Wednesday, October 26, 2011

7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Awards of the NAHCC

NAHCC with Brenda Davenport-Leigh, Carolina Rivas, Maria Mercedes Suarez, Alba Gonzalez Nylander, Holly Spann, Fabian Bedne, Loraine-Segovia Paz, Yuri Cunza, Mario Manuel Ramos, and Tommy Vallejos
Photographs by Mike Quinones
Article by Cindy McCain

“I have really experienced Southern hospitality here,” beamed Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cuban artist and recipient of the Outstanding Hispanic Professional Achievement Award in the Arts.  She expressed gratitude for her award and invited the audience to her exhibition at Vanderbilt University.  Such was the theme of the 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Awards sponsored by the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Hospitality and gratitude.

The reception and ceremony was held October 13, 2011 at the Nashville City Club.  Elliott Ozment, Immigration Law Office of Elliott Ozment, said upon receiving the Hispanic Community Advocate of the Year Award“My mission is to make Latinos feel welcome.”

Commander Mike Alexander
of Metro Nashville Police Department South Precinct was awarded the Building Neighborhoods AwardYuri Cunza President and CEO of NAHCC, introduced Alexander, saying, “It is our job to build bridges.”  He praised Alexander for taking the initiative in building the El Protector Program, recognized by the Vera Institute in New York as one of the six best programs in the country for bridging the language divide. Additionally the South Precinct has been designated as the first Hispanic Car Seat Safety Inspection Site in the state of Tennessee.

Alexander explained other services, such as the Hispanic Teen Academy, where officers mentor and educate young people.  He said:

When the Academy is over we have kids hugging the officers disappointed that the program is over.  We bring in families.  We believe it’s a big deal… There are grassroots efforts day in and day out…Thanks to you all for the support you give to us makes those things happen.
Fabian Bedne, the first Latino elected to the Metro Council, was awarded the Certificate of Appreciation For Outstanding Contributions & Community Service. He challenged the NAHCC to encourage people to “participate in the political process, to get elected officials to talk to the Latin community, (in order) to have a relationship, to communicate better.” 

Humbly thanking friends such as Holly Spann, Board Member of the NAHCC since 2006, for encouraging him to run for office, he shared his journey from his home in Argentina to the US. When employees asked him to extend his work visa, he’s so glad he did.  He explained with affability and grace:

Twenty-two years ago I landed in New York with two suitcases…I’m just an American story…I fell in love with democracy. That probably sounds silly, but most of us who come from other places probably understand democracy better than the locals.  Civil rights, human rights, the Constitution.  That makes a lot of sense to us because we come from places where these things don’t work.  And when I came to the US and started experiencing feeling safe and feeling empowered and respected I just slowly realized that this was my place, this is where I wanted to be…

Here I am twenty-one years later a true American story, new Councilman for District 31 Nashville, Tennessee.   Something that if you had asked me 20 years ago I would have told you that you were crazy, but this is what happens in the US.  People are measured by who they are and what they do and what they give back to the community and not by who they know or how much money they have…That’s what I want to bring to you today.  This is your country.  This is America…  We can be part of the system and we should be part of the system.

Other award recipients of the evening were as follows:

Institutional Leadership Award 

Jen Cole, Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission

Outstanding Member Achievement Award – Education 

Tennessee Foreign Language Institute

Hispanic Entrepreneur Achievement Award
Angel Zuniga Martinez, Fiesta Insurance

Emerging Hispanic Business Award

Pupuseria Salvadorena

Outstanding Hispanic Media Professional Achievement Award

Cristina O. Allen, Que Pasa Nashville
 WTVF Channel 5+

Outstanding Advocacy in Education Award – USHCC Foundation (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation)

Certificate of Recognition Outstanding Contributions in Business Advocacy

Nashville Minority Business Center's 29th Annual Nashville Minority Enterprise
Development Week - MEDWeek

Certificate of Appreciation Outstanding Contributions & Business Advocacy

David Tiller, SBA TN District Office

Journalism and Hispanic Community Award

Cindy McCain, Nashville Latin Dancing Examiner

Outstanding Leadership and Service Award
- Alba Gonzalez Nylander, AJ Media Services/NAHCC Treasurer
- William Luis, Afro Hispanic Review-Vanderbilt University/NAHCC 2nd Vice Chair
- Loraine Segovia-Paz, La Noticia Newspaper/NAHCC Vice Chair

Luci Lampe singing the National Anthem
Luis Parodi, Stacey Widelitz, Chefs Ritz,  Loraine Segovia-Paz, Heidy Browning, Don Able

William Luis, Luci Lampe, Alba Gonzalez Nylander, Loraine Sergovia Paz
Commander Mike Alexander
Juan Pablo Alonzo
Ana Miriam and Hugo Reyes, recipients of Emerging Business Award
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Ainsley Diaz
Yuri Cunza
Tommy Vallejois, 14th District County Commissioner

NAHCC with Jen Cole of Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and  recipient of the Institutional Leadership Award 

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