Ayuda’s 50th Anniversary Event

Standing with immigrants

Join Ayuda for a PARTY to celebrate 50 years of supporting low-income immigrants.

May 4, 2023

6:00 – 10:00 P.M.

Planet Word Museum

925 13th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Proceeds Support

Our immigrant neighbors – through Ayuda’s legal, social, and language access programs.

Want to know more about Standing With Immigrants? Read on for more details, and sign up for email updates as we put together a golden celebration!


Eugene Daniels

White House Correspondent & Playbook Co-Author for POLITICO; MSNBC Senior Contributor

Eugene Daniels is a Playbook co-author and White House correspondent for POLITICO.

Since joining POLITICO in 2018, he’s covered the midterms, the Democratic presidential primary and general election through print, video journalism and podcasts. Eugene will continue to leverage POLITICO’s many platforms as part of the Playbook team. During the country’s reckoning with race in 2020, Eugene moderated POLITICO’s Confronting Inequality Town Hall series that examined how inequities in policing, housing, healthcare, education and employment permeate and plague the United States.

Eugene is a senior “Morning Joe” contributor and MSNBC political analyst where he appears often sharing scoops, reporting and analysis of the biggest news in D.C. He is also on the board of the White House Correspondents’ Association and will be president of the organization beginning in June 2024 through June 2025.

Prior to POLITICO, Eugene covered the 2016 primary, general election and national politics as a political reporter at Newsy. He began his career in local television in Colorado Springs and graduated from Colorado State University in 2012.


This year marks a special milestone in Ayuda’s history – our 50th anniversary celebration.

Since 1973, Ayuda has been the leading nonprofit that provides holistic legal, social, language access services to low-income immigrants in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Thanks to the support of many, we have helped more than 150,000 immigrants access justice, heal from trauma, and overcome language isolation.

Our clients come from dozens of different countries, speaking many different languages. They all have an unyielding desire to do better for themselves and their families, to share their heritage with joy and pride, and to give of themselves as members of our communities.

This is what Standing with Immigrants is about – supporting our immigrant neighbors’ unwavering strength and resilience, and honoring those who have contributed to upholding our mission.

We will always be there for immigrants, and ask you to join us on May 4, 2023 as we honor those who have contributed greatly to the communities we serve, and help to welcome new supporters to our mission.

The funds raised through the generosity of our supporters will enable Ayuda to sustain and expand our emergency response program; hiring more bilingual therapists, case managers and attorneys; offering more training opportunities for interpreters; bringing our language access services to Virginia; and launching an advocacy program that will directly impact low-income immigrants Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.

Attending Ayuda’s 50th Anniversary Event: Stand With Immigrants will bring you an evening of inspiration from national immigrant champions, delightful beverages alongside friends who made Ayuda what it’s become, and just plain fun…Wear your dancing shoes! Best of all, your ticket proceeds will help Ayuda create an even bigger positive impact for our immigrant neighbors.

If we’ll miss you at the event, but you’re interested in supporting our immigrant neighbors, consider making a Golden Anniversary Gift.

Stay Tuned for Speakers, Award Recipients, and More


Advocate of Change Award

Paola Velez

Paola Velez

Award-winning Chef and Co-Founder of Bakers Against Racism

Award-winning Chef Paola Velez is the co-founder of Bakers Against Racism and the former Executive Pastry Chef at Michelin-Starred Maydan. Raised in New York City and the Dominican Republic, she is a fierce advocate for equitably-sourced food and sustainability, she focuses on using her resources to help uplift her communities and make impactful change.     

Paola graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2009 and started her culinary career under Jacques Torres’ tutelage, spending two years as a Sous Chef at his 40,000-sqft production kitchen in Brooklyn. 

In 2016, Paola moved to Washington, DC to work with celebrated Chef Christina Tosi at MilkBar, then as Lead Pastry Cook at critically-acclaimed Arroz. Paola then served as the Pastry Chef at Iron Gate Restaurant in 2018, Kith/Kin in 2019, and most recently as the Executive Pastry Chef of the renowned Compass Rose and  Maydan.   

