Cook County Treasurer honors Indian American leader in Chicago

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, left, honoring Indian American community leader and activist Karen Merchant with an award during the May 17, 2024, celebration of Asian American Heritage Month at her office in Chicago. PHOTO: Courtesy Cook County Office.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas recognized an Indian American community leader with an award during an Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration.

Karen Merchant, who helps with settlement of immigrants and refugees, was among 14 people honored with Certificates of Excellence during a ceremony Friday, May 17, at the Cook County Treasurer’s Office in downtown Chicago.

“This country was built on immigrants who have a specific identity, language and culture and we’re trying to keep that alive today,” Pappas said at the event, according to a press release from her office. “That’s why our website is in 127 different languages.”

Jin Lee, an honorary Cook County deputy treasurer and director of community relations and business development for the Albany Park Community Center, thanked Pappas for recognizing the honorees. 

“Treasurer Pappas may be the only official who tries to recognize every Asian American community,” Lee said, adding that he appreciated that the Treasurer’s Office provided brochures in multiple Asian languages that help immigrants understand how the property tax system works.

“I believe the Treasurer’s Office is the only one who has provided such an important resource in so many diverse languages,” he said.

Merchant volunteers with FOCUS USA and Aga Khan Development Network. She helps connect people with employment, education, health care and other services.



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