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Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) is a community organization dedicated to providing sanctuary to writers whose works are suppressed, whose lives are threatened, whose cultures are vanishing, or whose languages are endangered. ICOA is a member of the International Cities of Refuge Network, one of only two cities in the United States. Formed in 2001, ICOA has hosted writer, poet, and essayist Yi Ping (China), the late playwright and novelist Reza Daneshvar (Iran), poet and memoirist Sarah Mkhonza (Swaziland), poet and playwright Irakli Kakabadze (Georgia), Sonali Samarasinghe (Sri Lanka), and Raza Rumi (Pakistan).

ICOA serves as a bridge into the community, assisting visiting writers and their families in meeting the challenges of a new environment. ICOA is a project of the Center for Transformative Action, a non-profit organization affiliated with Cornell University, and works in partnership with Cornell, Ithaca College, and Wells College. ICOA is a member of the International Network of Cities of Refuge, joining people around the world advocating for freedom of expression.

ICOA’s resident writers are assisted in meeting their daily expenses while in Ithaca, including housing, furnishings, transportation, translators’ fees, legal expenses, and performance and publication of new work, through contributions to ICOA from individuals, foundations, and corporations.





To Make a Donation or to Contact ICOA

ICOA is funded by the generosity of individual donors.

Donations may be sent to:
Ithaca City of Asylum
c/o Anabel Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Checks should be made out to the Center for Transformative Action. Please be sure to put Ithaca City of Asylum in the memo line of your check.

You can also donate online through our GiveGab account.

Advisory Board Members

  • Barbara Adams
  • Katherine Anderson

  • Holly Bailey
  • Anindita Banerjee
  • Robert Colley
  • Jessica del Mundo
  • Matt Evangelista
  • Brenna Fitzgerald
  • Jason Freitag
  • Christopher Gonzales
  • David Guaspari
  • Sandy Gutman
  • Rich Heffron
  • Nancy Holzner
  • Edward Hower
  • Kate Klein
  • Jeanne Mackin
  • Susan Tarrow
  • Gail Holst-Warhaft

To find out more about ICOA, please email us at:

This short documentary about ICOA was produced by Maureen Wietecha, our spring 2017 intern.

Commemorating Ten Years of Giving Voice to Freedom

On the occasion of its tenth anniversary celebration Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) published Ithaca City of Asylum: Celebrating Ten Years of Giving Voice to Freedoma retrospective of ICOA’s work supporting writers who face political repression and offers detailed profiles of the writers who have come to Ithaca with the group’s support.

Cover, Ten Year Report

Banner image based on a detail of “overlooking ithaca” by almostsummersky. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

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