“The Jewish narrative is marked by cycles of human despair and spiritual redemption. This narrative is part of my cultural DNA and has greatly influenced my work around refugee rescue, relief, and resettlement.”
RefugePoint permanently resettles the most at-risk refugees to countries where they can rebuild their lives in safety and with dignity by influencing the humanitarian field to expand resettlement and self-reliance opportunities.
The organization is a leader in protecting refugees in urban settings—one of the newest frontiers in refugee assistance—influencing the field globally by using its partnerships with the U.N., non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and resettlement governments to change the way refugee resettlement is handled altogether. Over the past ten years, RefugePoint has referred 37,525 refugees for resettlement to the U.S., Canada, and 15 other countries from 48 locations across the African continent and provided life stabilizing services and self-reliance opportunities to another 10,000 refugees in Nairobi.
Sasha Chanoff is the Founder and Executive Director of RefugePoint, a humanitarian organization that provides lasting solutions for the world’s most vulnerable refugees.
RefugePoint identifies, protects, and resettles at-risk refugees who have fallen outside the net of humanitarian assistance.
As a visionary, a social entrepreneur, and a successful fundraiser, Chanoff has strengthened refugee resettlement alliances with the U.N. Refugee Agency, non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, the U.S. and other governments. Now recognized as a model for how resettlement can be done, RefugePoint is influencing the field of resettlement globally to bring lasting solutions and safety to refugees.
RefugePoint’s Livelihoods Team helped refugees to start 224 businesses in 2015. From business training to mentoring and monitoring, our clients received technical and financial assistance to start small businesses in Nairobi. The aim of this program is to help refugees establish sustainable livelihoods in order to support themselves and their families. Its clients have successfully launched a variety of businesses that include selling traditional fabrics, street food, and second-hand clothes, as well as providing tailoring services.
In addition to the important work of improving the lives of individual refugees, RefugePoint works strategically to influence global refugee policy and practice. To accomplish this, they partner closely with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), governments, NGOs, and community-based organizations to build capacity and improve systems related to refugee resettlement and self-reliance. RefugePoint has capitalized on opportunities to disseminate best practices and led and joined global policy dialogues as well as training staff of other NGOs and UNHCR on RefugePoint’s resettlement and child protection methods.
Since 2005, RefugePoint has referred more than 37,525 refugees for resettlement to the U.S., Australia, Canada, and at least 15 other countries and has provided life-stabilizing services to another 10,000 refugees in Nairobi. The organization places considerable attention on the most at-risk refugee children.
Prior to founding RefugePoint, Chanoff worked as a Refugee Job Developer at the Jewish Vocational Services in Boston where he provided employment services to newly arrived refugees. He later became an Operations Officer and Cultural Orientation Trainer at the International Organization for Migration, working across Africa, and was a consultant for UNHCR in Kenya. In Africa, he conducted emergency evacuations for Congolese refugees, bringing them from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the U.S. for resettlement. He also organized, supervised and implemented group resettlement efforts for Somali and Sudanese refugees to the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
Chanoff holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a master’s in Humanitarian Assistance from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Friedman School of Nutrition, Science and Policy, a joint degree program implemented through the Tufts Feinstein International Center.
Chanoff was born in Finland and grew up in the U.S. His great-grandparents escaped pogroms and persecution in Russia, and their experiences helped motivate his work.
In addition to being the 2010 recipient of the Charles Bronfman Prize, Chanoff has received fellowships from Ashoka, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and Echoing Green. He is the 2013 recipient of the Gleitsman International Activist Award from the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This award recognizes leaders who work to challenge injustices around the world and who inspire others to do the same. Chanoff most recently was honored by the White House in its Champions of Change program in recognition of World Refugee Day 2015.
RefugePoint and Sasha personally have garnered global media coverage on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS’s 60 Minutes, CNN, NBC, BBC, Fox, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. His work was also profiled in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Perspectives in Philanthropy: Next Generation Changemakers. He recently collaborated on the Warner Bros. film The Good Lie to focus attention on the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, and worked with the film’s producers to create The Good Lie Fund to support Sudanese refugees. He also serves on the steering committee of New England International Donors, a philanthropic network. His 2016 book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions, was written with his father, David Chanoff, with a foreword by David Gergen. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his family.