Uncategorized | Welcoming America

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Announcing the WE Global Network

Welcoming America | April 15, 2015



Today, Welcoming AmericaGlobal Detroit, and more than a dozen economic development initiatives throughout the nation’s Rust Belt launched the Welcoming Economies Global Network (WE Global Network). The network is comprised of groups from 10 states across the Midwest working to tap into the economic development opportunities created by welcoming immigrants.

This launch comes on the heels of yesterday’s White House release of a report featuring the WE Global Network as one of its national best practices. Created by the White House Task Force on New Americans, the report affirms that immigrants and refugees contribute significantly to the continued economic prosperity of the U.S. and are critical to our country’s social and cultural fabric. The report is available at www.whitehouse.gov/new-americans.

“In the 20th century, the Rust Belt housed industrial powerhouses like the U.S. steel, coal, and auto industries, but today it is entrepreneurial partnerships between immigrants and local communities that are fueling the region’s economies,” said David Lubell, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “The WE Global Network recognizes that if we’re to remain competitive in the global economy, we must support and maximize the efforts of local initiatives that welcome, retain, integrate, and empower immigrant communities.”

Join the Network

The WE Global Network invites governments, nonprofits, and economic development organizations that welcome, retain, and empower immigrant communities in the 10-state region to join. Members benefit from peer-to-peer learning exchanges, increased publicity, policy and research tools developed for immigrant economic development organizations, access to technical assistance, and other capacity building resources.

Attend the WE Global Network 3rd Annual Convening

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Keep the momentum going

Welcoming America | December 18, 2014

Dear Welcomers,

It has been an incredible year.

Together, we lifted up welcoming at a national – and international – level.

We were so incredibly humbled to be recognized by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when we received the Intercultural Innovation Award as well as to be honored by President Obama last week in Nashville.

We were thrilled to help bring welcoming to the halls of Washington when we co-hosted, with National Partnership for New Americans, the first-ever White House Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration, and we are similarly excited about the recent presidential memorandum, Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees.

And we continued to highlight welcoming during flash points around immigration – including children fleeing violence from Central America and administrative relief.

Together, we accelerated policy change in communities nationwide, moving the needle on immigration locally.

There is a movement sweeping the nation: whole communities are coming together to create welcoming environments in which immigrant and long-term residents alike can thrive and prosper.

Now, our network includes 64 nonprofit and municipal government members who are working to instill welcoming locally, moving from symbolic gestures to institutional policy change – from establishing mayoral offices focused on supporting immigrants, to appointing task forces, to outlining how to best attract and retain immigrants.

Together, we reshaped the national narrative on immigration.

The welcoming message spread further than ever, from the New York Times, to the Associated Press, to Forbes, to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Leaders from all over the country are also increasingly highlighting the value of welcoming immigrants and the contributions they make in places as diverse as Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Detroit.

We could not have done this without you. Can you help keep this momentum going in 2015 with a tax-deductible gift to Welcoming America?

We are in a special welcoming moment for the country, and we want to ensure that we move in the right direction. With your support, together, we can continue to build a nation where immigrants are embraced and welcomed by their communities and neighbors.

With my deepest appreciation,

David Lubell Executive Director

P.S. While we appreciate any gift, you can become an even bigger champion of welcoming by giving monthly.

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Reflections on the Presidential Memorandum

Welcoming America | December 12, 2014

Despite our history as a nation of immigrants, the U.S. has never had a federal immigrant integration policy; for the first time ever, one is on the way. Thanks to a recent commitment by the President, detailed in the presidential memorandum on Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees, the White House will be establishing a White House Task Force on New Americans, an interagency effort to identify and support state and local integration efforts that are working and to consider how to expand and replicate successful models.

"Our success as a Nation of immigrants is rooted in our ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the fabric of our country.

It is important that we develop a Federal immigrant integration strategy that is innovative and competitive with those of other industrialized nations and supports mechanisms to ensure that our Nation's diverse people are contributing to society to their fullest potential.….Therefore, I am establishing a White House Task Force on New Americans, an interagency effort to identify and support State and local efforts at integration that are working and to consider how to expand and replicate successful models."

