Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has been dedicated to welcoming immigrants and refugees for more than 80 years. We're thrilled to share what we've accomplished in one of our most extraordinary years yet.

President's Letter

2021 was all about meeting the moment.

As we entered the year, the United States was still in the midst of a raging global pandemic, coupled with bitter political divisions and a near-embargo on immigration. And yet, we still had hope: hope that a vaccine would come soon, that refugee travel would resume, and that Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) would continue to grow into its potential as the domestic leader in the immigration and refugee resettlement space.

All of those things happened, alongside countless others that we couldn’t have predicted—most notably, the massive increase in unaccompanied children at the United States’ southern border and the fall of Afghanistan’s government to the Taliban. Through each developing crisis, LIRS rose to the occasion in unprecedented ways, taking a leadership role on the national stage through innovative programming, strategic communications and mobilization, and fearless advocacy.

We were able to transform extraordinary challenges into opportunities to expand, improve, innovate, and create a system that enables immigrant and refugee families to thrive. But this critical work of welcome is not undertaken alone. We owe so much to our talented, mission-driven staff and affiliate network, the communities of faith and goodwill across the country that stepped up in incredible ways to welcome our new neighbors, our corporate and foundational partners, and the tens of thousands of donors, volunteers, and supporters who joined the LIRS family in 2021. Thank you.

In many ways, it feels as if our work is only just beginning. We look forward to sharing all we’ve accomplished in 2021 with you in the pages ahead—and working together to do even more in 2022.

Krish O’Mara VignarajahKrish O’Mara Vignarajah Signature
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah
President & CEO
Elizabeth WagnerElizabeth Wagner Signature
Elizabeth Wagner
Board President
By The Numbers

2021 At A Glance

In many ways, 2021 was Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service’s biggest year ever. Despite continued challenges to resettlement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we received the most extensive public support in our 82-year history.

$24 million+
raised in support of our immigrant and refugee neighbors
new volunteers
individuals assisted at the Southern border
immigrant children reunited with family in the U.S.
new Americans resettled
media appearances championing refugee and immigrant rights
Crisis Response

Meeting the Moment

In a year beset with crisis, LIRS played a pivotal role in stepping up to serve the most vulnerable. From resettling thousands of Afghan evacuees to ensuring the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children at the border received compassionate care, we were there at every stage—and have used the lessons learned to work toward more sustainable solutions for those urgently seeking safety.

August 2021
Afghans arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport following evacuation from Kabul.
Mission-Critical Work

A Legacy of Welcome

For more than 80 years, LIRS has provided a full slate of services to support and empower refugee and immigrant children and families—from respite services at the border to family reunification to setting up homes for New American families. This work is a mainstay of our mission and vision, creating the foundation from which we can build a better system.

New Beginnings in North Dakota
A family of six from Syria is among the many refugees who began their new lives in Fargo, ND with the help of LIRS’s new field office.

Programs and Events

2021 marked the second year of our new slate of programming for communities and congregations that want to take a more active role in the work of welcome. Bolstering our client services, these annual national programs offer opportunities for education, togetherness, advocacy, and service to support and promote empathy for new Americans.

We invite our friends and supporters to engage with our flagship programs for both secular and faith-based communities—or take the next step and become an LIRS Ambassador or member of the Emmaus Network.

Get Involved

Hope for the Holidays
LIRS’ sixth-annual campaign, which collects cards and purchases gifts for children that are distributed at migrant detention centers across the country and at shelters along the border.
Donor Support

The Gift of Welcome

2021 was the most successful fundraising year in LIRS history, spurred by an outpouring of support after the Afghanistan crisis that increased the number of individual gifts given by nearly 300%—from just over 6,000 in FY20 to just under 23,000 in FY21.

Through the crisis and beyond, we connected with 32 corporate and foundational donors to raise nearly $9.5 million—including $4.47 million for our new Afghan neighbors. Notable partnerships included Airbnb, Walmart.org, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and Uber.

In total, LIRS received $24.6 million in private dollars in 2021. As always, we are inspired by the generosity of our donors and partners, whose gifts make a real difference in the lives of immigrants and refugees every single day.

More than 90% of all revenue goes to support vital LIRS programs.

“God has blessed us with a comfortable living, and we have enough money to share. It is hard to imagine being in their shoes, but I hope that if my family ever had to flee our homes, someone would open their homes and hearts to help us.”

Neoma G., LIRS donor
Hope for the Holidays

Since 1955, the Tree of Life Lutheran Church in Yakima, Washington, has faithfully served their multi-cultural community. Unfortunately, the harsh impacts of COVID-19 brought the congregation to the difficult decision to close its doors and distribute their final assets.

They chose LIRS to receive a generous donation to continue their long legacy of welcoming the stranger. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the congregation for their generosity and service.

Cookies and Lemonade Sale

“My son Peter is 12 years old and was extremely saddened by the events that unfolded in Afghanistan. He felt deeply for the refugees, especially children, seeking comfort and safety here in the United States and around the world. We heard about your organization after researching ways to help online. He put together a cookie and lemonade sale on Labor Day weekend. His stand was a huge success, and he is still looking for ways to help and we hope that as the refugees settle closer to our area, we will be able to do more and volunteer our time to your cause.”


