Meeting of Leaders of African Immigrant

Meeting of Leaders of African Immigrant Associations in NY


As large as the African communities in New York City are, there has not yet been a large-scale meeting of leaders from these communities that crosses boundaries of nationality, ethnicity and religion. Several professors the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University, in conjunction with he African Services Committee of NY, one of the largest providers of social services specifically for African immigrants, are thus organizing a meeting that will fulfill this purpose. The goal of the meeting is to bring together the various groups to encourage networking and capacity building both within and between the various African communities in NY, and to discuss common issues facing these communities. We plan to invite leaders of social service agencies, cultural associations, fraternal organizations, religious organizations and business associations from all of the African communities in NY, both anglophone and francophone.


The meeting will serve two primary goals: The first is to provide a forum for leaders of various African communities to identify and discuss common issues facing their communities. This forum will allow for discussion of how to strengthen the power and effectiveness of the associations through networking, capacity building and political mobilization. Leaders can share ideas and strategies for easing some of the difficulties faced by African immigrants currently living in NY, including HIV/AIDS, immigration status, and employment, just to name a few examples.


The second purpose of the meeting is to provide useful information to leaders of African communities who can then bring the information back to their constituents. We plan to have experts handing out information about HIV/AIDS services, children's health insurance, child care, employment training, English as a Second Language programs, etc.


As the first ever pan-African meeting of immigrant communities in NY, we hope that this event will mark the beginning of a larger dialogue among the African communities in NY. We would like to facilitate this in two ways. First, we will be compiling a directory of all organizations who send representatives to the conference, including their purpose and major activities, so that      communication can continue beyond the meeting. Second, we hope that there will be enough enthusiasm for this sort of meeting that it becomes an annual event.


The meeting is tentatively scheduled for November, although we do not yet have a definite date, and it will take place at Columbia University. It will be a full-day event, including panels of speakers, plenary sessions for participants to discuss ideas with each other, and time to browse through the "information fair" and speak to representatives of social service agencies. Lunch will be provided.


The feedback that we have received so far indicates a high level of enthusiasm about this event, so we hope not only that you attend, but that you encourage others to do so as well.


 If you would like to receive some more information and an invitation, please contact me by phone or email as indicated below.


     Lisa Perlson

     Columbia University

     3001 Broadway #5632

     New York, NY 10027

     (212) 853-1617