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Immigrants make America great. Photo: StockSnap — Pixabay.

Carnegie Corporation honors 35 distinguished immigrants for their contributions to democracy

It is a celebration of the naturalized citizens who make America a land of opportunity for all.


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Carnegie Corporation of New York, a philanthropic foundation established by Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie and now led by Irish immigrant Dame Louise Richardson, recently unveiled its annual Great Immigrants list, honoring 35 naturalized citizens who have enriched and strengthened democracy in the U.S.

As has been the custom since 2006, those chosen will be honored on July 4 through the online public awareness campaign, “Great Immigrants, Great Americans.”

Richardson, who first came to the United States from Ireland as a graduate student, noted in a press release:

The Great Immigrants initiative is a tribute to the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant who, like these honorees, found success in America, contributed enormously to his adopted country, and inspired others to do the same.

About the Initiative

The Great Immigrants initiative aims to increase public awareness of the economic and social benefits of immigration.

According to data from the American Immigration Council, a Corporation grantee, immigrants create new businesses at a higher rate than the general population:

  • 3.2 million immigrant entrepreneurs generate $88.5 billion in annual revenue, employing millions of Americans.
  • Immigrants or their children have founded 43.8% of Fortune 500 companies, generating $7 billion in revenue and employing more than 14.8 million people worldwide.
  • Immigrants also contribute to the key needs of the U.S. workforce, comprising 15.2% of nurses, 25.9% of health care assistants, and 23.1% of STEM workers.
  • About 400,000 immigrants work in creative or artistic occupations.

2023 Class 

Comprised of naturalized citizens of 33 countries, who come from a wide range of backgrounds and come from many different fields, this year's list of Greatest Immigrants includes individuals who have provided opportunities for others through their work as educators, mentors, philanthropists, job creators, public servants, storytellers, and advocates.

Additionally, 2023 honorees include two Nobel laureates, an Olympian athlete, and a member of Congress.

“The 35 naturalized citizens honored today embody that tradition, reminding us that the contributions of immigrants make our country more vibrant and our democracy more resilient,” added Richardson. 

Some of the honorees are:

  1. Wesaam Al-Badry (Iraq) — An award-winning photojournalist and interdisciplinary artist whose refugee experience shapes his work, Al-Badry strives to foster healing by sharing portraits of human struggle that reflect dignity and love.
  2. Ajay Banga (India) — As the newly elected president of the World Bank, Banga aims to lead the organization in tackling climate change and confronting the toughest challenges facing developing countries.
  3. Jean-Claude Brizard (Haiti) — As a longtime educational leader and now president and CEO of Digital Promise, Brizard has spent his career working to transform educational systems so that all students thrive.
  4. Ghida Dagher (Sierra Leone) — As president and CEO of New American Leaders, Dagher is building a more engaged and inclusive democracy by supporting first- and second- generation immigrants to run for public office.
  5. Daniel Diermeier (Germany) — A first-generation college student who rose to become chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Diermeier has fostered a culture of academic freedom, excellence, and inclusion.
  6. Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez (Cuba) — A major investor, philanthropist, and immigration reform advocate, Fernandez has launched more than 20 health-care businesses, created job opportunities, and supported higher education and health causes around the country.
  7. Karen González (Guatemala) — A speaker, writer, and public theologian, González advocates for more welcoming immigration laws and encourages churches to go beyond hospitality in supporting refugees.
  8. Azira G. Hill (Cuba) — A civil rights leader and former nurse, Hill founded the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program to prepare Black and Hispanic youth to pursue advanced study and careers in music.
  9. Angélique Kidjo (Benin) — A Grammy Award–winning singer, Kidjo is also a global advocate for women’s and human rights who has served as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador for more than 20 years.
  10. Karen Lozano (Mexico) — A professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and mentor to underrepresented students who are pursuing STEM careers, Lozano founded a nanofiber firm that spurred economic development in the region.
  11. Daniel Lubetzky (Mexico) — Best known as the founder of KIND Snacks, Lubetzky is a social entrepreneur working to build bridges between people and increase appreciation for our shared humanity through philanthropy and civic movements like Starts With Us.
  12. Helen Quinn (Australia) — A particle physicist at Stanford University, Quinn championed K–12 science education and fostered development of the Next Generation Science Standards as chair of the Board on Science Education at the National Academy of Sciences.

Carnegie Corporation also supports immigrant integration through a portfolio of grantees that focuses on immigration policy reform.

For more than a decade, the Corporation, in collaboration with other philanthropic partners, has supported the New Americans Campaign, led by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which to date has helped more than 593,000 legal permanent residents, known as green card holders, to apply for citizenship.

Services include low-cost application assistance in multiple languages and an online tool that can help with the process.

Click here for the complete list.


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