Let Freedom Ring

Religious Education at the Intersection of Social Justice, Liberation, and Civil/Human Rights

REA Annual Meeting 2012

2-4, November, Atlanta, Georgia

Plenary #5

Welcoming America

Reflections on Immigration

Sunday, November 4, 10:30 – 11:45 a.m.

Rachel Steinhardt, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communications, Welcoming America
Religious Education in Public Life and Global Community Forum

Welcoming America is a national, grassroots-driven collaborative that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans. The ultimate goal of Welcoming America is to create a welcoming atmosphere–community by community–in which immigrants are more likely to integrate into the social fabric of their adopted hometowns.

The video Welcome to Shelbyville (screening Saturday, 9:00 p.m.) features the efforts of Welcoming Tennessee, the model for all subsequent Welcoming America campaigns, as its local partners in Shelbyville, TN work to unite a community dealing with rapid demographic change. Set against the backdrop of a shaky economy, Welcome to Shelbyville takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. The film was viewed by an estimated 1.3 million viewers on May 24, 2011 during the national PBS screening.

Watch an introduction to the film:                       

Welcoming America is working to replicate initiatives such as the one in Shelbyville across the United States. Featured in Forbes online, the Huffington Post, PRI-The World, and The New Republic, Welcoming America now has affiliates in 20 states.

Rachel Steinhardt – Director of Strategic
Partnerships and Communications

As the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications for Welcoming America, Rachel works to engage individuals and organizations around the country who share Welcoming America’s passion for building understanding and positive interactions between US and foreign born individuals. Prior to Welcoming America, she served as Executive Director of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a capacity building and advocacy organization supporting adult ESOL and literacy programs in suburban Washington, DC. Her career includes work spanning a number of social justice and community building issues at the local and international level, including serving as a regional director with the United Way of the National Capital Area and managing international development programs with a private consulting firm, MSI. The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Rachel also serves on the board of Art and Remembrance, a nonprofit devoted to using the power of personal narrative in various forms of art to illuminate the effects of war and intolerance.

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