WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Longtime Seattle activist Pramila Jayapal was one of 15 Asian Pacific Islander American women recognized by the White House as "Champions of Change" Monday.
As founder of "One America" shortly after the attacks of 9-11, Jayapal has worked for immigrant rights and immigration reform. When asked about the progress of immigration reform in Congress, Jayapal responded, "I really believe that we're going to make it happen this year!.
"I think this is the first time I've felt hopeful in many, many years," she said. "We've built enough power in immigrant communities and we've got enough allies, people in business and faith and labor who understand how important it is for the United States to have an immigration policy that makes sense."
Jayapal is currently a fellow at the Center for Community Change and a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Washington Law School. The other honorees came from a variety of fields including business, advocacy, philanthropy, sports, the arts and academia.
"These 15 women ... are wonderful examples for young women across the country," said Valerie Jarrett in a news release. Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
"As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, we pay tribute to the many AAPI women - from Bernice Pauahi Bishop to Congresswoman Patsy Mink to Sunita Pandya Williams -- who have shaped the story of American," added Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.