Houston is a diverse and international city. According to the U.S. Census (2000) the racial makeup of the city was 49.3% Caucasian, 25.3% African American, 5.3% Asian, Native American 5.3%, 16.5 % other and 37% Hispanic. In an effort to improve upon existing strengths within the refugee and immigrant families living in Houston communities the Office of International Communities along with the Mayor’s advisory Committee of Immigrant and refugee affairs (Advisory Committee Office of International Communities) tasked an engagement working group to explore the aspirations of the families utilizing an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) methodology with the goal of informing service providers and city policy. Appreciative inquiry is a methodology that focuses on strengths based research.

Key Take Away Points

  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Refugees and Immigrants
  • Community Change
  • International Communities
  • City Services
  • Strengths Based Research
  • Social Change
  • Focus Groups

Author Biography

Noël Bezette-Flores, PhD, is the Executive Director for the Center for Public Service and Family Strengths at the University of Houston-Downtown. Bezette-Flores is trained in both quantitative and qualitative methods and specializes in research with focus groups for community based initiatives. She is trained in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory in child development and has applied it to family systems and is also trained in appreciative inquiry methods applied to community change. Sacha Lazarre, BA, is a Community Developer at Neighborhood Centers which has adopted the "asset-based community development" approach to work in Community Based Initiatives. Lazarre has implemented the Kretzmann and McKnight model which proposes that individuals and organizations within neighborhoods have assets upon which economic, political and social strength can be built. Lazarre has also utilized appreciate inquiry methodology in various capacities addressing organizational change and community development.


Special acknowledgement to the University of Houston-Downtown, the MACIRA Board members, the members of the international communities that participated in the focus groups, Neighborhood Centers, Inc. and the City of Houston, Office of International Communities