State Letter #07-17
TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
STATE REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES
FROM: Martha E. Newton
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Effective October 5, I will resign from my position as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). This was a difficult decision to make, but a change in my husband’s employment necessitates that we move on for the benefit of our family, particularly our 6 year old son.
Since I joined ORR almost 18 months ago, I have had the privilege of working with a group of individuals who are deeply committed to assisting refugees, unaccompanied alien children, trafficking victims, and other vulnerable populations. My focus was “turning rhetoric into reality,” and I greatly appreciate the ORR team working with me to rise to the challenge of making sure that every day we focused on tangible actions that could make a difference in the lives of those we serve. I set high expectations for myself and others and the ORR team responded in a strong way − for that I will always be grateful. I also appreciate ORR welcoming me with open arms; the spirit of friendship and camaraderie was only made stronger during our 24/7 days together during the Lebanon Repatriation in 2006!
My success wouldn’t have been possible without the input of ORR’s partners − voluntary agencies, state coordinators, mutual assistance organizations, and all stakeholders. You all have helped ORR respond proactively and dynamically to changes taking place in the field and I want to thank each and every one of you for your honest feedback about how we were doing, as well as your support as I worked to incorporate your feedback into action.
I want to assure you that based on your input, we have established frameworks and procedures that will allow ORR to continue the tract of success as our program focuses on the best way to serve populations that have become increasingly more diverse and complex. Part of that framework is to engage our federal partners in a variety of areas to ensure that we aren’t just serving refugees and others through our programs, but making sure other federal agencies are also responding to the call. An example of this is our new partnership with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the U.S. Department of Labor. We currently have two ORR team members working within ETA to develop enhancements through the workforce development system and increase opportunity for resources that are available to ORR partners. I’m very proud of this initiative and I look forward to many benefits being identified that will increase our ability to serve refugees and others on the employment front. We also have spent a lot of time enhancing the quality of our communication efforts and I hope this was noticeable to you not only at the 2007 National Consultation, but also within the complete revamping of our website to make it more relevant and user friendly.
Whether it was working with state coordinators to make sure your efforts were supported, identifying more financial resources for the Match Grant Program, or working with voluntary agencies to ensure you all had the resources to deal with the 2007 4 th quarter, I hope that my efforts will continue to have an impact in the field after I depart. While saddened that I will not be here to lead the Office of Refugee Resettlement, I look forward to hearing about the great progress of ORR and the continued success stories of the people who benefit from all that we do.
As I shared with my staff, I encourage you all to continue to support each other, take the work seriously but not yourselves too seriously, and feel proud knowing the difference you make in folks’ lives each and every day. I wish you and your families good health, happiness, and continued success throughout 2007 and beyond.
Martha E. Newton