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NASH Partners with Welcoming America to Expand Refugee Resettlement Efforts Across U.S. Higher Education Systems

February 14, 2023

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2023

NASH Contact: David Belsky; 347-227-0055;

Welcoming America Contact:  Lola Pak, 470-236-0129; 

St. Louis, Missouri – The National Association of System Heads (NASH) today announced a new partnership with Welcoming America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of refugee-inclusive communities.

Joined by state government officials, refugee advocates, and other local leaders, NASH hopes to facilitate “town and gown” networks to foster greater community support for welcoming refugees. 

“We have a common vision about a ‘whole of society’ approach to creating welcoming communities for all people, including refugees and immigrants arriving in the United States,” said Rachel Perić, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “We see this new partnership with NASH as significant in our own commitment to ensuring that communities are leveraging the engagement of higher education which are engines of knowledge, employment, and innovation.”


Welcoming America and NASH’s Refugee Resettlement Initiative (RRI) are partnering to foster greater community support for, and understanding of, refugees in and around the nation’s colleges and universities. Through NASH’s use of “systemness” to coordinate the organization’s vast network of public college and university systems across the United States, and Welcoming America’s established community building network, the two organizations can engage in community-wide conversations around the realities of newcomers’ journeys. Their combined outreach and service delivery capabilities allow for the fast scaling of refugee support initiatives to campuses across the country.

“Through Welcoming America’s steadfast mission over the years, it has both succeeded in demonstrating the societal benefits of inclusive societies, and in generating a ‘race to the top’ as more cities and towns understand the strengths that diversity can provide,” said Colleen Thouez, founder of NASH’s RRI. “We believe that NASH’s member systems will benefit from the Welcoming America legacy, and we at NASH are thrilled to embark on a joint effort to help universities – like towns and cities – to welcome refugees and immigrants through community learning, and a wider platform of support and dialogue.”  

Today’s event was co-hosted by NASH, Welcoming America, the Missouri Office of Refugee Administration (MO-ORA), the University of Missouri, and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Called “Innovating Support for Refugees in Higher Education: A Virtual Panel Discussion for Missouri Stakeholders,” participants gathered to build awareness of what higher education support for refugees looks like in Missouri, with discussions focused on uplifting welcoming efforts and innovations for refugee students, and working with key actors who can maximize impact on refugee inclusion. 

NASH sees Missouri as a shining example for the nation to see what statewide efforts can look like, across higher education, government, and nonprofit sectors, in support of refugee resettlement, and what NASH and Welcoming America can foster through their partnership.

As part of our vision for a Missouri that values and champions refugees, the Missouri Office of Refugee Administration is incredibly excited to foster partnerships with the University of Missouri and other institutions to create innovative ways to improve welcoming and accessibility of higher education for refugees in our state.” – Lyndsey Brainerd, MO Resource Coordinator, Missouri Office of Refugee Administration (MO-ORA)

This new partnership comes at a time when organizations like NASH and Welcoming America are supporting the federal government’s efforts to establish private sponsorships of refugees. The recently announced Welcome Corps, a new program announced by the U.S. Department of State, allows everyday Americans to privately sponsor refugees from around the world—representing the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in more than 40 years, grounded in the generosity and compassion of American communities.

“The United States is at a pivotal moment for immigration, and public university systems can play a major role in how we welcome refugees for not only safety, but success,” said Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor Emeritus of the State University of New York and Director of the Power of Systems at NASH. “NASH’s Power of Systems agenda was built to leverage partnerships such as the one between NASH and Welcoming America along with the possibilities that exist between federal and state governments.”

For more information about how NASH’s Refugee Resettlement Initiative is scaling successful programs to harness the Power of Systems to welcome immigrants to college and university campuses across the country, visit

About the National Association of System Heads

Founded in 1979, the National Association of System Heads (NASH) represents chief executives of public higher education systems in the United States. Member institutions work collaboratively to advance innovation and change in public systems of colleges and universities. To learn more about NASH and its national initiative, the Power of Systems, visit

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs. We believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to the success of our communities and shared future.

Through the Welcoming Network, we work to help communities develop the roadmap they need to create welcoming policies and share new approaches to inclusion to create an environment where everyone can truly thrive. Learn more at