As July 9 brings us closer to the 2015 WE Global Network Convening (and even closer to the July 1 deadline to register), Welcome Dayton is thrilled and honored to have some of the best and brightest minds on immigration economic and community development converging here in the Gem City. The day-long conference promises to deliver insightful conversations and key takeaways for the professional and layperson alike.

But just who are these trailblazers of the region’s and nation’s immigrant inclusion initiatives?

While you’ll definitely want to chat with some of the members of the steering committee for the WE Global Network (including our own Melissa Bertolo), we’ve compiled a few of the standout speakers, presenters and panelists that will be sharing their expertise and strategies for bolstering local communities and economies through immigrant integration strategies.


escobarheadshot2-1[1]Felicia Escobar (White House) – The keynote speaker of the event, Felicia Escobar is the Special Assistant to the President on Immigration Policy. In this role, Felicia develops the President’s strategy for building a 21st century immigration system. This work involves coordinating efforts across the Executive branch to strengthen the current system and working toward passage of meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform legislation. During her address, she will provide an update on the White House Task Force on New Americans.



Adam-Hunter-180x180-01-180x180Adam Hunter (The Pew Charitable Trusts) – Adam directs Pew’s project examining the intersection of federal, state and local immigration laws and policies and their impact on all levels of government. Hunter is responsible for providing strategic direction, overseeing the development of research products and managing relationships with external partners. Before joining Pew, Hunter was the acting chief of staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security, which administers immigration benefits and related activities for the U.S. government. In this role, he coordinated agency-wide priorities across policy, operations, strategic planning, and communications. In an earlier capacity at USCIS, he managed citizenship and immigrant integration policy research, inter-agency initiatives, and international engagement.


SSimon-180x180-01Stacy Simon (IMPRINT) – As Director of IMPRINT, Stacey engages with policy makers, organizational leaders, researchers and practitioners to develop the emerging field of immigrant professional integration. To this coalition-building work, she brings broad experience in the nonprofit and international education sectors, as well as expertise in strategic planning, fundraising, and human resources. She also has many years’ experience as an ESL instructor, academic director and cross-cultural trainer at educational institutions and corporations in U.S. and abroad.



Amanda Bergson-Shilcock (National Skills ABG_thumbCoalition) – Serving as a moderator for one of our panel discussions, Amanda is a Senior Policy Analyst who recently joined the National Skills Coalition in 2015. Her role focuses on immigration, adult basic education and ESL. She analyzes policies, makes recommendations and coordinates with National Skills Coalition member organizations to address issues facing adult learners, including immigrant workers. Amanda has authored numerous publications and policy recommendations on immigrant integration, workforce development, and adult education. She has extensive experience engaging state and federal policymakers. Prior to joining NSC, Amanda was Vice President of Policy and Evaluation at the nonprofit Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians in Philadelphia. In that role, she led the Welcoming Center’s policy and communications work on adult education, workforce and economic development issues.


Steve-photo-UIX-2-180x180Steve Tobocman (Global Detroit) – Steve has spearheaded Global Detroit since 2009, authoring the original Global Detroit study and helping to leverage more than $7 million in philanthropic, corporate, individual and government investment into Global Detroit and its partner initiatives. He also has been the driving force around the WE Global Network. Steve serves on the Board of Directors of Welcoming America, as well as the advisory boards of Welcoming Michigan, Welcome Mat Detroit and the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative.



Kallick-180x180-01-300x300David Kallick (Fiscal Policy Institute) – As senior fellow and Director of FPI’s Immigration Research Initiative, David works to improve public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of New York’s residents. He is the author of numerous reports and articles on immigration in the United States, and has written broadly on globalization, Social Security, income polarization, and Danish political and economic systems. Kallick is also visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning.



David-Lubell-180x180-01-180x180David Lubell (Welcoming America) – David is an accomplished social entrepreneur and founder and Executive Director of Welcoming America. David began his career as an Advocacy and Organizing Director of Latino Memphis. He later founded and became Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). While at TIRRC, David helped found Welcoming Tennessee, the model for what is now Welcoming America, the national nonprofit he’s led since 2009. Welcoming America helps communities across the country reach their full economic and social potential by becoming more welcoming to immigrants.



