ISSUES

Immigrant Heritage Month: How Immigrants Are Leading the Way at the Presidents’ Alliance


How Immigrants Are Leading the Way at the Presidents’ Alliance

By Presidents’ Alliance Staff

During Immigrant Heritage Month, we are spotlighting and honoring the contributions of our immigrant-origin staff, 85% of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants, with at least two having refugee siblings or parents.

IVANA LOPEZ ESPINOSA
Project Associate for Campus Engagement


I was born in Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico, and immigrated to the U.S. at three years old. I spent my childhood in Frederick, Maryland, and my teenage years in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

As a DACA recipient and a beneficiary of TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship, I graduated from Gettysburg College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Music. Working for the Presidents’ Alliance has enabled me to continue my advocacy for immigrant rights at a national level while staying actively involved in my community.

CEZANNE HAYDEN DILBERT
Manager of Operations and People


I was born in Montreal, Canada to a Jamaican immigrant mother and a Haitian Immigrant father. I moved to the United States when I was 3 years old. I grew up, graduated high school, and went to college undocumented before there was DACA or ample resources and information that were available. Having been raised in a mixed status family, I felt as if I had to hide in the shadows and didn’t know anyone who truly understand what I was going through. As a current DACA recipient and a TheDream.US alumna, most of my life has been navigated through the complexities of immigration.

Sometimes, I think about how far we still have to go to find permanent solutions and make meaningful changes, but I can also appreciate our progress. Now there are more resources, advocacy efforts, and information available compared to before, but a lot still needs to be done.

My work for the Presidents’ Alliance has allowed me to continue to advocate for immigration change in a way that I feel comfortable and also see that many people are still striving for the positive change that we all hope for.

ANNIE NGUYEN
Director of Development and Operations


I grew up in a refugee household. My sister and brother were both born during the Vietnam War and fled as 1- and 3-year-olds to the U.S. in the fall of Saigon with my parents and nine other members of our family. My family started with nothing but two suitcases and a stack of photographs of a better time in Vietnam.

But because of my parents’ and grandparents’ hard work; a counselor who told me about George Washington University’s Presidential Merit Scholarship for National Merit Scholars; and a medley of loans, Pell Grants, and Work Study, my sister and I are now both professors in our respective fields of communications and writing.

It is now part of my life’s goal to make sure other families like ours have the opportunity to not just live without fear but also have the support to achieve their higher education goals to access this American dream we all share.

JASON KOH
Senior Communications Manager


I was born in South Korea, and immigrated to the U.S. at five years old.

As a former DACA recipient, I’ve come to understand that the people who are closest and most intimately connected to issues are the ones who often possess the solutions. But, I also witnessed firsthand some of the barriers they face – lack of resources, expertise, and technical skills – that may hinder their ability to amplify their voices to a broader audience. My work at the Presidents’ Alliance has been driven by a deep-seated motivation to bridge this gap. I want to leverage my skills to make sure that the wider American public not only hears the stories of those who are undocumented and DACAmented but also empathizes with their struggles and champions their causes.

As we celebrate the contributions of our immigrant-origin and refugee-background staff, it’s essential to recognize the broader impact of immigrants, refugees, and international students during Immigrant Heritage Month.

Discover more resources and inspiring stories on the Higher Ed Immigration Portal.