How has immigration impacted our city historically, as well as today? How can our community better support our refugee and immigrant neighbors? On February 15, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre will host a panel discussion to dig deeper into these questions and issues of local immigration and inclusion.

While our spring musical, Ragtime, shows the early stages of America’s story as “the great melting pot,” this free community discussion will challenge us to examine the themes of immigration and the American Dream in the contemporary, local context. In a tumultuous political and global climate, community organizations like ourselves and our partners can be a safe space to foster conversations about critical issues such as diversity and inclusion.


  • February 15, 7-8pm
  • Grand Rapids Public Library, Downtown Branch
  • Learn more information on our Facebook
  • RSVP for the Panel on EventBrite

Panelists from organizations working within immigrant and refugee services will share historical insights and impacts of immigration on Grand Rapids, as well as how we can better support immigrants to create an inclusive, diverse community. Local immigrants will also share their personal experiences in this critical community discussion. Our panelist partners include:

  • Ricardo Tavarez, Pastor at En Vivo Church
  • Susan Kragt, Executive Director at West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center
  • Kristine Van Noord, Program Manager at Bethany Christian Services’ Refugee Adult & Family Programs
  • Kelsey Herbert, Office of Social Justice at Christian Reformed Church of North America
  • Irina Nadrau, Grand Rapids Public Library staff and immigrant from Romania

All panel attendees will receive a discount to Civic Theatre’s upcoming production of Ragtime, on stage February 24-March 19. The February 15 panel discussion is free and open to the public. Reserve your space by registering here.