MILWAUKEE, WIS. —The International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW), an organization dedicated to the promotion of international cooperation, understanding, and a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural perspective, will host its annual World Citizen Celebration dinner on Sat., April 30.

The event will be held at the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin, 813 E. Kilbourn Ave. in Milwaukee, with a reception and silent auction at 5:00 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m., and awards presentation at 8:00 p.m.

The 2016 event will salute those that have played a leadership role in shaping the IIW and its commitment to the local and global communities. The following people will be recognized at the event:

  • World Citizen Award: Karen Nielsen, owner of Global Dairy Outreach, LLC and Chuevang Xiong, director of immigration and refugee services at the IIW

  • Expressive Cultural Heritage Award: Carter Lupton, Head of Anthropology and History at the Milwaukee Public Museum

  • Community Volunteer: Volunteer Award: Bonnie M. Hitchcock

  • Corporate Citizen Award: Greater Milwaukee Foundation

  • Nielsen earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in Chinese language, history, and culture from the University of Minnesota. She is an involved member of the Leadership Team of the UW-Madison Department of Dairy Science’s Nestle China Dairy Farming Institute project, an initiative that develops curriculum and provides training to China’s dairy industry. Prior to this, Nielsen was the Director of the Babcock Institute of International Dairy Research where she played a crucial role in organizing custom dairy training programs for participants in 83 countries, initiated development of multilingual educational materials, and facilitated dairy research collaborations around the world. She also was instrumental in developing a UW partnership with the China Agricultural University in Beijing, which led to the formation of the Sino-U.S. Research and Development Center. In 2015, Nielsen started Global Dairy Outreach, LLC to continue the international outreach activities of the Babcock Institute.

    As the Director of Immigration and Refugee Services at IIW, Xiong is actively involved in coordinating the refugee resettlement program and providing representation for immigration services counseling. He also offers social services to refugees and immigrants who need assistance, allowing them to obtain legal rights. Besides his work for the IIW, Xiong is also a leader in the Hmong community, involved in various events including the Milwaukee Hmong New Year. Xiong earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In addition to his degree, he also has special training in immigration from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and State Refugee Conferences.

    Lupton received both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Anthropology from UW-Milwaukee. He began working at the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1976. During his time with the museum, he participated in archaeological expeditions around the world, including Syria, Egypt, Europe, and the United States. Lupton has also been active in a wide variety of exhibit developments, including “Temples, Tells and Tombs” and “Crossroads of Civilization,” which premiered in March 2015. He was heavily involved in major traveling exhibits as well as leading museum traveling tours across Europe and Central America. In addition, he assisted with many of the Museum’s Dig-A-Dinosaur projects in the western United States from 1978-1990.

    Hitchcock, born and raised on Milwaukee’s east side, lived in the family’s neighborhood grocery store. She married her high school sweetheart, Russ Hitchcock, and together they raised four children. They now have eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. Hitchcock worked as a dental assistant for several area dentists, and she started a long tradition of volunteering when her children entered Shorewood Middle School, including eight years with the Shorewood School Home Economics Department. In addition, Hitchcock became an accomplished quilter, and she opened the Village Quilters, a teaching store located in Whitefish Bay and a pioneer in teaching the “quilt as you go” method of constructing quilts. After 18 years, Hitchcock sold Village Quilters. She returned to volunteering with the International Institute of Wisconsin at the Holiday Folk Fair, and over the last 23 years, she has worked her way up to Operations Manager, becoming deeply involved with all the participating ethnic groups.

    For over a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families, and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community. The foundation encompasses more than 1,200 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the organizations or causes of their choice.

    Last year, the Foundation also celebrated its 100th year of service, which featured a unique program designed to emphasize access and appreciation for all. The centennial Gifts to the Community offered monthly opportunities for the public to experience key regional attractions, events, and services for free. The Foundation was proud to partner with the International Institute of Wisconsin to provide a day of free admission to Holiday Folk Fair International for the November Gift to the Community.

    The event’s keynote address will be made by Eskinder Negash, Senior Vice President for Global Engagement at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). A refugee from Ethiopia himself, Negash has over 35 years of not-for-profit management experience working on behalf of refugees and immigrants. He served as Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which provides essential service to a wide range of vulnerable people. Under Negash’s leadership, ORR served more than 850,000 people in six years. He also served 15 years as Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of the International Institute of Los Angeles. Negash received an Outstanding American by Choice award in 2009 from DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the International Rescue Committee honored Negash as one of 10 distinguished men and women whose stories of hope and determination epitomize the refugee journey.

    The cost of the World Citizen Celebration dinner is $95 per person, or $800 for a table of eight, with $45 of the amount tax deductible per person. Proceeds from the event are used to support IIW children’s workshops and the Education Day Cultural Program that is held at the annual Holiday Folk Fair International. For more information and/or to make a reservation, call 414-225-6220, ext. 103.

    The IIW initiates, coordinates, and sponsors a variety of activities and programs appropriate to the fulfillment of its purpose, including immigration and social services, refugee resettlement, citizen diplomacy, and interpretation and translation. In addition, the IIW produces the annual Holiday Folk Fair International, with the 2016 event to be held Fri., Nov. 18 – Sun., Nov. 20 at the State Fair Park Exposition Center.