Staff, leadership changes at Welcoming America

David Lubell — Welcoming America’s founder, inaugural executive director, and founding director of our Welcoming International initiative —  is leaving the organization after 12 years. His last day is October 8.

Almost two decades ago, David established the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition in Nashville to bring immigrant communities together to develop a unified voice and help people see immigrants as their neighbors and assets to the community. While there, he launched the project Welcoming Tennessee, which then served as the model for Welcoming America, which he founded in 2009.

Over the years, David helped grow the movement of welcoming communities, receiving national and international recognition from the World Economic Forum, Chronicle of Philanthropy, the White House, and more. In 2018, he stepped down as executive director of Welcoming America to lead a new initiative under its auspices, Welcoming International, to connect and support welcoming movements across the globe.

Today, Welcoming America loses a founder, but gains a champion for justice and inclusion in the wider world. David will now assume the honorary title of Founder and Director Emeritus of Welcoming America. Christina Pope, who previously served the organization as the Senior Network Director, has stepped into the role of Senior Director of the Welcoming International initiative. Molly Hilligoss, who previously served as the Midwest Regional Manager, will take over as Network Director.

As part of his farewell message to the organization and the Welcoming Network, David sat down with Rachel Perić, our executive director, for a reflective chat. Enjoy the conversation which covers history, advice to the field, and the future of welcoming work:


“The work that we do has changed over time, and has grown from one relatively small city to the entire world. But the idea that we can bring communities together, to see immigrants and refugees as a benefit, and as a part of a community that is really important —  that stays the same. And it keeps getting more important.”

We think so, too. Thank you, David, for making Welcoming America a thriving organization and an exciting idea that always meets the moment. We wish you rest and a next project fitting for your enormous talents and vision.

After October 8, you may reach David at [email protected]. Finally, consider donating to the newly created David Lubell Global Voices Award Fund in honor of David’s work. All proceeds will go toward individuals in the Welcoming Network using their voices to advance welcoming in their communities across the globe. Donate now

In welcoming,
Welcoming America staff and board of directors