Tony Hernandez, Myrna Orozco to be honored at Oct. 25 event, NYC Immigration Commissioner Fatima Shama to speak

October 1, 2012

Tony Hernandez

Tony Hernandez

NEW YORK CITY — John Backer spent the first few of his 61 years with Church World Service (CWS) waiting by the piers in New York City.  The reason?  To help new refugee arrivals from World War II-ravaged Europe get to Penn Station to start the train trip to their new resettlement destinations in cities and towns across America.

CWS will honor the late Mr. Backer, who died in 2011 after six decades as a staffer and volunteer at the New York-based global humanitarian agency, on Oct. 25 at the Museum of the City of New York, where it will present the First Annual John Backer Award to two honorees, who, like Mr. Backer, are outstanding advocates for immigrants’ and refugees’ rights: broadcaster Tony Hernandez and immigrant rights’ advocate Myrna Orozco.

Tony Hernandez is Co-Founder & CEO of Latino Broadcasting Company and son of a Cuban refugee resettled by CWS.  He lives in Miami, Fla. More on Tony here:

Myrna Orozco is an Immigrant Rights Advocate, particularly on the DREAM Act. She serves as the Field Director for the organization United We Dream, and works with the Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement (IJAM). She lives near Kansas City. More on Myrna here.

Myrna Orozco

Myrna Orozco

The 7 p.m. cocktail reception will feature prominent speakers from New York City and beyond, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Immigration Commissioner Fatima Shama who will speak about immigration issues from a local and national perspective.

At the reception, CWS will preview a short clip of the PBS series Visionaries that features the agency. Visionaries chose to feature CWS in its two premiere episodes, which will air in late November nationwide.

CWS – – is a global humanitarian agency working to eradicate hunger and poverty.  Founded in 1946, it supports sustainable grassroots development, helps communities respond to disasters, protects refugees and other forcibly displaced people, and promotes public policies that contribute to building a world where there is enough for all.

In its 66 years, CWS has resettled more than 500,000 refugees and 300,000 Cuban and Haitian entrants to the United States.  Other U.S.-based programs offer immigration legal services in seven cities, including New York City, also giving support to a network of such services in 17 of CWS’s resettlement affiliate offices.

CWS administers the Resettlement Support Center Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya, which helps candidates for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program prepare their case files.  And it works around the world to increase forcibly displaced persons’ access to essential services, protection and durable solutions.


Special event/cocktail reception 7 p.m. Thursday, October 25, 2012, Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 100th Street, New York City,

Broadcaster Tony Hernandez and immigrant rights’ advocate Myrna Orozco will be honored with the first annual John Backer Award, recalling with appreciation the late Mr. Backer’s 61-year commitment to CWS.

International singer/songwriter and recording artist Yvette Rovira will also be performing some of her musical selections at the event.

New York City Immigration Commissioner Fatima Shama will speak about immigration issues from a local and national perspective.  NOTE: She will need to leave at 7:45 p.m. for another engagement.