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Building Bridges conference opens April 3 in Fargo with keynote on importance of refugee resettlement

FARGO – This year’s Building Bridges conference on refugee resettlement will open with keynoter Cheryl Hamilton describing refugee assessment in their home countries and why resettlement continues to be such an important solution for refugees.

Hamilton, with more than ten years of experience managing local and national refugee programs, will discuss the beginning of the resettlement process, describing how refugee vulnerability is assessed and which refugees are most in need of protection. She currently works for RefugePoint, Boston, an organization responsible for 20 percent of resettlement referrals out of Africa last year.

Hamilton will speak at the beginning of the Building Bridges conference at 8:30 am Tuesday, April 3, at the Fargo Holiday Inn. Registration opens at 7:30 am on April 3 and the conference continues with other national and regional speakers through Wednesday, April 4. Building Bridges is presented by Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota’s New American Services program, the ND Department of Instruction, ND Department of Human Services and the City of Fargo.

Other speakers and workshop presenters include:

• Jamie C. Chambers, Ed.D., on Responsible Ability Pathways training for building bonds of trust in times of conflict, Life Space therapeutic talking strategies to help children and Deep Brain Learning to better help troubled youth optimize performance;

• Debra Dawson, president of Fargo-based nonprofit African Soul, American Heart on Aspiration, Inspiration and Perspiration, including the difficulties of working with a traumatized refugee population; and

• Mary Schneider, executive director, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, recently returned from an international legal exchange to Tanzania and Rwanda, on Women and War: The Continuing Quest for Gender Violence Justice.

According to Darci Asche, Lutheran Social Services community support supervisor for New American Services, the two-day conference is designed for service providers, educators and community leaders who work with refugee families. Pre-registration and additional information are available online at Conference fee is $80.

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is a nonprofit social services agency serving thousands of North Dakotans annually from offices in five cities with 19 programs that strengthen individuals, families and communities without regard to clients’ race, religion, gender or economic status.

Lutheran Social Services’ New American Services program works with the US government to help about 400 of the nation’s 30,000 admitted refugees to establish a home in North Dakota each year. The program’s goal is to help refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency as soon as possible by providing resettlement, employment and other services. A refugee is a person who has fled his or her country because of persecution or fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

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Contact: Darci Asche, Community Support Supervisor, New American Services, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, 1325 11th St. S., Fargo, ND 58103, 701-271-1604

Alternate Contact: Kathryn Trill, Communications Manager, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, 701-271-3289 (Fargo)

Our Impact This Year

  • People received help with immigration-related services


  • Problem gamblers who found help


  • Hours of training provided by Child Care Aware to early childhood workforce


  • Seniors provided with companionship in North Dakota


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