Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Titans honor Soto on-field with first-ever, elite Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

Renata Soto's on-field recognition by the Tennessee Titans

Nationwide, only 32 people are being honored with the NFL's Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. Among them are Coca Cola's Vice President of Latin Affairs, the Chairman and CEO of Chiquita Brands International, the President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Deputy Director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, and the Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

On that impressive list is Nashville's Renata Soto, co-founder and Executive Director of Middle Tennessee's leading non-profit for Hispanic integration, Conexion Americas.

Soto was selected by the Tennessee Titans as the franchise's first Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award honoree, with on-field recognition this past Sunday, as part of the NFL's Week 3 celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. A national spotlight was further shined on the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration during Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football.

Soto has always worked and volunteered for social and economic justice causes. After finishing college, she started her nonprofit career as a Community Relations Coordinator for the Latin American Association, the largest Hispanic nonprofit social service organization in Atlanta. Once in Nashville, Renata worked for United Way of Metropolitan Nashville for more than five years where she managed a grant-making portfolio of almost $1.5 million, including that United Way's first grants to programs serving immigrants and refugees. In her last role at United Way, Renata was director of an initiative to support and expand a network of family resource centers in low-income neighborhoods in Nashville. She was also one of the lead organizers of the first-ever research project aiming to understand the experience of Latinos in Nashville conducted in 2000 (Encuentro Latino/Latino Encounter). In 2009, the Tennessee Judicial Council, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Kent Williams appointed Soto to the nine-member Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. She was recently appointed to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza -- the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

With support from Bud Light, each award recipient selects an organization of their choice that serves the local Hispanic community to receive a $2,000 donation.

Soto has chosen Conexión Américas to receive this donation.

"During Hispanic Heritage Month, Conexión Américas celebrates the presence and contributions of Latinos here in Tennessee,” said Soto.

“Every year, more than 2,500 low-income Latinos and their families turn to our nonprofit organization for help to learn English, to buy a home -- or to keep that treasured asset in these tough economic times --, to start or grow a small business, or to see their children succeed in school and be the first in the family to graduate from high school. Every day, we are inspired by the determination and hard work demonstrated by these families in their pursuit of their own American Dream. That spirit of determination is what we celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month. And as we celebrate our Hispanic roots and heritage, we also recognize the experiences and traditions from our new community that we have adopted as ours, including our love for the Titans and football Sunday."

Originally from Costa Rica, Soto has lived in the United States since 1993 and in Nashville since 1996.

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