2017 Solas Awards

Solas means “light” in Irish. Each year at the Solas Awards the Welcoming Center takes this opportunity to shine a light on visionary leaders, and to honor individuals and companies that illuminate the positive impact that immigrants have on our regional economy.

The 2017 Solas Awards was held on Thursday, March 2, at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel.

Our Honorees

Alberto Ibargüen, President & CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation was given given the Dennis Clark Solas Award for his leadership at the Knight Foundation and his unwavering commitment to the social, cultural, economic, and civic engagement of immigrants which inspired and supported the growth of the Welcoming Center.

Michael and Diane Chow, Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs and owners of Sang Kee Restaurant who have used their talents and hard work to build a successful business that has created economic opportunities for foreign-born and American workers alike were given the Realizing the American Dream Award.

Nicole Pullen Ross accepted the Atlas Award for Advancing Opportunity on behalf of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses for their work in creating opportunities for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds in the Philadelphia region.




The Dennis Clark Solas Award pays tribute to the visionary historian Dennis Clark, who told the story of immigrants in Philadelphia. He never tired of highlighting
the contributions made by immigrants — building infrastructure, contributing their scholarly and literary genius, creating inventions to fuel progress, and their help in making the nation a patchwork quilt of vibrant diversity. Dennis was also an ardent and tireless advocate who worked to end inequality and unfairness wherever he found it. The Dennis Clark Solas Award honors those who, like Clark, are able to reach beyond a narrow sense of self, and to be enlarged and enriched by embracing a common humanity.


The Realizing the American Dream Award recognizes an immigrant entrepreneur who uses his or her talents and hard work to build a successful business that creates economic opportunities for foreign-born and American-born workers alike.


The Atlas Award for Advancing Opportunity recognizes a corporate leader who not only understands the benefits of maintaining a diverse workforce, but actively pursues innovative and forward-thinking tactics to create opportunities for and retain international talent in their company.

Employer of Distinction

We work with more than 140 employers across the five-county Philadelphia region. Each year we recognize an employer for their commitment to building a diverse workforce and for its partnership in the employment of work authorized immigrants who come to the Welcoming Center for job placement and educational support services. These companies have provided opportunities for newcomers to gain their first American jobs, building their families’ financial stability and supporting the economic health of our region.

In 2017, we recognized A & N House of Produce. Alex and Nina Dvor came to Philadelphia from Ukraine with their two small children.  After much hard work and determination, they opened up a grocery business and have kept value at the forefront – valuing price and quality.  A&N has become a staple in the Philadelphia region.  A family-run business, A&N holds its workforce in high regard. Our partnership has resulted in numerous employment opportunities for newcomers and Philadelphia-natives alike.