17 leaders selected for innovative national program to strengthen belonging amid demographic shifts

Welcoming America and The Dinner Party Labs are excited to announce that 17 civic leaders have been selected for the Connected Communities Cohort, a yearlong learning program to deepen trust and relationships between immigrants and non-immigrants in communities experiencing significant demographic shifts.

The selected participants include representatives from the following organizations:

  • Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants (Baton Rouge, LA)
  • Forever Welcome Foundation (Orlando, Florida)
  • Nebraska Appleseed (Grand Island, Nebraska)
  • Pelican Rapids Bridge Center (Pelican Rapids, Minnesota)
  • Healthy Start (Fort Myers, Florida)
  • Salt Lake City Corporation (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • City of Roanoke City Manager's Office (Roanoke, Virginia)
  • United Way 211 (Ogden City, Utah)
  • Upwardly Global (Dallas, Texas)
  • Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs (Denver, Colorado)
  • Global Detroit (Detroit, Michigan)
  • City of Columbus (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Hispanic Affairs Project (Montrose, Colorado)
  • City of Charlottesville Office of Human Rights and Human Rights Commission (Charlottesville, Virginia)
  • Bismarck Global Neighbors (Bismarck, North Dakota)
  • Inclusive Moorhead (Moorhead, Minnesota)
  • Let's Talk Philly! Conversation Circles (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The cohort will gather monthly for skill-building, case work, and design & implementation consultation in service of more comprehensive, strategic support for belonging at the local level.

Lennon Flowers, co-founder and executive director of The Dinner Party Labs said, "We are thrilled to be partnering with Welcoming America for the Connected Communities Cohort. The pressures on our communities to resort to othering and fragmentation — especially in the intensity of an election year — are alarmingly high. This moment calls for us to bolster our capacity to turn towards each other, rather than away. The cohort seeks to resource the community stewards already doing this work at a time when we need it most."

"We’re excited to connect leaders in welcoming communities with a program that can transform their values into action," said Meg Shoemaker Little, chief program officer of Welcoming America. "The Connected Communities Cohort will help local communities fulfill the need for trust and relationship-building among immigrant and non-immigrant residents."

Connected communities are ones that adapt to demographic change, attend to the loneliness epidemic, and combat identity-based hate. As more places navigate polarization and disconnection, especially in an election year, this program will help local leaders acquire the necessary skills to build relationships, trust, and community-wide belonging, advancing the greater goal of a pluralistic democracy where everyone — including immigrants — contributes.


About The Dinner Party Labs

We equip community stewards with tools, training & coaching, & peer learning networks in order to cultivate and sustain healthy spaces of belonging. We believe that if you start with relationships, everything else follows. Our work is born of the popular adage that change moves at the speed of trust, and a simple question: What needs healing here?

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs. We believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to the success of our communities and shared future. Through the Welcoming Network, we work to help communities develop the roadmap they need to create welcoming policies and share new approaches to inclusion to create an environment where everyone can truly thrive. Learn more at welcomingamerica.org.

Media Contacts

Daniel Valdez, [email protected]

Maya Pace, [email protected]