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ICFRC: Welcoming and Supporting Refugees and Immigrants - Making the Case for an Intentionally Inclusive Iowa

Listen to an audio podcast of this program.

The ICFRC has just released its report on the series we conducted earlier this year focusing on refugees and immigrants in Iowa. As we write in the executive summary, the ICFRC "recognizes that our state is at an inflection point, wherein collective prosperity requires truly open, public, and engaged conversation about the many and layered ways that our communities reorganize when new arrivals come, particularly in these challenging and fast-paced times. For everyone to thrive, we must be intentional in how we talk about our rapidly diversifying cities and towns to ensure that we all know how to welcome and support refugees and immigrants as well as (re)create our communities to be the kinds of places we all want to live for a long time to come." To begin our fall 2022 lineup of programs, project director and board member Dr. Peter Gerlach and executive director Kathryn Wittneben will discuss the inspiration for the series, its intended impact across the state, as well what it represents for the nature of ICFRC programming going forward.

Dr. Peter Gerlach is Visiting Assistant Professor in the International Studies Program at the University of Iowa. He received his BA and MA degrees in English from Ripon College and the University of Northern Colorado, respectively. After serving in the US Peace Corps in Mongolia, he earned a PhD in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University where he conducted dissertation research on the lived experiences of international students at Grinnell College. His teaching areas include international studies, international education, refugee and immigrant studies, and community engaged learning. Dr. Gerlach serves on the International Studies Academic Advisory Board and the Fulbright Committee at The University of Iowa and on the Board of Directors at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC), Global Ties Iowa, and the Refugee and Immigrant Association.

Kathryn Wittneben is Executive Director of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. She returned to the Iowa City area in the fall of 2020, after having served for four years as Vice President of Advancement at the University of the West of Scotland near Glasgow, Scotland. Previously she was Director of Development at the College of Public Health, University of Iowa Center for Advancement. She has taught International Politics and Economics at the University of Umea in Sweden, Washington State University and George Washington University in the U.S. She has worked as a Senior Economist on international economic and trade issues for two Congressional Committees (Banking, Small Business) in the U.S. House of Representatives; led an international policy institute at Middlebury College; and helped to develop two grantmaking foundations -- Eurasia Foundation which supported economic reform and democratization projects in the former Soviet Union, and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (U.S.) which addressed challenges facing marginalized youth. Kathryn spent most of the 1990s working on economic reform and private sector development projects in the former Soviet Union and has addressed the Parliament of Ukraine and the CSCE on these issues. She has a B.G.S. degree with majors in Political Science and Economics from The University of Iowa; and a M.A. in International Studies from The American University. She received the Scottish Women's Award for Services to Education in 2018.

For more information on the Foreign Relations Council visit their website at https://www.icfrc.org/.

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