16th Annual Refugee and Immigrant Conference

Thursday, May 30 2019, 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM [EST]


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16th Annual Refugee and Immigrant Conference Partial Approval -Free

Available Tickets - 71 Sales end on -05/27/2019

Thursday, May 30, 2019 at Middlesex Community College (1st floor Cafeteria) on 33 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA 01852 from 8:30am-3:00pm

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Event Information

Thursday, May 30 2019, 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM [EST]

About the Event

“Global Trends and Local Integration”


Keynote Speaker: 


Saida Abdi, LICSW, MSW., M.A., is the Director of Community Relations at the Boston Children’s Hospital Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center, a clinical social worker, and expert in refugee trauma and resilience. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University and another Master’s degree in Communications from Carleton University and is currently pursuing her PhD at Boston University. She is a native of Somalia and a former refugee herself. Ms. Abdi has worked for more than 20 years in the area of refugee youth and families, developing school-based programs to support adjustment of refugee youth in resettlement and community-based research and intervention. For the past 8 years, she has worked at the Boston Children’s Hospital Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center as a part of SAMHSA funded project to develop and implement refugee mental health interventions. She has organized trainings on the issue of promoting resilience and reducing risk behaviors among refugee youth for educators, policy-makers, clinicians and community leaders. She is trained in Trauma System’s Therapy and is an expert in building culturally responsive interventions.


Academic Panel on Migration:   


  • Robert Forrant: Dr. Forrant is a professor in the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, teaching courses on global labor issues, labor history, immigration, and international development. He is director of the department's graduate program. He has been a consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Metalworkers Federation, and several trade unions. His research activities have been funded by, among others: the International Metalworkers Federation, the International Labour Organization, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Russell Sage Foundation, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the cities of Lowell and Leominister, Massachusetts. Professor Forrant is the editor of three volumes on sustainable regional development, the author of numerous published articles and reports and a forthcoming book on industrial development and decline in the Connecticut River Valley and New England.


  • Yvonne Ruiz: Dr. Yvonne Ruiz has a Ph.D in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology (2002) and a Master of Social Work (1994) both from Boston College. She graduated from New York University with an MA in media studies in 1981 and Syracuse University with a BA in English literature in 1979. She holds licensure as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). She has been in the Boston area since 1991 and has clinical experience in medical social work, community mental health, and behavioral health.


Breakout Sessions (participants may select two to attend at check-in):


Breakout #1:  Steve Hubbard, Gateway for Growth – New American Economy for RISE's G4G Initiative 


Breakout #2:  Sarang Sekhavat, Federal Policy Director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), Immigration Policy Updates   


Breakout #3:  Barbara Dunsford, Development Leader and Consultant, Meditation and Mindfulness   


Breakout #4:  TBA, International Institute of New England's Resettlement and Integration  


Breakout #5: Economics and Entrepreneurship

  • Franky Descoteaux, CTI Merrimack Valley Small Business Center  
  • TBA, Chamber of Commerce and Workforce Development 
  • Lianna Sachiyo Kushi, E for All 
  • Bora Chamroeun, Business Owner
  • Ani Vong, Business Owner


In lieu of a registration fee, please bring a Target, Walmart, Market Basket gift card or monetary donation in any denomination to help support refugee families.


Refreshments and lunch provided.  Parking available at Lower Locks Garage on 90 Warren St., Lowell, MA 01852.


Organized by:  Lowell Public Schools, Middlesex Community College, International Institute of New England, Lowell Alliance, Lowell YWCA, Saydanar Community Development Center, African Community Center of Lowell, Lowell Community Health Center, New American Center, Sara Khun Leng from the Office of Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Lowell Police Department, and NFI Family Resource Center

About the Organizer

Lowell Public Schools ELE Department and Partnering Organizations