Staff Profile: Lisa Welze, Refugee Resettlement Manager
The IRC in Phoenix is proud to welcome Lisa Welze as the new Refugee Resettlement Manager. Lisa came to Phoenix in October 2011 to take on the critical role of working with clients from the time they arrive to five years after they’ve settled. Her responsibilities include coordinating oversees airport arrivals, training and supervising case workers, working with intensive cases and overseeing the anti trafficking department. Most importantly, Lisa develops trainings and policies to better serve the IRC’s clients.
Originally from Lake Tahoe, CA, Lisa has been a citizen of the globe, living and working abroad for the past 10 years in the Caribbean, France, England and the Middle East. She has been immersed in refugee issues as an academic and professional for the past 15 years, giving her an in depth, globally informed perspective on her work.
Her interest in refugees was first sparked as an anthropology student at the University of Utah, where she studied the resettlement and adjustment process of Tibetan refugees in Salt Lake City in her senior research project. Lisa also began volunteering at the IRC office in Salt Lake City and later got a job as a Special Needs Case Worker.
She went on to receive her master’s in Refugee Studies at Oxford University, where she wrote her thesis on domestic violence in refugee camps. For three years, Lisa lived in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza working in refugee camps and learning Arabic. Currently, Lisa is finishing her Ph.D. at Oxford in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Her doctoral research is on how political views of Palestinians differ based on where they live, their relationships and social organizations.
She says the challenge of her job as Refugee Resettlement Manager involves helping special cases, like those with medical problems or single mothers, obtain self-sufficiency, but the rewards are “seeing people rebuild their lives, go to college and for the next generation to be able to choose their life.”
“I always knew I wanted to come back to IRC,” Lisa says. “I respect the organization…I like IRC’s vision and commitment in conflict zones, that it works not just in resettlement but also in country.”
From IRC volunteer to refugee resettlement manager, Lisa has come full circle in her career of making a difference in the lives of others locally and globally. The IRC in Phoenix is grateful for her dedication to helping refugees from harm to home.
Story by Nesima Aberra, Communications Intern
Picture by Lisa Welze, Refugee Resettlement Manager