Impact, meet Immigration
As of June 1st, Blue Dot Advocates excitedly welcomed Bruce’s long-time friend and a fantastic U.S Immigration and Naturalization attorney, Sheryl Winarick. Licensed in Maryland, with a home base in Austin, Texas Sheryl spent the first 8 years of her legal career working for national non-profit organizations – Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and the Justice For Our Neighbors Program of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Ten years ago, almost to the day, she started her own private practice. Her experience spans the entire breadth of immigration law, including humanitarian benefits like political asylum, removal defense before the immigration court, family and employment based immigration, and naturalization. Sheryl merged her practice into ours because she believes so strongly in our “why” and she knows Bruce means it. Joining the Blue Dot team also increases her capacity to serve clients through collaboration, coordination, and cooperation.
“Inspired people inspire people.”
Sheryl is a force for change, both for her clients and for the world around her. Eyes twinkling, Sheryl adds, “my clients inspire me on a daily basis and challenge me to reach my own full potential.” We’re proud to have that force helping to guide the future of Blue Dot.
In 2016, Sheryl invested three months as a TED Resident at TED HQ, where she incubated a project to explore culture, identity and change through inclusive community conversations around the country. She has done five TEDx talks over the last year, each addressing the impact her clients have made on her personally, as well as the profoundly positive impact immigration makes on our country. She forcefully addresses the misrepresentations of migrants and refugees, and always ends her talks with a call to action, around taking more time to listen and creating the space to engage with our communities as they evolve. Sheryl is also an Aspen Scholar, and was recently selected as one of the HATCH 100 as they met in Big Sky Montana. “Imagine gathering up a hundred innovators, artists, makers, creators, educators, risk-takers, influencers, and mavericks… people who want to shake the world by its ankles. And are. Imagine them in a room together, teased out of their cocoons, grids off, brains on, glass flying everywhere.” Now imagine that at Blue Dot and you start to get Sheryl.
Our Migration Catalyst
Sheryl is most comfortable waaaay outside her comfort zone. She has an insatiable sense of curiousity, naturally sees the best in everyone, and is driven to build bridges of understanding and appreciation across culture, religion, race, nationality, gender, age, and class. In addition to practicing law, she is a long-time member of the Public Policy Committee for HIAS, the oldest refugee resettlement agency in the world that helps those forced to flee their homelands because of who they are, including ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. Also, before the TED stage, Sheryl spent time on the boards of directors of Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization dedicated to ending chronic homelessness in Washington DC, and Teaching for Change, whose mission is to “encourage teachers and students to question and rethink the world…build a more equitable, multicultural society and become global citizens.” Viewing people from all circumstances with dignity is central to the way that Sheryl practices law, and is the core of building healthy intercultural relationships.
Immigrants ARE the New World Economy
So, what makes an immigration attorney such a valuable asset to a transactional law firm? When a young entrepreneur with demonstrated excellence in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics contacts Sheryl, she helps them qualify for an O-1 Extraordinary Ability Non-Immigrant Visa or an EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Immigrant Visa, catalyzing their ability to create extraordinary benefit for the U.S. and the world. And, when the law firm already specializes in advising social enterprises, startups, and outside-the-box thinking, Blue Dot becomes the perfect partner to bring their ideas to life.
This isn’t some imaginary scenario. Yasmine El Baggari, a client, is an impressive young entrepreneur from Morocco. She came to the USA at the age of 17, on a scholarship granted by the U.S. State Department’s Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. Yasmine wanted to learn about American culture from real Americans, and she decided the best way to do that was to visit all 50 states and live with them. Her view of the world was positively transformed by the warm hospitality she received from the more than 150 families and one-on-one interpersonal experiences with those who shared their lives and their homes with her.
Like Sheryl, Yasmine’s ambitions have always transcend self-discovery and adventure. She wisely saw that making similar experiences more widely accessible through technology was possible, so, she founded her company – Voyaj. The mission? To “connect people from around the world to deepen global understanding abroad or in your local community.”
Yasmine’s experiences, her desire to build understanding and connect people from differing backgrounds, along with her need to protect the intellectual property of her new business, made her an ideal client for Blue Dot. Sheryl and Yasmine’s mission alignment is undeniable, and each woman champions so much of what Blue Dot stands for. Connection, collaboration, cooperation. Women like this are designing a future that Blue Dot wants to be a part of – connected, sustainable, and innovative.
Cheers to Future Professional Overlap
Being able to call Sheryl a partner and offer her clients truly complementary legal services is an honor for Blue Dot, and we look forward to much more professional overlap. Whether we’re advising on how to restructure a company, forming a fund specific to investors desiring to collectively leverage very specific world impact, or providing immigration services to exceptional trail blazers, we will continue to expand our reach, create connections that lead to multifaceted living, and provide legal solutions for a small planet.