual advocate for sexual assault victims at Nisaa African Family Services, providing direct aid and conducting community outreach and education. She also has several years of work and volunteer experience in Kenya and in the United States with immigrant populations. 

While serving the community Ndikurugamba saw the need of a culturally specific organization that helped refugee and immigration population during their transitioning process That's how AIRTS was born. Ndikurugamba is a wife and mother to three beautiful children.

Immaculee Butare is the co-founder and assistant director of African Immigrants and Refugees Transition Services (AIRTS), immaculee was born and raised in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Immaculee and her family are survivors of the Gatumba massacre that took place in Burundi refugee camp on August 13th, 2004 where 166 people lost their lives including her mother, and her young sister, 3 of her siblings get shot but survived the massacre. She and her family resettled in the Unites States, Abilene Texas in 2007.

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-02 at 5.28_edited.jpg

She has worked with special needs children as a CMA/RA at Child serve, worked with the Ankeny School District and volunteered with helping refugees in the community. In 2016 she co founded AIRTS! Immaculee is a wife and mother to three beautiful children.

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-02 at 5.20_edited.jpg

Barry Spear is a retired healthcare executive with almost 40 years of service in Iowa and Nebraska… The leader ship that he provided was for the development of a health system and also in the area of philanthropy…

Barry  and his wife Cari  are involved in several not-for-profit organizations and have provided board leadership to those organizations providing for those less fortunate, homeless, making our world, a better place which to live and thrive.

Barry is he founder of the Make a wish foundation of Iowa and has served on the boards of partnership for drug-free, Iowa, big Brothers, big sisters, face it together Iowa, night of colombus and others

Maurice Murenzi is the chief financial officer for AIRTS. He has a masters degree in Financial management (MFM) from Drake University, May 2009. A bachelor's  degree in Finance and Economics from UNC Greensboro, Dec 2006.

He has worked in the financial sector with major banking institutions for more than 16 years, where he's still currently working. 

Originally from Rwanda, Maurice came to USA in 2001 for college. Here he met a young attractive Iowa native, they got married and have three beautiful boys.

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-02 at 5.34_edited.jpg

He's been involved in the community, volunteering where he can. He has been a volunteer soccer coach for West Des Moines Soccer Academy for several years, coaching young girls and boys ages of 5 - 12 years old.

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-07 at 10.40.03 AM.jpeg

Beth Rydberg has been a long time advocate for people with disabilities.  Her knowledge of mental health, education And social services drew her to the work of AIRTS.  

She became friends with immigrants and refugees from Eastern Africa when they first started arriving in   Des Moines. Through these  friendships ,she has learned to appreciate their rich cultural values and traditions and has worked to help overcome barriers to their new life here In The US

Sharon Moline Smith was born and raised on a farm near Lansing in beautiful NE Iowa.  She attended Waukon High School, and graduated from Westmar College, in Le Mars, Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education.  She and her husband, Lester, taught in Iowa and Wisconsin.  She received her Masters in Learning and Behavior Disabilities from UW La Crosse and retired from teaching in the Johnston, Iowa Middle School.

After her husband died, she owned and ran an Inn and Gift Shop south of La Crosse, on the Mississippi River.  

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-07 at 10.40.25 AM.jpeg

After selling and returning to the Des Moines area, she began a business designing and making jewelry using lapidary and metal-smithing techniques, selling at juried Art Festivals and shows.   

Sharon has been very active in her church home, wherever she lived. She currently lives in Urbandale, Iowa, with her Jack Russell Terrier, Ava.

bottom of page