Hallway Talks on Migration Diplomacy with Vittoria Zanuso and Samer Saliba

By Rhea Almeida and Luisa Portugal

It’s important for city government leaders—particularly Mayors—to be equipped with the access, capacity, and knowledge to deal with shifts in migration patterns caused by climate change, conflict, or economic factors. This episode features Wagner alums Vittoria Zanuso ‘14 and Samer Saliba ’14 from the Mayors Migration Council, an organization focused on enabling cities to better meet the needs of incoming migrants. Tune in to hear about their innovative approaches, and why they think it’s important to stop labeling migration as a “crisis.” The speakers also discuss how their education at NYU Wagner has been influential in their professional careers. 

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[00:00] Welcome from Rhea Almeida and Luisa Portugal,

[01:46] Vittoria and Samer gives an introduction on the mission of the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) and migration.

Guest Speaker

Vittoria Zanuso is an Executive Director of the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) where she oversees the organization’s efforts to help cities influence international deliberations and ensure that migration and refugee policy both reflects and helps cities address realities on the ground. Prior to joining the MMC, Vittoria held multiple positions at the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative (100RC), liaising with mayors, senior officials and private sector leaders to address natural and human-made disasters, from climate change to rising global inequality. As a founding staff member of 100RC, Zanuso helped establish a network of 100 cities from the ground up and created the organization’s urban migration practice, leading advocacy campaigns and strategic partnerships with the International Rescue Committee, Brookings Institute, and NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, among others. She holds an MPA NYU Wagner.

Samer Saliba is the Head of Practice of the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) where he oversees MMC’s suite of technical assistance programming that supports city leaders in designing and implementing local policies, plans, and projects that address the needs of refugees and migrants. Samer has over 10 years of experience making cities more inclusive of displaced and marginalized people. He holds a BA in Urban Studies from Boston University, a Master of Urban Planning from NYU Wagner School of Public Service, and is currently a PhD student at The New School.


Rhea Almeida is second-year MPA international student at NYU Wagner hailing from Mumbai, India. In the past, she has worked in the fields of policy, advocacy, and development for a women’s working rights group in India. Prior to that, she worked as a TV news journalist in New Delhi. Her areas of interest include workers’ rights, gender equality, grassroot level advocacy and coronavirus response policy. In addition to being contributing editor for The Wagner Review, she serves as senator for the Wagner Student Association, and events chair for the Wagner Policy Alliance. She is also the co-founder of the ‘What’s up with Coronavirus Policy’ discussion group.

Luisa Portugal is a second-year MPA student at NYU Wagner specializing in International Development Management & Policy. She earned an LLM in Constitutional Law and Theory in Brazil. Her main topics of interest are international development, climate change and the coronavirus crisis. Luisa will serve as Co-Chair of Events for the Alliance for Climate Change and Environment (ACE) in the upcoming year. She is also the co-founder of the ‘What’s up with Coronavirus Policy’ discussion group.

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Music credit: Deadly Roulette Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0; License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/