“When we encourage and embrace people from around the world to join in our democratic project, that is where we all succeed.” – State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha
On Thursday, Nebraska state senators Megan Hunt and John McCollister joined Civic Nebraska at Midtown Crossing to help kick off our New Americans Civic Leadership Academy. The Omaha state senators congratulated and welcomed the 20 refugee and migrant leaders who make up our first class.
For the next eight months, Academy members will participate in monthly workshops that build civic knowledge and skills, empowering leaders to organize their own communities to become civically active and get out the vote.
Topics range from civic health to the census to running for office. One of the final sessions of this first-year program will be an advocacy day at the Nebraska State Capitol.
Participants represent many different countries, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma), Mexico, Tajikistan, and South Sudan. The inaugural class also is multi-generational; it includes college students, entrepreneurs, social workers, an engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, and even a former Afghan elected official.
We could not be more excited to embark on this journey together. We know that we will learn as much from participants as we hope to teach them.
The program is co-sponsored by Civic Nebraska and Lutheran Family Services. Lutheran Family Services is Nebraska’s largest refugee resettlement agency, providing a variety of supportive services for thousands of new Nebraskans each year. We are proud to partner with Lutheran Family Services to develop what we know will be an impactful experience for years to come.
We expect to sponsor a new class of leaders every year, establishing a supportive and engaged alumni base that forges connections between refugee and migrant communities. That also builds power and momentum for their leadership in our state. We can’t wait until we see one of the participants’ names on the ballot!
Notably, on the same day we hosted our kickoff party, the Trump administration announced that it will allow only 18,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest number in the history of the modern refugee program. Nebraska has long led the nation in refugee resettlement – and now more than ever, it is important that we show our newest neighbors that not only are they welcome in Nebraska, but they are empowered and encouraged to be leaders here.
At Civic Nebraska, we are committed to continuing to create these civic pathways for all people. The Good Life is something we all own together.
For more information about the program, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Bridget Claborn, Civic Health Program Manager