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Avila Named Diversity Business Leader by Corp! Magazine

October 2, 2018

Varnum attorney Luis Avila was recently recognized as by Corp! Magazine as a 2018 Diversity Business Leader at the publication’s annual Salute to Diversity event.

Avila, a partner on the firm’s Labor and Employment Relations Team, was selected based on his commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion and his contributions to diversity issues in business and the community. He was nominated by investment consultant Jim Roberts, who has served with Avila on board and committee work for the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In his nomination, Roberts underscored Avila’s commitment to diversity, demonstrated by his leadership both inside the law firm and in the broader community. The nomination noted that Avila, who co-chairs Varnum’s Diversity Committee, has an immigration pro bono practice, representing those who do not have resources for legal assistance.

“[H]e represented a Guatemalan immigrant who was appealing the denial of his asylum application in federal court. Because the case was at the stage of federal appellate litigation (and thus highly specialized and costly), the client was unable to find a legal aid organization or nonprofit willing to offer legal representation.

“He is also passionate about serving the community. As president of the Hispanic Chamber, Luis has implemented an aggressive agenda that includes creating a college-to-employer pipeline of Hispanic talent, assisting Hispanic businesses to break into the greater Grand Rapids market, and providing resources for Hispanic entrepreneurs and second stage businesses to thrive and stay in Grand Rapids.

Luis is a former board member of Wedgwood Christian Services and a recipient of their Diversity Champion award. As a board member, he led efforts to establish a working relationship between the office of the U.S. Attorney General in Grand Rapids and the Manasseh Project at Wedgwood. The Manasseh Project is a division of Wedgwood that assists children that have been victims of sex trafficking. Since most of these children were being sexually abused for money, they were also breaking criminal laws, requiring education for law enforcement to understand the children are victims, not criminals. Through his relationship with both the U.S. Attorney General's office and Wedgwood, Luis brokered meetings that resulted in meaningful communication between the two. As a result, it is now much safer for victims of sex trafficking that approach Wedgwood to denounce their abusers without fear of prosecution.”

The Corp! Magazine Salute to Diversity awards ceremony and luncheon was held September 13 at the International Banquet Center in Detroit. More information about the event and those who were honored can be found on the Corp! Magazine website. Avila and other winners will be featured in the November/December issue of Corp! Magazine.

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