ICYMI: San Francisco Hosts First-Ever Immigrant Leadership Awards


June 16, 2017

Contact: press@welcome.us

ICYMI: San Francisco Hosts First-Ever Immigrant Leadership Awards 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee honored the contributions of local immigrant leaders in the City’s first-ever Immigrant Leadership Awards, held Monday night at City Hall. The celebration took place on Monday, June 12, at San Francisco City Hall.

At the ceremony, the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, honored eight local leaders for their “dedication and fearlessness” in fighting for immigrant rights. Among those was the Microsoft Corporation for its work in supporting the San Francisco Pathways Citizenship Initiative by hosting free citizenship workshops at its headquarters.

Other honorees include Lorena Melgarejo of Faith in Action, a formerly undocumented immigrant who has been a community organizer for the last 19 years; Adoubou Traore of the African Advocacy Network and collaborative leader San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative, a public-private-non-profit partnership that aims to promote citizenship among San Francisco’s eligible immigrants.

Hosted by San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission, the awards ceremony included live cultural performances from groups like Lion Dance ME, local indie-Latin-folk singer and guitarist Diana Gameros, Youth Speaks Spoken Word Artist Yujane Chen, Kennelly School of Irish Dance and more followed by a catered reception.

This event was part of June’s Immigrant Heritage Month, a nationwide effort to gather and share the inspirational stories and incredible contributions of immigrants in America. This year marks the fourth annual Immigrant Heritage Month, and the first to be officially proclaimed in the City of San Francisco by Mayor Ed Lee. Later this month, OCEIA will be co-hosting an Immigrant Heritage Month pop-up in San Francisco on June 29 and June 30 from 10:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m. each day at The Laundry in the Mission to celebrate the contributions and achievements of immigrants with its partners at Welcome.us. There will be a variety of programming that will include events such as a Know Your Rights training, video screenings, spoken word readings, and more.

Read quotes from participants and honorees below:

“Tonight was a celebration of our City’s commitment to progress and values of inclusiveness, tolerance and compassion. I proudly proclaim June as Immigrant Heritage Month to honor our diverse communities, our families, and the generations of immigrants who have come to San Francisco seeking a better life. We proudly stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters today and every day. San Francisco will always be a City that stands up and proudly fights on the behalf of all of our residents.” —Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco

“It is an honor for us to celebrate the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission’s 20th anniversary this year. We congratulate Microsoft and Kate O’Sullivan on their Corporate Leadership Award, a well-earned recognition for their ongoing partnership with OCEIA on providing citizenship workshops to San Francisco’s immigrant community. We have been thrilled to have Kate as an active member of the FWD.us Bay Area Innovation Council, a group of thought leaders committed to fighting for common sense, bipartisan immigration reform.”   —Mark Ranneberger, Northern California Director at FWD.us

“I am proud and humbled to accept the Corporate Leader award on behalf of Microsoft, and to celebrate the achievements of the Immigrant Rights Commission over the last 20 years. We’ve been thrilled to partner with the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs on the Pathways to Citizenship Initiative, and as a company that has been shaped and led by immigrants, we’re committed to continuing to support this program and to celebrating the contributions and lives of immigrants throughout Immigrant Heritage Month and beyond.” —Kate O’Sullivan, Bay Area FWD.us Innovation Council member and recipient of the Corporate Leader Award on behalf of Microsoft

“More than just an awards ceremony and reception, tonight is really about affirming our commitment to immigrant communities and recognizing the important role immigrants play in contributing to the success and vibrancy of this City and nation.  We’re celebrating all that we stand for as nation and city: our core values of dignity, respect, and equality for ALL, not just some.” —Adrienne Pon, Executive Director, City & County of San Francisco, Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs

“We must remember the core values of this nation and City and continue to work for a more just and equitable world. For over 20 years, the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission has partnered with the City and the community to ensure the wellbeing and inclusion of immigrants.  From language rights to inclusion and quality of life for our immigrant communities, we have worked hard to ensure that immigrants are recognized for their many contributions and are treated with the dignity and respect that we wish for all Americans.” —Celine Kennelly, Chair of the Immigrant Rights Commission

“For over 150 years, immigrants have contributed to the success and vibrancy of San Francisco.  Today, we have some of the strongest local laws and protections for our immigrants and for underserved communities. As a Commission, we stand together in support of our immigrant communities. Although we all come from different experiences, circumstances and places, we are here in San Francisco to work on behalf of our communities.”  —Mario Paz, Vice Chair of the Immigrant Rights Commission


Mayor Ed Lee presents the official proclamation declaring June as Immigrant Heritage Month in the City of San Francisco to Celine Kennelly, Chair of the Immigrant Rights Commission.


Mayor Ed Lee speaks to the audience about the importance of immigrants to the City of San Francisco.


The San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission poses with their I Am An Immigrant and I Stand With Immigrant t-shirts in celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month.


Kate O’Sullivan, Bay Area Innovation Council Member at FWD.us, accepts the Corporate Leader Award on behalf of Microsoft.


Dancers from Lion Dance ME thrilled the audience with their frenetic celebration of traditional Chinese dance.


“I Am An Immigrant” is part of Welcome.us, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that coordinates Immigrant Heritage Month every June. Started in 2014, Immigrant Heritage Month honors the countless contributions made by immigrants to our communities, our economy, our culture, and our collective American identity. “I Am An Immigrant” is an ongoing public awareness campaign to encourage Americans to share stories of their families’ immigrant heritage, and what it means to be an immigrant in America. Learn more about “I Am An Immigrant” and Immigrant Heritage Month by visiting IAmAnImmigrant.com.


The San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) is a policy, compliance, direct services and grantmaking office. OCEIA’s mission is to promote inclusive policies and foster immigrant assistance programs that lead to full civic, economic and linguistic integration.

Follow OCEIA:  facebook.com/sfgov.oceia  |  Twitter: @OCEIA_SF  |  Instagram: sf_immigrants


The mission of the IRC is to improve, enhance and preserve the quality of life and civic participation of all immigrants in the City and County of San Francisco. Created in 1997, the Immigrant Rights Commission consists of 15 members who advise the Mayor and Board of Supervisors on issues and policies related to immigrants who live or work in San Francisco.


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