Profoundly grateful to her adopted country for so many opportunities to fulfill her own American dream – more opportunities than she could ever repay – Sheela Murthy is paying it forward. She has committed to a 20-year, $1 million gift to the American Immigration Council (AIC), a Washington D.C.-based think tank, and the nation’s leading advocate for fair, rational, and economically sustainable immigration policy. Murthy made the grant on behalf of the MurthyNAYAK Foundation (MNF), the family charity established with her husband, Vasant Nayak, in 2001, to channel their personal resources into projects that empower immigrants, women, and children.
Benjamin E. Johnson, the Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, announced Murthy’s $1 million gift at the AIC’s American Heritage Awards gala, which was held at the Marriott Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, on Friday, June 20, 2014. It could not have been a more appropriate setting: the event commemorated the achievements, talents, and contributions of outstanding immigrants from all walks of life and every corner of the world. The Murthy Law Firm was proud to be a major sponsor of this important celebration.
Murthy challenged the audience to match the first tranche of her $1 million grant – $50,000 – and the audience responded with startling and expeditious generosity: as they watched the totals mounting onscreen, the guests raised another $50,000 in about ten minutes.
As a girl growing up in India, Sheela Murthy dreamed of a better life; she worked extremely hard, distinguished herself academically, and eventually became All-India Moot Court champion, an achievement that paved her way to a Masters of Laws program at Harvard. Today, Murthy is not only a recognized authority on U.S. immigration law; she also is one of America’s leading immigrant women entrepreneurs. With a tireless immigrant work ethic, Murthy built a small solo practice into an immigration law firm of world renown – the Murthy Law Firm (MLF) – which now has more than 80 employees at its headquarters in Owings Mills, Maryland, and 20 more at its affiliates in India. The firm celebrated its 20th anniversary in May 2014.
Attorneys Adam Rosen, Ashley Barbone, and Jessica Beaver, from the Murthy Law Firm, were fortunate to be on hand for the event, which was held in conjunction with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) 2014 Annual Conference. Name tags for the event carried a special ribbon that said, Thank you, Sheela Murthy! Rosen conferred the 17th Annual Creative Writing Contest award on Charlotte Leigh of Miami, Florida, for her essay, “Why I am Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants.” The young woman’s message was of a piece with the mission of the AIC, as well as that of the Murthy Law Firm and MurthyNAYAK Foundation: all of these organizations exist to help immigrants to fulfill their American dreams.
Murthy commented, “I am proud to support the work of AIC, because I share their commitment to an open, diverse, and welcoming America. Their work, like ours, is incredibly important to America’s future: we are working to ensure that our country will continue to be a nation of immigrants, constantly reinvigorated by the brains and energy and entrepreneurial drive of newcomers from all over the world. I am deeply honored to live in this country, and to be part of the immigration story that built this nation. This is my way of honoring the immigrant heritage of this great country, and expressing my immense gratitude for the welcome and opportunities that I have received here. America really is the land of opportunity, and that’s something truly worth preserving for all the generations to come!”
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