Big Ideas: Chicago’s New Americans Plan: Building a Thriving and Welcoming City

February 05, 2013

Join Adolfo Hernandez, Director, Chicago’s Office of New Americans for a conversation about Big Ideas for making Chicago “the most immigrant-friendly city” in the U.S. In conversation with: Suzette Brooks Masters, J.M. Kaplan Fund of New York.

The Chicago New Americans Plan identifies 27 initiatives that will make Chicago the “most immigrant friendly city in the nation.” The first of its kind in the U.S., the Chicago Plan highlights the economic impact that can be achieved when cities support the creation and expansion of immigrant-owned businesses and develop strategies to attract and retain talent and expertise from other countries. Over the next three years, the Plan aims to bolster Chicago’s status as a vibrant, welcoming and international city.

“With residents from over 140 countries and more than 100 languages spoken in our city, Chicago is a city of immigrants,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These immigrants are small business owners, teachers, parents, clergymen, elected officials, and leaders in our communities. This is why I am committed to making Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in the nation.”

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Adolfo Hernandez, Director, Office of New Americans, City of Chicago
Adolfo Hernandez is the Director of Chicago’s Office of New Americans, an office dedicated to making Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in the world by better leveraging the contributions of immigrants through enhanced collaboration with community organizations, academic and faith based institutions, and the private sector. Under his leadership the ONA has launched the New Americans Small Business Series, an innovative series of quarterly events that will foster small business growth in ethnic communities by delivering language accessible information in community settings; launched the Chicago New Americans Initiative with the goal of offering assistance to 10,000 legal permanent residents to become naturalized, U.S. citizens; and spearheaded Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, preventing law abiding Chicagoans from being unfairly detained and deported, while reaffirming basic protections and access to services.

Suzette Brooks Masters, Program Director, Migrations, J. M. Kaplan Fund
Since 2007, Suzette Brooks Masters has directed immigration-related grant making at the J. M. Kaplan Fund, a private family foundation in New York City. At the Fund, she focuses primarily on immigrant integration issues, including innovative state and local policy, educational access, professional workforce integration, and receiving community engagement. Prior to joining the Fund, she consulted with non-profit organizations working on behalf of immigrants and refugees, and published extensively on immigration policy subjects. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Ms. Masters practiced corporate and environmental law in New York City until 1999 when she decided to focus exclusively on immigrant issues. She has been active in civic matters since the late 1980’s when she co-founded New York Cares. Ms. Masters has served on a number of non-profit boards, including the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the National Immigration Forum, Lawyers Alliance for New York, and New York Cares. Ms. Masters also obtained degrees in Economics from Kings’ College, Cambridge University, where she was a Marshall Scholar, and Amherst College.




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