Images courtesy of the Carnegie Corporation of New York


Humboldt’s beloved local philanthropist Betty Kwan Chinn – who has been working to help our homeless population for more than 40 years – has again been recognized for her tireless efforts, being honored as one of the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s ‘Great Immigrants’ of 2023. 

Reached by the Outpost, Chinn said that she was completely surprised to receive this honor, which she had actually never even heard of until she was notified that she would be one of this year’s recipients. 

“I’m really grateful for this award,” Chinn said in a recent phone interview. “I was totally surprised when they called me. I thought it was a scam and I told my son, and he said, ‘No, it’s a really important organization. Take it!’” 

The Carnegie Corporation announces the honorees every year around the Fourth of July, choosing a group of naturalized citizens whose contributions in their fields have enriched society, to recognize the important role of immigrants in our country. Chinn is one of 35 individuals selected this year, including actor Pedro Pascal, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, Elle magazine Editor in Chief Nina Garcia, best-selling author Min Jin Lee, Grammy-winning artist Angélique Kidjo and Academy Award winner Ke Huy Quan. 

This is certainly not the first time Chinn has been recognized for her charitable contributions. Last year she received an honorary doctorate from Cal Poly Humboldt, and in 2010 former President Barack Obama selected Chinn as one of 12 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal. 

Chinn said she does not always have the easiest time receiving acclaim for her work, but she appreciates that the recognition helps inspire others and helps her to raise funds for the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center and the work that she and her team do. 

“I remember when I got the medal from Obama he said, ‘From now on, your name doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to the homeless,’” Chinn said.

You can find more info on this year’s “Great Immigrants” in this press release from the Carnegie Corporation of New York:

Carnegie Corporation of New York today announced its annual list of Great Immigrants, honoring 35 naturalized citizens who have enriched and strengthened our society and our democracy. Each Fourth of July since 2006, the philanthropic foundation has invited Americans to celebrate these exemplary individuals by participating in its online public awareness campaign, Great Immigrants, Great Americans. #GreatImmigrants

The 2023 Class of Great Immigrants is comprised of naturalized citizens from 33 countries and a wide range of backgrounds and fields. For generations, immigrants have come to the United States seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. Among this year’s honorees are individuals who have fostered opportunities for others through their work as educators, mentors, philanthropists, job creators, public servants, storytellers, and advocates.

Additional 2023 honorees are recognized leaders in their fields, including two Nobel laureates, an Olympian, and a member of Congress. Among the honorees are Elle magazine editor in chief and TV personality Nina Garcia, best-selling novelist Min Jin Lee, seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette, Hollywood star Pedro Pascal, and Academy Award winner Ke Huy Quan.

“The Great Immigrants initiative is a tribute to the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant who, like these honorees, found success in America, contributed enormously to his adopted country, and inspired others to do the same,” said Dame Louise Richardson, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, and a naturalized citizen who first came to the United States from Ireland as a graduate student. “The 35 naturalized citizens honored today embody that tradition, reminding us that the contributions of immigrants make our country more vibrant and our democracy more resilient.”

The Great Immigrants initiative is intended to increase public awareness of the economic and societal benefits of immigration. According to the American Immigration Council, a Corporation grantee, immigrants create new businesses at a higher rate than the overall population, with 3.2 million immigrant entrepreneurs generating $88.5 billion in annual income and employing millions of Americans. Immigrants or their children have founded 43.8 percent of Fortune 500 Companies, generating $7 trillion in revenue and employing more than 14.8 million people worldwide. Immigrants also contribute to key workforce needs in America, comprising 15.2 percent of nurses, 25.9 percent of health-care aides, and 23.1 percent of STEM workers.

Additionally, American culture is enriched in diverse ways by the more than 400,000 immigrants who work in creative or artistic occupations.
The Corporation’s Strengthening U.S. Democracy program supports immigrant integration through a portfolio of grantees that focuses on immigration policy reform. Citizenship is the goal of integration, and among the Corporation’s long-term priorities is encouraging eligible immigrants to naturalize. For more than a decade, the Corporation, in collaboration with other philanthropic partners, has supported the New Americans Campaign, which is led by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. To date, the campaign and its national network of nonprofit partners have helped more than 593,000 lawful permanent residents, known as green card holders, apply for citizenship. Services include low-cost application assistance in multiple languages and an online tool that can help with the process. More information is available at

Since 2006, the Corporation has named more than 700 Great Immigrants, forming one of the largest online databases of its type. The 2023 honorees, the 18th class in the program, will be recognized with a full-page public service announcement in the New York Times on the Fourth of July, as well as through tributes on social media. Please join the celebration by sharing via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter using the hashtag #GreatImmigrants.

Here is the complete list of the 2023 Class of Great Immigrants:

Wesaam Al-Badry (Iraq) Photographer, Investigative Journalist, and Interdisciplinary Artist

Ana Lucia Araujo (Brazil) Professor of History, Howard University

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou (Cyprus) Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine

Ajay Banga (India) President, World Bank, and Former CEO, Mastercard

Jean-Claude Brizard (Haiti) President and CEO, Digital Promise

Betty Kwan Chinn (China) Founder, Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation

Ghida Dagher (Sierra Leone) CEO and President, New American Leaders

Daniel Diermeier (Germany) Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez (Cuba) Chairman and CEO, MBF Healthcare Partners

Maria Freire (Peru) Global Health Leader and Biophysicist

Nina Garcia (Colombia) Editor in Chief, Elle

Timnit Gebru (Ethiopia) Founder and Executive Director, Distributed AI Research Institute

Karen González (Guatemala) Faith Leader, Writer, Speaker, and Immigrant Advocate

Azira G. Hill (Cuba) Cofounder, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program

Roald Hoffmann (Poland) Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Cornell University, and Nobel Laureate

Guido Imbens (Netherlands) Professor of Economics, Stanford University, and Nobel Laureate

Angélique Kidjo (Benin) Grammy Award–Winning Singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Bernard Lagat (Kenya) Champion Runner and Five-Time Olympian

Min Jin Lee (South Korea) Author and National Book Award Finalist

Ted Lieu (Taiwan) U.S. Congressman, California, District 36

Karen Lozano (Mexico) Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Daniel Lubetzky (Mexico) Founder, KIND Snacks and Starts With Us

J. Patrice Marandel (France) Former Chief Curator of European Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Stephen Michael (Guyana) Brigadier General, U.S. Army (ret.), and Senior Executive, UBS

Alanis Morissette (Canada) Grammy Award–Winning Singer-Songwriter, Thought Leader, and Wholeness Advocate

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria) Director-General, World Trade Organization

Pedro Pascal (Chile) Actor and Time 100 Honoree

Susan Polgar (Hungary) Chess Grandmaster and Triple-Crown World Champion

Ke Huy Quan (Vietnam) Academy Award–Winning Actor

Helen Quinn (Australia) Professor Emerita of Physics, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University

Julissa Reynoso (Dominican Republic) U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra

Oscar A. Solis (Philippines) 10th Bishop, Diocese of Salt Lake City

Ali Soufan (Lebanon) Chairman and CEO, The Soufan Group, and Former FBI Special Agent

Inge G. Thulin (Sweden) Former Chairman, President, and CEO, 3M Company

Ponsi Trivisvavet (Thailand) CEO and Director, Inari