~This web series takes a deep dive into the Tahirih Justice Center’s challenging yet rewarding work, and the champions who show up day after day to get it done.~
In response to the growing and urgent need for legal and social services by immigrant women and girls fleeing violence in Maryland, Tahirih opened its third office location in Baltimore in 2010. Now, almost a decade later, Tahirih Baltimore provides legal protection to 500+ individuals and their family members, social service case management to 170+ clients and their family members, and training and education to 1,700+ community members and frontline professionals, annually. The Baltimore staff, made up of passionate, dedicated, and hardworking team members, all of whom want to create a world where women and girls enjoy equality and live in safety and with dignity, includes Social Services Program Manager, Ashley DiIonno.
Ashley has been a steadfast advocate for immigrant women and girls for almost 10 years on issues ranging from reproductive rights to gender-based violence. She began working in the immigrant community in her hometown of Annapolis, Maryland, where she ran an after-school program for at-risk Latinx girls. She was also an assessment specialist and teacher in the Anne Arundel Community College English Basic Skills program. Knowing that she wanted to make a career of speaking up for the oppressed and the marginalized, Ashley received her Master of Social Work in 2011 from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Then, she spent four years as a bilingual Client Services Coordinator at House of Ruth Maryland working primarily with immigrant survivors of domestic violence.
Naturally, her career path brought her to the Tahirih Justice Center, which was on her radar since it first expanded services to Baltimore. She was immediately attracted to Tahirih’s work and its inspiration from the Bahá’í value of understanding the importance of the equality of men and women, derived from these Bahá’í writings: “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly.”
“My career goal has always been to work for justice and safety for those experiencing oppression. When the opportunity came to apply to Tahirih and I was selected, it was a dream-come-true to be able to work for such a mission-focused organization that is deeply committed to a larger goal and has such a passion for justice. I am inspired by Tahirih’s commitment to empowering immigrant women and girls and to fight for the justice they deserve. I think what is unique about Tahirih is that we see ourselves as a piece of a larger whole that is fighting for equality. We strive to bring excellence to our role in this fight in order to lift the movement always higher and farther.”
As a strong advocate for women and girls seeking safety, Ashley helps Tahirih clients access life-changing services and resources to meet their most basic needs, including housing, counseling, and medical services. Although the injustices she sees concerning her clients’ situations can be quite overwhelming, every day she is inspired by her client’s strength and resiliency. What she finds most rewarding about her work is reminding clients of their forgotten strength, due to substantial trauma, and connecting them to life-changing services to help them rebuild their lives and attain self-sufficiency.
“I am in awe of my clients every day. They risked so much to come to this country and I am grateful to be in a position to reflect back to them the courage and resilience that I see, because so often the trauma they experienced has robbed them of the ability to see it themselves. When they are able to fully recognize the power they have within themselves, there’s no limit to what they can do.”
Thank you, Ashley, for your passion and dedication to uplift oppressed and marginalized groups through meaningful advocacy. We are grateful for YOU.