Past Winners

2012

Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award, Clementine Msengi

Immigrant Leadership Award is given to a first generation immigrant who has demonstrated leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit in his/her professional and family life and on behalf of the immigrant and/or larger community. A native of Rwanda, Clementine Msengi relocated to Cedar Falls, Iowa, after a war in her country, which killed nearly 1 million people, including most of her family. Msengi started the non-profit organization, Bright Move Network, which helps immigrants and refugees from Africa to the Cedar Valley area become self-sufficient, stable, and ease into the cultural shock that they face when adjusting to a new lifestyle. Her leadership has awarded her the New Voices Fellowship in 2001 as well as visiting assistant professor at Lamar University in Texas.


Outstanding Immigrant Business Award, Betty Garcia

Outstanding Immigrant Business Award is given to an immigrant-owned business that serves as a model and inspiration of success in both profit and philanthropy. The recipient of the Immigrant Business Award, Betty Garcia, owner of Tortillera Sonora, and her family started their business in a small storefront, making tortillas from a family recipe. Now run in a factory, their company produces more than 25,000 tortillas daily. The hard work, ethics and values that are instilled have earned Betty and her family success.


Karen Evans Award, Kim Baer

Named after Karen Evans, who fought for immigrant rights and helped many maintain legal status, the Karen Evans Immigrant Champion Award is given to a non-immigrant who is dedicated to making a positive impact on the immigrant community. Kim Baer, attorney with Wandro & Baer & P.C., represents clients in medical malpractice claims, car accident litigation, and wrongful death suits, and has been an active supporter of IES since its inception. Baer’s contributions to small- and medium-sized businesses have been essential to the success of IES.


Immigrant Spirit Award, Liang Chow

The Immigrant Spirit Award is given to a first generation Immigrant who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to professional/business excellence and altruistic pursuits. Coach to Olympic gold medalists Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas, Liang Chow has instilled big dreams to young people all over the world. Chow’s success has shown the importance of embracing diversity as well as achieving social awareness through business.

2011 – Download the 2011 Program Book here

2011 award winners 1024x536 Past Winners

Below are some highlights from the 2011 IES awards.  Download a PDF of the entire program above.

Outstanding Immigrant Business Award – Lily Hou

Outstanding Immigrant Business Award: An immigrant-owned (at least 50% ownership by first generation immigrant) business that serves as a model and inspiration of success in both profit and philanthropy. Nominee utilizes business strategies that carry a mission of community investment and civic engagement while providing a healthy profit margin.

The recipient of the Immigrant Business Award, Lily Hou, owner of Green Yoga House, is both a successful business owner and an active philanthropist.

Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Lily’s interest in yoga peaked when she watched a segment about yoga on Good Morning America. After trying a few poses, she began to practice the exercise by watching videotapes. She eventually began taking classes but teaching had never crossed her mind. When one of her instructors took an extended family vacation a classmate encouraged her to teach their class in her place. Her class loved her, and that was the start of  her new career.

Over time, Lily’s  following grew and she began teaching yoga lessons in the basement of her family’s home. Along with a growing client base, Lily’s children were getting older and needed to be free to run around in their own home and , she decided to open Green Yoga House in Clive, Iowa. Serving 200 clients a week, Lily’s business continues to grow. She now has three studios located in Clive, Des Moines an West Des Moines.

Lily never had the chance to settle down as her husband’s job took her all over the world. but , her three studios, clients and the community has kept her in Des Moines the past 10 years.

Lily feels privileged to have found a great community of people who have helped her along the way, and works harder outside of her studio to give back to a long list of organizations about which she is passionate. Most will say her connection to people truly makes the world feel like a smaller place. Lily’s warm and compassionate nature has always made people around her feel comfortable. She is an exceptional role model not only to her clients and her children, but also to those she continues to help.  For her business acumen and commitment and contribution to the community, Lily Hou is the recipient of  the Outstanding Immigrant Business Award.


Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award – Wilondja (Willy) Msiando

Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award: A first generation immigrant who has demonstrated leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit in his/her professional and family life and on behalf of the immigrant and/or larger community.  Honoree possesses an ability to mobilize others and is regarded as a community leader.

As a refugee from Congo, Willy Msiando and his family were one of the first families from Central Africa to migrate to Des Moines.

