Introducing our newest Reception and Placement caseworker, Ellie Mercado!
Ellie is the IRC-LA's newest Reception and Placement caseworker as of October 2020, but her work with the International Rescue Committee in Los Angeles began even earlier when she interned in our Unaccompanied Children program. From the very beginning, Ellie has made an invaluable impact on the IRC, and easily connects with the communities she serves.
Undoubtedly influential in her work, Ellie herself immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was just five years old, and recently became a U.S. citizen in 2018 (congrats!). For her undergraduate degree, Ellie attended Knox College where she was a McNair Scholar and studied History and Social Justice. Ellie then obtained her master’s degree in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. In graduate school, Ellie was able to focus more heavily on immigration and human rights, and went on to write her thesis on Mexican repatriation in the 1930s.
After finishing grad school, Ellie moved to Los Angeles where she began volunteering with the Young Center and Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project. Adding to her immigration experience, Ellie begain interning with the IRC-LA in our Unaccompanied Children program. One of her main focuses included growing the network of pro-bono attorneys for asylum representation, as well as conducting a summer ESL and financial literacy program for the minors. A little under a year after interning with the IRC, given her tremendous impact on the program and indelible connection with the children and their families, Ellie was hired as a permanent member of the team as a Reception and Placement caseworker!
“Ellie is an excellent person who is very dedicated to her work and super sweet and friendly. I am very grateful to her for all the patience she has had with me and for all the help she has provided to my family. There are no words that describe the beautiful person she is. We are very grateful to her.” - Guadalupe, a refugee from Central America
Now in the fifth month of her new role, Ellie has diligently been working to help recently arrived refugees adjust to life in their new homes and communities. Though her work in resettlement differs from her role in the Unaccompanied Children program, Ellie has enjoyed learning the ropes of her new position. One thing that has certainly remained the same throughout her transition, is Ellie's inherent dedication and compassionate care towards newly arrived refugees and immigrants, which is greatly apparent to everyone she works with.
Although her team in R&P is small, they have maintained a strong connection throughout the pandemic. Ellie primarily works with refugees from Central America and, though most of her work is remote, she has been able to meet with a few of her clients in person. For her, this connection is the most rewarding part of her work, and she hopes to continue learning new and better ways to support refugees through the resettlement process.
"I don’t have words to thank her for what she has done for my family. I wish her the best, she is a beautiful person and we love her a lot. Blessings Ellie for your dedication to your work, you do it in a way like no other." - Vera, a refugee from Central America
Ellie is most looking forward to the increase in cases under the new Biden administration, as well as the increased capacity the IRC will have to serve more vulnerable and displaced people in the global community.
What is Ellie reading right now?
Ellie is currently re-reading The Iron Cage by Rashid Khalidi, a book she used for her McNair Scholar Project while getting her bachelor’s degree!