by Lynne Faris Blessing, Pastor for Outreach
Our ties with World Relief Seattle (WRS) go way back. There is a deep, rich history of Bethany folks welcoming people who fled their countries and needed a safe place to rebuild their lives. A major contributor to this partnership was a beloved member of our church, Cal Uomoto, who served as the Executive Director of WRS for 23 years until he passed away in 2012. Cal’s legacy of selflessness, quiet strength and commitment to sharing the Gospel through offering detention center worship services and helping new neighbors/refugees in many, many ways lives on.
In January of 2016, Chitra Hanstad assumed the role of Executive Director for WRS. I’ve been in a number of meetings with Chitra, and each time I’ve been so impressed with her character and leadership. She brings a wonderful blend of warm, passionate communication and wisdom from a wealth of personal experiences.
When I first sat down to write this article, I thought I’d share a little from Chitra’s bio and then try to convey what I learned from her recent teaching at the Life Together series on immigration. But as I read it, I found that I didn’t want to cut out anything because each part is so interesting, and I want our congregation to learn about the remarkable person and leader she is.
Chitra will be preaching at Bethany on November 25, so I encourage you to get to know her a bit through reading her bio (to right). And then if you have the chance on November 25, please go shake her hand and offer her a few words of gratitude for the admirable work she is doing for some of the most vulnerable people in our region – those who’ve fled their homelands and are hoping to replant their lives in our midst. Mostly, I’m sure she’d appreciate your prayers for all the staff and for the people they serve.
Chitra Hanstad serves as the Executive Director for World Relief Seattle, the largest refugee resettlement and services agency in Washington State. Chitra recently returned from India, where she and her family lived for five years. She spent the last year of that time as Senior Consultant for Justice Ventures International, working on anti-human trafficking campaigns, strategic planning and fund development. Prior to that, she was a Philanthropic Advisor for Seattle Foundation and also managed their scholarship program.
While her career started in corporate advertising, public relations and intercultural communications, she has spent most of the last twenty-five years working for local and international non-profits. Chitra has worked in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, India,
Romania, Mexico and the Netherlands. In Seattle, she has lived in, worked with and organized the community in the Rainier Valley of Seattle. She was Director of Community Care at Jubilee REACH; founded and was Executive Director of Emerald City Jobs; and has consulted with Urban Impact, Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition, Rainier Scholars and Landesa. She also worked for Karnataka Health Promotions Trust and Aperian Global, as a Senior Consultant, in India.
Chitra holds a Master of Arts Degree in Marketing Communications from Wheaton College and a Master of Science degree in International Development from Eastern University. Chitra has served on many boards including, Landesa, Covenant World Relief & Urban Impact, and volunteers with The Stability Network. Recently, Chitra completed a Certificate Course in “Accelerating Social Transformation” with the UW Evans School and UW School of Business, as a Raikes Foundation Scholar. Chitra has been a participant and delegate at the 2018 World Economic Forum and the Skoll World Forum.
To join World Relief Seattle’s efforts to “replant lives,” we are collecting gift cards ($50 or $25 for Target, Fred Meyers or Goodwill), new brooms, new towels and diapers (size 4 and 5). You can also learn more about World Relief
Seattle by visiting www.worldreliefseattle.org.