The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) is a research, public policy, and community organizing hub dedicated to advancing the full economic, social, & civic inclusion of refugees.
12370975_10153933858476178_5198274962512986494_o (3).jpg

Social Change Strategies

Civic Engagement

PANA has a regional approach to refugee civic engagement during and in between elections to build a visible and powerful refugee electorate. During the June 2016 primary, we:

  • contacted over 2,490 refugee voters
  • identified 1,463 pledged voters
  • trained 16 young leaders
  • increased turnout by almost 11%

Proactive Narratives

Stay tuned for the imminent launch of the Newcomer.life which will host short video stories on newcomer contributions and welcoming exchanges to counter anti-refugee rhetoric.

Newcomer.life will offer easy ways to #ShowUp4Refugees by offering a toolkit, making calls to action, and providing volunteer opportunities.

Policy + Campaigns

The Refugee Act of 1980 named "immediate employment" the prime objective of resettlement.

We need realistic resettlement strategies that support investments in the long-term economic self-sufficiency of newcomer families. 



We envision a world where refugees are connected global leaders building trans-continental movement work to advance meaningful freedom for all.



To promote the fair treatment and equitable inclusion of refugee communities using organizing to achieve collective impact and policy change.

Refugees are people forcibly displaced due to a profound fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, and/or political opinion.
The United States has resettled 3+ million refugees since 1975 and San Diego alone has resettled over 82,000.

Our Team

Ramla Sahid
Executive Director
(619) 732-6793

Ismahan Abdullahi
Director of Civic Engagement
and Community Partnerships
(858) 429-9302

Mustafa Dib

Mustafa Dib
Community Organizer

Homayra Yusufi-Marin Consultant: Sr. Policy Strategist homayra@panasd.org




Abdi Ali, Director


Abdi Ali is working with elders and community leaders to help build a unified voice in the Somali community.

Abdi arrived in the U.S. in 2010 as an asylum seeker and has volunteered and supported PANA since inception. He has also organized asylum seekers connecting them to legal support, community services and self-help networks providing housing, food, and transpiration support. 

A Bit More

Abdi is ardent supporter of Manchester United and loves talking history and politics.


Emily Serafy Cox, Director


Emily Serafy Cox is currently contracting with MAAC as their Advocacy and Organizing Coordinator.  

Previously, Ms. Serafy Cox was a Community Organizer with Mid-City CAN, in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego.  She was lead staff for the campaign for a Free Youth Transit Pass in San Diego. Before joining Mid-City CAN, Ms. Serafy Cox was Executive Director at Empower San Diego, a nonprofit organization dedicated to civic engagement on local issues in San Diego.  While there, she facilitated the highly successful "Communities in Unity" Redistricting Coalition, which helped ensure increased ability for communities of color to elect a candidate of their choice in local and state elections. Ms. Serafy Cox holds a BFA in Dance and Women's Studies from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. After graduation, she was appointed to the Capital Long Range Investment Committee for the City of Minneapolis—a powerful citizen advisory board for CIP projects.


Cory Briggs, Treasurer


Cory began practicing law in 1995 with Mundell, Odlum & Haws in San Bernardino, California, where he primarily litigated commercial and employment-related disputes. In 1998, he moved to Washington, D.C., and added environmental law and regulatory compliance to his practice while pursuing graduate degrees and teaching at The George Washington University Law School and the University of Maryland. Cory returned to southern California in June 2002, and his practice now balances small/family-owned business law with public-interest and government-accountability litigation.

A Bit More

Cory’s two favorite pastimes are scuba diving and traveling to remote places around the world (hopefully to scuba dive).


Lori Shellenberger, Secretary


Lori Shellenberger is an election reform and voting rights strategist who consults on state and national campaigns to build a more inclusive and representative democracy.

A Bit More

Shellenberger was director of the ACLU of California's Voting Rights Project from 2011 to 2017, where she spearheaded integrated legal, policy, and organizing strategies to re-enfranchise people stripped of their voting rights because of a criminal conviction; advocate for compliance with state and federal voting rights laws; and advance legislation and implementation to build an infrastructure for voter registration at public assistance agencies, offices serving people with disabilities, Covered California, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

IMG_4355 (1).jpg

Mark Greenberg, Board Chair


Mark Greenberg is the San Diego Chapter Director of the American Technion Society, the "friends of" organization providing support for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa.  Mark has spent his entire professional career in the non-profit sector from setting up an Immigration program focusing on domestic violence survivors at ACCESS, Inc., and later as a development professional with the United Jewish Federation, Community Resource Center, and Alzheimer's Association. 

A Bit More

Mark received his B.A. in History from the American University in Washington, DC and J.D from California Western School of Law.  Outside of work and PANA, Mark enjoys sports, including playing in the same softball league in Ocean Beach for over 25 years and participating in several fantasy baseball leagues. 

qureesh hussein.jpeg

Nathan Fletcher, Director


Nathan Fletcher is a Marine Corps combat veteran, former California State Assemblyman and Professor of Practice in Political Science at the University of California.  

As an elected member of the California State Assembly Fletcher served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs in the New Economy and is the author of the landmark public safety legislation “Chelsea’s Law”.  In his time in office, he passed and had signed into law more than 30 bills, addressing issues including tax reform, healthcare, homelessness, veterans, job creation, public safety and more. He was also a leading advocate of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’

A Bit More

Fletcher is an Ironman Triathlete and avid outdoorsman who enjoys surfing and alpine mountaineering/glacier climbing.  He lives with his wife, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and their four children in San Diego, California.

qureesh hussein.jpeg

Qureesh Hussein, Director


Qureesh Hussein is self-employed community leader dedicated to advancing a more equitable and just world. He is committed to a creating a world where refugee families and asylum seekers have safety, security, and can lead dignified lives as full participants in their new home. 

A Bit More

Hussein arrived in the U.S. in 2010 as an asylum seeker through the San Ysidro Port Of Entry. Since arrival he has dedicated his life in service of community, youth, and families. 

Hussein is originally from Ethiopia and enjoys playing soccer and politics. 


Sahra Abdi, Vice Chair


As a Somali woman and former refugee, Sahra has been passionately engaged in addressing the physical and mental health and social well-being of East African women and their families for over 14 years, through education, advocacy and services. Sahra co-founded United Women of East Africa Support Team (UWEAST), a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of San Diego’s East African women and their families.

A Bit More

The California Wellness Foundation, recognized Sahra as the 2006 California Peace Prize Honoree.