Tribute Fund

Who in your life exemplifies a commitment to family, community, and social justice? By establishing a Tribute Fund, you can both honor them and support the vital work of IIBA.

In 2018, as part of our 100th Year Celebration, we launched IIBA Tribute Funds. Together with your family, friends, or colleagues, you have an opportunity to honor a loved one and support IIBA in our work to help more immigrants attain citizenship. Each Tribute Fund helps five immigrants become U.S. Citizens with a cumulative gift of $2,500 or more.

Who stands out to you in your family or community? Who has embodied hospitality, worked for justice, celebrated diversity, and inspired you to be better? Who has helped you grow roots or find your way? Who has been the beacon of light in your life?

The story of your loved one will be included on IIBA’s website, and we will also announce the new Tribute Honorees at our Annual “Comedy Night for Immigrant Rights” event. 

For more information, please contact Development Manager, Danielle Alvarez, at or Executive Director, Ellen Dumesnil at

2019 Tribute Fund Honorees

The Ruth Elizabeth Schwabacher Cecchetti Tribute Fund

Ruth fled Nazi Germany as a nine-year-old refugee, seeking safety in the United States, along with her family. She became fiercely patriotic and devoted to immigrants.

“She would be honored to participate in an organization like IIBA and to help further the goal of aiding immigrants and refugees coming to the United States, especially at a time like this.” –Margaret Cecchetti (Ruth’s daughter)

Read Ruth’s Story

As a nine-year-old Jewish refugee in 1937, Ruth left Germany with her family and came to the United States, first to New York and then to San Francisco.  

Upon arrival to California, my mother and family were supported by organizations like IIBA, spending time in summer camps learning English and getting adjusted to her new country.  My mother spoke with warm appreciation for much of her life about the impact that the welcome to the United States had on her. 

She taught English as a second language for many years in adult school, telling stories about the various waves of immigrants coming to the United States and how their hard work and determination to learn English and become US citizens matched her own.  She was equally dedicated to helping young people learn about the world outside of the US by working with many organizations that organized international travel. 

She spent many years working with the Congress-Bundestag program bringing students to Washington and then to Germany to understand the importance of international government relations.  As a refugee who fled Germany, she saw that the only way to avoid repeating history was to start with young people and have them learn to understand others.  She was extremely proud of the award that she received from the German government for her work.

The Joseph Paul De Luca Tribute Fund

Born in Fascist Italy, Joseph was separated from his family at nine months old. They reunited in the U.S. when he was 16. He graduated from UCLA, attended law school, and received a Purple Heart for his service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

“While he is no longer with us, his story and memories are ever present.” –Teresa De Luca Schooler (Joseph’s Sister)

Read Joseph’s Story

Joseph Paul De Luca, born in Sicily, Italy in 1931, became a political hostage at nine months old. His father had immigrated to the United States, avoiding service in the Fascist government. When his mother followed, she was not allowed to bring Joseph.

They didn’t reunite until 1947, when Joseph, 16, arrived on one of the first ships to cross the Atlantic after WWII. He graduated from UCLA, attended Loyola Law School, and received a Purple Heart for his service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

In San Francisco, Joseph met his wife, Barbara Menietti, a volunteer at the Institute’s English as a Second Language Program. They raised their children, Francesca, Daniela, and Niccolo, in Oakland. Always the life of the party, Joseph was a successful banker, real estate developer, planning commissioner, and investor.

The Michael Desmond Tribute Fund

Michael Desmond immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. He served as a detective on San Francisco’s waterfront.

“His choice to make San Francisco his home shaped the direction of our lives. The future he created for our family inspires us to help today’s immigrants secure their families’ futures as well.” –The Dumesnil Family

Read Michael’s Story

Michael Desmond came to the U.S. from Ireland, through Ellis Island, in the early 1900s. A former fisherman, his love of the sea kept him close to the ocean. He joined the San Francisco Police Department and served his new community as a detective on the waterfront.

An avid swimmer, he became President of the Dolphin Club, where his photo still hangs on the wall. He risked his life to save a man from drowning off Ocean Beach in 1920, and again in 1925 to save a young girl at Capitola.

His choice to make San Francisco his home shaped the direction of his family’s life. His legacy inspires them to help today’s immigrants secure their families’ futures as well.

The Mary MacHarg Halsted Lonergan Tribute Fund (Est. 2018)

Mary volunteered as an ESL teacher with IIBA and served on the Institute’s Board for many years.

“She was the spark that started our family’s three decades of service to immigrants and our ongoing commitment to the work of IIBA.” –The Halsted and Lonergan Families

Read Mary’s Story

In recognition of the 100th Anniversary of IIBA, the Halsted and Lonergan family lovingly established the Mary MacHarg Halsted Lonergan Fund to honor Mary’s longtime affiliation with IIBA.

This fund will support immigrants on the path to citizenship, a cause Mary strongly believed in and tirelessly supported with her time, energy, and financial gifts.

Mary volunteered as an ESL teacher with IIBA and served on the Institute’s Board for many years. Mary’s commitment motivated her husband, Dick Lonergan, and her sister, Anne Halsted, also to serve on the Board during the 1970s and 80s. When Anne married Wells Whitney in the late 1980s, she passed the baton to him, and he served on the Board for over 10 years. Mary was the spark that started her family’s three decades of service to immigrants and their ongoing commitment to the work of IIBA.

The Halsted and Lonergan family’s generosity has inspired IIBA to invite other individuals and families to establish their own tribute funds bearing the name of a beloved family member or friend, with a gift of $2,500 or more.

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