2013 E Pluribus Unum WINNER
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
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For over 25 years, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) has been the leading organization in New England promoting the rights and successful integration of immigrants and refugees. The Coalition’s leadership was essential to the state’s adoption in 2008 of a New Americans Agenda with 131 recommendations for improving the integration of foreign-born residents of the Commonwealth. Partially in response, MIRA launched its New Americans Integration Institute in 2011.
The Integration Institute aims to help newcomers contribute more fully to the economic, civic, and social fabric of the United States. It works through policy-oriented research, training, and stakeholder partnerships to push forward the development of policies and programs that promote the integration of immigrants and refugees across Massachusetts.
The Institute operates as an incubator for partnerships across public agencies and community organizations, and aids the state in building the institutional and policy infrastructure needed to respond to changes in federal immigration policy. The Institute has also demonstrated the important role a talented policy organization can play in helping numerous state-level actors come together to solve tough problems.
FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE: Coordinating and Catalyzing Statewide Efforts to Support Successful Immigrant Integration
MIRA’s New Americans Integration Institute has become a national model for bringing together stakeholders from state and local government, immigrant and refugee communities, and the private and nonprofit sectors to improve integration research, policy analysis, advocacy, and system capacity.
The Integration Institute builds on MIRA’s longstanding strengths in policy analysis, organizing, training, and strategic communications, leveraging hundreds of pre-existing community, government, and nonprofit relationships to create and propel forward large-scale integration efforts.
The Integration Institute makes clear the critical role that state policies and practices can play in paving the way for successful integration of immigrants and refugees, as well as the additional mileage integration efforts can achieve when they are coordinated across the business, nonprofit, and government sectors.
Eva Millona is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born. She joined MIRA in 1999 and served as Director of Policy and Advocacy and as Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2008, and she is now one of New England’s most frequently quoted immigration experts.
Prior to joining MIRA, Ms. Millona directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts. In her native Albania, she practiced civil and criminal law, serving on Tirana’s District Court from 1989-92, when she was the nation’s youngest district judge ever appointed.
Ms. Millona is Co-Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants, serves on the US Commission on Civil Rights, and is Co-Chair of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), comprising 12 immigrant-rights state coalitions. Working with NPNA, she hosted and co-chaired the nation’s largest immigrant integration conference in 2010.
A graduate of Clark University and Tirana University School of Law, Ms. Millona received the 2007 Detention Attorney Award from the Political Asylum Immigration Representation Project, the 2007 Legal Professional Award from the National Lawyers Guild, the 2009 Outstanding American by Choice Award from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the 2010 Wainwright Bank Social Justice Award, the 2011 Irish International Immigrant Center’s Solas Award, and the 2012 Powermeter Award, presented to the most influential people for Latinos in Massachusetts.