2016 Honorees

Immigrant Entrepreneur Leadership Award Recipient: DR. LIANG CHEE WEE

Dr. Liang Chee Wee draws on his perspective as a native of Singapore who immigrated to the United States to attend college as a young man to guide his work and leadership of NICC. He champions for all students and encourages faculty and staff to always consider the perspectives and needs of those with different backgrounds being inclusive and welcoming to all.

Immigrant Spirit Award Recipient: OLGA SPARKS

Olga provided the bridges to span language differences between refugees and immigrants and the many Iowans needing help welcoming our new
Iowans. Her outstanding networking skills, along with her personal and professional experiences in the area of cross-cultural collaboration makes her a truly unique interpreter and effective cultural broker. Among her first and most important life changing experiences in Iowa, was working for Iowa State University and joining the Iowa Council for Understanding as a program manager and interpreter.

Outstanding Immigrant Business Award Recipient: GAZALI’S & OPEN SESAME

Along with their mother, Mario and MJ Ghazali own and operate Gazali’s and Open Sesame in Des Moines, Iowa. With an unwavering commitment to family and a tremendous pride in their heritage, the Ghazali family have become an important part of a vibrancy of the economic, social and cultural landscape in Central Iowa through their family restaurants and meaningful connections in the community.

Karen L. Evans Award (Immigrant Champion Award) Recipient: SAL ALANIZ

Sal Alaniz, son of Mexican immigrants has been a very participative individual in all sectors that affect immigrants. He wears many hats: entrepreneur, Latino affairs of State of Iowa, Red cross, human rights activist, as well as a mentor in the area of entrepreneurship and issues that immigrants have to live through, such as legal and immigration. In all of his multiple roles and responsibilities, he has not only assisted immigrants but he has empowered them to reach their full potential through mentorship and guidance, as well as being a connector.