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The Tahirih Justice Center is truly fortunate to receive support and guidance from remarkable individuals and companies who go above and beyond in their dedication to Tahirih’s mission. Every year, these strong advocates are recognized at the Spring Gala, and for Tahirih’s 20th anniversary, a group unlike any other was presented the evening’s awards.

To begin, Greater DC Executive Director, Heather Taylor, announced the 2017 Greater DC Champions.

“I have the pleasure of working with these exceptional people and am inspired by how much they sacrifice and dedicate themselves to support Tahirih and its clients.”

Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year, McDermott Will & Emery, has co-counseled Tahirih cases through its pro bono program, and despite increasing immigration court backlogs, for nearly a decade. In addition, McDermott has provided vital support to our public policy work, including providing strategic guidance that resulted in amendments to strengthen the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, which was incorporated in the re-authorized Violence Against Women Act in 2013.

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, Joshua Sekoski, began his relationship with Tahirih through a summer internship at Akin Gump in 2010. He now coordinates Akin DC’s participation in Tahirih’s annual Bighearted individual giving campaign and leads its Violence Against Women Act Summer Associate Project to represent battered spouses and children petitioning for legal status.

Greater DC Volunteer in Service, Paul Glist, has supported Tahirih since its inception and has served as the longest-running Chair of Tahirih’s Board of Directors, since 2009. Devoting many hours per week to the governance of Tahirih, Paul is a steadfast member of the DC Advisory Council and champion of the local Bighearted campaign. His wisdom, humility, facilitation skills, strategic insights, dedication, and sacrifice have made Tahirih what it is today.

This outstanding group of pro bono professionals has exhibited extraordinary commitment to serving courageous women and girls seeking justice. By leveraging their donated services, Tahirih is able to turn every $1 donated into $4 of impact.

Following the Greater DC Champions, Heather welcomed to the stage three women who have been a part of the Tahirih family since they were children. Appropriately titling themselves the “Babies” of Tahirih’s Wings, a group organized by former clients who want to aid other women like themselves, Ritah, Nancy, and Binafsha were themselves protected when their mothers and aunts found Tahirih many years ago. All grown up, beautiful, smart, and strong, they have organized themselves and are now powerful advocates for women’s equality.

The “Babies” spoke on the pivotal point in human history in which we find ourselves – the world refugee crisis being the largest it has been since World War II, and reminding guests that it is our responsibility, our obligation, our moral imperative as human beings, to make the vision of justice and equality a reality.

“No matter what our beliefs, we all know that humanity is handicapped by violence against women and girls. We must come together, we must unify, we must create a tapestry of love … of inclusion … of peace.”

Recognizing the importance of laying the foundation for our future, as an organization and as a community, the “Babies” then presented the 2017 Catalyst Award, acknowledging the work being done by Tahirih’s Expansion Campaign Chairs – raising $10 million to expand Tahirih to other cities and increase by 250% the number of women and girls served.

Expansion Campaign Co-Chair, Maria A. Cestone, a founding director of Cestone & Thompson, P. C. a well-respected Tax, Trust and Estates law firm in Roseland, New Jersey and New York City, has served on the Finance Committee, on the Executive Committee, and as Secretary of Tahirih’s Board of Directors.

Expansion Campaign Co-Chair, Gouya Zamani, the CEO and Founder of Gouya & Shannon Fine Jewelry and former CEO and founder of OroNero and Gouya Shoes, is a successful entrepreneur, mother, and strong advocate for the equality of women and men.

These honorees’ selfless dedication to improving the lives of immigrant women and girls fleeing violence has made a major impact on Tahirih. The 5-year campaign is now in its last year and with the leadership of our Catalyst Award honorees, Tahirih has already raised over $8 million.



This is an extraordinary moment in Tahirih Justice Center’s 20-year history. We are replicating our efficient, effective, and innovative services nationally. We need your help to raise $10 million so that Tahirih can expand to other cities and increase by 250% the number of women and girls served by 2017, transforming lives, laws, and communities. Donate today.