"Resettling Afghan Refugees in Iowa"
When: Thursday, December 16th @ 12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Mak Suceska and Sara Zejnic
Since 1975, when Governor Robert Roy facilitated the resettlement of thousands displaced by the Vietnam War, Iowa has been a welcoming new home for refugees. Today, the crisis in Afghanistan requires Iowa’s continued leadership to resettle 695 people from the war-torn Middle Eastern country. In partnership with agencies and nonprofits across the state, this effort will also require the support of individuals, organizations, and communities to receive these newest Iowans and to help them feel at home in their new neighborhoods. Today’s talk will explain the complex global process of refugee resettlement, offer historical context about immigration to the state, as well as provide an insider’s perspective on and an update about how the State of Iowa is responding to the Afghan crisis. Attendees will hopefully see the talk as a call to action, with insights offered about next steps and encouragement given to enlist others to get involved. Questions about how to welcome and support refugees from Afghanistan and countries around the world are most welcome, both during and after the presentation.
Mak Suceska serves as the Bureau Chief for the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services alongside his role as the State of Iowa Refugee Coordinator through ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). Mak originates from Sarajevo, Bosnia and was transplanted to Des Moines, Iowa in 1993 as a refugee, fleeing from war-torn Yugoslavia with his family. Mak's professional career has been devoted to advocating and supporting refugees across the state in an effort to promote a more equitable community for all. With over 12 years of experience in non-profits and state government, it's Mak's life journey that has provided a unique and necessary perspective in guiding his work. Mak completed his political science undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa with a double minor in religion and history. He achieved his MPA degree through Drake University with an emphasis on public policy, and will pursue his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Drake University. In Mak's words, "Education, Accessibility and Opportunity are the keys to success".
Sara Zejnic is Director of Refugee & Immigrant Services at Catherine McCauley Center (CMC) in Cedar Rapids. After obtaining a B.A. in International Relations and Religion from Wartburg College and a M.A. in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management from SIT Graduate Institute, Sara has dedicated her career to providing and leading supportive services to refugees as they work to find stability and safety in their new communities. In her role at the CMC, Sara is committed to ensuring that community members, partners, and local employers have the information and resources necessary to work effectively with diverse populations.
Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award–winning author of several works of history, memoir, journalism, and theater, including The United States of Appalachia, praised by the Citizen Times as a “masterpiece of popular history”; State Out of the Union, selected by Publishers Weekly as a Top Ten Social Science book in 2012; and Reckoning at Eagle Creek, winner of the Delta Prize for Literature and David Brower Award for Environmental Reporting.