An Exciting Transition at Welcoming America

Letter from David Lubell, founder and executive director

When I founded Welcoming America in 2009, with the help of a cohort of trailblazing welcomers, I could hardly have imagined that the organization would become the powerful force for change that it is today; inspiring, connecting, and catalyzing the efforts of hundreds of welcoming communities – and tens of thousands of individuals – across the country and increasingly across the globe. 
It’s with a great sense of pride and enthusiasm for all that lies ahead that I want to share some important news with you, the Welcoming America community. 
Beginning next month, I’ll be stepping down from my post as Executive Director to play an exciting new role at Welcoming America as the head of our international programming (more on that below). And I’m delighted to share that our Board of Directors has named our amazing Managing Director, Rachel Peric, as our next Executive Director. To read the letter from our Board announcing this change, scroll below or click here. Since joining the organization in 2011, Rachel has worked closely with me and our talented team to guide all that Welcoming America has accomplished.  Along with her own passion for this issue, her impressive management expertise, and her strong relationships with so many within the Welcoming America universe, Rachel is also simply one of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. I don’t know anyone else, anywhere, who more embodies the ethos of this organization than Rachel. I mean it when I say that there is no one more qualified to take on the leadership of the organization at this critical time, and I’m so glad she’s agreed to assume the helm to lead Welcoming America through its next stages of development.  
I’m also very pleased to share that Rachel has named Isha Lee as her Deputy, who similarly draws on an impressively deep well of experience and skills, both personal and professional. We’ve got an incredible bench of leaders at Welcoming America, and one of my proudest accomplishments is the rock-solid institution we’ve built to see our work into its next era.
Now, about my own role at Welcoming America. There is a growing, global movement to build more welcoming communities, and just as I’ve worked over the last decade to help this idea spread domestically, I hope to spend the next working to connect like-minded leaders across the globe who want to  see their communities prosper and succeed by becoming more inclusive places for all. Going forward, I’ll be focused on leading an emerging area of work for the organization – our international programming – which I hope will continue to bring new ideas and energy to our domestic efforts while also demonstrating that welcoming is an idea whose time has come, globally. Amidst the unprecedented, un-abating global refugee crisis, and the frightening resurgence of ethnic nationalism, I strongly believe that the moment is now to connect and catalyze local welcoming efforts across the globe. 

The program I’ll be leading, which we call Welcoming International, has actually been developing for several years. My true passion is inspiring and empowering welcomers to transform their communities, wherever they are in the world, and I just can’t wait to take on this new role at Welcoming America. In order to more effectively connect with the global movement of welcomers, I’ve decided I’d like to lead this work from outside of the United States, in one of the new hubs of 21st century welcoming. That’s why, logistics permitting, I plan to move with my family to Berlin, Germany, sometime later this year!
Welcoming America’s work, where it has been successful, has been so because of our incredible members and partners. Together, we have built a durable movement that continues to gain strength and momentum, despite the unprecedented challenges we face in the current climate. We’re eager to hear from you during this transition, and Rachel would like to connect individually to hear your thoughts about our future.  If that’s of interest, please reach out to her at [email protected].  And I’ll continue to be available at [email protected].
From all of us at Welcoming America, we look forward to working together to make welcoming communities the norm and to unite our common efforts toward a stronger future in which everyone belongs and thrives.

In Solidarity and Welcoming,
David M. Lubell

Letter from Welcoming America Board of Directors

Welcoming America’s mission to create communities where all people are valued and can thrive has never been more important.  As board members, it has been our privilege to support the incredible success of the organization and spread of Welcoming communities, which now can be found in every corner of the country working to make life better for immigrants, refugees, and all residents. 

None of this success would have been possible without the vision of Welcoming America’s Founder David Lubell. When David shared his decision with us to transition from Executive Director into a new role within the organization, we knew that the decision to identify the organization’s next leader was an important one.  

That is why we are so delighted to share our decision to appoint Rachel Peric as the organization’s Executive Director, with David transitioning to a new role under Rachel’s leadership, directing our growing international program. Since joining the organization in 2011, Rachel has served as the organization’s Deputy Director and in other senior leadership roles, and she has been a close partner to David and instrumental in Welcoming America’s award-winning success.   From a handful of initiatives, Welcoming America’s bottom-up movement has grown to a powerful network of nearly 200 municipal government and nonprofit members building more inclusive communities for 1 in 8 Americans, from Anchorage to Atlanta, Dayton to Boise to small-town Nebraska. 

Under Rachel’s leadership as Deputy Director, Welcoming America grew from a startup enterprise to an internationally recognized movement builder.  She oversaw the launch of core programs like the award-winning Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative, now being replicated in Australia, and a partnership with the Obama Administration through the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign.  Rachel has represented the organization in global fora, including at the United Nations, the Council of Europe, Cities of Migration, and the Atlantic Council, and has authored opinion pieces and been quoted in outlets from CNN to Governing Magazine. Prior to joining Welcoming America, Rachel was awarded the Phyllis Campbell Newsome Rising Star Award by Montgomery Women for her leadership as Executive Director of MCAEL, a coalition advocating for and support English language and literacy learners in suburban Maryland.

Rachel’s passion for the cause – which stems from her own family’s refugee story and her desire to seek a more just world – has and will continue to be a strong asset to our collective efforts to create a more inclusive society. She also brings a wealth of experience around community building and immigrant inclusion. 

Rachel’s appointment is the result of thoughtful succession planning that will ensure a smooth transition, as well as an affirmation of the deep bench of talent at Welcoming America.  To that end, we are delighted that she has named Isha Lee, currently the organization’s Chief Network Officer, and a formidable talent, as her Deputy Director. 

Like many organizations that undergo a natural passing of the baton from founder to institution builder, Welcoming America will benefit from a smooth transition, and will also capitalize on David’s remaining with the organization to lead our Welcoming International program, enabling David to focus on our growing global engagements, a new role that recognizes his skills in developing our leading edges and capitalizes on growing interest in this work internationally.  

More communities today than ever before are making it their business to make sure all their residents – including immigrants – belong and thrive.  But in far too many places, pervasive fear and polarization, and the challenges of adapting to change, have meant that far too many people are being left behind, their talents squandered.  We believe that Welcoming America and its partners hold the solution that turns back to communities the power to make life better for immigrants and all Americans, and to strengthen our civic fabric and our economic vitality in an era of migration   And under Rachel’s leadership, we look forward to engaging with all our valued partners, members and supporters to create an even stronger force for change in the world.   

– Welcoming America Board of Directors