Updates on our board of directors

Welcoming America is pleased to announce the new members and changes in leadership of our board of directors, effective February 2022.

New members of the board include:

  • Liz Cedillo-Pereira, City of Dallas, Texas
    Liz Cedillo-Pereira is Assistant City Manager for the City of Dallas, Texas where she leads Library Services, Office of Arts and Culture, the Office of Community Care, the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and Ethics. Previously, she served as Chief of Equity and Inclusion for the City of Dallas where she established the office and led the efforts to operationalize equity, inclusion, and welcoming. As the founding director of the Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs, Liz oversaw the city’s strategic welcoming plan and its Certified Welcoming status. A proud Dallasite, Liz has more than 15 years of experience at the federal, state, and local level in law, policy, social impact development. Prior to joining local government, Liz served as Senior Advisor to the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Liz is board certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
  • Carla Gibson, REACH Healthcare Foundation
    Carla Gibson is Vice President of Programs at the REACH Healthcare Foundation, responsible for all program functions of the foundation, including developing strategic community investments designed to implement REACH’s mission of advancing health equity in its six-county service area in Kansas. Gibson joined REACH in 2006 and has guided the foundation’s health equity investments, including a strategic focus on community awareness and support services for immigrants and refugees, a regional effort to establish a Welcoming KC action plan, and a new leadership development program for nonprofit organizations led by black leaders.
  • Kien Lee, Community Science
    Kien Lee, Ph.D. is Principal Associate & Vice President of Community Science. She brings extensive experience in research, evaluation, and strategy development for national, statewide, and local initiatives intended to create and support healthy, just, and equitable communities. Kien has been involved in efforts to strengthen intergroup relations between receiving and immigrant communities and to support immigrant integration for over 20 years. Previously, she was chair of the governmental access working group for the Maryland Council for New Americans and later appointed to Governor Martin O’Malley’s Commission to Study the Impact of Immigration on Maryland.
  • Laura Maristany, Bitwise Industries
    A seasoned advocate and community builder with extensive experience on Capitol Hill and policymaking, Laura now leads outreach and partnerships with government and community leaders for Bitwise Industries as Director of External Affairs to build tech economies in cities across the country. Previously, she was with the Democracy Fund. Her honors include a fellowship with the German Marshall Fund and receiving the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit by the Spanish Crown. She lives in Virginia with her family.

Rachel Perić, Executive Director of Welcoming America said: "As Welcoming America works to strengthen the infrastructure for equitable policy at a local level, we are thrilled to add four new board members — Kien Lee, Laura Maristany, Carla Gibson, and Liz Cedillo-Pereira — whose backgrounds, experience, and significant contributions to the welcoming movement are an asset to us all.”

Changes in board leadership include the following:

  • Heath Wickline, who serves as senior communications officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and was previously vice chair of the board, will now assume the role of chair.
  • Mario Hernández, director of public affairs for Western Union, is now vice chair of the board.
  • Mara Kimmel, research and policy consultant for Far North Strategies and previously chair of the board, will now be secretary of the board.

We also recognize and thank departing board members — Mahvash Hassan and Tulu Kaifee — for their service and support to the organization. Said Hassan: "We are thrilled to complete our service as other leaders step up. The board welcomes talented new members and finds Welcoming America well-positioned to continue living up to its vision of building and sustaining inclusion and belonging.”