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Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: Building on the Ambitions and Aspirations of Newcomers: An Interview with Angela Blanchard

Angela Blanchard, President of BakerRipley (formerly Neighborhood Centers Inc.) shares her reflections on the past five years since the publication of Investing in What Works and her outlook for the future in an interview conducted by Laura Choi of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Your essay in What Works touched on some key themes like the influence of the Settlement House movement in welcoming newcomers to America, the characteristics and role of Houston as a city, and the power of people as a community asset. Reflecting on these themes five years later, what has changed for your organization, your city, and the people you serve? What remains the same?

We believe strongly at BakerRipley that the Settlement House movement and its underlying values—the importance of connection and opportunity for everyone—are needed now more than ever, and will be for decades to come. There are two worldwide trends that intersect in the highly functioning and welcoming city of Houston and they illustrate the continued need for on-ramps to opportunity. The first is mass migration. We are living in the most migratory period in human history. According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, nearly 65 million people have been displaced because of war, weather or wealth.

That’s 1 out of every 115 people on earth who doesn’t have a home, a job and in many cases has been separated from their families. The second trend is mass urbanization. For the first time in history, more people live in cities than in rural areas.
Approximately 3 million people are moving to cities each week.

For Houston, immigration from across the globe has contributed to the city’s tremendous diversity and rapid growth. Today, 1 out of 4 Houstonians is foreign born and the region will continue to attract people seeking stability and opportunity. We are pretty far along in this globalized, connected, migratory, urbanized period and there's no way to stop that movement. Read the full interview.