Refugee Resettlement and STEM Education Conference

Friday, September 22, 2023 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT
Online Location

In January of 2023 the U.S. State Department announced the creation of the Welcome Corps as a complement to existing refugee resettlement programs.  Envisioned as public-private partnerships, groups of at least five individuals would agree to sponsor a refugee for 90 days to help them find housing and integrate into U.S. society. Along with housing, education and employment are essential to this integration. In its first year the Welcome Corps is committed to engaging with at least 5,000 refugees and their sponsor groups across the country. In subsequent phases, the Welcome Corps will also include partnerships with employers and universities as refugee sponsors. The Welcome Corps is a new and timely policy initiative in the United States. This event seeks to more widely disseminate the workings of the initiative to a range of employers, educational institutions, and students who may not be well informed about its potential to serve as a significant pathway for refugee resettlement, particularly in the area of STEM occupations. 

This conference will focus on how STEM oriented educational opportunities through high schools, registered apprenticeships, community colleges, and four-year institutions can all play a significant role in addressing urgent humanitarian needs, while also expanding the nation’s STEM workforce. At this conference participants will learn about the current refugee situation, how the Welcome Corps is a valuable addition to U.S. refugee resettlement policy, and how educational institutions can support this program. Speakers will be drawn from the U.S. State Department, D.C.-area think tanks, and representatives of all levels of the education system.

Panelists and a small group of invited guests will gather in person. Others can join online for individual panels or for the entire day. There will be an opportunity for online participants to interact and pose questions.  

Agenda Overview

10:00-10:15 Introduction and Welcome
10:15-11:00 Overview of Refugee Policy and Data
11:15-12:00 Refugee Resettlement Panel: Successes and Challenges in the Past
12:15-1:00 Lunch and Welcome Corps Presentation
1:15-2:00 Educational Institution Panel
2:15-3:00 Employer Resource Panel
3:15-4:00 Next Steps: From Policy Initiative to Resettlement Success

Selected Panelists and Speakers (Subject to change)

10:00-10:15 Introduction and Welcome
  Rebekah Hersch, Associate Director, Research and Innovation at George Mason University
  Liv Blackmon, Director, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) STEM Accelerator (OSA)
  Jim Witte, Director, Institute for Immigration Research (IIR) at George Mason University
10:15-11:00 Overview of Refugee Policy and Data
  Michelle S. Dromgold-Sermen, Assistant Director, IIR
11:15-12:00 Refugee Resettlement Panel: Successes and Challenges in the Past
  Hanh Bui, Children's Author
  Jawad H., Executive Director, No Lost Generation, George Mason University 
  Kimberly LeBlanc, Director, Resettlement and Integration Programs - Fairfax, Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area
  Salimah Shamsuddin, Director, Resettlement and Integration Programs - Woodbridge, Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area
12:15-1:00 Lunch and Welcome Corps Presentation
  Introduction by Michele Schwietz, Associate Dean for Research, College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason
  Remarks by Andre Marshall, Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Impact at George Mason
  Presentation by Lucretia Keenan, Strategist for the Community Sponsorship Hub at the Welcome Corps
1:15-2:00 Educational Institution Panel
  Paul Steiner, Director, Fairfax County Public Schools Adult and Community Education
  Gary G. Pan, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Labor and Industry 
  Kammy Sanghera, Executive Director, Mason Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA)
2:15-3:00 Employer Resource Panel
  Mike Batt, Vice President of Talent, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
  Hudaidah Bhimdi, Bhimdi Global Immigration, PLLC
  Gregg Levin, CEO, EnGen
  Fatima Sanz, Senior Policy Manager, World Education Services (WES)
3:15-4:00 Next Steps: From Policy Initiative to Resettlement Success
  Summary of day's discussion, Liv Blackmon, ORAU

 

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