Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stephen Fotopulos: new director of Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

American Dream Banquet July 10

"Together, we will create a better Tennessee"

Stephen Fotopulos will become Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) effective June 30, according to this announcement by Sharmila Murthy, President of the Board of Directors of the coalition:
On behalf of the TIRRC Board of Directors, I am pleased to inform you that Stephen Fotopulos will be the new Executive Director of TIRRC effective June 30, 2008. After an extensive national search, the Board realized that the best candidate for the Executive Director position was actually within our own midst! Stephen joined TIRRC in 2004, most recently serving as TIRRC's Policy Director. As Policy Director, Stephen became a nationally recognized expert on immigration policy. He also partnered with grassroots organizers and communities to translate complex policy positions into effective campaign strategies. We are excited that Stephen is ready to take on the challenge of serving as TIRRC's second Executive Director!

Stephen came to TIRRC in 2004 with an impressive background in public policy analysis, including a Master's degree in Public Administration from Cornell University, as well as significant experience in management within the public sector. While at TIRRC, Stephen quickly became a leader within the organization, substantially bolstering both programmatic and organizational work. During his tenure, Stephen worked with TIRRC's immigrant leaders to help them develop the tools and confidence needed to engage decision makers on the local, state and federal level. He also successfully integrated important allies from numerous sectors in all of TIRRC's policy efforts. Stephen is committed to TIRRC's mission, principles and goals. He believes that immigrants and refugees should lead the campaigns that TIRRC undertakes, and will make expanding immigrant leadership within the membership, staff and board a primary priority during his tenure as Executive Director.

As many of you know, the founding Executive Director of TIRRC, David Lubell, will be starting a Masters in Public Administration program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in August. He will be officially stepping down as Executive Director on June 30, 2008, and will be leaving Nashville in the middle of July. Over the past six months, the TIRRC Board of Directors has been working closely with David and the TIRRC staff to ensure preparedness for David's departure. Now that a new Director has been chosen, the Board has established a Transition Committee to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. The Transition Committee is chaired by Avi Poster, who has over thirty years of leadership experience, both as a former school principal and as a leader in social justice organizations. The Transition Committee also benefits from the guidance of Mary Ochs, an outside consultant who has been working closely with TIRRC for over six years. Mary helped facilitate TIRRC's strategic planning process last year and also served as an outside resource to the Board Executive Search Committee this past year.

I would like to thank TIRRC's Board of Directors, TIRRC's staff, and all of our friends and allies for supporting us throughout the search and transition process. I would also like to give special thanks to JJ Rosenbaum who chaired the Executive Search Committee.

Please join me in congratulating Stephen! I look forward to seeing you at the American Dream Banquet on Thursday, July 10, 2008, where we will have an opportunity to formally congratulate Stephen on his new role as TIRRC's Executive Director and also to celebrate David's great accomplishments as the founding Executive Director!

Best wishes,

Sharmila L. Murthy
President, Board of Directors
From Stephen Fotopulos:

I am honored and excited to be selected as the new Executive Director of TIRRC. When my wife Susannah and I first moved to Nashville in 2004, we knew it would be a great place to raise a family. What we quickly learned was that Tennessee was home to one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in the country, and Nashville was becoming the international city of the South. I was drawn to TIRRC because of my graduate studies in immigration policy and the several years I spent living and working abroad. At TIRRC, I have had the unique opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our immigrant neighbors in the struggle to build a more just and equitable society. The past four years at TIRRC have been the most fulfilling work of my career.

TIRRC's mission is to empower immigrants and refugees in Tennessee to develop a unified voice and lead a statewide movement for positive change. Our success as a coalition depends on the increased capacity of emerging, immigrant-led organizations, the continued development of immigrant leadership, and the full participation of these leaders in every facet of our work. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming months, to discuss the ways in which the organization fulfills its mission and to better understand the ways in which we can build upon our strengths.

For the last four years, I have benefited greatly from David Lubell's guidance and friendship, and I am humbled by the responsibility of leading the organization in his stead. The departure of a founding director poses healthy challenges for any organization. I am extremely fortunate to be joined by a dedicated, talented staff and an engaged, visionary board of directors in addressing these challenges. With the continued collaboration of community leaders, allies, and national partners, we will build on the momentum of David's leadership, carry out the organization's strategic plan, and ensure that TIRRC remains one of the most successful coalitions of its kind. Together, we will create a better Tennessee.

Thanks for your support.
Statue of Liberty photo by Ian Foss. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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