Laura Polk, a professional experienced in immigration issues and committed to justice, has accepted the position of coordinator for advocacy in the Office of Immigration Issues within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The position, lodged in the Office of the General Assembly, helps to interpret and implement PC(USA) policy on immigration issues, and coordinates the development and distribution of resources related to immigration issues.
Polk holds a master’s degree in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Mennonite University. Her graduate research focused on the impact of immigration law and policies on African immigrant populations in the Washington, D.C., area.
Most recently Polk has been an adjunct instructor teaching ESL (English as a second language) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to international students preparing to study at an American university, as well as to local immigrants.
“Presbyterians across the U.S. are deeply involved in immigration issues in their local context and desire to organize around this ministry on a national level. Laura exhibits the skills to connect us together and empower us to act,” said Teresa Waggener, coordinator of immigration legal services for the PC(USA) and the person who will work mostly closely with Polk.
“I look forward to her arrival, and am hopeful about the impact Presbyterians can have on our nation’s immigration system,” she said.
Polk will begin work the week of January 19. Among her duties will be to facilitate the continued development and expansion of the networks of Presbyterians for Just Immigration, Presbyterian Immigrant Defense Initiative, and to coordinate network training opportunities for leaders in immigration advocacy work in their regions, consistent with the mandates of the General Assembly.
She also will co-convene a collaborative staff table on immigration issues to facilitate communication and strategies, share resources and best practices, and foster stronger collaboration and coordination between PC(USA) offices.
“I am looking forward to continuing this office’s work of strengthening networks, as well as forging new relationships in order to stand in solidarity with immigrants, said Polk, whose life experience includes living in Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, and Ecuador, and working as a community organizer.
This position will not be a first for Polk within the PC(USA). She also has served as a young adult volunteer in Seattle, Washington; a young adult intern in the national office, and a research intern in Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.