Sasha Chanoff

Ashoka Fellow
Boston, United States
Fellow Since 2012
My work: finding solutions for the world's most vulnerable refugees.


This profile was prepared when Sasha Chanoff was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Refugee resettlement, the process of permanently and legally relocating refugees to countries where they can rebuild their lives in safety, is the only solution available for many refugees around the world who can neither return home nor stay safely where they are. Yet in the past decade approximately 250,000 resettlement slots made available by the U.S. government for refugees who have no other options for survival have gone unfilled due to systemic inefficiencies. Historically, refugee resettlement has been a low priority in the grand scheme of refugee assistance and protection.

Sasha is pioneering a new role for effective and professional citizen organizations (COs) in the refugee resettlement process. Through collaboration, his organization is working to influence and transform the international human rights and humanitarian community in ways that lead to life-saving solutions for the most vulnerable refugees.

Beginning with the organization he founded in 2005, RefugePoint, Sasha is leading by example and building the infrastructure for COs to engage in the resettlement process. RefugePoint is not only demonstrating that the citizen sector can effectively partner with governments and intergovernmental agencies to ensure that the benefits of resettlement accrue to more people, the organization is also making sure the system takes into account the most neglected communities in ways previously unachievable. RefugePoint is putting the plight of the growing population of urban refugees more solidly on the map of agencies in a position to protect them through the use of resettlement. RefugePoint is also developing an expertise in identifying newly threatened refugee groups that reside both in and outside the refugee camp system. Sasha is able to do so in no small part thanks to the flexibility afforded to his organization by raising funds outside of the government system. RefugePoint is therefore uniquely positioned to effectively respond to the fluid and unpredictable nature of refugee situations.

In an effort to greatly expand the impact of his work, RefugePoint has built a relationship with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to enhance resettlement by sending staff across Africa to work in a variety of urgent and emergency refugee situations. At the same time, RefugePoint aims to use its collaboration with UNHCR as a model that can lead to additional collaborations between the citizen sector and UNHCR around the world. To that end, RefugePoint is conscientiously building a network of refugee assistance and rights organizations and providing information, guidance, and training to facilitate collaborations with UNHCR and governments in order to enhance resettlement. When RefugePoint started nine years ago the citizen sector accounted for approximately 1 percent of referrals on the continent. Both governments and multilateral institutions are beginning to look at RefugePoint as the place that will continue to innovate how resettlement is going to work.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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