On November 16, 2022, at the initiative of Mallissa Watts, the IRC team was invited to watch an Afghan documentary at the Metreon AMC theatre in San Francisco. That evening marked the first time I met Mallissa, and our encounter was underscored by the profound sadness of the documentary. We engaged in a brief conversation before entering the theater with the rest of the team.
The documentary’s portrayal of the struggles faced by people during and after the war in Afghanistan struck a deeply emotional chord, especially for me, as I watched the film while physically in Afghanistan. The scenes depicting individuals behind the airport gates, desperately seeking evacuation, resonated with the harsh realities I was witnessing in my home country.
As the movie unfolded, the emotions intensified, and I found myself unable to contain my tears. Each frame served as a poignant reminder of the challenges and hardships endured by the Afghan people, bringing the harsh reality of the situation to the forefront.
Throughout the year of working together in the same office and department, Mallissa consistently demonstrated qualities that set her apart. Her kind heart, combined with a wealth of knowledge and excellent organizational and time management skills, made her an invaluable member of our team. It was evident that she approached her work with dedication and a genuine desire to contribute positively.
In the hustle of the office, Mallissa’s warmth was a constant presence. Whenever I encountered her, she never failed to greet me with a friendly “Hi, Khanzada.” This simple gesture created a welcoming atmosphere and showcased her personable nature. Her ability to connect with colleagues on a personal level contributed to a harmonious and collaborative work environment.
In our professional interactions, Mallissa’s passion for supporting refugees shone through consistently. Her commitment to facilitating their journey to start new lives in the United States was not merely a job duty but a heartfelt mission. Whether through brainstorming sessions, meetings, or casual conversations, her ideas were always thoughtful and geared towards making a lasting positive impact on the lives of those seeking refuge.
One thing that truly impressed me about Mallissa is her remarkable skill set. She exhibits a high level of organizational ethic, excels as a communicator, and consistently applies organizational principles when working with everyone around her. Beyond her professional attributes, Mallissa shines as an excellent mother and is exceptionally friendly.
What sets Mallissa apart is her positive mindset and remarkable attitude. She has an incredible ability to see the good things in people and is always ready to lend a helping hand to others. Her genuine willingness to support and uplift those around her makes her not only a valuable professional but also an outstanding individual.
In October 2023, Mallissa resigned from her position as the AIRS Resettlement Coordinator and encouraged me to apply for the role. Upon successfully passing the interview and being hired as the Resettlement Coordinator, Mallissa congratulated me with these encouraging words: “Congratulations!!! I was really rooting for you and admire your incredible work ethic, positive attitude, and kindness with both clients and colleagues. I can’t think of a better person for this role!”
Her words were truly energizing and inspired me to reflect on my experience working with Mallissa. She has been an exceptional leader and team player, consistently demonstrating a positive attitude, remarkable work ethic, and kindness in her interactions with both clients and colleagues. Mallissa’s support has been instrumental in my journey, and her example continues to shape my approach to the role.