David Lubell

Ashoka Fellow
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when David Lubell was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
David’s work is guided by a simple and powerful insight—that immigrant integration will never succeed if the focus is put solely on immigrants. David set up Welcoming America in 2009 to build a robust good receiving communities movement and create an enabling environment for more people and institutions to recognize the role everyone must play in furthering the integration of recent immigrants in the fabric of the U.S.

Despite high levels of anti-immigrant sentiment in the political sphere, David estimates that of the 273 million non-immigrants in the U.S. about 60 percent are “unsure” about how they feel about immigration (i.e. not dead-set against it, but concerned by it) and another 20 percent (the “untapped”) would be more welcoming if only they knew how. David and his team engage members from both groups to participate in and lead good welcoming events: Spaces where they can openly discuss their fears and build trust-based relationships with foreign-born U.S. residents. These carefully crafted interventions lead to significant shifts in the attitudes and actions of these two population groups.

David has identified a number of critical levers that, with low activation energy, can spark deep, scalable change. He is drawing in natural allies such as other organizations working on immigrant integration across the country and building a network of “welcoming” affiliates as implementing partners. This network already reaches twenty states and has a particularly strong presence in new immigrant gateway communities. In addition, he is working with municipal officials and influencing several federal government bodies to require that grantees working with immigrants engage receiving communities as part of their strategies. Understanding that media and advertising play a critical role in informing public opinion, he is also targeting these industries. Among other critical actors, David is beginning to work with corporations who have a vested business interest in making their communities more welcoming.

David and his team are thus establishing new norms for organizations working on immigrant integration across the country. Most importantly, they are introducing strategic, new voices to the conversation in an effort to build an increasingly empathetic society that will lead to a more stable socioeconomic and political environment in the U.S.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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