October 01, 2018

Media Advisory – Honoring those promoting fairness and equality during Hispanic Heritage Month

The Illinois Department of Human Rights will honor several Southern Illinois residents, businesses and and organizations, including three people from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, for their continuing commitment to fairness and equality during ceremonies Oct. 3. 

As part of a celebration of Illinois’ bicentennial and a way of celebrating and reaffirming the state’s history of diversity and inclusion, the agency launched a “Fairness and Equality Campaign” earlier this year featuring activities throughout the state. The event in Carbondale is during the university’s Hispanic Latino Heritage Month celebrations. 

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the ceremonies at 2 p.m., Oct. 3, in the university’s Student Center ballrooms C and D.   

Among those expected to attend are: 

  • Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, SIU Carbondale
  • Janice Glenn, director, Illinois Department of Human Rights
  • Alex Bautista, deputy director, Illinois Department of Human Rights 

Those being honored are: 

  • Cindy Buys, interim dean and professor, SIU School of Law. Buys is a member of the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a member and past chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s International and Immigration Law Section Council. She has also served on the steering committee for the International Human Rights Committee of the American Bar Association and the Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force. She received the state bar association’s Elmer Gertz Award in 2016 for her work advancing human rights. She regularly leads groups of students and faculty volunteers to the Pulaski County Detention Center where they conduct a “Know Your Rights” presentation to immigration detainees and conduct individual intake interviews to assess the detainees’ legal needs. She also works with small groups of students in providing legal representation to asylum applicants on a pro bono basis.
  • Deborah Sarvela, director, Center for Environmental Health and Safety. Sarvela helped create a DACA Student Assistance Award through the SIU Foundation. The award financially helps students who are pursuing degrees to improve their lives and those of their families and communities. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is the current federal initiative designed to provide protection from deportation for children brought to the country by parents who were undocumented at the time of arrival.
  • Tomas Daniel Cortez, a junior majoring in cinematography. Cortez, a Chancellor Scholar, created a 2016 documentary to raise awareness for DACA students at SIU. It has been screened on campus, in Carbondale and in Chicago. He is involved in several student-related organizations and activities on campus, including Lamba Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity, Inc.. He is also involved in an on-campus dance marathon that fundraises for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals; and the Hispanic Student Council.
  • Rendleman Orchards, Alto Pass, whose president and part-owner, Wayne D. Sirles, is a 1989 SIU graduate from the College of Agricultural Sciences and SIU Alumni Association Board member. Rendleman Orchards was established in 1873. The orchards is in its sixth generation and the Rendleman family has provided not just jobs but educational and financial support to employees who have attained college degrees.
  • Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project, Carbondale, an organization that works together in several ways on behalf of immigrants.
  • Don Sol Mexican Restaurant, Carbondale, Liliana Godinez, manager and co-owner. The restaurant helps Latino students at SIU and local high schools and supports several fundraising efforts through profit-sharing and T-shirt sales of local agencies, including the Boys and Girls Club of America. They are also involved with the Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project.
  • Phillip Barreda, executive vice president, Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (ChicagoMSDC). Barreda has served ChicagoMSDC in all aspects of minority business support and development and integrally involved in many different initiatives. Prior to his employment with ChicagoMSDC, Mr. Barreda spent 13 years with BMO Harris Bank in Chicago, serving as vice president in both the marketing and strategic sourcing departments.

Oneida Vargas, will provide the keynote address. A senior in political science from Chicago, Vargas was the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute 2018 Latino Heritage Legislative Intern. The internship allowed Vargas to work during the spring legislative session with the Illinois senate Democrats communications staff on policy issues with members of the General Assembly. Vargas was born in Mexico and came to the United States with her parents when she was one-year-old. Her plans are to complete her undergraduate studies, attend law school and practice immigration law.

Jeff McGoy, the assistant dean of students at SIU Carbondale will serve as emcee, and Isaac Lausell, an assistant professor in the School of Music, will provide entertainment.

The IDHR event is one of seven regional events as part of the “Commit to Fairness and Equality” campaign. Regional events have been in Springfield, Peoria, East St. Louis, Rock Island-Quad Cities, and Rockford. An event planned for December in Chicago will recognize Human Rights Day.