RU Leader Arely Westley Wins Prestigious Human Rights Award

Kerry Kennedy, Arely Westley, and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award ceremony, June 2024.

Rise Up Leader Arely Westley received this year’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. For more than 40 years, the prestigious award has been given to outstanding activists and organizations all over the world. The award “identifies and honors those who embody Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s belief that the power of individual moral courage can overcome injustice.” Arely was recognized for her tireless efforts to uplift LGBTQ+ youth, combat abuses in ICE detention facilities, and expand critical access to immigrant support services in Louisiana. Today, Arely is the Campaign Director at BreakOUT!, an organization that seeks to end the criminalization of LGBTQ+ youth to create a safer and more just New Orleans. The organization builds the power of LGBTQ+ youth directly impacted by the criminal justice system through organizing and leadership development.

Arely’s journey with Rise Up began at a pivotal moment in 2017. “During the time that I first joined Rise Up, I had just started working on my organizing skills,” she shared. “Rise Up taught me that no matter what country you come from, at the end of the day, we’re all still fighting for the same things.” Arely’s experience with Rise Up was instrumental in shaping her holistic approach to advocacy, focusing on intersecting issues vital to her communities’ survival and well-being.

Arely’s receipt of the RFK Award is a testament to her dedication but, as she emphasized, it belongs to her community. “The RFK award belongs to my community – to the entire migrant community, the LGBTQ community, the people who are being pushed and punished by the system and still survive,” she said.

Join us in congratulating Arley for the profound change she is leading for LGBTQ+ youth and immigrants in Louisiana and beyond!