Refugee Organizer

May 8, 2018

Position Title: Refugee Organizer
Reports to: Director, Virginia Refugee and Immigration Program and Grassroots Organizer, Church World Service
Team: Richmond and Harrisonburg offices, and Immigration and Refugee Program (IRP+) Advocacy Team
Location: Richmond, VA
Status: Full Time, Exempt, Non-Bargaining Unit

Church World Service (CWS) is a not-for-profit organization working to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world. To help build and maintain a diverse team, CWS actively seeks candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, use of a guide or support animal, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.


Please click here to apply directly online to this position.

Primary Purpose:

The main responsibilities of the Refugee Organizer will be to build relationships, develop refugee leaders, create educational opportunities, register new citizens to vote, host educational and “Know Your Rights” forums, and facilitate events and meetings that promote the welcome of refugees and immigrants in Virginia. The Refugee Organizer will also help refugees and supporters educating policy makers and the public about refugees and refugee resettlement and increase positive media messaging about refugees and refugee resettlement.

The Grassroots Organizer will report to the National Grassroots Coordinator for Church World Service (CWS) with on-site supervision by Church World Service, Virginia office Director. This position will work collaboratively with refugee resettlement offices, communities of faith, immigrants’ rights groups, voter engagement organizations and other partners in Virginia to build their education and organizing capacities, increase refugee leadership, improve community outreach, and relate grassroots activities and positive media coverage to relevant local, state and national policy makers.

Essential Duties:

  • Convene and mobilize refugee leaders, resettlement office staff, volunteers, supporters and partners to educate policy makers and the public about refugee resettlement and promote welcoming attitudes and policies
  • Develop local organizing team of refugees and immigrants to coach leaders on how to identify decision makers, develop strategies, and organize trainings and events to meet their goals
  • Identify and coordinate meetings and events with policy makers involved in discussions about refugee resettlement
  • Connect with faith-based organizations and immigrants’ rights organizations to pursue shared goals
  • Conduct trainings on community organizing, leadership development, voter registration, civic engagement, media outreach, messaging, and sharing personal stories with refugees and supporters
  • Lead voter registration efforts at naturalization ceremonies, cultural events, and in refugee neighborhoods
  • Work with CWS communication staff to increase visibility and awareness of support for refugee resettlement through traditional and social media
  • Help direct issue identification and strategic campaign management for welcoming policies at the local and state level
  • Assist in the implementation of seed grants to resource local organizing efforts
  • Collect information on local events and share with public officials and partners
  • Travel throughout Virginia to meet and strategize with community members about welcoming refugees
  • Assist CWS in expanding refugee leadership development work in nearby states and with members of the Refugee Congress
  • Track all events and contacts to maintain relationships, evaluate effectiveness and inform future work


Education: Bachelor’s degree or higher in related field

Experience: A minimum of three years experience in grassroots and community organizing, social justice work, immigrant and refugee rights, and/or campaigning. Familiarity with immigration and refugee issues. Experience working with immigrants or refugees on community projects. Must have experience conducting trainings and developing resources, planning events, managing a budget and working with partners from diverse faith traditions, immigrant and human rights organizations, and service providers. Well organized, with excellent communication, writing and speaking skills. Ability to travel domestically. Ability and willingness to work flexible hours, as some evening, weekend, and off-site work may be required. Communications experience working with local print, radio, TV and social media.

Other Skills: Computer literacy in new media, social media, word processing, spreadsheet and database applications, webinar technology, video editing, and Microsoft Office applications preferred. Fluency in languages spoken by refugees in the United States (ex: Somali, Nepali, Karen, Arabic, French) preferred.

This position is for one year with possibility of renewal.


CommunicationsImplement communications that generate visibility and awareness of the work of CWS and its members and partners; work with staff and leadership to develop and maintain communications infrastructure in traditional and new media; implement press events and video, blog, and new media strategy and materials. Demonstrate “transparency of information” by articulating program strategies, priorities, standards and expectations to volunteers and stakeholders. Represent CWS in varied forums, effectively interpreting its mission, values and programs and inspiring audiences to support its work. Understand the importance of good media relations and demonstrate comfort and confidence in communicating with media representatives, as assigned. Conduct dealings with local stakeholders with integrity and sensitivity, ensuring all relevant information is clearly communicated and documented.

Local Organizing: Coordinate local activists at the regional level and help build local organizing teams with strategies to realize concrete changes in people’s lives. Increase contacts and manage database. Experience with voter registration, voter education, and Get Out the Vote activities. Take direction from the CWS National Grassroots Coordinator. Work to build leadership development, civic engagement and organizing capacity among refugee populations. 

Constituent RelationshipsManage relationships with stakeholders and work within their structure to identify programmatic linkages, implement activities, and coordinate resolutions to problems. Identify potential constituents with whom to build relationships within the context of building welcome for refugees. Resolve issues of concern to maintain effective constituent relationships.

Job KnowledgePossess an understanding of refugee resettlement and perceptions about refugees in Virginia. Identify learning opportunities for self and others and take/ recommend action. Keep up to date with “best practices” and recommend procedures that balance business performance with CWS’s ministry and values. Model creative and effective use of technology for website, social media and data base. 

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicate and model CWS’ mission, values and priorities to staff and stakeholders. Build core leadership structures among local organizing teams so they can further their organizing work on a sustainable level. Use civic engagement programs as a way to build new leaders among refugees. Share changes in priorities with staff and stakeholders, providing guidance to assist them in responding effectively. Delegate work among partners and volunteers, holding them accountable for meeting deadlines. Instill pride in meeting work goals. Facilitate the use of skills and resources within CWS members and local partners. Enable and empower staff and/or volunteers to take initiative and be creative. 

SupervisionReport to Church World Service National Grassroots Organizer, with on-site supervision by local office Director. 

Problem SolvingIdentify problems that undermine the effectiveness and recommend workable solutions, considering the costs, benefits and potential consequences. Enable others to learn from the problem-solving experience by involving them in examining and resolving problems, ensuring solutions are appropriate to the scope of the problem.

Program Planning and ManagementWork with CWS advocacy team to implement and evaluate program activities and develop areas of strategic focus, campaign plan, establishing budget, implementation steps and time line. Assure staff and volunteers understand their roles in supporting mutual goals. Participate in gathering and analyzing information from internal and external stakeholders. Make time-sensitive, independent decisions affecting outcomes of program activities. Build consensus with colleagues, stakeholders and management in support of new initiatives. Successfully manage multiple projects simultaneously.

Resource Building and StewardshipParticipate in planning a budget for program activities. Manage relationships with partners to assure continued support. Manage contacts and work with a database to have most effective use of material development and contact outreach/follow-up. Develop opportunities to build support for refugee resettlement among new partners.  Manage staff, volunteers and systems to make sure resources are used effectively. 

TeamworkPromote effective interactions among team members and facilitate group discussion. Network with other teams to discuss activities and make decisions on goals and activities that may intersect. Negotiate issues that cause conflicts within the team to support effective team functioning. Evaluate team results and individual team member performance, identifying needs and providing opportunities for improvement or enhancing team skills.  Produce reports detailing results achieved. Provide critical insight and feedback to teams to enhance performance and results.