Get Involved


The American Immigration Council, AILA’s non-profit partner, hosts several special events during the conference, including:

For more information about all Council events, or contact Claudia Ornelas or (202) 507-7525 and visit the American Immigration Council Booth at the conference. 

The American Heritage Awards is our annual gala where we celebrate the talents, contributions, and accomplishments of notable immigrants and their advocates. The gala is held during the American Immigration Lawyers Association's annual conference.

This event will be held at the AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law on June 23, 2017 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. Purchase ticket's today.

The American Immigration Council’s Washington, DC Immigrant Achievement Awards is DC’s only annual event celebrating the remarkable accomplishments of immigrants and their advocates from around the country at an inspiring and thought-provoking awards ceremony. More than 300 immigrant attorneys, activists, advocates, members of Congress, Hill staff, administration and supporters of sensible, fair and smart immigration come together to celebrate the recipients of our Immigrant Achievement Award, Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award and Immigrant Youth Achievement Award.

We look forward to seeing you at our next event in 2017!

Tony Cook Memorial Golf Tournament

Every year the Council hosts a golf tournament at varying locations around the country in honor of Tony Cook. This tournament provides a great opportunity to relax, network, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The tournament is open to everyone, whether you’re a scratch golfer or haven’t hit the links in months. 

Each year, the American Immigration Council honors the remarkable accomplishments of immigrants and their advocates from around the country at our inspiring and thought-provoking award events.

Our distinguished honorees have come from politics, music, television, sports, education and many other professional fields. View a full list of many of the outstanding individuals and organizations we have honored over the years.


Congratulations to the 2016 AILA Super Chapters. You rocked it and stepped up to the challenge with 25% or more of your membership donating to the Council.

A heartfelt thank you to the AILA Super Chapter members, Chapter Chairs and Ambassadors. Your support allows us to continue fighting for fair immigration policies and achieve justice for immigrants.

The 2016 AILA Super Chapters are:

  • Carolinas
  • Chicago
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota/Dakotas
  • New England
  • New York
  • Wisconsin

Each Super Chapter will be recognized at our annual gala the American Heritage Awards and win a free Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook!

It is never too late to start preparing for the 2017 competition-keep in mind all donations made to the Council by Chapters members in that calendar year count towards the competition.

For questions or information, please contact Claudia Ornelas.  

The Celebrate America Creative Writing Contest challenges fifth graders across the country to reflect on and write about the theme “Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants.” The contest begins at the local level, with regional contests run by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) chapters. Each chapter sends its first place winning entry to the American Immigration Council for the national contest. The national winner reads his or her winning entry at the American Immigration Council’s American Heritage Awards in June.

Learn more about the contest.


Ambassadors are essential in maintaining a strong relationship with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) community and expanding the American Immigration Council’s reach among the diverse Chapters. Made up of AILA members from each Chapter, Ambassadors engage and inform their colleagues and their local community about the mission of the Council by:

  • Educating fellow members about the resources the Council has to offer in order to develop their practice;
  • Informing the Council of current immigration issues and news that are important within their AILA Chapter and community; and
  • Fostering new and creative ways for the Council and the AILA community to work together.

Through the American Immigration Council’s “Ambassador of the Year” award, we recognize Council Ambassadors who have gone above and beyond and have demonstrated extraordinary dedication, involvement and initiative to enhancing the partnership between their AILA Chapter and the American Immigration Council, AILA’s non-profit partner.

The “Ambassador of the Year” will receive:

  • Special recognition from the Council’s and AILA’s Executive Directors to the entire AILA community
  • One complimentary registration to AILA’s Annual Conference
  • One ticket to the Council’s American Heritage Awards taking place during AILA’s Annual Conference and a reserved seat at a VIP table
  • Special recognition at the American Heritage Awards

How to Nominate Your Candidate for the Council’s “Ambassador of the Year” Award:

  1. Fill out this form to nominate an Ambassador by February 28.
  2. Please submit the form to Claudia Ornelas.

For questions or additional information, please contact Claudia Ornelas. A list of all Chapter’s Ambassador is available here

Each year the American Immigration Council recognizes a young immigrant whose accomplishments are the embodiment of the immigrant spirit and show evidence of a commitment to making a positive impact in his or her community or the world around them.

We will launch the next contest in the winter 2017.

For Attorneys

To enhance communication between the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Chapters and the American Immigration Council, the Council created the Ambassador Program. Made up of AILA members from each Chapter, these Ambassadors help the Immigration Council share information, promote its events, distribute their research, and take the lead on community relation projects, among other tasks.

  • For more information on the Ambassador Program, contact Claudia Ornelas at cornelas (at)
  • Learn more about the the annual Ambassador of the Year Award.


Zainab Alwan

zainab (at)


Fae Sowders

fsowders (at)

Bangkok District

Jeremy Weber

jwlawbkk (at)


Eric Fleischmann

Ellen Kief

ericf (at)

ekief (at)


Jorgelina Araneda

info (at)

Central Florida

Michael Mendez    

Courtney Rineer 

mmendez (at)

crineer (at)


Ana Valenzuela

Kendra Scheuerlein

avalenzuela (at)

kscheuerlein (at)


Alyssa Reed 

alyssa (at)


Norine Krasnogor

norine (at)


Maile Hirota

maile.hirota (at)





Lacy Panyard

lacy.panyard (at)


Ross Pesek

Ross (at)

Latin America and Caribbean

Elina Santana

elina (at)


Cynthia Nuñez

nunezcynthia (at) 


Ari Sauer

asauer (at)


Mai Neng Moua

mai (at)


Kenneth Schmitt

kschmitt (at)


Sylvia L. Esparza

sylviae (at)

New England

Leslie Ditrani

leslie (at)

New Jersey

Alan J. Pollack

apollack (at)

New York

L. Batya Schwartz Ehrens

Neena Dutta

batya (at)

info (at)

Northern California

David Palmer

david (at)


Karen D. Bradley

karen (at)


Jennifer M. Rotman
John J. Dooney, III

jrotman (at)
john (at)


Katelyn M. Hufe

katelyn (at)




Puetro Rico



Rome District



San Diego

Diana Vellos Coker

diana (at)

Santa Clara



Southern California

John Manley

jmanleylaw (at)

South Florida

Juliana Lamardo

jlamardo (at)


Rick Gump

rick (at)

Upstate New York






Washington State

Keaton H. Whitten

keaton (at)

Washington, D.C.

Brenda Oliver

Sonal Verma

boliver (at)

sverma (at)


Jennifer Nissen

jnissen (at)

The American Immigration Council regularly partners with private firms and nonprofit organization on our litigation.  Please contact us to explore potential opportunities to collaborate.

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