February 22, 2020
 
Michelle Lopez Named Exec. Dir. of Berkshire Immigrant Center

Michelle Lopez
April 30, 2019 — The Berkshire Immigrant Center in Pittsfield, a nonprofit which helps new immigrants who are settling in the area adjust economically, psychologically, and culturally, today announced that Michelle Lopez has been named its next executive director.

Lopez succeeds Brooke Mead, who retired last week after leading the Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC) for 17 years, according to a report on WAMC radio.

Lopez, currently the assistant director for study abroad at Brandeis University in Waltham, will assume her new responsibilities on May 13, said Sheryl Lechner, BIC's development coordinator.

“We want as many clients to come in to the center as possible, and let them know it’s a safe space for them to come and have their questions answered and seek the help that they need," Lopez told WAMC. "I know that things are a little bit more fearful now under the current administration than they used to be, and I’m sure that’s preventing some people to come in and seek help.”

She added, “We’re a place that people see as stationary, and a place that people come to see us, but I would also like our voices and faces to be out in the community inviting community members to get involved and understand what we’re doing there and hopefully volunteer more and invite people to come speak and hear their stories.”

Mead joined BIC as an outreach coordinator in 2002 when it was known as the New American Citizenship Coalition, according to the radio report.

"There were three of us, and I think we had 43 hours combined between the three of us. We had one computer, one email for all of us, one phone line, and we were serving about 200 people a year ”“ primarily wrapping up a resettlement project which had officially ended and really concentrating on U.S. citizenship," Mead was quoted.

Today, BIC, with a staff of seven and supported by volunteers, offers comprehensive services for individuals from more than 80 countries to promote civic engagement, facilitate cultural integration, and assist in navigating the complex U.S. immigration system. It is the only program in Berkshire County that offers comprehensive services to meet challenges of the local immigrant community.

The Berkshire Immigrant Center is supported primarily by grants from the Berkshire United Way, the New World Fund, the City of Pittsfield, the state Citizenship for New Americans Program, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, Berkshire Bank, and the Fund for Williamstown.

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