- President Barack Obama

A positive outcome around the memorandum would not have been possible without the efforts of our incredible partners, particularly the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), who co-hosted with Welcoming America this summer’s event at the White House, the first-ever White House Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration where leaders and partners from communities across the country shared ideas that have and will continue to shape the contours of the federal integration strategy. NPNA has been working to advance this cause for over five years and deserves a huge amount of credit for making all this happen. This is just the beginning; your voices were heard, and we look forward to continuing to engage our incredible network and to working with you to move this agenda forward. In a detailed analysis published in the online journal The Migrationist, our colleague Paul McDaniel at the American Immigration Council observed: "Through this memo, the President is defining that the concept of cultivating welcoming and inclusive communities is important. Words and actions of mayors and governors on immigrant and refugee integration at the municipal, metropolitan, and state levels have created safe spaces for a broad cross-sector of community leaders and organizations to work together to plan and implement integration strategies, benefiting their local communities." None of this could have been possible without our many partners – from those who have been focused on building a national strategy for years, such as NPNA, Migration Policy Institute, American Immigration Council, and NALEO, to community leaders, advocates, and welcomers from coast to coast. Whether you have been long-time participants or are new to the field, each of us can share in celebrating this historic moment and this unique opportunity to move forward together and make our nation a truly welcoming one in which immigrants are embraced, integrated, and thriving. David Lubell Executive Director Welcoming America Go Back

New Webinar Series on Welcoming Children

Welcoming America | August 14, 2014

Welcoming America is pleased to announce a series of three webinars on what local communities can do to help children fleeing violence, highlighting how:

  • Various sectors are working together in their communities to respond with compassion and empathy to the children fleeing violence.
  • Local leaders and community partners are acting as the moral compass of the nation, reframing the debate and taking action, such as through National Welcoming Week.
  • Our experience in working with receiving communities, the communities where immigrants and refugees are arriving,  can help you to create a welcoming climate.

Talking about Children Fleeing Violence: What Works, What Doesn't

Monday, August 18, 12-1pm EST REGISTER NOW

This webinar will be an opportunity to learn more about how to message and communicate effectively about the children fleeing violence, in a way that inspires empathy and compassion, and reduces fear and anxiety.  We'll be joined by Gabriela Domenzain of The Raben Group and Julie Rowe of the Opportunity Agenda, with bios below. Speaker Bios

  • Gabriela Domenzain, Principal at The Raben Group.  Gabriela Domenzain is a leading expert on Hispanic media and community engagement with over a decade of experience in Hispanic activism, journalism and political communications.  Her skills were most recently put to use on President Obama’s re-election campaign where she served as a National Spokesperson and Senior Staff.  Gabriela combined her background in policy, media and politics by developing and implementing a “first of its kind” metrics-based, bilingual communications plan, which was, in part, credited for delivering a decisive share of the Hispanic vote.
  • Julie Fisher-Rowe, Senior Framing and Messaging Coordinator at The Opportunity Agenda.  Julie oversees the organization’s strategic framing work, translating communications research and theory into practical messaging strategies for advocates and activists.  In this role, she works with groups across the country to identify opportunities to build public support for social justice issues and policies. Through a mix of trainings, workshops, tool development and individual discussions, Julie helps social justice groups hone in on the right messages for their goals, audiences, and other organizational needs.  Most recently, she has coordinated communications for the organization’s immigration initiative, helping diverse groups working in that area to develop a shared strategy for messaging.  Julie also works on framing and messaging for issues around racial justice, human rights, and economic opportunity.


Please also save-the-date for these upcoming webinars:


Extending the Welcome Mat to Children Fleeing Violence: Action You Can Take Now

Wednesday, August 27 at 12-1pm EST  REGISTER NOW  


National Welcoming Week in the Current Political Context: Messaging and Strategy 

Tuesday, September 9 from 1-2pm EST REGISTER NOW  

Please share with us your questions, comments or ideas.  And be sure to check out our media and resources pages for inspiration and ideas to get started in your community.

Note: Welcoming America is hosting this webinar series as an independent organization. As technical assistance providers for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) we want to make clear that the views and content shared will be those of the organization, and not offered under the auspices of ORR or our Welcoming Refuges program.

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Welcoming America is Supporting the Growing Number of Communities that are Welcoming Unaccompanied Children

Welcoming America | July 31, 2014

Update: For resources on unaccompanied children - including ways you can help - click here.


Dear Colleagues,

We stand at a historic moment for our country.  Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America are being re-settled across the U.S., and regardless of what happens in Washington, it is local communities who must act as the moral compass of our nation.

Now, more than ever, it is important to remember what our local partners witness daily:welcoming communities are more prosperous, dynamic, and united than those that aren’t intentionally inclusive. We are deeply inspired by the growing number of leaders and everyday Americans uniting to make their communities welcoming ones for unaccompanied children. For some inspiring examples of communities stepping up, click here.

