Building a Bigger Table | Welcoming America

Building a Bigger Table

Welcoming America | October 14, 2015

Communities everywhere are changing - and last week in Washington, leaders from across the U.S. came together to share how they are creating more inclusive places for everyone.

At a time when the world and the US are challenged to think about migration in new ways, the Welcoming America Member Summit and White House Building Welcoming Communities Convening were an opportunity for our growing movement to come together, celebrate the welcoming vision, and mark the success of a new landscape of policies and programs that are taking shape in communities across the country. 

More than 100 people attended our member summit in Montgomery County, MD. Home to 4 of the top 10 most diverse cities in the country, the county that has been reshaped by people from across the globe (1 in 3 county residents are foreign born).

In his welcoming remarks, County Executive Ike Leggett spoke about his efforts to not only invest in immigrant-friendly policies and programs, but to ensure that more diverse residents could engage civically.  It was important that new residents had a seat at the table, said Leggett, but it was equally important that we didn't displace those who were already rightfully at the table.  So, said Leggett, we built a bigger table.

Today, this Welcoming County has a thriving culture and economy, and represents where all American communities are headed when they embrace their growing diversity - and intentionally build a bigger table.

This inspiring message was reinforced by all our speakers and partners, from international perspectives shared by Ratna Omidvar with Global Diversity Exchange to national partners like Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American and Rinku Sen of Race Forward, to grassroots leaders like Will Russell from Charlotte, North Carolina and Joel Lemus from Crete, Nebraska.  

The next day, in partnership with the White House, senior administration officials kicked off the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, the first effort of its kind to leverage greater federal resources in support of welcoming community policy and practice. 

Speaking to the importance of the initiative to the federal government and agency missions, Deputy Secretary of HHS, Mary Wakefield, said “Our work is built on the success of creating welcoming communities.”

Local governments that have joined the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign also had the unique opportunity to meet one-on-one with senior officials from USCIS, CNCS, DOL, DOE and other agencies.

The convening also featured panels with local government officials and national organizations discussing policy and practice as well as some great resources on language access policy from the Migration Policy Institute.

What People are Saying

Continue the Conversation

We thank all of the many partners who helped make this event a success. Continue to share your reactions, thoughts, and takeaways from the #WelcomingSummit on Twitter and Facebook!

You can also see the social media conversation on our Storify page.


David Lubell speaking at the Welcoming Communities SummitFelicia Escobar at the Building Welcoming Communities Convening

Members at the Summit ReceptionMembers discussing race and welcoming at the summit

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3 Upcoming Events

Join us for:

NIIC 2015

The National Immigrant Integration Conference 2015, — New American Dreams: Advancing Opportunity, Equality & Justice — will be held in Brooklyn from December 13-15, 2015.

View the program and the schedule and register now!

Welcoming Interactive 2016

Welcoming America's first Welcoming Interactive will be taking place in Atlanta, GA April 19th - 21st. Sign up below to receive updates on registration, trainings, and more.

Sign up for notifications.

Race Forward Train-the-Trainer

Welcoming America and Race Forward have partnered to offer a train-the-trainer session at this year's NIIC in New York City.

Audience members will learn how to apply a racial justice perspective to their welcoming work and how to work with others in their community to do so. The result of the 1.5 day training will be that participants will have the experience and tools necessary to train a team of people in their local community to help implement their welcoming community work plan, using a racial justice lens. In addition, Race Forward training staff will follow up with participants via coaching calls this spring to help overcome challenges that may arise in program implementation.


All training fees are covered by Welcoming America. However, participants are required to pay for their own travel to the train-the-trainer session.

Training Dates and Location

Tuesday, December 15 @ 1:00 p.m. until Wednesday, December 16 @ 5:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Marriott Hotel, New York City
Please note that this is a post-session that follows the 2015 National Immigrant Integration Conference.

Deadline to Apply

Applications are due by close of business October 23, 2015.

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