Why We Gather: #Interactive2023 Reflections

Last week, more than 600 leaders from across the globe joined us in the Certified Welcoming city of San José, California for the 2023 Welcoming Interactive. Welcomers from local governments, nonprofits, and other sectors spent three days exchanging practices and ideas for including immigrants and refugees in their communities. A truly global event, participants from urban and rural communities across the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. connected with old colleagues and new friends.

Our sessions and plenaries reflected the expansive work of welcoming and inclusion practitioners and the power of collective action, leadership, and organizing. Our keynote speaker, Aleem Ali of Welcoming Australia, reminded leaders to focus on why we do our work — to take “people on a journey from fearful to tolerant to welcoming and inclusion” — and how we do our work — by learning to “put the power and process into the hands of the people [we’re] trying to support.”

From introducing the relaunch of the Certified Welcoming program to announcing Little Amal’s tour across the United States to commence Welcoming Week 2023, we were thrilled to share new opportunities to build belonging and celebrate the critical work of welcoming across the country.

Our executive director, Rachel Perić, captured the essence of why we gather to celebrate welcoming work in her opening remarks:

“Today, this room reflects more than 500 communities worldwide who are connected in the work of building welcoming places for all. Together, you have inspired and galvanized millions of people in communities large and small, rural and urban, to make our institutions more equitable, more representative, more responsive, to help neighbors come together as equals to show that community by community, we are capable of being a truly welcoming society.”

Thank you to all of our participants, session speakers, volunteers, and partners — especially the City of San José’s Office of Racial Equity — for a truly inspirational conference. We are grateful to all of our sponsors and exhibitors, including our Presenting Sponsor, Walmart, for their support. A special thank you to Mosaic America for coordinating community tours for conference attendees. View all of the sponsors and exhibitors of the conference.

Mark your calendars for April 10-12, 2024 for our next Welcoming Interactive! We are excited to be heading to Dallas, Texas in 2024 and Detroit, Michigan in 2025 to celebrate and continue to grow the movement of welcoming communities. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive updates on next year’s conference.

Revisit the 2023 Welcoming Interactive by exploring the photos in our conference Flickr album and searching #Interactive2023 on all social media platforms.

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