From changing the tenor of the conversation, to engaging residents with fears and misperceptions about local impact, to offering support to unaccompanied children, there is much that communities can and should do to step up and help.

In the coming weeks, Welcoming America will do our part to support our rapidly growing national network of local organizations and municipal governments, as well as any community wanting to become more welcoming during this important time.

Our goals are two-fold:

1) To lift up the voices of local leaders across the country who are taking a stand to welcome and humanely care for the children

Much of the media coverage has been primarily negative and portrays local communities as overwhelmingly against humane and welcoming treatment of the children. This depiction runs counter to public opinion polling and the experience of our local partners.

Over the coming weeks, we will spotlight the welcoming responses taking place around the country. Although details are still being finalized, actions will include:

  • Supporting and publicizing a welcoming sign-on letter for local leaders to demonstrate the depth and breadth of support for the children.
  • Changing the narrative by lifting up the numerous stories of local communities welcoming unaccompanied children and providing messaging and communications support to communities that are seeking to change the local narrative.
  • Creating space for immigrants and receiving community members to come together in service for the children during National Welcoming Week, taking place September 13-21.
  • Working with national partners like the National Partnership for New Americans to connect those ready to welcome children and to share their stories as widely as possible.  If you or your organization would like to partner in lifting up local voices of welcoming, please contact us.

2) To ensure local governments and community organizations have the tools required to marshal welcoming efforts in their communities.  Over the coming weeks, we will:

  • Launch a webinar series with our partners to provide you with facts and background on unaccompanied children and local communities, as well as messaging and actions you can take to promote welcoming the children.
  • Collect and share strategies and narratives that are working for community leaders and organizations across the country.  Please share with us what you are doing or send us your ideas so we can help others learn from them too.
  • Offering our many years of expertise in engaging receiving communities to groups and local governments wanting to promote greater dialogue and communication among local residents to ensure positive community outcomes.

There is an alternative to the divisive rhetoric we have all been hearing. In communities from Tampa to Denver to Syracuse, local leaders are expressing their support for unaccompanied children and emphasizing that the values of those they represent require children be cared for and welcomed.  These statements, some of which are captured here, are a reminder that everyday Americans can change the course of history.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas and to let us know how we can support you in your efforts to create more welcoming communities for all.

David Lubell
Executive Director
Welcoming America

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In Honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, Celebrating the Diversity that Unites Us

Welcoming America | June 23, 2014

Throughout the month of June, Welcome.us, a new non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating a United States that is fueled by immigrants from around the world, will be celebrating the first-ever Immigrant Heritage Month. The goal of the month – which will bring together a dynamic coalition of individuals and organizations from Congressmen to celebrities – is to encourage every American to tell the story of how they first felt welcomed to the American experience.

Since 2009, Welcoming America has brought together these civic leaders and everyday welcoming heroes through a vibrant network that reaches from coast to coast. From mayors in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, who recently announced new Welcoming initiatives, to long standing efforts in states as diverse as Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Rhode Island, the Welcoming America movement reflects the diversity of American communities, rural and urban, that are already extending a welcome to their newest neighbors.

As the country celebrates the first Immigrant Heritage Month, Welcome.us and Welcoming America together salute the many stars who are making their communities more welcoming places for everyone. Throughout the month, celebrities and notable individuals will be sharing their own stories and the stories of influential immigrants through PSA spots available on Welcome.us’ YouTube channel.  And we are encouraging you to share your own welcome story by engaging with us and Immigrant Heritage Month on social media by using the hashtag #welcomeus.

Last year, the White House recognized ten Welcoming America Champions of Change – everyday heroes who are transforming their communities by pioneering practices to advance immigrant inclusion in ways that involve U.S.-born residents and the community as a whole.  Here are the profiles of these individuals who are creating welcome for immigrants across the U.S.:

  • Kasar S. Abdulla Former Director of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (a project of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition) Nashville, TN

  • Al Heggins Human Relations Director, City of High Point High Point, NC

  • Adolfo Hernandez Director of the Office of New Americans Chicago, IL

  • Dan Rearick Executive Director, Uniting NC Raleigh, NC

  • Jan A. Reeves Director, Idaho Office for Refugees Boise, ID

  • Fatima Said Executive Director, Project FINE Winona, MN

  • Christine Sauvé SE Communities Coordinator, Welcoming Michigan Detroit, MI

  • Jocelyn Skolnik Executive Director, El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center Jupiter, FL

  • Thomas Wahlrab Former Executive Director, City of Dayton Human Relations Council Dayton, OH

  • Brenda Zion Executive Director, OneMorgan County Fort Morgan, CO

We encourage you to join us during Immigrant Heritage Month to celebrate the inspirational stories of our immigrant past, present, and future.

