“As a Jewish American, nothing could make me feel more connected to my values, and to my history, than working to welcome immigrants and refugees to this country. One of Judaism’s central teachings is to ’welcome the stranger,’ to offer shelter to those in need and to accept those whom we perceive to be different from us. In the Torah, we are told no less than 36 times to welcome the strangers in our midst, as we are reminded that we ourselves ’were strangers in the land of Egypt’ during centuries of slavery. All Jewish Americans are descended from immigrants and refugees. We must honor this heritage by welcoming those who continue to arrive from other lands, and by exhorting our country to live up to its own ideals of equality and inclusion for all who call America home.”
By inspiring global community and by building and providing opportunities for immigrants to successfully integrate economically, socially and civically, Welcoming America has a presence in more than 190 communities across the U.S. The organization works with local governments and non-profits to guide the implementation of policies, programs and practices that help immigrants, refugees and entire communities reach their full economic and social potential. Welcoming America helps communities eliminate the institutional barriers that make it more difficult for immigrants to fully integrate while addressing the concerns of long-time residents. Currently, more than 48 million Americans live in a Welcoming Community – that’s one in every nine people in the U.S. and growing.
The organization is changing the national dialogue about immigrants and refugees, reinforcing the positive contributions it makes within communities, including paying taxes, creating jobs, and adding diverse perspectives. 1 in 4 children in the U.S. are immigrants, or the child of immigrants, and the businesses they have founded employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy.
Since 2009, Welcoming America members have implemented more than 600 local immigrant inclusion policies, practices, and programs. It also works internationally, with active partnerships in Germany and Australia, to address one of the greatest global challenges of our time.
Welcoming America’s trailblazing social change model is unique in its holistic focus: recognizing that our differences as Americans are the source of our strength as defined by our rich cultural tapestry, shared values, and strong local communities.
David Lubell is the Founder and Executive Director of Welcoming America, an organization that inspires people to build a different kind of community, one that embraces immigrants and refugees and fosters shared prosperity. Welcoming America works with local governments and non-profits to deliver dynamic resources, training, and policies to advance the benefits of inclusion for new Americans in our cities, transforming communities into vibrant places where everyone’s talents are valued and cultivated.
In 1995, Lubell co-founded “Students for Affordable Housing in Connecticut,” a network of students from across the state that worked with low-income residents and policymakers to prevent the repeal of Connecticut’s rental assistance program. Upon graduation, Lubell moved to Ecuador, where he became an English teacher, and he was welcomed with open arms by a host family. Inspired by the level of hospitality he received from the community, he determined to do whatever he could to ensure newcomers to the U.S. would receive as warm a welcome.
Lubell relocated to Tennessee and served as a community organizer at the local non-profit Latino Memphis from 1999 to 2001. He founded and served as Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRCC) to respond to the lack of statewide coordination and advocacy for and by immigrants and refugees in Tennessee, which had experienced a 400 percent population increase in ten years. During his tenure at TIRRC, Lubell helped found Welcoming Tennessee, where he built an inclusive environment for immigrants by concentrating on reducing the fears and misperceptions of long-time residents. This became the model for Welcoming America.
In 2009, Lubell launched Welcoming America, which spurred a growing, locally-driven movement across the U.S., with one in nine Americans residing in a Welcoming Community. In addition to its national policy work, the organization currently has a presence in more than 190 communities across the country to guide implementation of policies, programs, and practices that enable new Americans to succeed economically, socially, and civically. This work has expanded through projects in Germany and Australia.
Welcoming America has influenced policy on a national level, acting as a technical-assistance provider for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the 12 national non-profits charged with supporting the resettlement of refugees. In 2014, Welcoming America worked with the White House to co-host the first-ever National Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration, contributing to the launch of the White House Task Force on New Americans, which subsequently released a strategic action plan focused on welcoming communities largely shaped by the work of Welcoming America.
Lubell holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a master’s in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a White House Welcoming America Champion of Change and the recipient of several fellowships, including the Ashoka Fellowship, the Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, and the Harvard Kennedy School for Public Leadership Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship.
In 2016, he gave a TEDx Berlin Talk to highlight the importance of welcoming newcomers and received the Ohtli Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Government of Mexico on those who work with the Mexican community abroad.
Lubell lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with his family.
AWARD PRESENTATION: David Lubell in Conversation with Fareed Zakaria
At a time when the U.S. and countries around the world face unprecedented poloarization, David Lubell's work creates understanding and connectivity between Americans and immigrants.WATCH HERE