Refugees in the Bay Area: Welcoming Our Neighbors

March 23, 2023
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Manny's, 3092 16th Street
San Francisco


Join us for an intimate conversation about life in the Bay Area for refugees and asylum seekers fleeing unrest for a brighter future.

Just over a year ago, Russia's invasion of Ukraine triggered one of the world's largest refugee crises since World War II. This was not long after the Taliban 2021 takeover of Afghanistan which forced millions of Afghans to flee their homeland. Together, Afghans and Ukrainians are among the millions who have been forced to leave their countries due to war, political violance and social unrest. By some counts, more than 100 million people are displaced globally. Many seeking asylum are being turned away at borders around the world. This is a critical moment for all of us to reaffirm and redouble our support for refugees and asylum seekers.

The United States is among the world leaders in refugee resettlement. However, the grant of asylum and resettlement is only the beginning for refugees who must create a life and become a part of their new American communities.

Who is there to help them fill the gaps and get their bearings?

How can we welcome our gloabal neighbors and help them as they adjust to life in this wonderful strange new place they now call home?

Organized By: 
Event Contact Person: 
Precious Green
Joe Goldman
Joe Goldman is the Community Engagement Director for the Western Region at HIAS, the world’s oldest – and only Jewish – international humanitarian agency serving forcibly displaced people of all backgrounds across five continents. Before joining HIAS, Joe worked at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council, and began his career working on several political campaigns and progressive advocacy efforts. Joe holds both a BA in Political Communication and Master’s of Political Management from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and lives in his native Los Angeles with his husband, Adam.
Robin Mencher
Robin Mencher leads JFCS East Bay’s efforts to envision a community where everyone can flourish with dignity. She builds civic and community capacity so that we can realize our mission of contributing to the resilience of communities, families, and individuals through advocacy and comprehensive support services at every stage of life. Prior to JFCS East Bay, Robin served as executive director of KQED Education where she led the public media organization’s service to the education community in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond through providing free, high-quality open educational resources that deepen youth civic engagement, media literacy development and relevant, engaging real-world connections supporting college, career and community readiness. Mencher earned her M.A. in Education at Mills College and her B.A. in American Studies at U.C. Santa Cruz.
Dr. Wessal Mukhtar
Dr. Wessal Mukhtar is an Afghan Parole who was born in Afghanistan. He graduated from high school in 1990 and was one of talented Afghan individuals who made his way to medical college for higher education. Despite the internal and external challenges of Afghanistan, Dr. Wessal graduated from medical college and became a professional doctor. He worked as a doctor for a variety of government and private hospitals and for international organizations in Afghanistan for more than 20 years. After the Taliban took over the government, he had no option but to flee the country along with his family and resettle in the USA in March, 2022.
Supervisor Myrna Melgar, Moderator
Supervisor Myrna Melgar represents San Francisco’s District 7 which includes the West Portal, Parkmerced, Golden Gate Heights and Inner Sunset neighborhoods. She is an urban planner, economic development and housing policy expert, and has served in City government in several different capacities. Myrna is committed to achieving progress that will allow all our City’s people -- including those who have been historically disadvantaged -- to flourish here.

Myrna’s family immigrated to San Francisco from El Salvador when she was a child during the 1980s, fleeing that country’s civil war. As for so many others before and since, San Francisco provided Myrna’s family with refuge and economic opportunity. Myrna is fluent in English, Spanish and French, and speaks Swedish proficiently. She attended San Francisco State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in housing development from Columbia University.

Myrna formerly worked as the Executive Director of the Jamestown Community Center, Deputy Director of the Mission Economic Development Agency, Director of Homeownership Programs at the Mayor’s Office of Housing during the Newsom Administration, and served as President of the City Planning Commission and Vice President of the Building Inspection Commission.