The Iowa International Center will honor four immigrant Iowans for their work helping others to gain prosperity in Iowa. The four honorees will receive the organization’s annual Passport to Prosperity awards on Sept. 28 at Parents Hall at Drake University. The organization also will be celebrating its 75th anniversary, and the event will feature former governor Robert Ray and his wife, Billie.

Himar Hernandez, originally from the Canary Islands, now of Ottumwa, helps immigrants with financial management, business development and leadership opportunities. He is credited with helping Ottumwa reverse the trend many communities in Iowa are facing - a decline in population and economic growth - by helping to create opportunities that are attracting new businesses and residents. There are more than 25 Latino owned businesses in the southeast Iowa city.

Dekow Sagar was 8 years old when a militia from a rival tribe attacked his village in Somalia, killing, raping and torturing many of his relatives and neighbors. From a refugee camp in Kenya, Sagar worked with Doctors Without Borders, addressing gender-based violence, and later worked with the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. He now works in the Des Moines public schools teaching other refugees English and job-seeking skills. 

Grace Zhenhuan Yang came to the United States from China to pursue a master’s degree at Drake University. She has volunteered more than 500 hours of her talents in graphic design, website design and photography to promote the work of many organizations, including the Network Against Human Trafficking, the Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit and the Chinese Association of Iowa. She also volunteers to teach financial literacy in six elementary schools.

Sandra Sanchez, a native of Mexico, has become one of the most trusted and respected immigration rights leaders in Iowa. She has helped to create organizations such as Immigrant Rights Network of Iowa and Nebraska, Iowa Immigration Education Coalition and Latina Leadership Institute of Iowa.