Passport to Prosperity honorees

Passport to Prosperity

Past honorees


  • Manisha Paudel, Equity Officer for the City of Des Moines (Nepal)
  • Narayan Rizal, Lutheran Services of Iowa (Bhutan)
  • Isabel Martinez Santos (Conn), Bi-lingual DOJ Representative and co-director at Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Mexico)
  • Biak Thang, Family Liaison at West Des Moines Community Schools (Burma)
  • Monica Paulina Vallejo, Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission (Ecuador)


  • Shaimaa Aly, Wells Fargo (Egypt)
  • Harka Biswa, Dallas Center Grimes Community Schools (Bhutan)
  • Ivania Gabriella Guerra Ceron, Please Pass the Love (El Salvador)
  • Maria Corona, Executive Director at Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Ecuador)
  • Luisita McBurney (Thompson), Filipino American Society of Iowa (Philippines)


  • Samuel Gabriel, Co-founder and executive director of Genesis Youth foundation (Liberia)
  • Tijana Kudumovic, John Deere employee and founding member of the World and I resource group(Bosnia)
  • Abigail Sui, Founding staff member of EMBARC (Myanmar)
  • James Suong, Iowa Army National Guard and on the Commission of Asian Pacific Islander Affairs (Cambodia)
  • Mohamed Sharif – Emerging Leader Award, student at DMACC (Somalia)
  • W.T. and Edna M. Dahl Trust- recipient of the Dr. Judith Conlin Welcoming the World Award


  • Johnny Alcivar, Community Development, City of Des Moines (Ecuador)
  • Elizabeth Balcarcel, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Mexico)
  • Atul Gupta, Advanced Technologies Group (India)
  • Mazahir Salih, Center for Worker Justice, Iowa City City Council (Sudan)
Conlin Family Foundation, recipient of the Dr. Judith Conlin Welcoming the World Award


  • Barwaqo Aden, Assistant Director at Nisaa African Family Services (Somalia)
  • Mirza Kudic, Owner of Mirza Kudic Photography (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Albert Liu, Director of International Business Development at Kent Pet Group (China)
Robert Nishimwe, Emerging Leader Award, student at Georgetown University (Burundi)
  • Trudy Holman Hurd, recipient of the Dr. Judith Conlin Welcoming the World Award


  • Sadagat Aliyeva, author, Library Assistant at the Clive Public Library (Azerbaijan)
  • Nancy Mwirotsi, Founder at PI 515 (Kenya)
  • Sanjita Pradhan, Program Director at the Greater Des Moines Partnership (Nepal)
  • Harold and Carol Hill, recipients of the Dr. Judith Conlin Welcoming the World Award


  • Jane Agyeman, Director of Upward Bound at Iowa State University TRIO (Ghana)
  • Kenia Calderon Ceron, Client Relations Director at Coopera (El Salvador)
  • Alex Duong, Marketing and Communications Specialist at Mediacom (Vietnam)
  • Lomoro Moses Santino (South Sudan)
  • Samra Uzunovic Hiros, Health Promotions Coordinator at the American Lung Association (Bosnia and Herzegovina)


  • Mone Aye, board president of EMBARC (Myanmar/Karen nation)
  • Alejandra Vidal Soler Graham, Owner of South American Beef (Argentina)
  • Nu Huynh, Executive Director of Iowa Asian Alliance (Vietnam)
  • Serkan Usta, Artistic Director, Ballet DSM; School of Classical Ballet (Turkey)
  • San Wong, Director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights (Singapore)


  • Tej Dhawan, Chief Data Officer at Principal (India)
  • Aiddy Phomvisay (Laos)
  • Claudia Schabel, President of Schabel Solutions (Brazil)
  • Li Zhao Mandelbaum, Owner, China Iowa Group (China)


  • Himar Hernandez Santana, Community & Economic Development, ISU Extension (Canary Islands)
  • Dekow Sagar, Lecturer at the University of Kansas (Somalia)
  • Sandra Sanchez, Iowa Immigrants’ Voice Program Director at American Friends Service Committee (Mexico)
  • Grace Zhenhaun Yang, Marketing Specialist at Bankers Trust (China)


