MLF Sponsors AIC Event Honoring Colin Powell, Other Distinguished Immigrants

In a packed ballroom of the Washington Court Hotel, just steps from the halls of Congress, the American Immigration Council (AIC) presented its 18th Annual Immigrant Achievement Awards, celebrating the outstanding contributions of four distinguished Americans – all from immigrant backgrounds! The Murthy Law Firm was a proud sponsor of this April 11th event, attended by founder and president, Sheela Murthy, attended along with a large contingent of attorneys from our firm.

This year’s honorees include:

  • Shireen Alihaji, the daughter of Iranian and Ecuadorian parents, now a Los Angeles filmmaker and musician, whose work explores immigrant perspectives and aims at universal understanding.
  • Suamhirs Rivera, a native of Honduras who was brought to America as a teenager, by human traffickers, and who has become a prominent advocate for abused and traumatized children.
  • Cristeta Comerford, who started her culinary career in the United States after emigrating from the Philippines, and worked her way up the ranks to become Executive Chef at the White House.
  • General Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, who has served his country for more than 50 years in several high-profile military and diplomatic positions: his appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff capped a 35-year military career. He served as U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.

In a moving tribute to his immigrant parents, General Powell recounted some of the important lessons they imparted, lessons he took to heart: always work hard, and never – ever – bring shame upon yourself or your family. Looking back, General Powell said, he still finds it remarkable to have ascended the pinnacles of power as the son of immigrants, a public school graduate without family wealth or connections or elite schooling to boost his prospects. And yet, he said, in making this climb, he had a special advantage: the values instilled by his parents and his immigrant neighbors in the Harlem of the 1940s and 50s. These uplifting lessons carried him to the exalted rank of four-star General, and to the most important position in the President’s cabinet: Secretary of State.

All the honorees spoke eloquently about their immigrant roots. Their stories testified to the immigrant values that continue to build this nation, and to the unique opportunities our country holds for those who work hard and play by the rules. The common thread? The honorees shared an “attitude of gratitude” for the chance to succeed here – for all the things they never could have achieved in the old country. It was a wonderful celebration of everything that makes this country great!

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