Colette-Battle-367x357Colette Pichon Battle (Moving Forward Gulf Coast) – A native of Louisiana, Colette has worked with leaders across the South toward multi-racial cross-regional alliance building around human rights and anti-poverty issues. In 2006, Colette co-founded Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Inc. to help with the equitable rebuilding of impacted communities recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Colette currently serves as Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy with projects focused on Immigration, Community Economic Development, Land Sovereignty and Disaster Assistance. Colette’s legal specialization is in Immigration and Naturalization Law.


chiefbiehlChief Richard Biehl (Dayton Police Department) – Selected as Police Chief in 2008 following a broad-based community evaluation process that included input from local residents, businesses and criminal justice agencies, Chief Biehl has guided the department through their application of the Welcome Dayton plan since its inception. Even before that, he began implementing policies that curbed racial profiling in local law enforcement and noticed a drop-off in arrests leading to deportations.  During National Policing Week in May 2014, Biehl was invited to the White House for a briefing and panel discussion with President Obama and senior DHS officials regarding the urgency for commonsense immigration reform and the positive impact it will have on the communities they serve and protect. The Chief continues to speak on local, regional and national stages to highlight the critical role that law enforcement leaders have played, and continue to play, in the immigration reform battle.


Tere_WisellTeresita Wisell (Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education)
“Tere”  was born in Camaguey, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with her family as a child. In July 2008, Ms. Wisell took a temporary leave from her position as Director of Admissions Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York to become the Project Director for the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE).  Now the Executive Director, she works to bring together community colleges from across the country committed to immigrant education programs and services.  By sharing ideas, speaking out on the importance of immigrant education programs and creating a repository of best practices in the field, the consortium raises the national visibility of the important role community colleges take to serve this population.


bazanlinBa Zan Lin (Burmese Community Support Center) – Ba Zan Lin immigrated from Burma in his late teens. In 2012, Lin began working with the Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER project to reach community members, including the Burmese community, about the environmental impact of pollution in their neighborhoods.  Since 2013 he has designed and implemented culturally-sensitive community education programs for immigrants and refugees who are affected by toxic chemicals in waterways where they fish in order to feed their families.  As the Administrator of Buffalo’s Burmese Community Support Center, he strives to promote and enhance the quality of life for refugees from Burma who living in Buffalo by helping them integrate and become self-sufficient through education, advocacy and supported case management.


Todd-Miller-01-180x180Todd Miller (Mankato Department of Public Safety) – Todd has worked in the police profession for almost 42 years; 39 of them as a Chief of Police in the states of Minnesota, Texas, Iowa and Wisconsin. He holds a B.A in Criminal Justice and a M.A. in Management. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command. Todd is a co-founder and Past President of the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute.  He has taught Community Policing to police agencies, government officials and citizens throughout the United States, the Bahamas, and in the United Arab Emirates as well as hosting and training delegations from Brazil, Pakistan and Afghanistan.   His agency is recognized by the United States Department of State as a leader in community policing and as a learning site for those wanting further exposure to the philosophy.


Lauren-McGarity-180x180-01-180x180Lauren McGarity (Ohio Board of Regents)
– As the Director of Special Projects, Lauren assists in authorizing and approving new degree programs, managing state-funded financial aid programs and developing and advocating policies to maximize higher education’s contributions to the state and its citizens. The Ohio Board of Regents is a Cabinet-level agency for the Governor of the State of Ohio that oversees higher education for the state.



LARA_Chief_Deputy_Director_Mike_Zimmer_427875_7Mike Zimmer (State of Michigan Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) –  As Director, Mike oversees the administrative operations of LARA as well as assigned oversight of the Office of Reinventing Performance in Michigan and the Michigan Public Service Commission. Mike guides the organization to oversee the licensing and regulation of more than 1.2 million individuals and entities in Michigan on an annual basis.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHerman Nyamunga (Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians) – Herman is the director of the Welcoming Center’s Global Enterprise Hub and Small Business Development. He provides technical assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners to successfully establish, stabilize and expand their microenterprises. Herman is a Licensed Consultant for the Standards for Excellence Program, which advances ethics and accountability standards in nonprofit management nationwide.



BONUS: Immigrant Entrepreneurs – For a special plenary session, three finalists from the WE Global Network’s “A Day in the Life of an Immigrant Entrepreneur” contest will share their stories and the role of immigrants in industry and Main Street businesses.


What to know who else you can look forward to seeing at the convening. Peruse the full list of speakers and panelists.