May 15-17, 2024

National Community Sponsorship Conference

Refugee Welcome Collective (RWC) is excited to announce a National Community Sponsorship Conference.

The conference will be held virtually on Zoom from Wednesday, May 15 to Friday, May 17, 2024.

This conference offers an opportunity for resettlement agency staff at the local and national levels working in community sponsorship, community engagement, and volunteer management to learn new skills and share knowledge and resources.

Conference offerings include interactive training sessions led by practitioners on a range of relevant and timely topics, panel discussions, and peer-to-peer learning. Resources shared will also be made available for download and future reference.

View & Download Session Materials

Day 2

Conference Agenda

Day 3

Conference Agenda

12:00-1:30 p.m. ET

Fostering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Community Sponsorship

Denver Governor, Regional Program Officer for Gender, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI), International Rescue Committee HQ 

Greg Marino, Program Officer for Community Sponsorship Training, International Rescue Committee HQ

Community Sponsorship provides opportunities for community groups to partner with resettlement agencies toward resettling refugee families in their communities. Aside from the mechanics of facilitating some core services during the community sponsorship period, community groups play a pivotal role in engaging with the refugee families they sponsor on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they integrate into American society. This can be challenging for group members who may be unfamiliar or unaware of identity issues in their personal experiences and/or their own environments, which can lead to unintended harm towards refugees paired with sponsors. During this session, through interactive exercises, participants will apply a Gender, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (GEDI) lens in examining elements of the GEDI continuum toward effective co-sponsor program design and implementation. Participants will take away tools that will enable co-sponsor groups to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their relationship-building with the families they serve. In turn, co-sponsorship staff can use the intersectionality wheel to open conversations about the identities of the group members, their clients, and themselves.

Presenters

Jessica Ashcraft

Senior Program Officer for Community Sponsorship

Refugee Welcome Collective

Jessica Ashcraft is the Senior Program Officer for Community Sponsorship at Refugee Welcome Collective. She received her BA in Psychology from Georgetown College and her Master of Science in Social Work degree from the Kent School at the University of Louisville. During her time in Louisville, she worked with Americana Community Center where she discovered a passion for working with immigrants and refugees. Jessica has experience in program development, strengths-based case management, mental health group work, and training development and implementation. Most recently, she served as the Volunteer and Internships Coordinator at Kentucky Refugee Ministries overseeing the recruitment, training, and management of interns, volunteers, and community support groups.

Philip D’Agati

Program Manager for Community Sponsorship and Engagement

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston

Philip D’Agati currently serves as the Program Manager for Community Sponsorship and Engagement at Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston. The Community Sponsorship and Engagement team works with dozens of partners across eastern Massachusetts to provide core services to refugees and humanitarian parolees. Dr. D’Agati earned a Master’s degrees in World History and in Comparative Politics & Public Administration and graduated from Northeastern University with a PhD in Political Science. He is the author of three books, a scholar on Nationalism and ethnic Identity, and an expert on Olympic legacy and bid processes. He is a part time member of the faculty at University of Massachusetts Amherst, an advisory board member of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and an active volunteer in his local community.

Denver Governor

Regional Program Officer for Gender, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI)

International Rescue Committee

Although Denver’s journey at the IRC began in Intensive Case Management, her background in Organizational Psychology and Inclusive Engagement led her to the Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (GEDI) unit, where she supported the development of the IRC’s DEI Strategy, foundational DEI lexicon, and GEDI engagement plan. As part of the Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration (RAI) department, she established a cross-regional GEDI Community of Practice and provided technical support to program offices across the U.S. southern border region and within Europe. Denver previously supported inclusion, belonging, and wellness initiatives within the Peace Corps, Florida State University, University of South Florida, and Rutgers University, helping to improve the experiences and practices of staff, students, and community stakeholders. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida with her partner, cat, and 29-year-old turtle.

Rebekah Korver

Community Sponsorship Coordinator

USCCB

Rebekah Korver is the Community Sponsorship Coordinator at USCCB. She has been working in refugee services for the last 7 years and has been with USCCB for almost 3. Her first role at USCCB was as a Field Support Coordinator for the R&P program, providing support and training to new affiliates being added to the USCCB network and monitoring APA and R&P programs for compliance. Her prior experience includes supporting Alight’s government affairs office and managing volunteers and co-sponsors for an EMM affiliate. She holds a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and a Master’s in Conflict Resolution; and she is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Greg Marino

Program Officer for Community Sponsorship Training

International Rescue Committee

Greg Marino is the Program Officer for Community Sponsorship Training at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) headquarters. Since joining the IRC in 2002, he has provided onboarding, training, and technical assistance support for staff and community groups engaged in community sponsorship in both the APA and R&P Programs across the IRC network. His prior experience in refugee resettlement includes launching and managing the Community Co-Sponsorship Program at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, Connecticut, where he provided training, onboarding, ongoing case management, and professional development support for over 50 community groups resettling refugee families throughout the state over 6 years. Prior to entering the refugee resettlement space, he created and managed professional development programs and initiatives in higher education and professional development in the US and internationally. He holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA in Organizational Behavior and Marketing and is based in Shelton, Connecticut.

David Sulewski

Associate Director for Training and Engagement

Refugee Welcome Collective

David Sulewski is the Associate Director for Training and Engagement at Refugee Welcome Collective. He has worked with forcibly displaced persons in the U.S. and abroad and is committed to strengthening the role of agencies and communities in welcoming newcomers. As an employment specialist with the International Rescue Committee-Boston and later with Jewish Vocational Service-Boston, David assisted newcomers with job placement and skills training. David then co-managed a welcome center for forced migrants in Quito, Ecuador as part of the Mennonite Central Committee, working with UNHCR on durable solutions and partnering with grassroots peacebuilding collectives to foster positive host-migrant relations. David has also participated in a Sponsor Circle to welcome an Afghan family. He holds an MA in Human Security and Global Governance with a certificate in conflict resolution from UMass Boston.

Session Materials

Managing Group Dynamics & Navigating Difficult Situations in Community Sponsorship

Demystifying Monitoring: How to Design Community Sponsorship Programs that Check All the Boxes