After leaving Kith/Kin, Paola co-founded Doña Dona, a Latin American popup to benefit Ayuda, and later co-founded Bakers Against Racism, a viral bake sale that has raised over $2.5M for social justices causes worldwide.   

In 2020, Paola was named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award and earned “Pastry Chef of the Year” awards from both Esquire Magazine and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). In 2021, Paola was named one of FOOD & WINE’s “Best New Chefs,” The Art of Plating’s “Rising Talent,” Time Out’s “People of the Year,” Cherry Bombe’s “Person of the Year,” and Instyle Magazine’s “Women Making the World a Better Place.”  

Paola also earned both Emmy and Webby nominations for her work with AJ+. She has been featured on the covers of Washingtonian magazine (twice), Cherry Bombe, FSR, and District Fray. Her recipes have been highlighted in various outlets including People Magazine, FOOD & WINE, Washington Post, Eater, National Post (Canada), Robb Report, Dwell and more. Paola has also presented at numerous events including at the James Beard House, the Star Chefs Congress, and Yale’s Sustainable Food Program.

Champion of Justice Award

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla


Senator Alex Padilla is the proud son of Mexican immigrants, his father a short-order cook and his mother a housekeeper. Alex attended Los Angeles public schools and is a graduate of MIT where he studied mechanical engineering. After graduating from MIT, Alex was elected to the Los Angeles City Council where he served as the youngest Council President in Los Angeles history and provided citywide leadership at critical times, including serving as acting Mayor during the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Alex was elected to the State Senate in 2006 to represent the more than 1.1 million people in the San Fernando Valley. As a State Senator, Alex passed more than 70 bills, including landmark legislation to combat climate change, and was named as one of Sacramento’s “most effective legislators.”

Alex was sworn in as California’s first Latino Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 and was re-elected in 2018, receiving the most votes of any Latino elected official in the United States. As Secretary of State, Alex worked to make our elections more accessible and inclusive, while fighting to protect the integrity of our voting systems. In December 2020 Alex was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to finish the term of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Alex lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Angela and their three sons.

Pro Bono Service Award

Michael J. Woods

Associate General Counsel, Verizon

Michael Woods is an Associate General Counsel at Verizon, where he handles national security and cybersecurity matters. Prior to joining Verizon, he served in the Justice Department (National Security Division), the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, the National Counterintelligence Executive, and as a federal prosecutor. He began working with Ayuda in 2011 and has handled a variety of cases, including a number of U and T visa clients. From 2016 until 2022, he served on the Ayuda Board of Directors.  At Verizon, he is currently the co-chair of the Support to Individuals Pillar of the legal Pro-Bono Program program. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School (1992) and Oxford University (1987).

Pro Bono Impact Award

McGuireWoods is a leading international law firm with 1,100 lawyers in 21 offices worldwide. Our law firm, over its 189-year history, has earned the loyalty of many longstanding clients with deep understanding of their businesses, and broad skills in corporate transactions, high-stakes disputes, and complex regulatory and compliance matters.

McGuireWoods lawyers have provided pro bono legal services for more than a century and commitment to our communities is one of the firm’s core values. Representing pro bono clients who could not otherwise afford legal counsel is a vital part of that commitment.

McGuireWoods provides thousands of hours annually in free legal services to handle pro bono work including housing matters, asylum and other immigration matters, domestic violence restraining orders, benefits representation, court-appointed criminal defense, children’s advocacy, legal representation to veterans and active servicemembers, general counseling for nonprofit groups and more. Read more.



Vandana Venkatesh

EVP & Chief Legal Officer, Verizon

As the Chief Legal Officer for the company, Vandana is responsible and has oversight for all Legal and Corporate Security functions for the company.