  • Sachiko Murphy, educator, retired (Japan)
Rizwan Shah, Physician, retired (Pakistan)
  • Hicham Sibouih, Vice President of Programs at the Refugee Resource Center (Morocco)
  • Phoukham Tran, DSM Police, retired (Laos)


  • Ahmed Merchant, CEO of Merchant Investments, Inc (Pakistan)
  • Alejandro Orozco, VP Fair Banking Officer at Bankers Trust (Mexico)


  • Cyndi Chen (deceased) (Taiwan)
  • Zeljka Krvavica, Case Manager with the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Shazia Manus, Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer at AdvantEdge Analytics, CUNA (Bangladesh)


  • Suku Radia, Bankrs Trust, retired (Uganda)
  • Ying Sa, CEO/Managing Partner at Community CPA (China)
  • Yogesh Shah, Director of Palliative Care at Broadlawns Geriatric and Memory Center (India)
  • Sol Varisco-Santini, Assistant General Manager at H&K Manufacturing (Argentina)


  • Penny Furgerson, Executive & Artistic Director at Gateway Dance Theatre (India)
  • Doua Lor, Sergeant/Asian Outreach Resource Officer at Des Moines Police Department (Laos)
  • Rohey Sallah, Iowa College Aid (Gambia)
  • Alma Reed Coon, Independent Associate at LegalShield (Philippines)


  • Eric Idehen, VP Community Development Consultant at Wells Fargo (Nigeria)
  • Alba Perez, retired (Honduras)
  • Swallow Yan, Executive Director for the Chinese Association of Iowa (China)


  • Luca Berrone, President of SACMI USA (Italy)
  • Swati Dandekar, Owner at Thirty Ninth Street Strategies, LLC (India)
  • Wangmeng Lee, Hmong Lao Foundation (Laos)


  • Juliet Cunningham (Iraq)
B.J. Do, CEO of ABC Virtual Company (Vietnam)
  • Joe Gonzalez, Executive Director of Iowa’s Latino Heritage festival (Mexico)
  • Sonia Parras-Konrad, Law Office of Sonia Parras (Spain)
  • Liansuo Xie, Global CAD Manager at Marel Meat Processing Inc. (China)


  • Deniz Franke, financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Turkey)
  • Dau-Shen Ju, Psychologist at Iowa City VA (Taiwan)
  • Vinh Nguyen, ELL Assessment & Accountability Specialist at the Des Moines Public Schools (Vietnam)
  • Surasee (See) Rodari, VP Consumer Services Manager at Bankers Trust (Thailand)
  • Claudius M. Sillah, Senior Internal Auditor at University of California Santa Cruz (Sierra Leone)


  • Som Baccam, Claims Medical Specialist RN at Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company (Laos)
  • Karuna Sayeed, Physician, retired (India)
  • Isak Sivi, CEO of Real Optics, Inc. (Turkey)
  • Alicia Stessman (Bolivia)
  • Fred Lorber (deceased) (Austria)


  • Sahar Al-Shash (Syria)
  • Fasil Kebede, Utility Specialist at State of Iowa (Ethiopia)
  • Elizabeth Salinas Newby, author (Mexico)
  • Kumsan Song, physician, retired (Republic of Korea)
  • Mario Soria (deceased) (Bolivia)

Passport to Prosperity

Iowa International Center’s Passport to Prosperity awards celebrate the lived experience of immigrants and refugees who make Iowa a better place, recognizing their significant contributions to the economic, social and cultural fabric of our communities. The celebration welcomes friends, donors and community leaders to build understanding and inspire stronger global community in Iowa.

Funds raised support Iowa International Center’s work to remove language barriers and promote international understanding.

Call (515) 282-8269 for more information.


Do you know an outstanding immigrant or refugee who has made a significant positive difference to the quality of life in Iowa?


The accomplishments of a growing list of foreign-born Iowans deserves attention. Know their stories.


Our sponsors are essential creating the deserved recognition and celebration of honorees.  We are grateful for their commitment to Iowa International Center’s work to create global community.

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