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City of Clarkston, Georgia Positions Community for Civic and Economic Success with Signing of Welcoming City Resolution

Welcoming America | March 6, 2014

Clarkston Becomes 29th City in Nation to Join Decatur, Georgia based Welcoming America’s Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative



On March 4th,  2014, Mayor Ted Terry and members of the Clarkston City Council passed a Welcoming Resolution, committing the city to building a welcoming and neighborly community in which diverse residents, including immigrants, are welcome, accepted and integrated.

Through the resolution, the City also joins Welcoming Cities and Counties, an initiative of Welcoming America that supports locally-driven efforts to create more welcoming, immigrant friendly environments that maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality and position communities as globally competitive, 21st century leaders.  Welcoming America is a nonprofit organization based in Decatur, Georgia that works across the U.S. to create inclusive, immigrant-friendly communities that expand prosperity for all residents.

The resolution (full version available here) recognizes that a welcoming community is critical to economic success for all residents, and identifies that Clarkston is committed to “enhancing its cultural fabric, economic growth, global competitiveness and overall prosperity for all individuals in the current and future generations who choose to make their home in the city.”

Said Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, "I'm gratified that this was a grassroots effort. The residents of our city got together and worked out the details - and our government has responded in full support of Clarkston becoming a truly Welcoming community. In light of recent events, over the criminalization of gays and lesbians, in Uganda - our city felt it was important to add language that codified ALL people are welcome in Clarkston, including gay, lesbian and transgendered folks.  It is incumbent upon our government to provide opportunity for all residents of our city. And I am looking forward to working with Welcoming America on a framework for the future welcoming policies of Clarkston.”

"This is a wonderful affirmation that the diverse character of Clarkston is indeed one of its great strengths," commented Emily Pelton of Refugee Family Services, a refugee resettlement agency that works in the Clarkston community.

A newly formed Welcoming Committee will bring together local residents and stakeholders to work with the city to support the vision of the resolution. Said member Cassie Leymarie, “I am thrilled that the Welcoming Resolution has passed in the City of Clarkston.  The resolution, of course, is a symbolic gesture, but it also provides members of the community with a framework for starting grassroots efforts that will help newcomers to Clarkston become more participatory members in the community. I am looking forward to working with the newly formed Welcoming Committee and Clarkstonians to create programs and events that are guided by the Welcoming resolution.“

Clarkston joins the City of Atlanta, where in October 2013, Mayor Kasim Reed joined the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative and issued a similar proclamation, recognizing its importance to the region’s continued position as a global, 21st century leader.  Said Welcoming America Executive Director, David Lubell, “We applaud the elected leadership and residents of Clarkston for recognizing that the city’s global diversity is a significant asset and for making this important commitment to ensuring that all Clarkston residents can truly thrive.”

For more information on the City of Clarkston, visit http://www.clarkstonga.gov

For more information on Welcoming America, visit http://www.welcomingamerica.org

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Kicking off five years of Welcoming America with the New York Times

Welcoming America | February 20, 2014

They say "it takes a village," but here at Welcoming America, we believe it takes a network of villages. With communities across the U.S. stepping up in exciting ways to celebrate and engage their newest residents, we believe nothing could be more powerful than a network that lifts up and connects these efforts to each other. As we celebrate five years of Welcoming America, we invite you to join us in this work and help spread the news about the extraordinary achievements happening across the country.

New York Times Showcases Momentum of Welcoming Movement

Yesterday, the New York Times featured Welcoming America and the Welcoming movement in a great article articulating the momentum of this idea and how we're transforming the country from the bottom up. We invite you to read the article and share this exciting news with your network!

