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Former Obama Refugee Chief Engages Korbel and DU on Trump Refugee Policy, Careers and More

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Last week, the Josef Korbel School was honored to host the Honorable Anne Richard, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration from 2012-2017 and a former vice president at the International Rescue Committee. As a senior U.S. State Department official, Richard worked closely with the Obama administration to formulate and implement refugee policy, overseeing both overseas refugee assistance as well as the domestic resettlement program.

Richard's on-stage conversation with Dean Christopher Hill highlighted her professional experiences working on global and domestic refugee issues, noting that the United States should be proud of its historical commitment to responsibly welcoming vulnerable people into the country. When the discussion shifted to the Trump Administration's refugee resettlement policy, Richard reminded the audience that refugees are already subject to the most rigorous screening process of any individual wishing to enter the United States, and that the country should remain committed to the values upon which the nation was built. She stressed the importance of American leadership globally, and offered suggestions of how one might make a difference locally—donate to resettlement organizations, teach English to newcomers, join student groups that raise awareness of refugee issues or support advocacy initiatives in the community.

Richard and Dean Hill treated guests to an engaging dialogue in which they compared policy challenges that they both confronted as senior diplomats working on humanitarian crises—ranging from Macedonia in the 1990s to Syria today.

The event was co-sponsored by the Josef Korbel School's Humanitarian Assistance Program and Center for Middle East Studies, the No Lost Generation-DU student organization, and the University's Middle East Discussion Group, Political Science Department and Division of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence. Food was provided through a catering business run by Syrian refugees, and served by recently arrived refugees who studied at DU through Ready for American Hospitality (RAH), a collaboration between the Fritz-Knoebel School of Hospitality Management and the African Community Center, a resettlement agency in Denver.

During her visit to DU, Richard also took time to offer career advice to students, guest lectured at a graduate seminar on refugees, met with a freshman writing class focused on refugee resettlement, spoke to leaders and participants of the RAH program, held a lunch with the No Lost Generation group and presided over a meeting for state, local, and non-profit leaders focused on refugee resettlement.