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