The 12th Annual Immigrant Liberty Awards, with the theme "Illuminating Justice," was held on Friday, June 16, in Denver.
More than 350 community members gathered to honor the outstanding achievements of immigrants, refugees, and those who advocate on behalf of the immigrant and refugee community. This year's event honored:
Yana Vishnitsky, who first came to Colorado with her family as a persecuted Jewish refugee from Soviet Russia in 1978. Yana's 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 (JFS) upon her arrival. Vishnitsky became a case manager and translator with JFS, 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, 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.
Edgar Barraza, who made history as the first DREAMer admitted to the Colorado Bar. Edgar 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.
In addition, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP received 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.
Community Activist Nadeen Ibrahim served as the Master of Ceremonies.
The inspirational event raised over $100,000 of funding for RMIAN's programs. RMIAN wishes to thank all of the honorees, attendees, and individuals who helped make the event such a success.