Named for Loyola University Chicago’s primary founder, Arnold J. Damen, S.J., this award is granted to an alumnus(a) from each of Loyola’s schools and colleges. It recognizes the qualities of leadership in industry, leadership in the community, and service to others.
Maria Woltjen is founder and executive director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago Law School.
The Young Center is a national organization that advocates for the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children from all corners of the world—Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, India, China, Romania, and Somalia, among other places. The federal government appoints the Young Center to serve as child advocate—similar to a guardian ad litem—for the most vulnerable of these children. The Young Center has offices in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Harlingen, Texas.
Ms. Woltjen’s focus is on reforming the immigration system—in which children are now treated as adults—into a justice system that recognizes children as children, with rights and protection needs all their own. She is the recipient of the American Constitution Society 2013 Ruth Goldman Award and the 2017 UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Award.
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