Special to the Sun
Mayor Michelle Wu celebrates the 20 immigrant leaders graduating from Immigrants Lead Boston, a program by the City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement. This year’s graduates represent eight Boston neighborhoods, come from 17 countries, and speak 14 languages. The graduation was at Boston City Hall on Friday, December 16.
“As the daughter of immigrants, this program has a special place in my heart,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “These leaders are adding their voices to our communities and I’m thrilled for their leadership. Congratulations and thank you!”
Immigrants Lead Boston is an annual program for Boston immigrants who wish to become community leaders, advocates, and organizers. Selected residents go through a 12-week course and meet key City of Boston officials and learn how to effectively navigate local government. Graduates join a growing alumni network of immigrant leaders.
“Boston has been the only home I’ve known since I first arrived in the USA,” said one of this year’s graduates, Karina Flores Ramirez. “In my neighborhood of East Boston, I envision a community that helps each other and works together to tackle the current obstacles we are facing. I envision a community full of resources for all ages and in all languages, and one where we are assured that we are not alone.”
This year’s class met with City officials from eight cabinets along with City Council members and local nonprofits that do advocacy work here in Boston. Participants also proactively reached out to City leaders, participated in community meetings for the first time, and testified at a City Council hearing about how to support newly-arrived migrants in Boston. “We started this program because immigrants are integral to our communities, but they often don’t know what resources are available to them because they didn’t grow up here,” said Monique Tú Nguyen, Director of the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement. “This program helps close that gap so immigrant leaders have a seat at the table to build a better Boston for all.”
During this year’s graduation ceremony, participants shared their reflections from the program and asked the Mayor questions. This year’s ceremony also marked International Migrants Day and celebrated how Mayor Raymond Flynn pioneered the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement 35 years ago in 1987 as the Immigrant Rights Unit.
“During a tough stance on immigration at the federal level, Mayor Flynn created the Immigrants Rights Unit to provide a more compassionate and humane approach towards those in search of a better life,” said City Councilor Ed Flynn. “I’d like to congratulate the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement for continuing this important work and ensuring our immigrant neighbors can fully and equitably participate in all aspects of life.”