On September 28, 2013, the Iowa International Center presented its annual “Passport to Prosperity” awards to four Iowans including Sandra Sanchez, Program Director of AFSC Iowa’s Immigrants Voice Program. To view a set of photos from the event, please click here. To view a video created by IIC about Sandra's work, click here.
In accepting the award, Sandra said that work for immigrant rights truly does benefit all Americans. The program for the evening contained this description of Sandra’s life and work:
“Sandra Sanchez has worked tirelessly for over 20 years to advocate for immigrant rights, empower all Iowans to work for fair treatment, equal access to services and teach a generation to advocate for all these things.
“Born in a suburb of Mexico City, Sandra moved to Iowa with her family after an economic crisis in Mexico. She taught herself English and enrolled her two children in school. While walking her son to a class, accompanied by a bilingual aid, another student yelled racially charged threats at her. Sandra decided that issues of safety, diversity training and communication for non-English speaking students and family members were paramount, so in 1991 she was hired by the Des Moines Public Schools to bridge the gap between families and the district. She translated materials for families and held Spanish-language parent-teacher meetings.
“One example of Sandra’s leadership was the 2006 rally calling for equitable immigration policy. Between 5,000 and 6,000 people filled Nollen Plaza in Des Moines, bringing awareness to the plight of immigrants and the significant contributions they make to agriculture, business and society.
“Sandra is the most recognized, trusted and experienced leader on immigrant rights in Iowa, leading the way on matters of policy and the practical impact of immigrants and refugees in Iowa. As the Director of the Immigrants Voice Program with the American Friends Service Committee, she communicates with legislators, the media, government agencies and immigrants on issues of rights and well-being.
“She was instrumental in the creation of many organizations and programs, including the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, the Immigrant Safety Net and United for Dignity and Safety of Immigrants. She has a weekly radio program and writes for publications here and abroad.
“Cross-cultural dialogue and education are Sandra’s passion. She believes that immigrants and refugees renew and revitalize America, and demonstrates her commitment every day with her work.”