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Eighth Annual IRAP Student Summit Features Keynote by Jeh Johnson

On October 7-8, almost 200 law students, legal and policy experts, and supporters attended IRAP’s Eighth Annual Student Summit – marking a record year of participation.

This year’s summit featured a keynote address by Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson who spoke about his experience addressing the global refugee crisis under the Obama administration and the importance of our humanitarian legacy as a global leader in refugee resettlement. He also emphasized the importance of legal advocates supporting refugees, and urged the student leaders to continue this work throughout their careers.

Panelists discussing the future of refugee resettlement

The students, who hailed from law schools across the United States and Canada, also heard from Larry Yungk, a Senior Resettlement Officer with the UNHCR, about the role of UNHCR in refugee processing, as well as from Dr. Madelon Baranoski and Dr. Maya Prabhu, Professors of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, about how to assist clients with memory loss due to trauma. A special panel moderated by Betsy Fisher, IRAP’s Policy Director, featuring Peter Stavros, a staff attorney from IRAP’s Jordan office, Chris George, Director of IRIS, and Chris Opila, former supervisor of the Africa Regional Deployment Unit of RSC Africa, focused on the future of resettlement and the increased need for protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees abroad.

Our client panel – always a highlight of the program – featured four resettled IRAP clients who shared their experiences as refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia and how IRAP’s assistance provided a glimmer of hope in their brave, arduous journeys to safety.

As in previous years, the students also had the opportunity to participate in workshops ranging from advocacy strategies to client interviewing techniques, and also attended a breakout session to discuss best practices for working with each other within and across chapters

IRAP would like to thank Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP for hosting us once again, and Skadden for kindly sponsoring the Happy Hour.

Student listening to a panel during a breakout session

CUNY students with IRAP attorney Mark Doss and their client Hameed Darweesh