Moving to the United States, however, was the least of his triumphs. In 1996, war broke out in Congo, leaving Willy in fear for his life and that of his three young children and wife. Four years after the start of the war. Willy’s family escaped to Mozambique where they lived for five years. He first taught at the refugee camp and then at the Mozambican schools. His family grew with the addition of two more children. Life at the camp became difficult for his wife and five children, and they left Mozambique and migrated to Des Moines. Their new life was proven to be far from easy as he and his family struggled from language barriers to learning to live with a new lifestyle.

Willy and his family received help from their immigration sponsor when they first moved to Des Moines. However, after a couple months they were told they would need to begin living own their own without assistance. Life again proved to be difficult. The drastic difference in both language and culture made it hard for the Msiando’s to communicate with others. At times, Willy would second-guess the decision to move from Mozambique, but knew his family would have was better opportunities in Iowa. Willy got by through his faith in God. He prayed for his family to conquer the struggles. His prayers were answered one day when he met a friend, Nadia Jaques, and began going to Johnston E. Free Church he found his calling.

Willy began helping other African immigrants upon their arrival in the United States. Willy volunteers his time to help them transition to their new life.  From translation services to providing transportation, he goes out of his way to ensure a seamless transition. He has helped them get established in their new neighbourhood, with their Green Cards applications and taught them how to drive. eventuallyThese connections led him to start the Living Water Evangelical Free Church, where he serves and supports the immigrants of Africa through religious services and provides guidance in their new lives. His church currently has 150 members and continues to grow. Through the church, Willy continues to help others adjust to their new lives in the United States. From driving and ESL classes to job searches, and after school tutoring lessons, Wilandia Msiando continues to find ways to help new immigrants. For his commitment to do everything necessary to help new immigrant transition to their new life in the United States. Wilondja Msiando is the recipient of the Immigrant Leadership Award.

 


Immigrant Champion Award – Lori Chesser

Immigrant Champion Award: A non-immigrant who is dedicated to making a positive impact on the immigrant community. Nominee demonstrates both a personal and professional commitment to and advocacy on behalf of immigrants and their families and communities.

Lori Chesser, senior shareholder with Davis Brown Law Firm, shows both personal and professional commitment to immigrants and their families.

Lori stumbled into immigration law when a colleague needed her help. Now, close to 20 years later, she is a long-time and well-known activist of immigration reform at both the federal and state level. In 2008, Lori served as a key communicator during the Postville Raid. When immigrant officials detained hundreds of undocumented workers, Lori responded to the needs of those arrested, and was a critical advocate for the families of those who were detained.

Realizing that such predicaments come from a lack of understanding of the laws, facts and dynamics of immigration, she co-founded the Iowa Immigrant Education Coalition ? a non-profit organization committed to providing factual information and education to people across Iowa regarding immigration law and policies. Through this group, Lori is able to share her expertise, experiences and educate others.

Committed to her advocacy with the immigration community both personally and professionally, Lori’s ultimate goal is for every person to be united in diversity. Her convictions advocacy and work on behalf of new Iowans earns her the Immigrant Champion Award.


Immigrant Spirit Award – Carlos Rios

Immigrant Spirit Award: A first generation Immigrant who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to professional/business excellence and altruistic pursuits. Nominee’s accomplishments and contributions have broad and substantial positive impact on the immigrant and larger community.

Carlos Rios, executive director with Immigrant Rights Network of Iowa, is the winner of the Immigrant Spirit Award.

A Peruvian native, Carlos has always expressed his passion for business. He did what he could to generate money selling everything from cilantro to books. In 1989, he earned his Juris Doctor degree, leading him to work for his country’s attorney general as a legal assistant in the human rights office. He became involved human rights issues from violations to terrorism.

This led to work with the United Nations. During his six-year tenure, he worked in a number of countries including Mozambique and Angola, where he worked as a camp officer and family camps coordinator. Carlos helped rebuild the country by working directly with the communities and reconstructing buildings that were destroyed in the war. His next assignment would send him to Guatemala where he was part of the Human Rights operations. Carlos and the rest of the United Nations team were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for their inspiring work in Guatemala. While he remained modest about his accomplishments, his service and humanity continued to grow.

