Seeding Civity in Welcoming America Communities …Moving Forward!

By Malka Kopell

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Earlier this fall, in partnership with Welcoming America, we offered our services to four of their Welcoming Communities following an RFP process. We have now started seeding civity in San Jose, CA; Champaign-Urbana, IL; Salt Lake County, UT; and Pittsburgh, PA!

One of the most exciting things about these new communities is getting to know our wonderful institutional partners … which happen to all be led by women!  


  • In San Jose, we are working with Zulma Maciel from the Office of Immigrant Affairs and Cayce Hill from Veggielution, a community farm that connects people from diverse backgrounds in the heart of San Jose. 
  • Our partners in Champaign-Urbana are Jes DeVries and Gloria Yen at the University of Illinois YMCA, a leader among Y’s in housing a New American Welcome Center. 
  • In Salt Lake County we are privileged to work with Emma Houston and Ze Xiao, who are bringing to bear the resources of two Mayor’s Offices – Diversity and Inclusion and New Americans
  • And in Pittsburgh we are partnering with Adriana Sanchez-Solis and Jessica Ruffin to help deepen equity work within the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, which has more than 1,200 employees and serves approximately 200,000 clients. 

An impressive group indeed!

In each community we began with a Train-the-Leaders workshop, introducing the civity experience of connecting across difference and then beginning to coach participants on tools and strategies for creating opportunities for civity-building in their own gatherings. In addition to government agencies, other organizations represented are children’s centers, interfaith organizations, libraries, business associations, cultural organizations, and advocacy organizations.

Workshop participants have expressed interest in creating civity spaces for connection across difference in staff meetings, community meetings, and their personal lives. Some comments from workshop evaluations include:


  • “Very eye-opening and energizing”
  • “I’d like to use these activities with my staff and co-workers to help cultivate relationships.”
  • “I think this will play well into vital community building I have been looking to foster in our equity project and our board meetings”
  • “I love meeting new people who are different but have the same goals as me.”
  • “I will use the exercises to help build civity in workgroup meetings.”

Next in the seeding civity process is follow-up work with our workshop participants – and others who are interested. With one-on-one coaching and train-the-trainers, we will be supporting them in leveraging civity-building to enhance and extend the great work they are already doing. 

We are excited at the energy and enthusiasm we are seeing – stay tuned for further developments!