|Grantee Impact: Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project
TPC Liaisons: Laura Dziorny and Susie Friedman
Laura Dziorny and Susie Friedman interviewed Anita Sharma (pictured right), the Executive Director of the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR), and Tamara Omazić, the Development Specialist for PAIR. Formed in 1989, PAIR provides free legal services to asylum-seekers and promotes the rights of detained immigrants.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to the PAIR Project.
Anita: I was drawn to PAIR because of my background in international human rights work. I started my career working on women’s rights in India, and working on asylum cases is as close as you can get to human rights work when you stay in the US. I joined PAIR as a part-time detention attorney in 2002, back when there were no full-time positions at PAIR (including that of the Executive Director). I became the first full-time staff member six months later and served in that role (as an asylum staff attorney) for 13 years before taking on my current position when the former ED departed in 2015.
Continue PAIR Interview by Laura Dziorny and Susie Friedman
Member Impact/Member Impacted: Volunteer Day, BEST Mock Interviews
As noted above, TPC members continue their involvement with grantee BEST Hospitality Training by participating in mock interviews with students preparing to launch their careers. Joan Abbott and the BEST staff have been effusive in their appreciation for our support. But, as is often the case, volunteers receive as much or more when they participate in such efforts. We’d like to share the comments of TPC member (and President) Susan Benford as she reflects on her morning with these students, and one in particular…
I had a phenomenal experience today that was one of the most rewarding in all of my time in TPC.
Iesha, whom I’d guess is in her mid-20s, was one of the most poised, quietly competent young women I’ve met in ages. Great eye contact; succinct, well-thought through answers; attentive listener; calm and not in the least nervous; and eager to move her life forward. She even had prepared a schedule of when she was already committed to work in the next few weeks in case I, as her employer, asked for her to start soon. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in prior management roles, and outside this context would never have imagined that she was anything other than another college grad from a comfortable life.
After we turned off the video, I smiled and told her that I would be looking for her name in the stars, and that she completely aced the dry-run interview. Her eyes welled up, and she told me that she’d had the most amazing week. Yesterday, she had learned that she and her children got an apartment and could leave the homeless shelter; also yesterday, her 10-year old came home grasping a certificate from school saying that he was doing an outstanding job. Iesha told him that they would put it up on the wall, and he responded by saying that you couldn’t do that in a shelter. She then got to tell him they were moving out and into their own apartment.
On my way out the door, one of the BEST staff told me that after Iesha did a hospitality internship with Loft Hotel, they asked her to apply for a job. She was the only one who received this offer.
Does it get any better than this?