Standing Up for Justice Award

The Honorable Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Congresswoman Maxine Waters is considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in American politics today. She has gained a reputation as a fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor.

Elected in November 2014 to her thirteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives with more than 70 percent of the vote in the 43rd Congressional District of California, Congresswoman Waters represents a large part of South Central Los Angeles including the communities of Westchester, Playa Del Rey, and Watts and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County comprised of Lennox, West Athens, West Carson, Harbor Gateway and El Camino Village. The 43rd District also includes the diverse cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita and Torrance.

Congresswoman Waters serves as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services. An integral member of Congressional Democratic Leadership, Congresswoman Waters serves as a member of the Steering & Policy Committee. She is also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and member and past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Community in Action Award

Luisa Blue

External Vice President
Service Employees International Union

Prior to being elected Executive Vice President of SEIU in May 2016, Luisa Blue served on the SEIU International Executive Board from 2012 to 2016. She has dedicated the last four decades of her life to organizing and advocating for workers’ rights through the union. As a union leader, she has been at the forefront of making racial and immigrant justice a priority for the union.

Luisa Blue is one of the highest-ranking Asian Pacific Islander (API) union leaders in the nation. She believes that everyone deserves access to a better future and that we must ensure that families are not torn apart because of a broken immigration system, that everyone deserves a fair wage, and that our justice system can no longer penalize people based on the color of their skin. From serving on various committees to rallying with members, Blue continues to lead the fight for workers’ rights, civil rights and economic justice.

Blue was recognized in 2015 at the national Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance convention, where she was awarded the Philip Vera Cruz Organizing Award, and was recognized by the Filipina Women’s Network as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the World because of her commitment to racial, immigrant and civil rights and her work at SEIU.

Blue began her career with SEIU as an organizer for the SEIU Healthcare Division organizing RNs and healthcare workers throughout the United States in 1990. Four years later, Blue was asked to help lead the SEIU Nurse Alliance in its historic “safe staffing” campaign, which led to California becoming the first and only state to legislate nurse-to-patient ratio standards for acute care hospitals in the country.

In 1977 when she worked as an RN at San Francisco General Hospital, Blue became a member of Local 400 and in 1982 was elected president of the Local after she helped organize a successful campaign that improved collective bargaining rights for county registered nurses. She was an outspoken advocate for compassionate care of patients with AIDS/HIV in the early 1980s, successfully campaigning for AIDS/HIV education for healthcare workers.

Over these 40 years, Luisa and her husband Dave have raised a daughter, Melody and son, Cyrus, and celebrate in the joy of their seven grandchildren.

Jeanette Vázquez

Fullerton School Board Member

Jeanette Vázquez is a passionate educator and an advocate for low-income immigrant families in Fullerton. Jeanette was elected to the Fullerton School Board in November 2016 and is an avid supporter of developing the whole child through equitable educational opportunities.

Influenced by her Mexican immigrant parents in leading a life through the values of hard-work and integrity, Jeanette has dedicated her personal and professional life to serving the community. As an elementary school teacher she builds strong partnerships between parents, community leaders, and organizations to ensure students are empowered to succeed and serve their community. Earlier this year, Jeanette co-led a service learning project in which her students, parents, and grassroots organizers coordinated a Know Your Rights campaign for Day Laborers in Orange County.

Jeanette was a first-generation college student when she began her student advocacy work as the elected Student Body President of Cypress College in the midst of the 2008 budget crisis. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, Jeanette went on to advocate for working families as an AmeriCorps Fellow with Iowa Legal Aid. There, Jeanette formed community partnerships to help educate immigrant families around worker, tenant, and immigrant rights. Upon returning to California, Jeanette joined Teach For America and taught 2nd Grade in Boyle Heights and Huntington Park. She attended Loyola Marymount University where she attained her Teaching Credential and Master of Arts in Education Policy and Administration.

Dreamer in Action Award

Sameerah Haque

Sameerah Haque is a sophomore studying Accounting at Northeastern Illinois University. A youth member and youth leader since 2015, Sameerah joined Hana Center as a member of Asian Culture Workshop (ACW), Hana Center’s traditional Korean drumming youth group. Through ACW, Sameerah became politicized and joined Fighting Youth Shouting out for Humanity (FYSH). Through FYSH, Sameerah has advocated tirelessly for youth and immigrant empowerment through the Decolonize Chicago Public Schools campaign.

Sameerah is also a founding member of Womxn That Fight (WTF), a group formed by high school to college-aged youth who are passionate about fighting for womxn’s rights and reproductive justice who wanted to create a space at Hana Center to engage in discussions regarding different situations that womxn face as they live in the U.S. Sameerah was also on the coordinating committee for Beyond Our Boundaries, the first Asian American Youth Organizing Conference, and was the lead local coordinator for Chicago.

Hyun Joong Kim

Hyun Joong was born in Ansan City, South Korea on May 27th, 1996. He and his parents immigrated to America on December 1999. After living in Texas for some time, they moved to Annandale, Virginia when he was in 2nd grade and has lived there ever since. Hyun Joong graduated from Westlake High School in 2014.

When he was 16 years old, his parents divorced and soon afterwards, his mother and sister moved back to Korea as they found it was not easy to live in America. Hyun Joong worked while he was a high school student just to get by. At that time, he did not know he was undocumented and did not find out until he was 19 years old.

Around the same time he found out, his friend introduced him to an organization that could help him and that organization was NAKASEC. The work and resources they provided him have greatly impacted his life. With the help of NAKASEC, he was able to file for his initial application for DACA.

Now, he is working as a barista with hopes to save enough money for college, support his family, and give back to his community. He hopes to continue to work with the amazing people at KRC and NAKASEC moving forward and hopes to see progress within his communities to come together and make a positive changes for a brighter future.

Eric Yang

Born and raised in South Korea until the age of eight, Eric Eunsoo Yang immigrated to the US with his family in 2001. He lived in Torrance, CA for the vast majority of his childhood and moved to Gardena after he graduated from high school. During that transition, Eric learned about his undocumented status while applying for college. Eric attended a local community college to save money and be with his family. Around the same time, he received a work authorization permit through DACA. After spending time going to school, working part-time, and participating at his church, he was accepted into University of California, Irvine (UCI) as a Business Economics Major and is now a senior.

Eric became very involved at UCI when he transferred in 2016, bringing his experience and knowledge from his local community. Since his first quarter, Eric became one of student DREAMer coordinators for Student Outreach and Retention (SOAR). In that position, he has organized and facilitated program and events for the Dreamers Office. During this past summer, he became an Energy Justice Intern with the Energize College Internship and an intern at KRC. Through these opportunities, Eric continues to learn more about the vast resources for his undocumented community and the organizations that empower the diverse and vibrant immigrant communities around him.

Now working at the new DREAM Center at UCI, he is excited to see what the future has in store for him. Eric can’t wait to utilize all that he has learned about himself and the world as a Student Program Coordinator.

Awardees

Updated on 2017-09-26T14:28:07+00:00, by Yongho Kim.