In 2002, Carlos and his family moved to Iowa. His passion for human rights and business continued in the United States. He started a non-profit organization, Immigrants Rights Network of Iowa to serve communities and immigrant entrepreneurs like himself, The organization assists immigrants in all aspects of starting and running a business including assistance with writing business plans and registering their business with the state and other legal considerations. His accomplishments and contributions to serving individuals has a substantial and positive impact on the immigrant community at large. He has helped jump-start more than 400 businesses, including past IES award-winner Juan Rodriguez, owner of Latin World Group (Mundo-Latino Insurance, La Reyna radio, 5 de Mayo Mexican Restaurant).

In 2006, Carlos was featured in Point Blank Newspaper as “People Making a Difference” and creating a better Central Iowa. In 2010, he was awarded the Community Leadership Award from the State of Iowa. Known as a brother, friend, hero and king of the Des Moines Latino community, Carlos is the recipient of the Immigrant Spirit Award.


2010

Dr Jujdith Zon Sulim Monica Armando and Krubo at Award Lunch1 1024x682 Past Winners

From left:Dr. Judith Conlin, Saley Nong, Sulim Nong, Monica Jaime, Armando Aguilar, and Krubo Gabriel

Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award: A first generation immigrant who has demonstrated leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit in his/her professional and family life and on behalf of the immigrant and/or larger community. Honoree possesses an ability to mobilize others and is regarded as a community leader.

Monica Jaime and her husband, Armando Aguilar migrated to the United States from Zacatecas, Mexico.  When they arrived in Des Moines, they became active in the church almost immediately and soon became an integral part of the community. They now have three children, ages 7, 3 and 7-months old and own a popular Mexican grocery store, La Cruz Tres. Ms. Jaime and Mr. Aguilar are influential and respected members of the Latino community.

Armando Aguilar & Monica Jaime–2010 Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucqP0DHiuAY

Immigrant Champion Award: A non-immigrant who is dedicated to making a positive impact on the immigrant community.  Nominee demonstrates both a personal and professional commitment to and advocacy on behalf of immigrants and their families and communities.

For almost three decades, Dr. Judith Anne Conlin has assumed a variety of leadership roles in the nonprofit arena. Dr. Conlin began her professional career teaching in the English Department at Iowa State University and chairing the first Multi-Cultural Advisory Board for the Ames public school system. Since that time, she has held progressively more responsible positions in a number of nonprofit organizations that champion the rights and well being of women, animals and the elderly.  Dr. Conlin brings this same passion and compassion to her volunteer work in the community where she lends her considerable skills, knowledge and abilities in her service on many nonprofit boards.  To date, she has served as board chair on seven of the seventeen boards on which she has been a member. She has also authored or edited several publications and coordinated and presented at a variety of conferences.

Dr. Judith Anne Conlin–2010 Immigrant Champion Award

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULAJyn3Zdfg

Outstanding Immigrant Business Award: An immigrant-owned (at least 50% ownership by first generation immigrant) business that serves as a model and inspiration of success in both profit and philanthropy.  Nominee utilizes business strategies that carry a mission of community investment and civic engagement while providing a healthy profit margin.

Ms. Krubo B. Gabriel migrated to Des Moines from Lofa County, Liberia West Africa in January of 1999. She went to school almost immediately and became a certified nursing assistant.  After an enthusiastic response to some food items she brought back from New York, Ms. Gabriel saw the need to provide African food and ingredients to the Liberian immigrants in Des Moines and began a store in her basement.  Due to the overwhelming demand to her merchandise, the store soon outgrew her basement and she moved the store to its current location.  K N African Store was established in 2004 with her compatriot Nancy Tinneh and a capital of $6.000.00.  Recently, Ms. Gabriel became the sole proprietor of the business and renamed it K B African Store.

Ms. Krubo B. Gabriel–2010 Outstanding Business Award

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMA6Mnz2P8s

Immigrant Spirit Award: A first generation Immigrant who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to professional/business excellence and altruistic pursuits.  Nominee’s accomplishments and contributions have broad and substantial positive impact on the immigrant and larger community.

Saley, Sulim, Zon and Kun Nong came to Iowa with their father, Tang Nong and mother, Kan Loc in 1978. Madam Loc was an excellent chef and taught all her children to cook. In 1991, the older Nong siblings took over their parents’ restaurant business and opened Café Su.  Over the years, Café Su was consistently rated one of the ten best restaurants in Des Moines. It has also received national recognition for its inspired décor, exquisite cuisine and exceptional service. While Su and Zon focused on Café Su, Saley opened a full service event planning business anchored by a floral shop, DiVine Flowers by Saley.

