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Dr. Colleen Thouez Founder and Director, NASH RRI

Dr. Colleen Thouez is the Founder and Director of the Refugee Resettlement Initiative (RRI) at the National Association of Higher Education Systems (NASH).  Previously, she served as the first Director of the Welcoming and Inclusive Cities Division at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), where she created the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) and its Global Cities Fund for Pandemic Relief (2019), the Africa-Europe Mayors Dialogue (2020), and the University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants (UARRM) (2018).

She began her career at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and subsequently spent 17 years at the UN in leadership positions in the dual fields of migration and adult education: first as the youngest Head of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in New York, and later as special advisor to the UN Secretary General’s first representative on migration, Sir Peter Sutherland. During this time, she is widely recognized for her strategic role in securing greater global political voice and influence of local leadership in welcome and inclusion efforts. 

Colleen is a senior fellow at the New School’s Zolberg Institute on Human Mobility, and has held academic positions at Columbia University, American University, and SciencesPo Paris.  She is Chair of the Advisory Council of Europe Prykhystok, an award-winning NGO she co-founded in 2022 that provides short-term respites away from the war for over 700 displaced Ukrainian children so far.  Colleen is also the Chair of the Advisory Board for the new Global Centre for Climate Mobility (GCCM), and a member of the Advisory Council of the Henry J. Leir Institute for Migration and Human Security

Dr. Thouez publishes regularly in this field, and continues to advise national governments, municipal governments, regional bodies, UNHCR, the World Bank, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), amongst others.  Born in Quebec of immigrant parents, she now lives with her husband and three children in New York.