2017 Immigrant Liberty Award Winners Announced!

The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) has announced the honorees for the 12th Annual Immigrant Liberty Awards, an uplifting event themed “Illuminating Justice,” to be held at the McNichols Civic Center Building in Denver on Friday, June 16, 2017, at 5:30 pm.

Each year, attendees at the Immigrant Liberty Awards gather to honor the outstanding achievements of immigrants, refugees, and those who advocate on behalf of the immigrant and refugee community. This year, the awardees will include Colorado attorney and DREAMer Edgar Barraza, refugee and nonprofit leader Yana Vishnitsky, and the Colorado African Organization Community Navigators.

Edgar Barraza made history as the first DREAMer to be admitted to the Colorado Bar. He came to the U.S. at the age of 11 with his family and, although he could not speak English, he was motivated by his mother to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to him. Barraza, who worked his way as a top student first through Denver Public Schools, then the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and finally the Sturm College of Law, is a model of academic success. He received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Barraza was admitted to the Colorado Bar as its first DREAMer and is working for a private commercial litigation firm, Rollin Braswell Fisher LLC, remembering to take time to give back to others through volunteering and mentoring programs.

Yana Vishnitsky first came to Colorado with her family as a persecuted Jewish refugee from Soviet Russia in 1978. Her family was committed to building a better and freer life in the U.S. and received resettlement support from the Jewish Family Service of Colorado upon their arrival. Vishnitsky became a case manager and translator with Jewish Family Services, launching a successful career as a nonprofit leader. She retired from the agency as its President and CEO last year. 

The Colorado African Organization Community Navigators are a unique group of individuals who are refugees themselves and help other new refugees bridge the gap between resettlement and self-sufficiency. These Community Navigators help others access the resources and support they need to integrate fully into Colorado and American society, including employment, housing, health care, and education.

In addition to the honorees, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP will receive the 9th Annual Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of the exemplary pro bono legal services the firm has provided to clients through RMIAN’s Children’s Program and Detention Program.

At the event on June 16th, Nadeen Ibrahim, Community Activist and Member of the Denver Immigrant & Refugee Commission, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Ibrahim’s personal story of immigrating to the U.S. from Jerusalem as a baby, becoming a U.S. Citizen, studying public health, bridging cultural and religious differences as a Muslim, and devoting her life to advocating for the respect and awareness of diversity will powerfully connect to the themes of the evening. 

The Immigrant Liberty Awards benefits the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN), a nonprofit organization that fights for justice for the most vulnerable immigrants in Colorado. RMIAN provides free immigration legal services to adults held in immigration detention and children who have suffered from abuse, neglect or violence. By contributing essential financial support to RMIAN, this annual event makes it possible for RMIAN to give meaning to a core value, that “Justice for Immigrants means Justice for All.”

This year’s event will include dinner, a silent and live auction, musical entertainment, and an awards ceremony. Event sponsors include The Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (Platinum Sponsor), Kolko & Associates, PC (Gold Sponsor), Stern & Curray LLC (Gold Sponsor), Elkind Alterman Harston PC (Silver Sponsor), Faegre Baker Daniels (Silver Sponsor), Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP (Bronze Sponsor), and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (Bronze Sponsor).

For information about tickets or how to become a sponsor of the event, please contact libertyawards@rmian.org