Center for Community Change Honors Champions for Social Justice and Celebrates Its 45th Anniversary

by Community Change | September 30, 2013 2:29 pm

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Contact: Melisa Diaz, 202-285-0785
Lorena Chambers, 703-622-7292

Angelica Salas and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander and philanthropists Steve Phillips and Susan Sandler received the Champion in Community Change Award from the Center for Community Change (CCC). The ninth annual Community Change Champion Awards was held today at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

“Community Change is deeply honored to work in close partnership with all our extremely deserving honorees who have devoted their careers to greatly improving the lives of others. Their contributions to the social justice movement are immeasurable and they are all examples of how people can create positive change,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change.

Salas has been executive director of CHIRLA since 1999, during which she led its transformation from a coalition of social service providers into an organization that empowers immigrants to engage in advocacy on their own behalf. Under her leadership, CHIRLA has spearheaded campaigns to win in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, helped win access to financial aid for immigrant students, and established day laborer job centers that have served as a model for the rest of the nation. A multiethnic collaborative of advocacy groups, social service providers, policy makers, and legal services organizations, CHIRLA was formed in 1986 and continues to be a national leader in the social justice arena and on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

“Through her leadership, Angelica Salas and CHIRLA have helped countless numbers of undocumented immigrants find strength and power in their voices, helping make CHIRLA an extremely important advocate in the fight for dignity and justice for all immigrant communities. Angelica and CHIRLA have never once backed down in the face of opposition and we are thrilled to have them as allies,” said Bhargava.

Mary Kay Henry joined the staff of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1979, standing shoulder to shoulder with Fresno nursing home workers, Twin Cities janitors, California state employees, and Seattle nurses in their quests for jobs, rights, dignity and respect. In 2010, Henry was unanimously elected International President of SEIU, becoming the first woman to lead the fastest-growing union in North America, with 2.1 million workers in healthcare, public and property services. Under her leadership, SEIU members are forming partnerships to confront income inequality and demand corporate and political accountability.

“Mary Kay has been an extraordinary strong voice in the fight for equal rights for everyone and she has been an unwavering ally in our effort to eradicate poverty and economic injustice in this country. Mary Kay’s dedication to working families is evident in the hard fought victories she and SEIU have gained over the years. We look forward to working with Mary Kay and SEIU for many years to come,” said Bhargava.

Steve Phillips, founder and chairman of PowerPAC, and his wife, philanthropist Susan Sandler are highly regarded leaders, advocates, activists and philanthropists in progressive politics, pursuing a bold social justice policy agenda that champions equity for all. They have been successful social and political change venture investors who have provided catalytic funding in emerging areas. Moreover, they have been ahead of the curve in spotting political trends and promising leaders and then investing in the leaders who can advance social change.

“Susan Sandler and Steve Phillips are truly a power couple in the social justice movement, working tirelessly to put in place a policy agenda that champions equity for all. Their work has increased opportunities in education, voting rights, and other social justice policies not only in their native California, but nationwide. I am honored to count Susan and Steve as partners in the fight for social justice, and as dear friends,” said Bhargava.

Elizabeth Alexander, a longtime fighter for racial justice and immigration reform, is a poet, essayist, playwright and teacher. She is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies and the chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University. She was the Inaugural Poet at President Obama’s first Inaugural Ceremony in 2009 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005.

The ninth annual Community Change Champion Awards event is a special opportunity for activists, allies, organizations and community leaders to celebrate the leadership and accomplishments of our honorees and the work of the Center for Community Change. The Awards are presented to individuals and organizations who are our heroes in the social justice movement, honoring leaders – both sung and unsung – who have dedicated their work and, in some cases, their lifetimes to the fight for economic equity and social justice.

All net proceeds from the event will go to support our efforts to improve the lives of low-income people and people of color across the country. Community Change for Community Change, a 501 (c)(3) organization, does this work through organizing and education. The Campaign for Community Change, a 501(c)(4) organization, pursues these goals through advocacy.


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