CIRI Honors Two Outstanding Contributors

Bridgeport, CT - The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) announces the kickoff of its celebration of 100 years of empowering new Americans to thrive in Connecticut with a sunset dinner on Sunday, September 24 at the Black Rock Yacht Club.

Claudia Connor, President and CEO of CIRI, said, “We will gather to honor Peter A. Penczer, Esq. with CIRI’s Circle of Achievement Award and Krishna Patel, Esq. with our inaugural Legacy Award, as a part of an evening that will also recognize the achievements and contributions of the many refugees and immigrants we have helped start new lives.”

Mr. Penczer is a lawyer and real estate developer, a member of CIRI’s board and its former Chair. He has a long history of working with and for the local immigrant community, for which he received a Certificate of Achievement from the Connecticut Bar Association in 2004. He has provided leadership to CIRI for decades through his Board services; he has championed CIRI in the community and in the Fairfield Rotary Club; he has made strategic introductions to prospective Board members, volunteers, donors and vendors for a range of essential services; and he and his wife Lynne are loyal and generous donors.  

Mr. Penczer has also served on the board of the Fairfield Theater Company, the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the Klein Memorial and the Science Park at Yale in New Haven. He is the current Chairman of the Fairfield Economic Development Commission, and was named Fairfielder of The Year in 2015. Mr. Penczer is also Vice President for International Service in the Fairfield Rotary club and a trustee of its Foundation.

Ms. Patel is a former federal prosecutor in New York and in Connecticut, and now General Counsel and Justice Initiative Director at Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan. She has been engaged in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes globally for over 18 years. It was largely due to her achievements that what was thought to be primarily a New York gang related labor issue is now deemed to be almost one-third sex slavery, preying on boys and girls as well as adults. Ms. Patel has been a leader in the state in ensuring that CT has strong anti-human trafficking legislation and that systems are in place to ensure that the laws are implemented. 

Her goal is to eradicate sex trafficking in Connecticut, and make it the first “slave free” state in the country.

The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), founded in 1918, is a statewide nonprofit human services agency that helps refugees, immigrants and survivors of human trafficking and survivors of torture rebuild their lives, integrate into their American communities and achieve sustainable self-reliance.

The organization focuses on helping those individuals who face significant barriers to adjusting to their new environment and offers legal, social, linguistic and educational programs to help them overcome these obstacles. CIRI also provides special services to victims of serious crimes such as human trafficking, torture, and domestic violence.  

In 2016 CIRI resettled 156 refugees; provided legal assistance to 3,294 clients; enabled 341 lawful permanent residents to obtain US citizenship; provided information on immigration laws and humanitarian relief to over 1,300 individuals; and assisted over 46 human trafficking victims.

To learn more about CIRI’s mission, achievements and how you might volunteer, please visit the website at www.cirict.org, or please contact Jessica Suarez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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