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Latino Legislative Caucus Spirit Awards

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, May 6, 2010

It was an honor to attend this year's Latino Spirit Awards at the invitation of Senator Gil Cedillo.  Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus and a friend of UC Davis School of Law, Senator Cedillo recently partnered with the law school to present the screening of "Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice" at Sacramento's Historic Crest Theatre.  And we have two of his former staffers, Esmeralda Soria and Marvin Pineda, as second-year law students.

This year's Latino Spirit Awards celebration was held at the State Capitol.  A night to honor Latino achievements, the awards ceremony recognizes individuals who exemplify excellence and contribute to the great State of California.  Past Latino Spirit Awards honorees include Carlos Santana, Rita Moreno, and Dolores Huerta.

Many state legislators and officials were there, including a number of alums.  Members of the Mexican consulate, including Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, were there.   A good friend of King Hall, Judge David De Alba was also in attendance. 

It was a wonderful and inspirational evening! 

The honorees' names are listed in this press release, which was issued after the event.


Latino Caucus Press Release

Latino Luminaries Honored During the 9th Annual Spirit Awards

The California Latino Legislative Caucus honored 12 recipients of the Spirit Awards including two in memoriam at the California Legislature.  Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) Chair of the Latino Caucus and Assembly member Tony Mendoza (D- Artesia), Vice Chair, hosted the ceremonies.  The Spirit Awards recognize those individuals who exemplify the spirit of our community and have contributed to our great state.  The honorees have furthered the understanding and acceptance of our values, culture and traditions through leadership and service.  Many of them have overcome tremendous obstacles and now are leaders in our community.  They are an inspiration not only to the Latino community, but to all Californians.

Enrique Morones - Achievement in Human Rights.  Internationally acclaimed Human Rights activist.  President and Founder of Border Angels, an all volunteer group established in 1986 which places water in the desert as well as blankets and food in border areas, during the winter, to help save migrant lives.

Leslie Sanchez -Achievement in Media.   Author and former Bush presidential advisor.  She is a widely sought-after political analyst.  A columnist and commentator, Sanchez is founder and CEO of Impacto Group LLC, a communications and market research firm, which specializes in defining social and economic trends affecting women and the emerging U.S. Hispanic community.

Rosa Gumataotao Rios - Achievement in Government.  Treasurer of the United States under President Barack Obama since July 24, 2009.  Rios developed strong roots in business and government in Northern California and became an expert in economic development.

Richard Zaldívar - Achievement in Community Action.  Mr. Zaldívar is the founder and executive director of The Wall Las Memorias Project, an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing illness among Latino populations affected by HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles and beyond. 

Xóchitl Castañeda - Achievement in Health and Academics.  Project Director Iniciativa de Salud de las Americas, Health Initiative, coordinates and optimizes health resources for Latin American immigrants and their families in California through collaboration, education and training efforts. 

Agustin Roberto "Bobby" Salcedo - In Memoriam.  Bobby Salcedo of El Monte, California was only 33 years old when he was killed by armed gunmen while on vacation with his wife in the state of Durango, Mexico on December 31, 2009.  Just weeks before, he was sworn in for a second term on the El Monte City School District Board of Trustees.

Aliza Lifshitz, M.D. - Achievement in Health and Communications.  Founder and Editor in Chief of, the largest source of health information and wellness tools in Spanish on the web. Dr. Lifshitz has been the Univision TV Network's health expert since 1988, appearing regularly on such programs as TV Mujer, Hola América, Al Mediodía, and Noticias y Más.

David C. Lizárraga - Achievement in Business and Community Empowerment.  President and CEO of TELACU/Millennium.  TELACU is the largest Community Development Corporation in the United States, with $550 million in assets.  Mr. Lizárraga also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the preeminent advocate for over 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the nation.

Judge Frederick P. Aguirre - Achievement in Judicial Service.  The grandson of a Mexican immigrant who settled in Orange County in 1908, Aguirre was born and raised in the barrio.  When Aguirre was a child, his father took him to meetings for LULAC. The gatherings often featured a discussion with a politician or prominent Mexican-Americans in the community.  Today he is an Orange County Superior Court Judge.

Melinda Ramona Melendez - In Memoriam.  Ms. Melendez was born on August 31, 1948 and passed away peacefully on January 20, 2010 with her son at her side.  She has been a teacher, bilingual educator and lecturer at Stanford University.  She began her work on education policy in the Capitol in 1982.  Ms. Melendez worked for three Speakers and two Senators. 

Univision - Achievement in Media and Community Outreach - Premier Spanish-language media company in the United States, not only entertains Hispanics but is an important member of the community.  Univision Network is one of America's top networks, regardless of language.  They are committed to covering the issues that matter most to Hispanics.  For many viewers, they are an information lifeline on critical matters.

Yolanda González - Achievement in the Arts.  Ms. González was born into a family whose artistic heritage dates back to 1877. She is known for her strong, bold brush strokes of color, texture, intent on evoking imagination and emotion.  Long time member of Self-Help Graphics, she represented her art in Spain and Scotland.  She has exhibited in the Diego Rivera Museum in Mexico City, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and Italy among others.