HIAS Remembers Ellen Dubin

By Gabe Cahn, HIAS.org

For 20 years, Ellen Dubin was at the center of refugee resettlement efforts in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Following her passing on September 29, 2016, HIAS remembers her integral contributions to the refugee community and her central role in resettling more than 1,500 refugees from at least 15 countries in North Carolina.

“Ellen was a wonderful human being who personified the transformation of HIAS from being an agency that helped refugees because they were Jewish, to helping refugees because we are Jewish," said Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS. "As the founding mother of HIAS North Carolina and its offspring, the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, Ellen did both."

Ellen first got involved as a synagogue volunteer assisting refugees from the Former Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. After some time as a volunteer, Ellen took a staff position with the resettlement program, and soon after became the program director for HIAS North Carolina.

In 2011, Ellen transformed HIAS’ local program into an independent resettlement nonprofit in Charlotte, serving as the founder and executive director of the CRRA until January 2016, two decades after she began her work helping refugees.

Over the course of her career, Ellen helped provide critical assistance to an ever-changing population of individuals arriving in North Carolina, including Montagnards from Vietnam, Somali Bantu, ethnic and religious minorities fleeing persecution in Burma and Bhutan, as well as those arriving from the FSU. Over the past year, CRRA has been helping resettle Syrians fleeing that country's civil war.

While the home countries of the refugees Ellen helped resettle changed throughout the years, her steadfast commitment to making Charlotte a community of welcome remained a constant.

“She was such an excellent friend and mentor to the staff, and to so many in the community,” said Marsha Hirsch, CRRA’s current executive director. “So many people learned from her and benefited from her knowledge.”

In May, Ellen was presented with a plaque in honor of her service during the HIAS National Affiliates Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Ellen’s funeral was on Sunday, October 2, 2016 on Long Island, New York, and plans for a local memorial event in Charlotte are underway. Details will be posted on CRRA’s Facebook page

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