Before assuming this role in October 2022, she was Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Verizon Consumer Group, which provides wireline voice, data, and TV products and services, and wireless connected experiences to more than 100 million consumers every day. She has been with Verizon for two decades. Previously, she was the General Counsel for Verizon’s Enterprise business unit which delivers business solutions to global enterprises and governments, including 99% of the Fortune 500.

Prior to joining Verizon, Vandana was a lawyer with Genuity, an internet start-up, and an Associate at the law firms of Morse, Barnes-Browne, & Pendleton and Bingham Dana where she was counsel to internet, high tech, and biotech startups. Before her career in the law, she was a Congressional Aide to Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Philanthropy: Vandana sits on the board of Bottom Line, a non-profit that seeks to improve college access and success for first generation students.

Educational Background: Vandana has a law degree from Georgetown University Law School, and a Master and Bachelor’s degree in History from UCLA.

Georgetown University

President John J. DeGioia

Georgetown University

For close to four decades, John J. DeGioia has helped to define and strengthen Georgetown University as a premier institution for education and research. A Georgetown alumnus, Dr. DeGioia served as a senior administrator and as a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy before becoming Georgetown’s 48 th president in 2001.

As President, Dr. DeGioia is dedicated to deepening Georgetown’s tradition of academic excellence, its commitment to its Catholic and Jesuit identity, its engagement with the Washington, D.C. community, and its global mission. Under his leadership, Georgetown has become a leader in shaping the future landscape of higher education and has recently completed a $1.5 billion fund-raising campaign dedicated to enhancing the lifelong value of a Georgetown education.

Dr. DeGioia is a leading voice in addressing broader issues in education.  He has previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education and as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Business-Higher Education Forum. He currently serves as a member of the NCAA Board of Governors, and he previously served as Chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, the NCAA Division 1 Board of Directors, and the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics, and he has also served as a commissioner on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.


Click here or email [email protected] for more information about sponsorship.

List updated as sponsors are confirmed. Updated April 17, 2023.

Presenting Sponsor – $50,000+

Realizing Dreams $25,000+

Latham and Watkins

Rebuilding Faith – $15,000+


Protecting Rights – $10,000+

Social Impact – $5,000+

Alston & Bird

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

Clark Construction

Capital One

Greenberg Traurig

Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Thompson Hine 


With Support By

American University, Washington College of Law
Blank Rome LLP
Bernstein Management Corporation
Crowell & Moring LLP
Calderon Seguin PLC
Southwest Airlines
Wislon Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation

Ayuda Golden Giving Circle


Lawrence Schneider & Susan Ness

Jill Flack & Gregg Siegal

Michael Tubman and Samir Luther


Alejandro Guadarrama

Paul Lee & Trey Davis


Diann and Alan Cashell

Elizabeth Engel

Evelyn and Bob Wrin

Jean Bruggeman



Lori Faeth

Mark Swartz and Jennifer Guilfoyle

Paul and Cathy Schmidt

Robert Fifer and Nancy Catron


U.S. Representatives and Senators

Representative Abigail Spanberger (VA-7) 

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) 

Senator Chris Van Hollen Jr. (D-MD) 

Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates

Senator Jennifer Boysko 

Senator Adam Ebbin 

Delegate Alfonzo H. Lopez 

Delegate Suhas Subramanyam 

Delegate David Bulova 

Delegate Kathy Tran 

Delegate Elizabeth Guzman 

Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates

Senator Brian J. Feldman 

Senator Benjamin F. Kramer 

Senator Rob Watson 

Delegate Marc A. Korman 

Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr 

Delegate Joe Vogel 

Delegate Emily K. Shetty 

Delegate Jared Solomon 

Delegate Lorig Charkoudian 

Delegate Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk 

Delegate Gabriel Acevero 

Delegate Lesley J. Lopez 

Delegate Kenneth P. Kerr 

District of Columbia Council Members

Councilmember Charles Allen 

Councilmember Brooke Pinto 

Councilmember Christina Henderson 

Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau 

Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie 

Councilmember Robert C. White Jr. 


Photo from Ayuda’s 2022 Standing With Immigrants Event.