Al Jazeera America Features Cities' Race to the Top

Recently, Al Jazeera America published our op-ed on cities' race to the top to attract immigrants, highlighting the friendly competition between municipalities that we are helping to fuel through our Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative. We encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Univision Recognizes David Lubell as a Top Ten Social Entrepreneur in the Americas

Executive Director David Lubell was named one of the top ten social entrepreneurs in the Americas by Univision - read all about the honor in Spanish and English. David caught Univision's attention at last year's abc* Continuity Forum - you can watch David's presentation below: http://vimeo.com/80197251

Immigrants Give Back in North Carolina

Members of Iglesia Emanuel, a small Spanish-speaking church in North Carolina, contribute to their community by cooking hot meals and distributing groceries to diverse people in need. Watch the touching video from our affiliate Uniting NC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aN6r9nAfAI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Messages from the Top

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed elevated welcoming immigrants at his recent mayoral inauguration:

The Buzz from the Field - Partners in the News

• NY Office for Immigrants, led by commissioner of immigrant affairs Fatima Shama, featured as a "global model" in the New York Times

• NH refugees are introduced to how Americans celebrate the holidays on NPR • Rejuvenating St. Louis one immigrant at a time through the St. Louis Mosaic Project • Refugees and Immigrants Succeeding in Entrepreneurship (RISE) is leading efforts to attract and support immigrant entrepreneurs in Louisville • Columbus, NE residents built bridges and learned about the value of diversity through a tour of businesses hosted by affiliate Nebraska is Home • Lincoln, NE celebrates the Karen New Year with Karen refugees • MI Governor Rick Snyder announces the creation of the Michigan Office for New Americans during his recent state of the state address

Upcoming Webinars

Big Ideas: New York City's Blueprints for Immigrant Integration Success Tues., 3/25 @ 10am EST Join Fatima Shama, former Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, for a conversation about why cities around the world are taking the lead on immigrant integration and how New York’s “Blueprints” for immigrant integration success can help. Joining the conversation will be Astrid Ziebarth, Director of the Immigration and Integration Program at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. Co-hosted by Welcoming America. To register and learn more, click here. Talking to America About Immigrants & Immigration Webinar Series This webinar series is designed to help leaders and practitioners in immigrant-serving organizations learn data and tools for positioning immigrants as assets, gain resources for supporting immigrants, and keep abreast of immigration reform. Hosted by the Immigrant Learning Center. Click here to learn more and to register for one or more sessions:

  • Positioning Immigrants as Assets Wed., 2/26 @ 1-3pm EST
  • Ideas for Creating Welcoming Environments / Addressing Tensions Between Immigrant and African-American Communities Tues., 3/11 @ 1-3pm EST

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Help us build a stronger, more inclusive America

Welcoming America | December 11, 2013

In 2013, all across America, it was clearer than ever that immigrants are welcome and make our communities stronger.  Just ask the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Anderson Cooper 360°,the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Communities & Banking, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who covered local and national welcoming efforts over the past year, or the White House, who honored Welcoming America and our partners in a Welcoming America Champions of Change program.

With your support, here are some examples of what we were able to achieve together in 2013:

Messages from the Top

Local leaders across the country welcome and uplift their newest residents:

"Without the energy and intellect and innovation of our immigrant community, Montgomery County would, quite simply, be incomplete. ‘New Americans’ are a critical piece in building a better future for all County residents."

- Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett

“Immigrants bring work skills, add to our neighborhoods, pay taxes, and buy goods in our region.  And, we need new residents to add to our own multicultural perspectives, so our regional enterprises can compete effectively in the widening global market. [National Welcoming Week] serves to celebrate our diversity and opportunity to grow.”

- St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay

“I thank Long Island Wins for their tremendous work on Welcoming Week, and for their work in helping immigrants in our communities feel welcomed. This is very important for us in Suffolk County, because it sends a message to all of our residents, both native- and foreign-born, that they are all important, and that we appreciate all of the contributions that they make to our community.

- Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

“Indiana’s flourishing immigrant population contributes greatly to the cultural, educational and economic fabric of our state… Our administration is committed to doing all we can to make Indiana stand out not only regionally, but nationally and internationally, as a premier destination for anyone who wants to start a business, grow a business or get a job – just as so many immigrants have done in Indiana already.”

- Indiana Governor Mike Pence

“Atlanta’s diversity and vitality has been built on the strength of immigrant populations that have come to enjoy new freedoms and opportunities. In partnership with Welcoming America, the City of Atlanta will continue to work on welcoming, including, and supporting the economic and social contributions of immigrants to enhance our city’s cultural fabric, economic growth and global competitiveness.”

- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

  • Communities jumped into a race to the top to attract immigrants by joining our Welcoming Cities & Counties initiative, which supports locally-driven efforts to create immigrant-friendly environments and maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality. To date, 25 local governments have joined, representing a combined population of over 24 million Americans.
  • Welcoming America hosted National Welcoming Week, the only nationwide event that celebrates immigrant contributions and brings together immigrants and U.S.-born community members through service projects and events. An impressive success, communities across the U.S. hosted over 150 events attracting more than 6,000 participants, from soccer games to restaurant crawls to community gardens.

  • Through our network of 18 affiliates in 17 statesover 25,000 individuals attended events designed to improve their understanding and relationship of immigrants.

  • Inspired by Welcoming America, from Suffolk County, NY to Gardner, KS, local leaders from across the political spectrum espoused the value of welcoming communities, including leaders in 19 communities who passed Welcoming resolutions – formal proclamations that publicly articulate the value of immigrant-friendly communities.

  • We empowered a new generation of local welcoming practitioners through trainings and presentations to over 4,000 individuals, including nearly 2,000 members of the nation’s refugee resettlement network.

And we couldn't do it without you.  We encourage you to make a tax-deductible gift to Welcoming America today!

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At the National Immigrant Integration Conference, a Country Moves Forward – Community by Community

Welcoming America | November 26, 2013

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we could hardly imagine a more gratitude-inspiring moment than the gathering of hundreds of individuals from across the country who are working to extend a welcome to immigrants in their communities.  It’s no easy task to pull off such a successful event bringing together leaders from the immigrant integration sector, and we tip our welcoming hats to the amazing team at the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). 

If you weren't able to join us this year in Miami, here are just a few highlights:

- The conference shined a bright spotlight on exciting innovations being led at the local level, proving that positive change is possible. Welcoming America's affiliates were present to share their models, along with innovative municipal goverments like those in the Welcoming Cites and Counties network.

The Receiving Communities Track illuminated practices and policies from across the country to create welcoming, immigrant-friendly and economically vibrant communitieswhere immigrants, refugees and native-born residents can thrive and transform their communities. Organized by Welcoming America and the JM Kaplan Fund’s Suzette Brooks Masters, a crack team of national  experts, including Hiram Ruiz, Florida State Refugee Office; Kim Turner, Cities of Migration; Nadia Tonova, ACCESS; Naomi Steinberg, Refugee Council USA; Rhonda Oriz, USC;  and Rich Stolz, One America,  helped put together an exciting lineup of speakers (see below for our shout-outs list).

- Our own Susan Downs-Karkos joined former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros in a plenary to discuss the importance of welcoming communities to our economic futureListen to the speech.

Above all, we left inspired by the incredible work being accomplished by those working in the field; by the new connections forged between our partners and their peers; and by the rich learning experience.  And did we mention salsa dancing?

This Thanksgiving, we offer our deepest thanks and special recognition to the sponsors and organizers of NIIC, and to all the speakers and participants on the Receiving Communities Track who contributed their time.

In particular, we thank:

Richard Andre, AS-COA

Sanja Bebic, Center for Applied Linguistics

Joanna Brown, Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Cynthia Brothers, Public Interest Projects

Suzette Brooks Masters, J.M. Kaplan Fund

Betsy Cohen, Mosaic Project, St. Louis

Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation

Christine Dahnke, Duval County Public Schools

Jean-Michel Dissard, Director, I LEARN AMERICA

Stephen Fotopulos, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

Mahvash Hassan, Institute for Local Government

Al Heggins, City of High Point, NC

Subhash Kateel, Families for Freedom

Marcia Hohn, ILC Public Education Institute

Hendel Leiva, Welcoming Long Island/Long Island Wins

Gerald Lenoir, BAJI

Nicole Melaku, Welcoming Colorado/CIRC

Tom Negri, City of Nashville

Rhonda Ortiz, University of Southern California

Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California

Jennifer Rodriguez, City of Philadelphia

Hiram Ruiz, Florida State Refugee Office

Fatima Said, Project FINE

Karla Silvestre, Montgomery County, MD

Matthew Soerens, World Relief

Jocelyn Skolnik, El Sol, Jupiter, Florida

Naomi Steinberg, RCUSA

Rich Stolz, OneAmerica

Maria Velasco, Intercambio Uniting Communities

Dan Wallace, New York City, NY

Ferai Williams, Network for Immigrant and African American Solidarity

Christa Yoakum, Nebraska is Home/Nebraska Appleseed

Luz Zambrano, Network for Immigrant and African American Solidarity  

We hope you’ll join us next year for the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Los Angeles.

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