Reza Jalali, Executive Director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, to be the featured speaker at SMCC 2023 Commencement

South Portland, Maine – Reza Jalali, writer, educator, former refugee, and current Executive Director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center (GPIWC), will be the featured speaker at Southern Maine Community College’s (SMCC) 2023 Commencement to be held at the Cross Insurance Arena, Sunday, May 21 starting at 2 p.m.

Jalali is an Iranian Kurd who has been living in Maine since 1985. He has taught at the University of Southern Maine and Bangor Theological Seminary. As an Amnesty International USA Board of Directors member, Jalali has visited refugee camps in Turkey and Bosnia. In 1992, he visited the White House as part of a national delegation to discuss the plight of Kurdish refugees fleeing Iraq. He has written several books, including two detailing the lives of some of Maine’s immigrant community; New Mainers: Portraits of Our Immigrant Neighbors and Dear Maine: The Trials and Triumphs of Maine’s 21st Century Immigrants.

“Reza has become an important partner with SMCC over the last few years,” SMCC President Joe Cassidy said. “He is a tireless champion of New Mainers and the roles they play in growing Maine’s economy. He has worked with us to help identify learners’ short-term and long-term goals while developing opportunities and support throughout their entire process at SMCC. We’re proud to have Reza share his inspiring journey with our community.”

Admission is free and tickets are not required. There is no limit to the number of guests who may attend. Doors open at 12:00 p.m.

There will be interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing at the ceremony. Cross Insurance Arena has clearly marked seating available to accommodate graduates’ guests with disabilities. Should one of your guests require ADA seating, we recommend that you arrive by 12:00 p.m., as guest seating cannot be reserved.

For more information on commencement, visit our website at