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December 16, 2021

USA for UNHCR board member reflects on what inspires her to support refugees

Latrise Brissett is a USA for UNHCR board member and a Managing Director in Accenture’s Digital Analytics practice. She has spent her career focused on addressing the challenging needs of public service organizations by shaping and implementing strategic data-driven solutions that support their mission. 

USA for UNHCR Communications Manager Nicholas Feeney recently spoke with Latrise at a Giving Tuesday event in New York City to discuss what inspired her to join USA for UNHCR’s board, what role the private sector can play in addressing the global refugee crisis and how everyone can play a part in supporting refugees.

What inspired you to join USA for UNHCR’s board? 

I was introduced to USA for UNHCR about five years ago while serving as a judge in a competition that was jointly sponsored between Accenture and USA for UNHCR. The competition brought together four university teams pitching ideas about how they would use advanced analytics to raise awareness and funds for the refugee crisis in the U.S. I was fascinated by some of the solutions that were presented and how much I really didn’t understand about this crisis. I was eager to support and to learn more.

usa for unhcr board member latrise brissett

What about the global refugee crisis and the mission of USA for UNHCR made you want to get involved?  

When I learned that more than 84 million people globally are refugees or forcibly displaced and that 42 percent of them are children, I knew I needed to commit myself to do more. It was not enough for me to be focused on domestic issues, I felt compelled to serve as a global citizen and to do anything in my power to raise awareness and raise funds to provide much-needed support to this incredibly vulnerable population. 

Prior to joining the board, did you have a personal connection to refugees?  

I did not have a personal relationship, but was always incredibly moved by the stories of the Sudanese “Lost Boys.” I remember learning about their journey and resilience, and thought if I could ever play a role in supporting or helping refugees to start a new life after being forced unwillingly to leave their home, I wanted to help however I could.

What role can the private sector play in addressing the needs of refugees? 

The private sector and USA for UNHCR can see tremendous success if they view support and investment as more than a one-time event. Far too often the support is transactional and not strategic. 

To really tackle a crisis, organizations need to partner and strategically think over a one, three and five year period to determine and generate real impact. Viewing the partnership over the long-term with the ability to show data and impact reporting is where I believe you will see more engagement, continuous support and commitment from the private sector. 

How is the Giving Machines* initiative helping to connect Americans to displaced people?  

The Giving Machines makes it real and helps people understand that they too can contribute and play a role. It is daunting to think about how many people are in need across the globe. It is also hard to get your head around how your contribution will really help. Just as simple as using a vending machine, you can contribute and make a difference. It is a compelling and fantastic way to give.

* Giving Machines is a fundraising initiative of the Latter-day Saints Charities “Light the World” campaign that allows people to purchase essential items like blankets, sleeping mats, tents and warm winter clothing for refugees. USA for UNHCR partners with Latter-day Saints Charities to help support refugees globally.

Why should caring Americans step up this year and support refugees? 

It is becoming more and more evident that we are all global citizens and there are many pressing needs around the world. But a $25 donation can do so much for a refugee family to provide comforts we take for granted. Looking beyond your borders and knowing you can help to save a life and provide comfort adds meaning to your life and to the lives of so many others. 

How you can help...

Join Latrise and other compassionate Americans and give kindness this year. Becoming a monthly donor is the most efficient and effective way to help those fleeing conflict. Make a difference in the lives of refugees by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.