Past MOSAIC Award Honoree Pens Letter to Senator McConnell

 

Cedric Francois, 2012 MOSAIC Award Honoree

 

Past MOSAIC Honoree, Dr. Cedric Francois, joined dozens of life sciences leaders taking a public stand against President Trump’s executive order to bar refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Dr. Francois, the founder, president, and CEO Apellis Pharmaceuticals penned an open letter to McConnell on January 30, 2017, to urge McConnell’s opposition.  Dr. Francois is a U.S. green card holder originally from Belgiumimmigrated to the United States in 2000 and came to Louisville in 2003. He moved to Louisville to work with the University of Louisville’s hand-transplant team while earning a doctorate in physiology. His 20-person company employs people “of all faiths and origins,” and in his letter, he called Trump’s order “deeply disturbing.”

In his 2012 acceptance speech, Dr. Francois said, “I love Louisville,” he said because when he came, he was offered opportunities he couldn’t get anywhere else. “I’ve been here 12 years,” he added, “and I hope to stay many more.” Dr. Francois’ accomplishments have been cited as proof of Louisville’s ability to attract highly talented individuals focusing on life science products that can make a positive impact globally. He is paving the way for other talented entrepreneurs to grow companies and attract investments right here in Louisville.

He also wrote in his letter that if the Trump administration expanded its policies to include a registry of Muslims, he would mark down his own name in solidarity. Below is the full text of Dr. Francios’ letter originally published on LinkedIn.

The MOSAIC Awards recognizes new or first-generation immigrants and refugees who are making a significant contribution in their professions and in our community. Honorees receive the MOSAIC Award, which is an artistic representation of Multicultural Opportunities for Success and Achievement In our Community. This year’s MOSAIC Awards will be held on May 18th at the Hyatt Regency. Ticket and sponsorship information can be found at www.jfcslouisville.org/mosaic-awards

Dear Hon. McConnell,

My name is Cedric Francois and I wanted to introduce you to Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Apellis is – by far – the best-funded start-up in your beautiful state of Kentucky. We represent innovation, and we work tirelessly to develop therapies and invent technologies that we hope will improve millions of lives in Kentucky, the United States and the rest of the world.

Approximately half of Apellis’ employees are not American but foreign nationals. We were blessed with education, intelligence, and ambition. We are scientists, physicians, and innovators that came to America, the land where nothing is impossible for people of talent, vision and drive. We grew to love this beautiful state and country and now call it home.

We have people of all faiths and origins in our company: Muslims, Jews and Christians working together for a common purpose. We all stand together, every one of us for each of us, no matter what our faith or nationality is. President Trump’s recent executive order barring entry for refugees and nationals from seven primarily Muslim countries is therefore deeply disturbing.  I myself am not a citizen of the United States but a Belgian green card holder.   I have infinite gratitude for what the United States did for my country in World Wars I and II.  I personally have lived here for fifteen years and this is my home.  But others in my company, physicians, scientists and researchers, are from the banned countries. Should we be concerned about travel, the well-being of our families, and whether we can return to our homes? This is not the America that we know and love. 

I have heard from many people that you are a good man. I have deep respect for what you and your wife have done for the American people and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in a lifetime of devotion to public service. In light of recent events, I ask: where do you stand Mr. Majority Leader? Can you please clarify for us, Americans and visitors alike, is this a momentary lapse of reason, or should we question our understanding of America? You were conspicuously absent last weekend, but we need to know. After all, thanks to the most beautiful governance document ever drafted, you are the one person in the world who can counterbalance Mr. Trump’s words and actions. Tell us Mr. Majority Leader: What is America? That shining city on a hill, or a dark citadel in a valley of fear?

Finally, a promise I would like to make. A pledge, if you will. I have spent many hours with people of all faiths and origins in our company. Many people don’t know that Islam, like the Christian faith, is incredibly welcoming. One can become Muslim by a simple profession of faith, without the need to be baptized or permission from a church.  The purpose of Islam is to be kind to others. It is pretty much identical to what I was taught in my Jesuit boarding school and what I deeply believe in. In light of this and out of solidarity with the people I love, I have made that profession of faith. Should the administration find it necessary to establish a registry of Muslims, then I will proudly sign on. And I won’t be alone. I will be in the company of thousands of people who made us who we are and who have nothing but love to give to all people of the United States of America. 

Sincerely and with Kindest Regards,

Cedric Francois, MD, PhD

President and CEO

 

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