‘This is my journey’ – Afghan immigrant will lead LCSNW’s Greater Puget Sound district

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Aging & Independent Living, Behavioral Health, Family Support, Refugees & Immigrants, Staff Spotlight

Najib Nazhat likes to use the word “journey” to describe his LCS Northwest career. It started in 2015 when Najib, an immigrant from Afghanistan, accepted a part-time case manager job with the North Puget Sound refugee health program; the next year he was elevated to program manager.

His LCSNW journey had unforeseen twists and turns during the COVID-19 years. That’s when North Puget Sound’s health and asylum assistance programs were combined into Refugee and Immigrant Services, and Najib became director.

He took another step this fall when he was named Associate Director of the newly unified Greater Puget Sound district (GPS), helping bring north and south under one umbrella.

Now comes Najib’s biggest move yet. On Jan. 1, he will take the reins as Director of GPS. He will have responsibility for LCSNW’s largest geographic territory, stretching south to Tacoma, west to the Olympic Peninsula, and north to Seattle and Everett. At full staff, GPS has 130 employees.

“This is my journey at LCSNW – in the past 5-plus years, I had four promotions, or maybe five, I lost count,” he laughed. “I’m just grateful to work with such an amazing team at LCSNW and in our district. They are giving employees a chance to show their potential and to help them develop.”

Najib’s advancement at LCSNW can be seen as a journey inside a much larger journey – one that has unfolded on a global stage. He left Afghanistan with his family during his teen years and completed his education in Pakistan, including a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

His first job out of college brought him back to Afghanistan, doing English language translation and administrative work for Hyundai Motors in Kabul. Next came a stint in Djibouti, Africa, with U.S. Navy Central Command. He returned to Afghanistan once more and got married there.

His time working in support of American forces opened the door to a Special Immigrant Visa, which allowed Najib and his wife to move to the Seattle area in 2015. He heard good reports from cousins, uncles and aunts who’d settled in the area.

After working for private companies, the U.S. government and civilian contractors, why take a job at a nonprofit agency? For Najib, LCSNW’s record of service had strong appeal. “When I came here, and met many other refugees and immigrants from around the world, I realized how hard it is to get the help they need.”

Najib says his move into the District Director role should send two important messages: LCSNW provides growth opportunities for hard-working staff members, and it values the skills and experience of immigrants and refugees.

Heike Lake, the agency’s Chief Operating Officer, says Najib has proven to be a steady leader. “He helped guide staff in the SeaTac office through the challenging years of the COVID pandemic. He has been instrumental in recent months as the North and South Puget Sound teams have joined forces. The Executive Team is confident that Najib is the right leader to complete the GPS transition.”