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Refugee & Immigrant Voices in Action

Website currently under construction.

About Us

Refugee and Immigrant Voices in Action (RIVA) is a grassroots coalition and a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to elevate refugee and immigrant leaders and groups in Iowa. 

 

Refugee and Immigrant Voices in Action (RIVA) works to build the power of the people who are so often ignored  — the leaders, volunteers, and advocates working on the ground in our communities. These individuals and groups know what our different ethnic communities need, and they know best how to serve their neighbors in culturally responsive and effective ways. 

By partnering with refugee and immigrant leaders and ethnic community based organizations (ECBOs) to elevate their voices and expand their capacity, RIVA creates a cascade of change that’s powered by our own communities.

Mission

A peer-to-peer grassroots movement, Refugee and Immigrant Voices in Action (RIVA) helps advance and elevate refugee and immigrant leaders and organizations in Iowa, so that they can expand access and opportunities for the people in their communities through culturally responsive, collaborative action.  

Vision

RIVA envisions an Iowa where immigrants and refugees are seen and respected as the primary actors in their communities and have the resources and expertise they need to support their peers in living healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.  

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A Message from Executive Director Henny Ohr

Dear friends,

I’ve got some big news. After a decade of joy and tears, hard work and hard lessons, a derecho, and public health crisis, EMBARC is opening a new chapter.

In the fall of 2021, the EMBARC Burma Community Advisory Board approved a motion to become an independent stand-alone organization. The devastating impact of the pandemic and the human rights abuses in Burma, spurred the board’s decision to focus on serving their diverse Burma ethnic communities and building their coalition. Founding staff member, and long-time lead, Abigail Sui, was voted unanimously to be the new director of EMBARC. Under her leadership, EMBARC will continue its existing Early Childhood Parent Navigator, Crisis & Advocacy and Education programs.

Along with the current Board of Directors, I am proud to announce the launch of Refugee and Immigrant Voices in Action (RIVA), a new statewide immigrant and refugee umbrella organization designed to grow leaders, build community and promote solidarity. Our current RISE AmeriCorps and the Health Equity Campaign will move under RIVA, along with our new non-profit Impact Incubator.

This Impact Incubator program will take the lessons learned during EMBARC’s past 10 years to support and strengthen emerging immigrant and refugee led groups. Iowa can’t afford to waste the skills, knowledge, and passion illustrated by our refugee and immigrant leaders — whether they’ve been serving their community for decades or are just beginning their journeys.

By partnering with refugee and immigrant leaders and their community organizations to elevate their voices and expand their capacity, RIVA will create a cascade of change that’s powered by our own potential.

Watching leaders like Abigail and others at EMBARC and in the community grow over the years has brought me indescribable joy. Knowing that EMBARC started in 2012 with just a small group of thoughtful committed volunteers, brings me sustained hope.

Join me inside these pages in thanking the incredible individuals who have moved us forward into this new era. There is too much in the decade ahead for any one person or group to do alone. By continuing to invest in each other, we will all create a stronger, brighter world.

With gratitude,

Henny Ohr

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