2018 Clarkston Summit

Uniting community, research, and service.


The Clarkston Summit was held on November 10, 2018 and brought together entities working in the community of Clarkston to share work, deepen partnerships, and empower the community to convey its needs. The Summit was designed to encourage a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas between Clarkston residents, community leaders, service providers, and the academic community.




The Summit began with a plenary session and panel discussion that included Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and City Councilman Awet Eyasu, 11Alive News reporter Neima Abdulahi, and CDC researcher Martin Cetron.

Cetron, an expert in international migration, explained the current status of migration to the U.S. and other parts of the world and the role that the CDC plays in ensuring that all refugees who resettle in the U.S. are healthy. He explained that the U.S. receives a small proportion of refugees relative to other countries. In his remarks, Mayor Terry suggested that Clarkston is a future glimpse of America given its diversity and the strength that this diversity brings to the community.

Councilman Eyasu and Abdulahi both came to the U.S. as refugees and provided their perspectives on arriving in the U.S. and learning to live in a new culture. Eyasu described his journey from refugee to Clarkston City Councilman and that Clarkston’s motto, “Where Possibilities Grow,” is emblematic of the life he has been able to lead.

Abdulahi, who was born in Somalia and resettled in Decatur, Ga. as an elementary school student knowing no English, described how her family would spend weekends in Clarkston because it felt comfortable and a little bit like home. During her remarks, she also indicated that the biggest challenge for her was learning what resources were available and finding mentors to guide and push her. 

Our ultimate goal is to translate what we learn into action that can help Clarkston’s refugee and immigrant communities.
— Dr. Parmi Suchdev, Associate Director, Emory Global Health Institute

Back row (left to right): Manal Sidi, RSPH student and EGHI Graduate Research Assistant; Lucy Whitehead, RSPH student and EGHI Graduate Research Assistant; Neima Abdulahi, Reporter, 11Alive News; Parminder Suchdev, EGHI Associate Director, Professor at SOM and RSPH; Heval Kelli, Cardiology Fellow, EU SOM; Mary Helen O’Connor, Director, Center for Community Engagement, GSU Perimeter College; Ted Terry, Mayor, City of Clarkston
Front row seated (left to right): Awet Eyasu, Councilman, City of Clarkston; Martin Cetron, Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, CDC




The goal for this event was to further intercultural understanding, build a stronger foundation for collaboration, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of the Clarkston community. After the plenary session, participants attended breakout sessions where they engaged in deeper discussions about topics related to Clarkston’s community health and wellness. Topics included business, education, healthcare, legal issues, mental health, and women’s health.

The Summit also included an afternoon expo to showcase groups, organizations, and individuals whose work is relevant to the immigrant and refugee communities. The aim of the expo was to facilitate dissemination of information about programs and resources to the broader community of Clarkston. Organizations and service providers emphasized programs and events that support immigrants and refugees. Researchers, non-profits, and academics were invited to present their work in various disciplines related to migration studies in a walk-through expo.

Clarkston is like the Silicon Valley of refugee success, where refugees arrive and achieve their dreams through the investment of people and organizations. The Summit can bring everyone together to create an official network to replicate this success.
— Dr. Heval Kelli, Cardiology Fellow, Emory University School of Medicine

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