Each month a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner will be featured in the e-newsletter and on the Foundation’s blog. This is where the Grantee Partners tell their story…about how their helping Kansas City’s women and girls become more economically self-sufficient.
Now is a time for training and transitions in Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s immigration program.
After 37 years of dedicated service, attorney Suzanne Gladney is retiring from Legal Aid. But don’t expect her to relax and take it easy. Suzanne plans to continue serving the community working with immigrants and migrant farmworkers and their families.
Right now, Suzanne is busy training the next generation of Legal Aid’s immigration team: Ron Nguyen, who will handle immigration cases full-time and supervise Jennifer Wieman, who will handle immigration cases half-time.
Both young Legal Aid attorneys will be taking over responsibilities for administering Legal Aid’s Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence and Violent Crimes project, which is funded by the Women’s Foundation.
“I’ve worked with Ron for more than two year and appreciate his dedication and commitment to the important legal work we provide for women and girls,” said Suzanne. “Jennifer comes with experience working with immigrants at Mattie Rhodes Center and in Legal Aid’s Advocates for Family Health and Medical-Legal Partnership program at Children’s Mercy Hospital. This is an exciting time as they learn immigration law and meet the partners we work with to serve immigrants and their families.”
The Immigrant Survivors Project serves women who seek independence from abusive spouses, exploitative employers and human traffickers. Proof of work authorization and legal status are absolute requirements for re-establishing life after such crises and for achieving financial control and self-sufficiency. The women who are served in the project recover stolen documents, apply for new documents and then have the needed documents to prove their eligibility for work, housing, Social Security numbers, financial services, higher education and other opportunities.
The project creates a shift in policy implementation in the Immigrant Service and local law enforcement. Legal Aid’s advocacy and case work motivate more equitable policies that favor immigrant survivors against their abusers. Legal Aid’s public education work informs a constituency that helps protect past gains when they are threatened, as in the case of recent attacks in Congress against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The Project addresses the immediate or extended needs of about 75-80 women and their minor children per year. The Project cultivates and collaborates with a network of organizational partners who depend on us to provide solutions for the unique problems of immigrant women. Legal Aid is the sole agency to receive calls from the Immigration Service regarding potential cases for immigrant survivors. The project, its clients and its organizational partners resolve these cases to allow immigrant survivors to recover their legal status, gain employment and residence, control their own finances and move forward with their lives.
The Women’s Foundation granted $20,000 to Legal Aid of Western Missouri for their “Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence and Violent Crimes” Project. To learn more, head over to their website. If you’d like to learn more about the Women’s Foundation’s Grants, click here.