Today, in honor of Citizenship Day and National Welcoming Week, the White House highlighted ten local heroes who are “Champions of Change” that work tirelessly to effectively integrate immigrants civically, linguistically, and socially into the fabric of their neighborhoods by bringing all residents together to create welcoming communities. Adolfo Hernandez, Director of the Mayor’s Office of New Americans, appointed by the Mayor in 2011, was recognized by the White House for his work in Chicago.
“Adolfo has worked to help immigrants of all backgrounds integrate and become meaningful contributors to our civic, cultural and economic life,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “In Chicago, we value the contributions and recognize the importance of immigrants to our future. Alongside Adolfo and the hundreds of thousands of immigrants in Chicago, I will continue to work to ensure that Chicago is a welcoming city that celebrates its rich cultural and ethnic history.”
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The Welcoming America Champions of Change are ensuring that America’s history and tradition as a nation of immigrants continues to enrich our communities and our country.
In 2011, Adolfo Hernandez was appointed by Mayor Emanuel to serve as the Director of the newly created Chicago’s Office of New Americans. The Office of New Americans was created by the Mayor to make Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in the country by better leveraging the contributions of immigrants through enhanced collaboration between city government, community organizations, academic and faith based institutions, and the private sector. Hernandez, who is the son of Mexican immigrants and was born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village community, has worked to develop and implement policies and strategies that support the creation and expansion of immigrant-owned businesses, that develop, attract, and retain talent and expertise from other countries, and that bolster Chicago’s status as a vibrant and welcoming international city.
The ONA has launched the New Americans Small Business Series, the Chicago New Americans Initiative offering assistance to thousands of legal permanent residents who are ready to become U.S. citizens, and the creation of The Chicago New Americans Plan.