BRATTLEBORO — The director of the region’s resettlement center comes most recently from Southeastern Vermont Community Action where he served as a housing case manager.
According to a news release from the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Joe Wiah will head up the Multicultural Community Center the organization plans to establish in Brattleboro.
Wiah has spent more than a decade in the non-profit sector serving vulnerable populations both in Vermont and internationally in Africa, states the news release.
As a housing case manager for SEVCA, Wiah helped Vermonters from 15 towns within Windham County access housing, fuel, food and home repair services.
Before that, Wiah worked for Pathways-DC and Pathways Vermont, providing needed services to clients struggling with mental health issues or returning to communities after time in prison.
Internationally, his work has focused on creating legislation, policies and programs that contributed to the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers in Liberia.
Wiah’s hiring was accomplished with support from the Shapiro Foundation and Braden-Harder & Lawrence Harder Charitable Fund, states the news release.
“Joe is an excellent person for this role because he is well-versed in the social service system of Vermont as well as international circumstances and environments which create the need for refugee resettlement,” stated Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC’s president and CEO, in the news release. “His personal compassion and commitment to helping those in need combined with his budgeting, strategic planning, and grant management skills will ensure that our Brattleboro program is successful.”
In this role, Wiah will be responsible for coordinating with community stakeholders and preparing to meet the needs of refugees related to employment, affordable housing, medical care, education, etc. as well as broader participation in the community’s civic life.
The Reformer has requested an interview with Wiah, which has been scheduled at a later date.
Wiah is originally from Liberia and holds a Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management from SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya.
“As someone with firsthand experience being welcomed as a newcomer in Vermont, it is a privilege to have been chosen by ECDC to serve as that bridge to connect our new neighbors to our community,” stated Wiah in the news release. “I am excited to join this community of experienced professionals, and look forward to working with all local, regional and state partners to collectively make this dream a reality.”
Wiah is expected to start as director on Sept. 20.
ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of nine national resettlement agencies that has been resettling refugees since 1991, working with a network of 15 affiliate organizations around the country. The mission of ECDC is to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society who receive support from and ultimately contribute to their local communities. For more information, visit www.ecdcus.org.