Courtney McCurdy advocates for immigrants and refugees

courtney mccurdy

Alum Courtney McCurdy (’03) is thrilled to become the Refugee Program Consultant for North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. This role enables her to support refugee agencies at a policy level after many years of direct service.

McCurdy’s travels and interdisciplinary education have been key to her career path. After earning an AA in social services, she chose UW Bothell’s Global Studies program to enhance her cultural competency. A human rights minor, McCurdy participated in the 2002 Washington D.C. Human Rights Seminar, which cemented her passion to serve international populations. Led by IAS faculty member Bruce Kochis, her cohort visited D.C. shortly after 9/11 when the Homeland Security Act was routing through Congress. A critical moment for U.S. foreign relations, McCurdy was activated to engage in the political process, and after graduation, she supported presidential candidate John Kerry’s get-out-the-vote campaign as a team lead in Arizona and Nevada.

McCurdy then began her career as an ESL instructor, teaching international students in Taiwan, Costa Rica, and Chicago. When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in December 2010, McCurdy joined the relief organization JPHRO as education project manager for a primary school within an IDP camp. The camp was located on what was once a 9-hole golf course in Petionville and had quickly became home to over 60,000 displaced Haitians. While managing the school, McCurdy worked to get it recognized by the Haitian Ministry of Education, procured school uniforms, taught ESL to the Haitian teachers, implemented professional development programs, established weekly community meetings with parents, and secured a free lunch and snack program by partnering with a local restaurant.

After Haiti, McCurdy relocated to Raleigh, NC where she taught ESL for various institutions and began working for Lutheran Services Carolinas overseeing their refugee resettlement program. Her love of refugee communities deepened, as did her desire to bridge connections with local residents. Last summer, she spearheaded the event “Local Strangers: Global Food,” which celebrated the culinary talents of refugee and immigrant clients while raising funds for local agencies. In all she does, McCurdy aims to educate communities on who refugees are, where they come from, and the benefits they bring. She believes that refugees and immigrants are the soul of America’s global communities and is committed to ensuring all are welcome.