2021 Financial Report

LIRS is a careful steward of the private donations and public funds that allow us to carry out our work of welcome.

Statement of Financial Position

Cash & Cash Equivalents$18,231$20,902
U.S. Govt Receivable29,2357,055
Other Assets4,1782,830
Investment In Lutheran Center Corp3,4073,420
Total Assets$69,974$34,473
Liabilities And Net Assets20212020
Accounts Payable & Other Liabilities $31,005 $11,539
Long-term Debt1,883 1,886
Total Liabilities $32,888 $13,425
Net Assets
Without Donor Restrictions $32,818 $20,512
With Donor Restrictions4,268 536
Total Net Assets $37,086 $21,048
Total Assets$69,974$34,473

Statement of Activities & Changes in Net Assets

Support & Revenue20212020
Contributions – Private Sources$23,170$3,414
U.S. Government and State93,18957,857
Fees and Other Revenue1,9091,801
Total Support & Revenue $118,268 $63,072
Program Services$94,808$56,541
Management and General5,6423,504
Total Expenses $102,174 $61,328
Change in Net Assets$16,038$1,744
Net Assets, Beginning of Year21,04819,304
Net Assets, End of Year $37,086 $21,048

Board of Directors and President’s Council

LIRS is a careful steward of the private donations and public funds that allow us to carry out our work of welcome.

Board of Directors

Executive Committee
Ms. Elizabeth Wagner (Board Chair)
Bryn Mawr Trust Company (Princeton, NJ)
Mr. Eddie Resende (Vice Chair)
World Trade Center Institute (Baltimore, MD)
Mr. Dennis Wieckert (Board Treasurer)
Ernst & Young, retired (Alpharetta, GA)
Mr. Jan Engkasser (Board Secretary)
Thrivent (St. Paul, MN)
Ms. Michele Speaks (Executive Member at Large)
Warnock Foundation (Baltimore, MD)
Ms. Diane Batchik (Executive Member at Large)
Diane Batchik Consulting (Columbia, MD)
At-Large Members
Mr. Matuor Alier
Moorhead Public Schools (Fargo, ND)
Ms. Faith Ashton
Retired (Chapel Hill, NC)
Ms. Selena S. Besirevic
The Rutherford Law Center (Denver, CO)
Bishop Paul Erickson
Greater Milwaukee ELCA Synod (Milwaukee, WI)
Dr. Viji George
Concordia University, retired (Bronxville, NY)
Mr. Ted W. Goins Jr.
Lutheran Services Carolinas (Salisbury, NC)
Dr. Yared Halche
Southeastern District, LCMS (Ellicott City, MD)
Ms. Virginia Hultquist
Thrivent Financial, retired (Greensboro, NC)
Mr. Randall Johnson
Seyfarth, Shaw LLP (Washington, DC)
Rev. John R. Moeller, Jr.
Lutheran Services of Georgia (Atlanta, GA)
Ms. Bryn Parchman
Port Discovery Museum (Baltimore, MD)
Mr. Carlos Peña
Kleen Supply Company (Galveston, TX)
Mr. Dustin Plantholt
Optimed Health Plans (Sparks, MD)
Dr. Diana Martha Pohle
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (San Jose, CA)
Ms. Evelyn Soto
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Chicago, IL)

President’s Council

Susan Aplin
World Trade Center Institute
Diane Batchik
Diane Batchik Consulting
Betsy Biern
Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area Foundation
Angela Chee
YOU, Amplified!
Christopher Davis
Angela Dejene
Dejene Communications
Judy Diers
Ford Foundation
Rev. Mary Forell-Davis
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Tom Grevlos
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church
Christine Grumm
Christine Grumm Consulting
Muhsin Hassan
Lever for Change
Mike Hansen
Hansen and Associates
Ed Hatcher
The Hatcher Group
Daya Khalsa
Prosperity Works
Donna Kinzer
DK Healthcare Consulting
Sean Long
Endeavor Energy Holdings
Lori Lovelace
The Vessel
Bill McKibben
Paul C. Miles
We Raise Foundation
Evan Moilan
GSB Fundraising
Dr. Olin Oedekoven
Peregrine Leadership Institute
Bryn Parchman
Port Discovery Children’s Museum
LeRoy Pingho
Great Elm Solutions (GES)
Sridhar Prasad
Anne C. Richard
University of Virginia’s Miller Center
Rev. Eric Schafer
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
Michele Speaks
Warnock Foundation
Linda Stoterau
Kristin Taylor
Project Connect
Jose Antonio Tijerino
Hispanic Heritage Foundation
Laurel Vicklund
Peregrine Global Services
David Warnock
Camden Partners
Debbi Weinberg
Girls Empowerment Mission: GEM
Reinhard Ziegler, PhD
The Vessel

Thank you For your Support!

To help LIRS continue our work of welcome, please visit lirs.org/donate.

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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) welcomes newcomers who seek safety, support, and a share in the American dream. In collaboration with partners across the country, we run programs in two core areas: Children and Family Services and Refugee and Migrant Services.

LIRS Headquarters
700 Light Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230