Human Rights First’s Vanessa Allyn to Receive 2015 Center Global Advocate Award
Washington, D.C. - Human Rights First today announced that Vanessa Allyn, the organization’s DC-based managing attorney for refugee representation, will receive Center Global’s 2015 Global Advocate Award for her work advocating for LGBTI asylum seekers and advancing improvements to management of the asylum system. Center Global, a program of the DC Center for the LGBT Community, will honor Allyn this evening at its Annual Reception in Washington, D.C.
“We are excited to present the Center Global Advocate Award to Vanessa Allyn because of her longstanding commitment to assisting LGBTI asylum seekers here in the Washington, D.C. area and her advocacy on behalf of all those seeking asylum through her work with Human Rights First. Vanessa exemplifies the spirit of the work of Center Global to assist all those who come to America fleeing persecution and seeking a safe place to live,” said Matt Corso, Chair of Center Global.
“I’m honored and humbled that Center Global selected me to receive this award,” said Allyn, who has been with Human Rights First since 2011. "Most importantly, I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the struggle LGBTI refugees face in seeking protection in the United States, as well as the wonderful support that Center Global offers to refugees in need.”
The Center Global Advocate Award is presented annually to an individual or organization who has helped to advance the cause of global LGBTI human rights and provide support for asylum seekers, asylees, and refugees in the United States. This evening, Center Global will also honor Nikilas Mawanda with the Center Global Courage Award. Mawanda is a recently granted asylee from Uganda who has been an activist for LGBTI rights in his country for the past decade and has continued his work in the diaspora and provided support and assistance to other asylum seekers going through the process.
For 35 years, Human Rights First has connected unrepresented asylum seekers with pro bono attorneys. The organization’s pro bono asylum program utilizes a distinct model in which attorneys are recruited, trained, and mentored by Human Rights First’s expert legal team. Working with Human Rights First’s refugee representation program, attorneys from firms across the nation donate over 60,000 hours of their time annually — a donation the equivalent of more than $33 million in legal fees — to helping asylum clients. Pro bono attorneys also provide invaluable support to Human Rights First in other ways, including preparing amicus curiae briefs in cases involving important issues of international human rights law.