2017 Annual Pennsylvania Refugee Consultation

Published August 16, 2017

This year for the first time, the Annual Pennsylvania Refugee Consultation was held at the splendid Cardinal Keeler Center of the Diocese of Harrisburg on August 16 and 17, 2017, under the adept coordination of the staff of the Refugee Resettlement Program (PA Department of Human Services).

Over 200 refugee representatives and service providers from all over the Commonwealth came to this two-day event to share common interests, concerns and best practices in an exemplary spirit of collaboration.

In spite of the impending changes and looming challenges at the national level, the valiant Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program staff was able to offer a highly informative program to the participants of this Consultation.

Some of the major topics discussed in plenary sessions were “Refugee Resettlement Program: State in Review”; “Refugee Resettlement Program: Nation in Review”; “National Resettlement Program Status Report”; “World Refugee Update from the United Nation High Commission on Refugees”; “Refugee Health Program: State in Review”; “Refugee Health: Nation in Review”; “Doctors Without Borders Mission Report”; “Supporting Refugee Survivors of Domestic Violence”; “Refugee Health Funding Models: A Review of Systems in PA”; “Trauma Informed Care for Refugees and Asylees”; “Female Genital Cutting”, and five other equally captivating refugee-focused workshops.

Conference speakers included such prominent personalities as: Ms. Charlotte Fry (State Refugee Coordinator, PA/RRP, Harrisburg, PA); Mr. Kenneth Tota (Deputy Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Washington, DC); Ms. Megan Ritter (Program Officer, Bureau of PRM, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC); Mr. Larry Yungk (Senior Resettlement Officer, UNHCR Regional Office, Washington, DC); Dr. Jun Yang (Refugee Health Coordinator, PA/RRP, Harrisburg, PA); Dr. Curi Kim (Director, Division of Refugee Health, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Washington, DC); Ms. Emily Lerman (Field Logistician/Project Coordinator, Doctors Without Borders, Africa Region), and many other experienced professionals from the resettlement agencies and refugee communities.

Before lunchtime on the first day, a representative of the Governor’s Office read an official Letter from Governor Tom Wolf commending the PA Refugee Resettlement Program staff for their unselfish devotion to the refugee assistance cause, especially during these tumultuous times.

Participating on behalf of the ISC, Phuong, Tuan, Sailey and Aindrila took advantage of this special event to actively network with many new and old partners in mission.¬† During lunchtime, the participants were treated with a special Talent Show by Aindrila, through a superb performance known as “The Odissi”, a traditional dance from the Eastern Coast of India.¬† During the ensuing Awards Ceremony, Tuan and Sailey “colluded” with the PA Refugee Resettlement Program staff by presenting Phuong with a surprising 2017 Award for Lifetime Achievement in Service to Refugees.

It would be fair to say that the 2017 Annual Pennsylvania Refugee Consultation was a wonderful success, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the following members of the Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Staff:

Ms. Charlotte Fry, State Refugee Coordinator

Dr. Jun Yang, State Refugee Health Coordinator

Ms. Jolene Reid, Program Advisor (Central PA and Erie)

Mr. Frank Butcher, Program Advisor (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)

Mr. Aaron Dimm, Program Advisor (Scranton and Allentown)

Ms. Susan Miller, URM Program Advisor/Social Worker

Ms. Shakila Shah, Refugee Health Promotion Coordinator

Ms. Lori Clark, Refugee Grants Financial Technician

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