School of Information Studies (iSchool) faculty member Murali Venkatesh was recognized with the Ambassador Award from the Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) organization earlier this month.

RISE is a community advocacy group that works to promote self-sufficiency through employment, education, social support and economic independence for members of the refugee and immigrant communities across New York’s Onondaga County. RISE provides services for nearly 400 refugee and immigrant families, including case management and interpretation programs; housing assistance and referrals; family crisis intervention and mediation services; community resource referrals; and document translation services. 

Venkatesh has been involved with RISE for many years, providing technology guidance and infrastructure support, and has worked with Syracuse University students to design and deploy systems for social good in support of RISE’s mission and programs.

“RISE is a dynamic organization which is doing very good work with refugees and new immigrants in the city,” said Venkatesh “My association and work with RISE has mainly been through the undergraduate capstone projects class where my students have done some really terrific work over the years – so I owe this award largely to their work.”

In addition to Venkatesh, two other community leaders were honored at the ‘Night of Nations’ event, the organization’s inaugural fundraising event. Dr. Cynthia Morrow, former Commissioner of Health for Onondaga County and former Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University was awarded RISE’s Community Builder Award, and Abukar Awayle, an original founding member of the Somali Bantu Community Association, received the RISE Lifetime Achievement Award.