Last Thursday October 12, KIND hosted its 15th anniversary Annual Gala, Coming Together for Children Alone, at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. Over 400 attendees, many of them the pro bono partners who make our work possible, came together to celebrate 15 years of protecting children.
After an opening cocktail reception, the evening kicked off with a stunning and soulful musical performance by artist Nova Payton and the American Pops Orchestra. Then a KIND client named Isaias gave opening remarks, sharing his story about fleeing violence in his home country of Honduras at age 16. “I came to this country with a broken heart and a big dream,” he said.
Now 20 years old and recording his first musical album, Isaias spoke of how KIND helped mend his broken heart, follow his dream, and live in safety.
Isaias then introduced KIND President Wendy Young. “Tonight is all about journeys,” she said, the 15-year journey of KIND, the journeys of our clients. She reflected on how far KIND has come in the past 15 years and how we have held steady to our vision of protecting unaccompanied children and will continue to do so in the years ahead:
We can build a new future for kids. In a day and age in which the immigration debate is fraught with anger and misunderstanding, we can be bold enough to stand up for humanitarian protection—child protection—delivered through compassionate, yet orderly process grounded in the very principles that serve as the bedrock of our democracy. We can aspire to be a society that recognizes that children are children first, regardless of where they were born or where they find themselves.
A brief video featuring some of our pro bono lawyers highlighted the critical importance of our pro bono partners, whose time and dedication to kids is central to KIND’s work.
Then came time for the presentation of KIND’s annual Juan P. Osuna Memorial Award. Juan was a senior immigration legal adviser in the Justice Department who made a lasting professional and personal impact on immigrant and refugee children’s issues, as well as on all those around him. Last year’s awardee, Enrique Chavira Cantu, presented this year’s award to Elba Coria Marquez, KIND’s Director of Advocacy in Mexico. Elba is a lawyer and expert in the rights of immigrant and refugee children. The growth and impact of KIND’s work in Mexico in recent years has been possible due to her influence and leadership.
Following dinner, KIND Co-founder and Board Chair Brad Smith, also Vice President and Chair of Microsoft, lead a fireside discussion with Horacio Gutierrez, Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for the Walt Disney Company and Casey Ryan, Global Managing Partner and Executive Committee Chair for Reed Smith LLP, one of KIND’s top pro bono partners. They reflected on why they consider KIND such a worthy pro bono investment and what makes KIND’s work unique. The program concluded with an emotionally moving musical performance by Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez, followed by a desert reception.
KIND is honored to continue to do this work serving unaccompanied children and deeply grateful for our partners and supporters who make our work possible. Thank you.