Chancee Martorell UP '93 has been inducted into the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn, an honor bestowed by the King of Thailand upon those who have demonstrated exceptional service to the kingdom.
Martorell received her commendations in a ceremony at the Royal Thai Consulate in Los Angeles on June 29.
Martorell is the founder and executive director of the Thai Community Development Center, which since 1994 has advocated for the Thai immigrant community in Los Angeles. In addition to working to establish and revitalize East Hollywood's Thai Town district, the Thai CDC provides social services, promotes economic development, and advocates for education and affordable housing for approximately 80,000 Thai immigrants across Southern California.
Martorell and the Thai CDC have also been recognized for their work to combat illegal trafficking operations that have victimized Thai nationals. Next month a federal judge in Honolulu will begin hearing what has been called the "largest human trafficking case in U.S. history" against Global Horizons, a Los Angeles company accused of luring more than 600 Thai immigrants to the U.S. with false promises of jobs, and of holding them against their will in inhumane conditions. The Thai CDC has worked with victims in the case for nearly nine years, resettling them and reuniting them with their families.
"I am honored to receive this royal decoration," Martorell said. "I am especially overwhelmed by the fact that our work in the United States has been recognized by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the Thai government.
"This prestigious award serves as a reminder that Thai CDC’s work has an impact on Thais in Los Angeles as well as Thais living in our native country," she added.