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Following words of encouragement and thanks to the evening’s honorees and guests, Tahirih’s tireless leader, Chief Executive Officer and Founder Layli Miller-Muro, addressed the crowd at Tahirih’s 21st Annual Gala.

“I want to say thank you to everyone in the room tonight. Because of your support, we are celebrating 21 years of service to over 25,000 women and girls. Because of you, we are a national organization with offices in five cities (Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Washington, DC, and Baltimore) and with a staff of 80 dedicated men and women across the nation. Because of you, we maintain a network of more than 2,000 pro bono attorneys from over 400 leading law firms and Fortune 500 companies, whose donation of time and resources allows us to turn every dollar you donate into $4 of impact. And because of you, we are on the front lines of legal defense, holding the line to ensure that certain immigrants are not banned from the U.S., that those fleeing to save their lives and their children’s are treated humanely at the border, that women are protected from violence, and that children are not forced to marry against their will.”

Her stirring words reminded the audience that responsibility to build a better world lies within each and every one of us, and that the time to act is now.  However, the path towards social justice requires perseverance and necessary discomfort, as we strengthen new muscles that are not yet fully developed.

“We are all being tested unlike ever before… As I speak to people privately and professionally, we each tell stories of rage and pain – in the world around us and in our lives at home.  We are being tested. And, we are exhausted…

The suffering of the world, the needs of humanity, this mysterious pre-ordained process of crisis and victory, disintegration and integration, are beyond any of us. This is bigger than us. At times, it can feel like we are simply pawns in the larger process – we don’t control it, and it’s not about us. But, at the same time, we matter and can influence it. Every little action we take, every intention we have, has an impact. Every case we litigate changes a life and the system. Every act of self-sacrifice or caring, every expression of love and forgiveness, standing up for justice, and giving to others, transforms a soul and influences the spirit of the world.”

Ms. Miller-Muro called on the audience to be champions of those in need, and to commit to accompanying Tahirih’s clients and others like them for the long term, persevering through the discomfort as our ‘social justice’ muscles grow in strength and endurance.

In her poignant closing words, she noted:

 “What we do matters not because of the possibility that we might make a difference, but because we were put on this earth to do our best and when we awake in the next life, we will be asked if we tried.”