By Tanya Senanayake
With immigrants and vulnerable communities facing unique threats, it’s as important as ever to stay focused on equality and access to justice. And at times like these we need more people like CAIR Coalition‘s Kathryn Doan—winner of our 2016 Presidents Award for Public Service. Kathy has served immigrants for more than twenty years, and has fought hard to get justice for members of underrepresented communities.
Kathy became CAIR Coalition’s executive director in 2008, and in that role she has championed immigrant men, women, and children who risk getting detained or deported. During her tenure, the organization has tripled its staff and added two new programs, The Detained Children’s Program and the Virginia Justice Program. Kathy leads CAIR Coalition’s direct representation, impact and advocacy work, and legal trainings in immigration and criminal justice.
Before joining CAIR Coalition, Kathy was Deputy Director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), where she also managed the agency’s Immigration Legal Services and Community Support Services programs. Under her leadership of CARECEN’s Immigration Legal Services, Kathy and her staff helped to reunite families and increase the number of immigrants applying for citizenship.
Needless to say, we’re not the first organization to recognize Kathy’s work. In 2015 she won the D.C. Bar Foundation’s Jerrold Scoutt Prize, awarded each year to a lawyer “who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a non-profit organization providing direct hands-on legal services to the needy in the District of Columbia; has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients; and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.” And in 2014, Kathy won the 2014 Latino Resource and Justice Center’s Saúl Solórzano Justice Award and the CORO (Community, Outreach, Recognition, and Opportunity) Award from the D.C. Courts for her “commitment and demonstrated excellence in providing legal services to the Latino community.”
Kathy, in sum, is a consummate advocate for those who are most vulnerable. We are honored to present her with our 2016 Presidents Award for Public Service at our Awards Ceremony on December 1.
Tanya Senanayake is a government lawyer and a board member of Washington Council of Lawyers.