IRC Field Expert Profile: Leslye Boban
While Leslye Boban enjoyed working for the IRC in Miami, she wanted to get back to her Rocky Mountain roots. So when the opportunity came to head the new resettlement office in Boise, Idaho, she jumped at the chance. Boban opened the office in January 2006. She was the lone staff member, had no computer and used a box for a chair.
In February, she hired Rabiou Manzo, case manager and Bryson Nalder, employment services specialist, and they soon received their first clients. The first refugee family was showered with attention, Boban recalls, because there were no other clients. Activity in Boise has picked up and three other staff members, Jim Briggs, account technician, Keziah Sullivan, community outreach specialist, and Aliza Wenk, caseworker assistant, have been hired. Over the next eight months Boban and her team handled a case load of 107 new refugee arrivals and 15 secondary cases from other states.
Before opening the Boise office, Boban was the IRC resettlement director in Miami for four-and-a-half years. The biggest difference between the two offices, she said, is that Miami is an “anchored case” site, where only refugees with already established families in the area are resettled. Boise is a “free case” site, where refugees generally have no connection to the community. Resettlement involves helping refugees find everything from furniture to apartments to jobs.
“It’s much more personal and involved. We’re their everything,” Boban said. “They depend on the IRC to inform them about what they need to do and to know.”
Boban often sees her clients in stores or working around town, and enjoys checking in on them casually. Boban knows every refugee the IRC has resettled in Boise on a first name basis. Because the IRC office is small, she said she feels she is making a difference in people’s lives and witnessing their successes first hand.
Boban’s dedication to improving the lives of refugees continues on a national level through her work with Project SOAR’s Field Advisory Network (FAN). Through her involvement with the IRC’s FAN, Boban has had the opportunity to share her expertise in the areas of strategic planning and effective leadership with a number of refugee-run community organizations across the country. She finds her work with refugees to be both rewarding and challenging.