Saley, Sulim and Zon Nong–2010 Immigrant Spirit Award

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jToR2JZVEE

2009

ies awardwinners Past Winners

Left to right: DMACC (San Wong), Ian Loo, Arturo Deanda, Juan O. Rodriguez, Robert Anderson

Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award

Mr. Ian Loo, a community leader channeled his entrepreneurial skills to build a nascent Burmese community that changed the economic and cultural landscape of central Iowa when Iowa experienced an influx of Burmese refugees that transformed a few Burmese families into a small but distinct community.

Outstanding Immigrant Business Award

Mr. Juan Rodriguez, President of Mundo Latino-Diversity Insurance, Inc. personifies how philanthropy and civic engagement compliments and enhances business profits. The 3000 new clients he gained in a 16 month period that made Mr. Rodriguez’s insurance business the most productive Latino agency in the Midwest can be attributed to his tremendous work ethic and the excellent reputation and rapport he enjoys with the community.

Immigrant Champion Award (Individual)

Long before globalization and a “flat world” were popular buzz words, Mr. Robert T. Anderson has had a keen interest in and understanding of international affairs and the interdependency between the State of Iowa, this country and the rest of the world. He has initiated numerous programs, established several non-profit organizations and been involved in many more. Mr. Anderson has been involved with the immigrant community for more than thirty years. He has celebrated births, graduations, weddings and deaths with his immigrant friends.

Immigrant Champion Award (Organization)

Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) champions the aspirations of individuals and communities in Central Iowa and is especially dedicated to providing access to quality, affordable, student-centered education and training to the most disenfranchised in their service area. First generation immigrants, especially those who have come to the state as refugees, are among its most vulnerable stakeholders. Through its leadership and involvement in programs designed and delivered for their needs, DMACC has touched the lives of almost every immigrant in Central Iowa somewhere along their journey to achieving their career dreams and life’s aspirations.

Immigrant Spirit Award

Born on a farm in San Jose de Godornices, Jalisco, Mexico, Mr. Arturo Deanda immigrated to the United States when he was sixteen. After many years of hard work and passionate pursuit of a better life for himself and his family, he is now President of Deanda Corporation. With annual profits of over a million dollars, Mr. Deanda makes contributions to both the economy and the community. He has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the immigrants’ rights movement and in promoting the interest of all immigrants. He has given direct financial support to a number of causes including education, sports, public safety, health care, and other non profit organizations.

2008

2008 IES awardwinners Past Winners

Left to right: Richard Patterson, Jose Ramos, Inbo Jung and Abid Talic.

Richard Patterson

“It was such an honor for me to be a part of the IES event, and to actually receive the Immigrant Champion Award was really overwhelming. Knowing who this award came from and knowing what it represents is what makes it so special. It was a day that I will never forget. I loved meeting the other award winners and presenters and so many other wonderful people. This event was so successful and helpful and necessary because the immigrant business owners who came had the opportunity to meet other outstanding immigrants who share the same challenges in operating a small business as an immigrant. This event was also successful because of Ying Sa and all of here incredible employees at Community CPA & Associates who worked so hard to make it happen. Thank you, Ying.”

Jose Ramos

“I want to thank you and your staff right from my heart for such wonderful afternoon I had last Saturday at the Summit. The award means a lot and makes me and my family so proud of what we do. I also admire you and congratulate you for having such a good vision by bringing the immigrant entrepreneurs together. I felt so great when I saw many familiar Latino faces at the summit. In my opinion this has been the greatest event immigrants entrepreneurs have had in Des Moines and I am 100% sure that the next one in 2009 will be even better.”

Inbo Jung

“The Award of Immigrant Spirit is truly a great honor. I feel like my hard work has finally paid off… that I can receive the kind of recognition that is unexpected but truly humbling to me.”

Abid Talic

“Integrity of the Immigrant Community of the Des Moines Metropolitan Area is built on the foundation of humanity. The 2008 Immigrant Entrepreneurship Summit just emphasized of what is right, fair and just for one another, allowing humanity to lead the way.”