The White House on Tuesday will honor two Illinois men–Matthew Soerens of Glen Ellyn and Lawrence Benito of Chicago– at a “Champion of Change” event named for farm labor organizer Cesar Chavez. They are two of eleven honored at the event, “A Legacy of Service: Organizing for Immigration Reform.”
The White House said the eleven to be honored: “those who embody the spirit of Cesar Chavez’s legacy and commit themselves to working in their communities to advocate and organize around immigration-related issues. Though the honorees come from vastly different backgrounds, they all share a commitment to realizing Chavez’s core values and the dream of a more just tomorrow.”
To be honored, from the White House…
Lawrence Benito serves as the Chief Executive Officer at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), one of the leading organizations with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement fighting for just and humane immigration policies. The son of immigrants from the Philippines, Lawrence has spent the last twenty years working for justice for immigrants and other disenfranchised groups, through community and electoral organizing. Currently, he serves on the board of directors for Chicago Public Media, and is a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Ghana, ’93-95).
Glen Ellyn, IL
Matthew Soerens serves as the US Church Training Specialist for World Relief, which is the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. Matthew previously served as a Board of Immigration Appeals-accredited legal counselor at World Relief’s local office in Wheaton, Illinois and, before that, with World Relief’s partner organization in Managua, Nicaragua. He is the co-author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2009). Originally from Neenah, Wisconsin, Matthew and his wife Diana live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and are expecting their first child in June.
More from the White House….
“These eleven individuals exemplify the core decency and generosity of Americans, by welcoming and giving voice to those that come to our shore. Whether through advocacy and civil rights, helping with housing and education, engagement in churches and communities, or simply by being a friend, the citizens we honor today embody the legacy of the great Cesar Chavez, who dedicated his life to fighting for justice for all,” said senior advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White house to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.