On Tuesday, Wilmot Collins, a member of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) Board of Directors, won a historical mayoral race unseating a four-term incumbent to become the first black mayor in Montana’s history.
Collins entered the United States as a refugee 23 years ago and has remained a strong and dynamic advocate of new Americans since his arrival. In 2013, he participated in our first annual Migrant and Refugee Leadership Academy, and then returned as a lead trainer the following year.
In addition to his work with LIRS, Collins has written countless OpEds, given TED Talks, and been a member of Refugee Center Online, the Montana Immigration and Justice Alliance, the Montana Human Rights Network, and the UNHCR Refugee Advisory Board, to name a few.
In an interview with LIRS, he shared, “My mother always told us, ‘Things done by halves are never done right.’ What she was saying is whatever you want to do, put your heart and soul into it and do it right.”
AMERICA: Wilmot Collins arrived in Montana in 1994 as a refugee from Liberia’s civil war. He started as janitor, became teacher, then adoption caseworker, then public health specialist & college instructor.
Now he’s mayor-elect of Helena, MT https://t.co/fcuYeqmVzh
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) November 8, 2017
In another historic win, Kathy Tran, a former Vietnamese refugee, became the first Asian-American woman to join Virginia’s House of Delegates.
Kathy Tran came to the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam when she was an infant. Tonight, she became the first Asian American woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Congrats @kathykltran! pic.twitter.com/NSynRwHJ7d
— Women's March (@womensmarch) November 8, 2017
Wilmot Collins and Kathy Tran are living proof that when we welcome the stranger, they help make our communities stronger.