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At Tahirih’s 22nd Annual Gala, Greater DC Executive Director, Barfonce Baldwin, applauded the work of the Greater DC team in their incredible capacity to serve the community day after day.

“In 2018, Tahirih Greater DC served close to 1,000 individuals and their family members through free legal and social services, including case representation, emergency shelter, and health care. We co-counseled cases with more than 300 pro bono attorneys and trained more than 2,000 community members and frontline professionals to better equip our first responders in the face of unique circumstances.”

And yet, with these celebratory feats comes new challenges, unique opportunity for growth, and strengthened partnerships.

“This is a long journey. And an uncertain one. It will take all of us, in a collective effort, to build a world where justice is ensured and freedom is available, for every person seeking safety, no matter our gender, class, ethnic group or otherwise. We know that we could not do this work without our corporate sponsors, our partner law firms and individual attorneys, our trusted volunteers, our steadfast advocates, our friends. You are our partners in this journey to justice.”

At this moment, Barfonce took the time to introduce the 2019 Gala Honorees.

This year’s Corporate Leader of the Year, The Estée Lauder Companies, has supported Tahirih’s mission for nearly 20 years. Fueled by company values and employees’ passion, Estée Lauder works to improve the well-being of communities around the world, with an emphasis on women and girls.

This year’s Firm of the Year went to Ballard Spahr. Ballard Spahr performs more than 50,000 hours of pro bono service annually, including with Tahirih to support women who have endured gender-based violence and ensure a safe space for them in our communities.

Shirley Liang, the 2019 Attorney of the Year, is an associate in the Litigation & Arbitration Group of Milbank, with a focus on commercial litigation and financial restructuring. In 2013, she served as a Milbank pro bono fellow in Tahirih’s Greater DC office, and since then, she has dedicated her pro bono efforts to assisting brave clients seeking justice in the face of adversity through asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, and T and U visas.

And finally, Azita Mehrazar and Dr. Kamran Ruintan, 2019 Volunteers of the Year, along with their daughter Elika, hosted Tahirih client Vilma and her daughter Yeisvi at their home upon Vilma and Yeisvi’s reunion after an over 8-month long separation. Their family sprang to action to provide support, and created a warm, loving, and hospitable environment. They helped organize legal and consular meetings, media visits, dental appointments, school support, and other every day needs. Not only did their incredible generosity allow Vilma and Yeisvi the space to reconnect and heal, the two families have truly made a life-long bond, proving friendship has no boundary or language barrier.

“I’d like to thank all of you [here with us tonight]. For not only your willingness, but your enthusiasm and partnership with us on this journey toward justice and freedom for all.”

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