Influential Leaders in Hispanic Community Honored at 2012 NCLR Awards Gala

July 10 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         Contact:
July 10, 2012                                                 Julian Teixeira
                                                                       (202) 776-1812

LAS VEGAS—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) presented six awards this evening to honor individuals and organizations that have demonstrated exemplary accomplishments, both in their fields and in service to the Hispanic community in the United States. NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía congratulated the winners at the organization’s annual Awards Gala, which is the closing event of the 2012 NCLR Annual Conference held July 7–10 in Las Vegas, Nev.

This year’s winners include NCLR Affiliate the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA), a nonprofit community organization based in Texas; Rev. James Manship and Angel Fernandez-Chavero of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New Haven, Conn.; the Honorable Reynaldo L. Martinez, former Chief of Staff to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada; Rossana Rosado, Publisher and CEO of El Diario-La Prensa newspaper; Jesse James Leija, former world champion boxer and supporter of the Miracle League of San Antonio; and Christine M. Owens, Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Management at UPS.

“NCLR is honored to recognize individuals who have made such outstanding contributions to the Hispanic community and to our great nation. They have shown that there are no limits to what can be achieved through hard work, vision, and perseverance. Now more than ever, Latinos need the kind of champions we are honoring this year,” Murguía said. “We congratulate all awardees and thank them for being an inspiration to us all.”

This year’s awardees:

AAMA, the recipient of NCLR’s Affiliate of the Year Award, is one of the most influential nonprofits in Texas, offering a comprehensive array of innovative programs and services to more than 22,000 individuals each year. With a particular focus on education and youth, AAMA has a stellar track record of outreach to the Latino community through programs such as the George I. Sanchez Charter High School, which helps address Latino dropout rates in Houston; the Adelante program, which provides adults with the skills and education necessary to enter and advance in the workplace; and a number of intervention services, such as Barrios Unidos, offered to Latino youth at risk for gang involvement, drug use, family difficulties, and dropping out of school. The Affiliate of the Year Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an Affiliate for exemplary nonprofit management, service to its community, and active engagement in and promotion of NCLR’s programmatic and advocacy initiatives.

Reverend James Manship and Angel Fernandez-Chavero of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New Haven, Conn. were honored with the Graciela Olivarez La Raza Award. Rev. Manship and Fernandez-Chavero, a leader on the church’s pastoral council, were instrumental in bringing to light the abuses that members of the community received from police in the neighboring town of East Haven—arbitrary police stops, beatings, stun-gun shots, racial slurs, and illegal searches—which ultimately led to the arrest of four East Haven police officers. They also founded the St. Rose of Lima Education Task Force, which provides crucial support for DREAMers on the journey to college, and were heavily involved in the passage of the Connecticut “DREAM Act.” NCLR presents the Graciela Olivarez La Raza Award annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to promoting the interests of Hispanic Americans.

The Honorable Reynaldo L. Martinez, former Chief of Staff to Senator Harry Reid, received the Maclovio Barraza Award for Leadership. Throughout his career, Martinez has ensured that Latinos were fairly considered for key positions on the senator’s staff and that Latino students were represented during each internship session. He helped establish the Latino Youth Leadership Conference in 1993, which aims to increase the number of Hispanic students attending college and build their leadership skills, as well as the Hispanic Political Academy, which gives Latino community leaders the skills they need to work on campaigns and run for office. He also implemented a plan to hold several statewide Hispanic Leadership Summits—the largest gatherings of Latino Leaders from across Nevada to discuss vital issues impacting Latinos in the state.  The Maclovio Barraza Award for Leadership recognizes those who have worked for the betterment of the Hispanic community at the grassroots level and whose leadership has served as a source of strength and support to the Hispanic community.

Rossana Rosado was presented with the Ruben Salazar Award for Communications. As the Publisher and CEO of El Diario-La Prensa, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in New York and the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the country, she is truly a leader in the largest media market in the country and has used that visibility to bring to light issues that affect her readers and all of New York. In 1995, she was the first woman to hold the position of editor in chief since La Prensa’s founding in 1913. Only a few years later she was named publisher, and now oversees day-to-day operations and is responsible for more than $22 million in annual revenue. The Ruben Salazar Award for Communications is given to an individual who has dedicated his or her professional life to portraying issues, concerns, and/or news relevant to contemporary Hispanic America and promoting the positive contributions that Latinos have made to U.S. society.

The Roberto Clemente Award for Sports Excellence went to Jesse James Leija, a world-class boxer with two world titles for WBC super featherweight along with nine world title fights and wins against 15 world contenders and three Olympians. Since retiring, Leija has been an important supporter of the Miracle League of San Antonio—a charitable organization in his hometown that provides children with mental and/or physical challenges the opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league. He helped raise money for a fully-lit four-acre complex that offers fields and courts with special surfaces to accomodate players of all needs, including wounded veterans in treatment at local military medical facilities. The Roberto Clemente Award for Sports Excellence is presented to an individual renowned in the world of sports and committed to the advancement of Hispanic Americans.

The Raul Yzaguirre President’s Award was given to Christine M. Owens, Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Management at UPS. Although her purview at UPS extends to 214 countries and more than 400,000 employees worldwide, Owens has dedicated considerable time to strengthening NCLR’s brand—the image that influences external perceptions of the organization. Her guidance has been instrumental in shaping how NCLR tells its story and in improving the way it communicates issues to others who are not familiar with the Latino community. The Raul Yzaguirre President’s Award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has shown outstanding support for NCLR’s mission, goals, and philosophy.

The NCLR Awards Gala was cosponsored this year by Eli Lilly and Company, Ford Motor Company, UPS, and Walmart.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Issues: Awards and Recognitions, In Your Community, Events
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas