Give Liberty a Hand 2017: MIRA’s 30th anniversary

GLAH thanks slide

MIRA is turning 30 this year, and we want you to be part of the celebration! Give Liberty a Hand is our main annual fundraiser, and this year, with our big anniversary, we made it extra festive.

Since 1987, MIRA has given voice to refugees and immigrants from all over the world who made their home in New England, raised families, built careers, started businesses, and become engaged citizens and community members. Give Liberty a Hand is both our annual fundraiser, and a time to honor people who “give liberty a hand” by working to advance the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees. 

More than 350 people joined our celebration on June 1. To all of you, a heartfelt THANK YOU!!! It was wonderful to celebrate with hundreds of people we love and admire, whose work makes a difference in the lives of Massachusetts residents every day.

Special thanks to Mayor Martin J. Walsh for joining us despite his very busy schedule, and for his powerful speech about the importance of being a welcoming and diverse city. Our deepest thanks also to Secretary Jay Ash, for his great perspective on the role of immigrants in our Commonwealth’s economy, and for presenting us with a proclamation on behalf of Governor Baker. In these difficult times, it means a lot to us to know that immigrant integration has strong bipartisan support!

If you’d like to see photos from the gala, check out our Facebook album; we encourage you also to watch the beautiful celebratory video with voices from our members on YouTube. Click through to read more about the gala, our speakers and honorees.

Read more: Give Liberty a Hand 2017: MIRA’s 30th anniversary 

2017 Honoree: Attorney General Maura Healey

AG Maura Healey GLAH2017Maura Healey has served as Massachusetts Attorney General since January 2015, standing out as a champion for civil rights, equality for all, consumer protection, and safe and healthy communities. She calls her office the “people’s law firm,” and has fought tirelessly to uphold the Commonwealth’s values and priorities.

She created a Community Engagement Division to ensure that all Massachusetts residents, regardless of nationality, immigration status or language spoken, can get help from her office. To strengthen the office’s connections to immigrant communities and communities of color, she formed an Advisory Council for New Americans, as well as an Advisory Council for Racial Justice and Equity.

In January, when President Trump imposed a travel ban on people from selected Muslim-majority countries, she joined forces with attorney generals across the country to challenge the ban as unconstitutional. She has also fought against hate crimes, establishing a hotline for victims and witnesses to report bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence.

Her office’s Fair Labor Division has worked hard to protect labor rights, maintain safe and healthy workplaces, and ensure a level playing field for employers that follow the rules, and has done outreach in multiple languages, knowing that one in five Massachusetts workers is foreign-born.

On May 1, On International Workers’ Day, she issued an advisory stressing that all workers are entitled to protections, regardless of immigration status. Similarly, she has reminded schools that all students are entitled to equal access to education, irrespective of citizenship or immigration status. 

“We are a nation of immigrants, of strivers and entrepreneurs who have proven that through struggle and hard work anything is possible in America,” she says. “That special character and history has helped make us the strongest and most dynamic country in the world. My goal is for Massachusetts to be the most welcoming community, because that is how we stay the strongest.”

For her courage and her commitment to justice for all people – especially those least able to advocate for themselves – we are proud to honor her.

2017 Honoree: Jeff Bussgang

Jeff Bussgang GLAH2017

Jeff Bussgang is co-founder and general partner at Flybridge Capital, an early-stage technology venture capital firm with more than $600 million under management. He is the author of two books and a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School, where he teaches a class on tech entrepreneurship and started a micro-seed fund to invest in startups founded by recent Harvard graduates.

Mr. Bussgang is also a champion for immigrants and minorities. He co-founded Hack.Diversity, a private-public partnership designed to tackle the underrepresentation of highly skilled minority employees in Boston’s innovation ecosystem, and he co-founded and chairs The Alliance for Business Leadership, a progressive business group.

One of his proudest accomplishments is the creation of the Global Entrepreneur In Residence (EIR) program, which gives entrepreneurs access to the visas they need to build their businesses here in the U.S. The entrepreneurs are hired part-time by universities – who then sponsor their H-1B visa, exempt from the normal cap – and the founders mentor students while pursuing their start-up.

Mr. Bussgang developed Global EIR in partnership with the State Legislature, the Patrick and Baker administrations, and the University of Massachusetts. He then co-founded a non-profit to support its implementation across the country. To date, the Global EIR program has been launched in Silicon Valley, New York, Chicago, and Boulder, among other locations. As a result, dozens of entrepreneurs have founded companies in the U.S., employed thousands of people, and raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr. Bussgang says he was inspired to advocate for immigrant entrepreneurs because his father was one. Born in pre-war Poland, Bussgang’s father survived the Holocaust as a refugee and soldier, immigrating to the U.S. in the 1940s. He started his own technology company shortly after completing degrees at MIT and Harvard.

“He taught me to fight for social justice and cherish America’s democracy and values, knowing the dangers that can come when democracy fails,” he says.

For his ingenuity and his invaluable support for immigrant entrepreneurs, we are proud to honor him.