Paul & Daisy Soros recipients Fei-Fei Li (1999 Fellow), Mehret Mandefro (2001 Fellow), and Mariano Castillo (2008 Fellow) have all been named Great Immigrants by Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of their July 4th tribute to immigrants. Fei-Fei Li is one of the leading experts in the artificial intelligence field, Mehret Mandefro is a film producer, anthropologist and doctor, and Mariano Castillo is a journalist and editor. In 2014, Pardis Sabeti (2001 Fellow) was honored as a Great Immigrant by Carnegie Corporation.
Every Fourth of July since 2006, Carnegie Corporation has recognized the contributions of immigrants through its “Great Immigrants: The Pride of America” initiative. The tribute is simply a thank you that reflects Andrew Carnegie’s belief that naturalized American citizens contribute significantly to the health of American democracy. Fei-Fei, Mariano and Mehret are three of the 42 naturalized citizens who will be featured in a New York Times ad on July 4, 2016.
Mehret Mandefro is an Ethiopian-American physician and anthropologist who produces visual ethnographies through her organization, Truth Aid—a film production firm which she co-founded and now leads. She uses her interdisciplinary training as the foundation to approach social issues she has chosen to tackle as an artist and filmmaker. Truth Aid’s film Difret (available on Netflix) was the first film ever to win audience awards at both Sundance and Berlinale and its impact campaign is credited with helping to achieve policy reforms on the issue of child marriage globally. Mehret’s research uses clinical medicine, public health, anthropology, and film to examine the health outcomes of vulnerable populations and create what she calls “visual medicine.” She has led innovative research collaborations between academic, government, and relevant stakeholder organizations on an array of domestic and international health policy issues. Mehret has a BA from Harvard University, an MD from Harvard Medical School, and a MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar.
Mariano Castillo is an editor at the Associated Press and writer covering Latin America. His most recent project, Faces of a Divided Island, examines the immigration crisis in the Dominican Republic and the lessons it holds for US policymakers. He was born in Peru and his family moved to Texas when he was six. They are naturalized US citizens. Prior to the AP, Mariano was a writer and editor at CNN, where he pushed for mainstream coverage of under-reported stories such as the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt. As a newspaper correspondent along the US-Mexico border in the mid-2000s, his reporting focused on the drug war. Mariano received his master's in international affairs program at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in 2009. In 2002, he graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in journalism and international studies.