Best Practices for Communicating Public Health Risks to Refugee, Immigrant and Migrant Communities

Young woman explaining public health risks to older gentleman

The National Resource Center for Refugees Immigrants and Migrants (NRC -RIM) is partnering with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to hold a risk communication webinar for public health agencies and other organizations serving diverse communities. This initiative is supported by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support health departments and community organizations working with refugee, immigrant and migrant communities that have been disproportionately affected by health disparities.

The overall goal of the webinar is to improve the capacity of public health staff to effectively communicate to affected communities during a crisis. The webinar will provide a cultural lens in risk communication with RIM communities. By the end of the webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify 3 key principles of risk communication

  • Describe risk perception and how that can vary across diverse refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities

  • Apply key messaging strategies to better tailor messages to immigrant communities

  • Identify 2-3 best practices for messengers communicating with RIM communities

ibrahim mukhtar

Ibrahim Mukhtar
Sahan Journal

Mukhtar M. Ibrahim is a digital media entrepreneur and journalist. He's the founder, publisher, and CEO of Sahan Journal, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering Minnesota’s immigrants and communities of color.

Mukhtar has won numerous recognitions and awards for his achievements as an innovative entrepreneur, and for his standing as a thought leader in journalism. Mukhtar’s personal and professional distinction is accompanied by his large social media following, his ambition and strategic talents, and his extremely wide and diverse networks.

He's an adjunct fellow at the University of Minnesota where he supports the journalism school's inclusion, equity, and diversity in its courses while co-teaching an intermediate reporting course.

Born in Somalia, Mukhtar spent his childhood in Ethiopia and Kenya and has lived his adult life in Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and three daughters.

doug schultz

Doug Schultz, CCPH
Minnesota Department of Health

Doug Schultz has been an information officer with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) since 2002, focusing on media relations, risk communication and strategic communications in the areas of infectious disease and environmental health. He holds the Certified Communicator in Public Health (CCPH) credential from the National Public Health Information Coalition and is a certified trainer in CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) course. He frequently trains and coaches spokespeople at MDH. Prior to joining the public health department, he served in the communications office at the Minnesota Department of Human Services for four years and before that was a newspaper editor and reporter for nearly 20 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and German from Grinnell College. 

michael schommer

Michael Schommer
Minnesota Department of Health

Michael Schommer has served as the Minnesota Department of Health communications director since January 2013. In this role, he directs the department’s communications activities including media relations, social media and internal communications. Prior to joining MDH, he served as communications director for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and as a newspaper reporter in the southern Minnesota towns of New Ulm and Rochester. Schommer earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of St. Thomas in 1994, and a master’s degree in strategic communication from the University of Minnesota in 2009. Professional areas of interest include crisis and risk communication, communications psychology and information processing.
Syreeta Wilkins
Syreeta Wilkins, NRC-RIM

Syreeta is the communications strategist for the National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants and Migrants (NRC-RIM), where she leads the communications efforts for the center as well as guides the creation and dissemination of health communications materials.

She has more than a decade of experience in strategic communications, specializing in internal communications, digital media, and diverse and multilingual communities. Before joining the team at NRC-RIM, she led communications for K-12 public schools.

Syreeta holds a master's degree in linguistics from New York University, where she explored socioeconomic influences on Spanish-speaking immigrants' speech patterns. She holds a bachelor's degree from Macalester College.