Announcing advisory group selections to review Welcoming Standard

Welcoming America, a national nonprofit organization leading a movement of inclusive communities, announces two advisory groups to lead the 12-month review of the Welcoming Standard, the guiding set of principles that outlines the core of what it means for a community to be truly welcoming, particularly in terms of immigrant and refugee residents.

The Content Advisory Board has approximately 50 members from the academic, nonprofit, local government sectors. From immigrant inclusion to racial justice to public policy, each member provides a broad range of expertise and feedback on the main pillars of the Welcoming Standard to ensure that it sets the bar for communities around immigrant inclusion; accounts for diversity in geography, politics, demographics, government resources, and infrastructure of immigrant and refugee communities.

The Technical Committee will also provide feedback in the aforementioned areas of the Welcoming Standard. Members include an international Standard holder, local government representatives who have gone through the certification process, and individuals with expertise in local government structure, as well as rural and regional communities. Their input will ensure the Standard is calibrated to reflect the on-the-ground reality communities face amidst political, budgetary, demographic, and geographic differences.

The goal of reviewing the Welcoming Standard is to ensure that it continues to provide an accurate roadmap and standard for places seeking to become truly welcoming places for immigrants, refugees, and all residents. The review will also check for the accountability measures in place and ensure that communities are continuing to adhere by them.

“When places say they are welcoming, what does this really mean? How is it lived out through policies and practices? The Welcoming Standard captures the core of what it means to be welcoming — in order for it to be sustainable, we must keep ourselves accountable and ensure the Standard is up to date and reflective of the moment,” said Meg Shoemaker Little, Chief Program Officer of Welcoming America.

Content Advisory Board member Mary Jayne McCullough, Chief Executive Officer of Global Wordsmiths, said, “Language accessibility is still an emerging field that can sometimes be an afterthought when it comes to advocacy work. Welcoming America is taking proactive, progressive, and incredibly forward-thinking action with regard to language access through its innovative programming. I’m totally thrilled to be a part of it.”

Members of the Content Advisory Board

  • Abigail Williamson, Associate Professor, Political Science, Trinity College

  • Amer J. Al Fayadh, Language Services Program Coordinator, Church World Service

  • An Le, Senior Policy Advisor, Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement

  • Ana Ndumu, Chair, Assistant Professor, American Library Association Services to Refugees, Immigrants, and Displaced Persons (SRIDP) Sub-Committee, University of Maryland College Park

  • Anka Badurina, Executive Director, Building One Community

  • Anna Rashed Marandi, Senior Specialist, National League of Cities

  • Annie Chen, Director, SAFE Initiative, Vera Institute of Justice

  • Ayman, Honorary Delegate, Refugee Congress

  • Brian Corr, Immediate Past President, NACOLE

  • Carla Gibson, Vice President of Programs, REACH Healthcare Foundation

  • Danielle Grigsby, Director of Policy & Practice, Refugee Council USA

  • Edmundo Lijo, Assistant City Attorney, City of Saint Paul

  • Felipe A. Filomeno, Associate Professor and Co-Chair, UMBC and LRJC

  • Hiba Haroon, Associate Director, Prosperity Now

  • Jeremy Carter, Manager, Housing Opportunity Fund Programs, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

  • Jessica Schenk, Association Director of Grants and Foundations, Gateway Region YMCA

  • Julia Trujillo Luengo, Director, City of Portland Office of Economic Opportunity

  • Karen Murphy, Director, International Strategy, Facing History and Ourselves

  • Karen Phillippi, Director, New American Integration, Global Michigan

  • Kevin Douglas, Director of National Programs, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

  • Kien S. Lee, Principal Associate/Vice President, Community Science

  • Laura Gardner, Founder, Immigrant Connections

  • Lauren Crain, Senior Program Manager, WES Mariam Assefa Fund

  • Lorrie Chang, Associate, Policy Link

  • Malka Kopell, Co-Founder and CEO, Civity

  • Margie McHugh, Director, MPI National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy

  • Maria Domingo, Manager, Refugee Resettlement, JFS Buffalo

  • Mary Tauras, Coordinator, Lowell Votes

  • Mary Jayne McCullough, Executive Director, Global Wordsmiths

  • Matt Fulton, Vice President, National Engagement, Polco/NRC

  • Melissa Kelly, Research Fellow, The Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration, Ryerson University

  • Michael Huang, Vice President, Learning and Practice, Communities In Schools

  • Miriam Potocky, Senior Research Associate, International Rescue Committee

  • Mo Kantner, Director, State and Local Initiatives, New American Economy

  • Natalie Copeland Ringsmuth, Director, Unite Cloud

  • Niken Astari Carpenter, New American Liaison, City of Erie, PA

  • Pablo Bose, Associate Professor, University of Vermont

  • Paul McDaniel, Associate Professor of Geography, Kennesaw State University

  • Sarah Mesick, Director of Programs, NPNA

  • Stefanie Chambers, Professor of Political Science, Trinity College

  • Steve Tobocman, Executive Director, Global Detroit

  • Susana Guardado, Director, OneMorgan County

  • Tomas Jimenez, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University Lab for Immigration and Belonging

  • Valerie Mills, Senior Program Manager, City of Atlanta

  • Vanessa Saldivar, Regional Coordinator, Cities for Action

  • Vethina Hage, Housing Strategy Officer, Urban Redevelopment of Pittsburgh

  • Wendy Mateo Pascual, Immigrant Impact Fund

Members of the Technical Committee

  • Catalina Rodriguez-Lima, Director, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of Baltimore, MD

  • Catherine Crosby, Chief of Staff, City of Toledo, OH

  • Erica DeLeon, Director, One Siouxland

  • Sebastian Geers, Manager, Welcoming Cities, Welcoming Australia

  • Mara Kimmel, Chair, Welcoming America Board of Directors

  • Lola Pak, Communications Director, Welcoming America

  • Ze Min Xiao, Director, Mayor’s Office for New Americans, Salt Lake County, UT

About the Welcoming Standard

The Welcoming Standard captures the core of what it means to be welcoming, serving as the backbone for Welcoming America’s program and partnership priorities. Developed in collaboration with diverse experts including Welcoming Network members, and with input from the public at large, the Welcoming Standard provides a comprehensive roadmap for immigrant inclusion.

The current version of the Welcoming Standard was published in 2017 and addresses a range of essential components, from language access to training for law enforcement and more. Beyond traditional immigrant integration strategies, the Standard also includes practices for fostering greater unity between immigrants and U.S.-born residents. The seven framework categories include:

  • Government Leadership

  • Civic Engagement

  • Equitable Access

  • Education

  • Connected Communities

  • Economic Development

  • Safe Communities

The Welcoming Standard also defines the benchmarks Welcoming America uses to certify and hold local governments accountable through the Certified Welcoming program.

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong. We believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to the success of our communities and shared future. Launched in 2009, Welcoming America has spurred a growing movement across the world, with one in every eight Americans living in a welcoming community. Learn more at


Media Contact:

Lola Pak, [email protected], 470-236-0129