Pictured above from left: LAYC President & CEO Lori Kaplan, Board Chair Antonio Marquez, participant Kory Molina, and Board member Carlos M. Gutierrez, Jr.
LAYC was honored as the recipient of the 2016 Community Human Rights Award given by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. LAYC joined international advocates, community members, ambassadors, and diplomats to recognize the important local and international accomplishments of three human rights leaders and their organizations, including Felice Gaer, Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Eric Richardson, Political Economic Counselor for the U.S. Embassy for Libya; and Ritu Sharma, Co-founder and former President of Women Thrive Worldwide and Director of the Global Center for Gender and Youth at the International Youth Foundation.
The evening’s inspirational theme, in the context of recent U.S. elections and its influence abroad, focused on standing up for human rights and for the dignity of all people whether in access to quality education, employment or healthcare, or in opposition to discrimination, gender-based violence, and acts of hate. Reflected in each of their remarks, the recognized advocates spoke of shared core values and how those values have grounded their work and will continue to guide them moving forward. All three award recipients remain steadfast in their commitment to continue to advance human rights in our neighborhoods and around the world. LAYC was no exception with its history rooted in social justice and youth-led movements. In her remarks, LAYC President & CEO Lori Kaplan highlighted LAYC’s values and the critical work of our staff and youth committees—Community Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE), LGBTQ+/Ally Training, and DREAMER committee.
LAYC was born out of a strong social justice movement and a commitment to human rights for all is embedded in our fabric. Many of LAYC’s youth struggle with deep social challenges including discrimination, bullying, and hate crimes, in addition to other issues in their young lives including homelessness, depression, and trauma, gang recruitment and involvement, teen parenting, and complex family issues. They are all low-income, and LAYC’s goal is to ensure they are on a career and educational pathway with the necessary skills to connect to resources and opportunity.” Lori Kaplan
Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and longtime friend and supporter of LAYC, presented the award to Lori, who received the award on behalf of LAYC. “I know LAYC from when I was a young man in the late 80s and heard about an indefatigable activist named Lori Kaplan and a place that engaged youth regardless of their situation. A sanctuary that holds close what is at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.’ There is always a lamp shining by the door at LAYC,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
LAYC was also represented by LAYC participant Kory Molina, Board Chair Antonio F. Marquez, and Board member Carlos M. Gutierrez, Jr.