Friend of Unfair Park Bill Holston to Take the Reins at the Human Rights Initiative

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Bill Holston
There's no need to introduce Bill Holston -- attorney, KERA contributor, nature-trekker -- to longtime Friends of Unfair Park; he's one of the good ones, and has been for a long, long while. But Bill's about to disappear from these virtual pages, at least for a little while; he writes, "I promise I'll make time for blogging," but he'll be busier than usual. That's because after 25 years at his namesake law firm, Brother Bill has a new job: He is taking over as CEO of The Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, which offers gratis legal representation to those who've come to this country, and Dallas specifically, after having fled religious and political persecution in their home countries.

Bill's been taking on pro bono asylum cases for the last 13 years; at long last, when offered, he decided to lead the charge. "It is with mixed emotion that I leave the excellent lawyers and staff at Sullivan and Holston (where I've been for over 25 years) , and I do that only because the work I've done with HRI is the most fulfilling work I've ever done," he writes. "I sincerely believe it is my calling to work with this great organization." The formal announcement, dispatched late yesterday, follows.
William O. Holston, Jr., Appointed Executive Director of Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

DALLAS - January 9, 2012 - The Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI) today announced that William O Holston, Jr., has been selected to serve as its new Executive Director. In his new role, Mr. Holston will oversee the nonprofit agency which provides legal representation and social services free of charge to clients who have fled persecution and arrived in North Texas, often times with few or no resources.

Holston is a Dallas attorney who has a special passion for helping vulnerable people seeking refuge in the United States. Since 1987, Mr. Holston has provided pro bono legal representation for political and religious asylum applicants from 18 countries in Immigration Court. He has volunteered his services for HRI for the past 10 years. In 2005, Mr. Holston was awarded the Angel of Freedom Award by HRI, because of his commitment to provide pro bono services to clients. Because of a generous gift from Charlie and Meredith Stimson, two of Mr. Holston's clients, HRI"s pro bono program is named the William O. Holston Jr. Pro Bono Program.

"We feel fortunate that Mr. Holston has joined HRI as CEO," says Robert Graham, Chairman, HRI Board of Directors. "Bill is particularly well-suited to lead HRI into the future and he has demonstrated through years of service to HRI, a deep commitment to serving our clients and a true passion for HRI's mission. We believe he will be a great leader for the organization."

HRI clients are often fleeing countries where they were imprisoned and tortured for their religious beliefs and political opinions. Its women's and children's program provides assistance to victims of domestic abuse, human trafficking and those who are victims of crime. The challenges faced by HRI's clients are immense.

"Our clients come to America with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They are prohibited from working and not entitled to government benefits but have taken huge risks so they have a chance at freedom and safety in our country," says Mr. Holston. "Our new challenges include providing social services to clients through our pro bono lawyers, doctors and other volunteers. We need to provide increasing social services especially given the huge backlog of cases in Immigration Court."

Before joining HRI, Holston was a partner in the firm, Sullivan & Holston. He is a member of the Transition to Law planning committee. Mr. Holston is a teacher and lay minister at Fellowship Bible Church Arapaho, serves on the board of Art Conspiracy, Inc., is a frequent commentator on KERA 90.1 FM in Dallas and contributes pieces on local hiking excursions to D Magazine's FrontBurner blog. He holds a J.D., from Southern Methodist University and earned a B.A. from The University of Texas at Dallas.

About HRI Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal assistance to refugees and immigrants in the North Texas area who are the victims of human rights abuses. It was founded in 1999 by attorney Elizabeth "Betsy" Healy and social worker Serena Simmons Connelly.

HRI assists clients through two main programs: the Asylum program and the Women and Children's program. The Asylum program assists refugees who have fled to the United States because of past persecution, or the fear of persecution based on one of the five protected grounds (race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group). The Women and Children's program assists immigrant women and children who are the victims of violence and/or abuse and neglect.

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25 comments
George J.
George J.

Good man...great lawyer...perfect match!Congrats to Bill and HRI!

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

it's a pleasure to know you George. You're fit that description perfectly. 

Harvey Lacey
Harvey Lacey

I met Bill right here on UnfairPark some years ago.  We've become fast friends. Our first face meet up was with Rawlins, what a pair.

The high road was designed with men like Bill Holston in mind.  I couldn't be more proud.  He is a hero in a world in need of heroes.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

I keep saying this, right back atcha Harvey. The world is a better place with you 

scottindallas
scottindallas

I always appreciate Bill's comments, but now I feel creeped out to find he's such a lib-tard ACTIVIST!!!

Congrats, and here's hoping you'll help many more in this new post.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

Everyone has the right to an attorney, and in the case of those helped by HRI, they may not realize it, given the legal system (or lack thereof) in their home country.

Ben
Ben

Dallas is a better place because of Bill. He is what makes Dallas world class. Not a bridge, sports stadium or new shopping mall. He adds something to the city that a price cannot be placed on. He is one of those unsung "famous people you have never heard of" types that touches the lives of many of us.

Congrats on your new El Jefe status!

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

right backatcha Ben. It's a pleasure to know you. 

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

I wish people like Bill, Rawlins, and Lacey would get more national attention so America wouldn't think we were all a bunch of Rick Perry loving redneck nutcases. 

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

Thanks Jack. I agree with you about rawlins and lacey. there's lots of people here in Dallas, that really are working hard at stuff that matters. I appreciate the kind word. 

rawlins.gilliland
rawlins.gilliland

The last time I saw the right person chosen for the right position as it the case here to this extent, I was probably a pre-teen  virgin.  Cheers to Bill & to HRI for chossing him.Now, more than ever, whatever others can do for those who have no capacity or resources to fight for their humanity future, is a critical non-profit mandate.  This is Bill's turf. 

On a reality check unrelated note, but relevant only in that it speaks to pro-bono help for those who would otherwise remain victims and it's importance to us all: I know what it is to be on the receiving end of a negative legal situation that would have been a lifetime of doom had it not been for the care of a pro-bono attorney.  If someone in my position was ever that vulnerable, God help those whose legal status in this nation leaves them vulnerable to more terror & fear than we can imagine.  Happy New Year, Bill!

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

what Jack E Jett said below. You sir are a good man. 

DHeidle
DHeidle

This couldn't happen to a better person...  Bill is perfectly suited for this role.  Congrats!

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

thanks Dave. you are alright sir, clearly one of the bright lights in our fair city. 

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

This is a perfect pairing of skill, passion and purpose.  Having known Bill for almost 20 years, and watched as he successfully paired his professional life with his spiritual nature, at his own expense and on his own time, it's a joy to see the pieces come together.

And a reminder to all readers, HRI is supported by "the generosity of donors like you" (yes, I now sound like the public radio/tv supporter that I am).  Get out your checkbook and send a small a donation as congratulations.  I think you can also donate on HRI's website.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

now that's the perfect comment Brenda! gracias. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Best Wishes Mr. Holston in this endeavour, we should all be so lucky as to work in a field that fullfills a desire to do what we love

zaner
zaner

Three cheers for Bill and HRI.  As many have already said, this is a perfect match, and a genuinely all-around good thing to happen.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

pleasure to know you. Thanks for the kind remark. 

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