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 future. Listen 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.