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Home > City Departments > Law Department > Office of New Americans > ONA Team

ONA Team

Jessica Lazarin, Director

Jessica Lazarin is Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of Buffalo Law Department and concurrently serves as Director of the City of Buffalo Office of New Americans, an office established by Mayor Byron W. Brown in April of 2015.  The office is ,the first of its kind in Buffalo.  Buffalo is the only city, outside of New York City, in New York state with an office dedicated to addressing the integration and well-being of the city's growing refugee and immigrant population.  Director Lazarin develops policies that promote access to city services, including bringing resources to Buffalo that have been implemented by the New York State Office for New Americans. She is the City’s contact for collaborative efforts addressing economic, educational and vocational opportunities for the immigrant and refugee communities that also include the city's incumbent Hispanic and African American communities.  Her office facilitates outreach to the community to promote access to already-existing programs and she looks to expand partnerships with Buffalo Public Schools, Adult Education programs, the City's resettlement and post-resettlement agencies and local organizations to address community needs.  She also facilitates promotion of cultural events in the Buffalo and Western New York immigrant community, such as Immigrant Heritage Month and World Refugee Day.

Before joining City Hall,  Director Lazarin was an immigration defense attorney with the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc. (VLP), a not for profit organization providing civil legal assistance to low income individuals. She represented detained persons before the Batavia Immigration Court and non-detained individuals before the Buffalo Immigration Court. She also represented persons in their applications before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in cases that included adjustment of status, petitions for victims of trafficking, victims of domestic violence and unaccompanied minors in foster care seeking special immigrant juvenile status.  Director Lazarin is currently a first-time delegate to the New York State Bar Association House of Delegates and a member of the NYSBA Committee on Immigration Representation.  She is also a member of the Erie County New Americans Committee and serves on the Task Force for the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative.

Tracy F. King, Communications Advisor

Tracy F. King is the Communications Advisor and Assistant for the City of Buffalo Office of New Americans. Previously she has served as communications assistant for City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and a U.S. State Department Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) Intern. As a VSFS intern, she worked with the U.S. Diplomacy Center generating content for their social media accounts. Tracy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and her Master of Science degree in Public Relations Management from SUNY Buffalo State College.

 Rahel B Belete, AmeriCorps Vista

Rahel Belete graduated with honors from Nazareth College of Rochester, where she earned dual degrees in International Studies and French with a concentration in International Business.  She is serving as an AmeriCorps Vista at the City of Buffalo Office of New Americans for the year.


As an Outreach and Speakers Bureau AmeriCorps Vista, Rahel works to improve the immigrant and refugee community’s event planning as well as English public speaking skills through the creation of a Speakers Bureau, strengthen community resource linkages for low income families and individuals by creating a City-Services Guide and New Buffalonian Guidebook. Though she has lived in the Buffalo area for six years, working at the City of Buffalo Office of New Americans has allowed her to engage with communities that she had not previously worked with, further instilled her passion for service and community development.