Congressman Keith Ellison honored Lori Saroya in the Congress for her leadership and advocacy efforts in Minnesota. The text of his speech is reproduced below.
Congressman Keith Ellison Lori Saroya
HONORING LORI SAROYA -- HON. KEITH ELLISON (Extensions of Remarks - February 12, 2015)
HON. KEITH ELLISON
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, February 12, 2015
- Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Lori Saroya for her contributions and tireless efforts in promoting justice, civil rights and mutual understanding among the Minnesota Islamic community and all peoples of faith. As Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) Mrs. Saroya has been at the forefront of building coalitions and improving Muslim relations across the state.
- Mrs. Saroya was raised in Bloomfield, Iowa. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Catherine University and her Juris Doctor from Hamline University. As a child of the only Muslims in a small town she and her family were subject to messages of hate and unfair treatment. She took these early life experiences and turned them into positive actions. While still in high school Mrs. Saroya organized the Iowa Conference on Islam at the University of Iowa.
- Recognizing a lack of Muslim civil rights advocacy groups in Minnesota she decided to fill the void. In 2007, she co-founded the Minnesota chapter of CAIR. The organization has quickly become a powerful voice for Muslim civil liberties and advocacy across the state. CAIR-MN successfully fought for and won the establishment of the Abu Huraira Islamic Center in St. Anthony, MN despite misguided local opposition. CAIR-MN asked the Justice Department to investigate, which led to a negotiated agreement with the city and the opening of a magnificent new center for gatherings and prayer. In 2014, Mrs. Saroya along with members of CAIR-MN led the first ever Jewish-Muslim Youth Day at the Minnesota Legislature. This ground breaking interfaith program trains students on successfully engaging in dialogue with legislators on the pressing issues of racial profiling, immigration, and safe schools. CAIR-MN has become the go-to legal source for those in the Muslim community. Since 2007 the organization has provided hundreds of Muslims with free legal aid and has become a driving force in fighting unlawful discrimination and bullying in work, schools, and the public sphere.
- CAIR-MN's outstanding work has been recognized time and time again on the state and national level. Among some of the organization's many awards include the ``Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Anti-Racism Award'' from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the ``Pro Bono Difference Maker Award'' from the American Bar Association. It is through achievements such as these that Mrs. Saroya became the recipient of the prestigious Bush Foundation Fellowship for $100,000 in 2014. This fellowship stands as a testament and a capstone to the truly amazing work that Ms. Saroya did in her time as Executive Director. Through this grant she will be able to take even greater leaps in her advocacy work.
- Thanks to Ms. Saroya's outstanding efforts and hard work, CAIR-MN has immensely benefited the Muslim community in Minnesota. I applaud Ms. Saroya's extraordinary work in advancing the civil rights of the Muslim community and fostering a more vibrant and culturally understanding Minnesota. On behalf of the people of Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District, I wish you continued success and impact in your future advocacy work.