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Gerald Brighton Young Alumni Award

Tatiana Alonso, 2023-24 Recipient

About the Honoree

Gerald (Gerry) Brighton first became involved with the University YMCA by participating in Freshman Camp in the late 1930s. A champion for civil rights, progressive civic leader, and professor of accountancy at UIUC, Gerry was a member and supporter of the Y for more than 70 years. He served multiple terms on the Board of Governors as a member and Chair, and later as a member of the Board of Trustees. In 1991, he was honored with the Ed Nestingen Distinguished Alumni Award.

About the Award

Presented annually since 2017 in recognition of the personal and professional accomplishments of young alumni. Awarded to alumni of the University YMCA's programs, 25 to 40 years of age, this award recognizes the noteworthy and distinctive impact of the individual's work in their community, in either a professional and/or volunteer capacity. This award was endowed in 2023 through the generosity of the Brighton Family. The fund provides each awardee with a stipend in recognition of their accomplishments.

Support this Award Fund

Tatiana Alonso, 2023-24 Recipient

Tatiana Alonso is a 2012 graduate of the University of Illinois, and was active as a student at the Y,  where she was involved in La Colectiva and CU Immigration Forum. Following graduation she attended the Chicago-Kent College of Law, receiving her J.D. in 2020, and has continued to be a fierce advocate for immigrant rights.

Currently Tatiana is a Staff Attorney at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, where she directly supports and advocates for the rights and safety of unaccompanied and separated immigrant children. In this role she works to identify and advocate for the best interests of individual children and ensure that all decisions about them—including custody, placement, reunification with family, permanency, and repatriation—consider their best interests. She also supervises and mentors volunteers, supporting them as they learn about the difficult challenges that young people face in the U.S. immigration system. In recent years Tatiana has helped to build the Child Advocate program in Michigan, where young people in Michigan can access Child Advocate services, including in-person volunteers, increasing the number of youth served in that state. 

As a leader in her field Tatiana's relationship-building, courage, and passion for immigration justice has inspired those around her. She has helped to bring people together, even in times when stakeholders disagree on how to move forward, and she continues to exemplify the leadership qualities and attributes that the University YMCA works to instill in our students.

Past Award Recipients

2024: Tatiana Alonso

2023: Jose Sanchez Molina

2022: Grace Kyung

2021: Hans Lindahl

2020: Aditi Singh

2019: Kyle Williams

2018: Jenna Prochaska

2017: Molly (MJ) Altman