Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has appointed Yusufi Vali to head the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement, his office announced Friday.

Vali formerly worked as director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, a mosque and community center in Roxbury that serves more than 1,500. He is the first Muslim to lead MOIA and the highest-ranking Muslim on Walsh's leadership staff in recent memory, according to the mayor's office.

In a statement, Vali said that as an immigrant himself, he understands the challenges families face when they arrive in a new country, "particularly during current times of divisive and ugly rhetoric."

"I am excited to lead our City's efforts in ensuring immigrants feel right at home," he added.

Vali's appointment comes six months after former director Alejandra St. Guillen left the post to run for city councilor-at-large. MOIA was originally established in 1998 by former Mayor Thomas Menino, and at the time was known as the Mayor's Office For New Bostonians.

"We're sending a very strong message to everybody that we are an open and inclusive city in so many different ways," Walsh said at a press conference. "The front door of the Office for Immigrant Advancement is open to anyone that wants to walk through it."

This article has been updated.