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Richmond, VA

2008 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

Richmond Barbara Smith
Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services
Barbara Smith


Raised on a small Ohio farm, Barbara Smith and her husband moved from Reading, Pennsylvania, where she ran a domestic violence shelter, to Roanoke, Virginia in 1988. The Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services Office was established in 1978 to help settle the 3,000 Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians who came to Roanoke. It is one of three Virginia resettlement sites operated by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. In 1989 when Ms. Smith began her career at Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services, her staff consisted of four employees in a very small office; at the time of her retirement, she had quadrupled the staff to sixteen and moved the Center into a renovated four-bedroom Tudor-style house.

In the nineteen years that Ms. Smith has worked for the Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services, she has settled more than 3,000 refugees from thirty-one different countries, averaging close to 200 refugees a year.

Ms. Smith has taught cultural sensitivity courses to law enforcement officers and spear-headed a program that arranged for students from Virginia Tech to mentor immigrant families. Other accomplishments include: coordinating efforts to enlist volunteer tutors and mentors for the mass of political refugees who arrive in Roanoke each year; establishing a low-cost interpreter service for area agencies and businesses; hiring court-certified counselors to practice immigration law on a sliding scale fee; and persuading Roanoke city and county schools to fund three school liaisons in the Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services Office to assist in enrolling the refugee and immigrant children into the school system.

The Roanoke Resident Agency (RA) of the Richmond Division first made contact with Ms. Smith approximately seven to eight years ago because of a matter involving a group of Vietnamese refugees; the RA has continued to work with her on a case-by-case basis. Through the years of continued support from Ms. Smith, her willingness to assist law enforcement in their mission has greatly enhanced the RA’s domain awareness by introducing FBI personnel to refugees and immigrants residing in the Roanoke territory; her support of the FBI has encouraged the refugees and immigrants to communicate more freely with the Bureau.

FBI Director Recognizes
Distinguished Community Leaders
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In a ceremony at FBI Headquarters, Director Robert S. Mueller, III recognized the recipients of the 2008 Director’s Community Leadership Award. These leaders, selected by their area FBI field office, have demonstrated outstanding contributions to their local communities through service. The FBI is grateful for the work of each of these individuals and organizations on behalf of their communities.

“Whatever the motivation—an unfilled need, a tragic occurrence, a desire to give back—these are people who make things happen and enlist others in their cause,” said Director Mueller. “They are activists who have earned their prestige through good works.”

Recipients of the 2008 Director’s Community Leadership Award include:

- Albany
- Albuquerque
- Anchorage
- Atlanta
- Baltimore
- Birmingham
- Boston
- Buffalo
- Charlotte
- Chicago
- Cincinnati
- Clarksburg
- Cleveland
- Columbia
- Dallas
- El Paso
- Headquarters | 2 | 3 | 4
- Honolulu
- Houston
- Indianapolis
- Jackson
- Jacksonville
- Kansas City
- Knoxville
- Little Rock
- Los Angeles

- Memphis
- Miami
- Milwaukee
- Minneapolis
- Mobile
- New Haven
- New York
- Newark
- Norfolk
- Omaha
- Philadelphia
- Phoenix
- Portland
- Richmond
- Sacramento
- Salt Lake City
- San Antonio
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Seattle
- Springfield
- St. Louis
- Tampa
- Washington Field

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