Chair of Arlington County Board, Christian Dorsey, welcomes attendees at the Cities for Citizenship (C4C) Municipal Gathering, and announces that Arlington County will join the C4C network. Photo: Carolina Kroon

Chair of Arlington County Board, Christian Dorsey, welcomes attendees at the Cities for Citizenship (C4C) Municipal Gathering, and announces that Arlington County will join the C4C network. Photo: Carolina Kroon

Cities for Citizenship (C4C) 3rd Annual Municipal Gathering

For the past three years, the Cities for Citizenship (C4C) network has come together for a C4C Municipal Gathering prior to the kick-off of NPNA’s National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC). The gathering serves as a space for the network, together with community-based organizations, to come together to share and strategize naturalization, financial empowerment, and local immigrant integration efforts to welcome, protect and serve immigrant and refugee communities.

In December 2018, 107 representatives from over 45 cities and counties in Arlington, Virginia attended the 3rd Annual C4C Municipal Gathering. The planning committee consisted of the Cities for Citizenship (C4C) Executive Committee, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Citi Community Development; together with the planning committee of Cities for Action, Local Progress, National Federation for Community Development Credit Unions, New American Economy, National Immigration Law Center, the Vera Institute of Justice and Welcoming America.

To kick off the gathering, the Chair of Arlington County, Christian Dorsey gave a local welcome and announced Arlington as the 72nd county to join C4C! The energizing welcoming led into the following strategic breakouts with powerful speakers:

Breakout Session 1: The Economic Impact: Naturalization, Financial Inclusion and Economic Empowerment  

Speakers & Topics:

  • Municipal Practices to Maximize the Financial Benefits to Naturalization

    • Rhonda Ortiz, Managing Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII)

    • Ze Min Xiao, Director of Mayor’s Office of New Americans, Salt Lake County

  • NAE Cities Index: How to Use Data to Prioritize Immigrant Integration Efforts

    • Westerly Gorayeb, Policy Manager, New American Economy

  • Removing Barriers to Financial Inclusion

    • Pablo DeFillippi, Vice President of Partnerships, Inclusiv

    • Carla Decker, CEO of DC, Federal Credit Union

Breakout Session 2: Breakout Session 2: Building Welcoming Communities

Speakers & Topics:

  • Welcoming America

    • Patricia Blasquez, Policy and Communications Advisor for Mayor Rawlings of the City of Dallas

  • Freedom Cities

    • Lesley Varghese, Chief of Staff for Mayor Adler of the City of Austin

  • Language Access Initiatives

    • Niti Suchdeve, Special Projects Coordinator, Language Access, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of New York

  • C4C America is Home Initiative

    • Diane Eason Contreras, Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, YWCA Tulsa

Breakout Session 3: Naturalization Strategies for 2019

Speakers & Topics:

  • Citizenship Scholarship: An Innovative Programs to Address Proposed Changes to Fee Waivers

    • Pablo Blank, Sr. Manager, Immigrant Integration Programs, CASA

    • Kaori Hirakawa, Charles W. Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center, Montgomery County, MD

  • Developing Robust Naturalization Programs in Mid and Small Municipalities - Key Strategies

    • Vanessa Lazon, Director, Mayor David Briley’s Office of New Americans, Nashville, TN

    • Camila Herrera, Integration Director, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition

  • Incorporating Technology to Expand Naturalization through CitizenshipWorks

    • Richard Whipple, Deputy Director - Programs, Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, City & County of San Francisco

    • Sandra Y. Sandoval, Citizenshipworks Program Manager, Immigration Advocates Network

Lunch Panel – From Community Education to Universal Representation: The Continuum of Legal Services to Protect our Immigrant Communities

Moderator: Avideh Moussavian, Legislative Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC)


  • Catalina Rodriguez-Lima, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Baltimore

  • Annie Chen, Vera Institute of Justice, Program Director, SAFE Network

  • Jamie C. Torres-Director, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, City and County of Denver

  • Erendira Rendon, Vice President of Immigration Advocacy, The Resurrection Project

  • Laura Tuell, Head of Pro-Bono, Jones Day Law Firm

The C4C Executive Committee thanks the planning committee and all of the attendees for their work and participation. For more information about the C4C Municipal Gathering, please contact Magaly Arteaga at