Our Story

OUR STORY

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I founded COMPASS in 2018 to have the flexibility of working directly with a range of community partners in developing working examples of a new approach to refugee resettlement. COMPASS is an outgrowth of my twenty-plus years of work with refugees and asylees as a lawyer and scholar both in the U.S. and internationally. In my research and professional work, I have sought to better understand the realities of refugee policy so we can fulfill our promise of humanitarian protection.

GALYA BEN-ARIEH, J.D., Ph.D. | CONTACT GALYA

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As a full professor of political science in the continuing lecturer faculty at Northwestern University, I teach courses in refugee studies and constitutional law. While COMPASS is independent of my job at Northwestern, I have benefited from my eight years in founding and directing the Northwestern Center for Forced Migration Studies (CFMS).

Through the encouragement of my mentor and pioneer in the field, Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond; Dr. Edwin Silverman, who was the Illinois state refugee coordinator for over thirty years; Ngoan Le, the current Illinois state refugee coordinator; my brilliant colleagues in refugee and forced migration studies who were active in the work of the CFMS; and a number of generous donors, I developed a Summer Institute in Refugee Protection and the Rights and Process of Resettlement and launched a research program in refugee resettlement. Dozens of students continue to be involved with the work of COMPASS and benefit from the opportunity to learn about the realities of our refugee and asylum policies.


Over the past year, COMPASS has worked with a small team and a network of trusted community partners in support of four refugee families in Evanston. We met regularly at the Evanston Public Library.

Our work thus far has enabled us to start to develop a process of support for individuals who arrived in the community as refugees or asylees and have been struggling to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs. In this next phase, I will be growing our team and inviting a wider community circle to join in the process of experimenting with the resources and tools that we have developed. Our goal is to continue to design effective approaches that can support people in transitioning from survival strategies to well-being and long-term potential.


Seed funding from the Wilmette Rotary chapter has allowed us to directly support one family with a rent subsidy and repayment of their refugee resettlement travel loan so they can focus on working toward their educational goals in nursing and automotive technology at Oakton College. We hope to grow our capacity to provide such transformative grants over the next year.