Mayor's Office of Special Events
Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Awards
Mayor Turner Honors Five Exceptional Houstonians During Hispanic Heritage Month
October 7, 2019 -- In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed this year from Sunday, Sept. 15 to Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board honored five exemplary Houstonians.
The individuals were nominated by members of the community and selected by the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards (MHHA) Committee for their outstanding contributions toward improving the quality of life within the Houston Hispanic community.
Starting at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, Mayor Turner recognized each of the honorees with proclamations during three different weekly Houston city council public meetings. On Thursday, Oct. 4, the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards recipients were celebrated at a reception held at the Rice Lofts.
The following individuals were selected as the 2019 Hispanic Heritage Month Awards recipients.
Nelly Moyano Fraga
Dr. Pamela Anne Quiroz
Jessie R. Rodriguez
Nelly Moyano Fraga is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award. Her unwavering support for educational, cultural and civic activities has provided a greater appreciation for cultural arts, particularly among Houston youth, and has inspired countless volunteers from many other countries to form folkloric dance and music groups in Houston. Thanks to a scholarship from the Cleveland International Program for Social Workers and Youth Leaders, Fraga and other scholarship recipients were sent to various cities in the United States for the program’s field work. Fraga was assigned to Neighborhood Centers Ripley House in Houston, where she met her future husband, the honorable Felix Fraga, a former Houston city council member.
Michelle Ferrell is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Community Activist Award. She is a tireless advocate for introducing other young women to technology, as well as promoting women’s health, political engagement and representation in leadership roles. She is a third generation Houstonian raised in the communities of East End and Garden Villa. She attended Incarnate Word Academy and San Jacinto College before earning her Bachelors in Toy Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Using her expertise as a consultant in the field of technology, she founded Miso 411- UX/UI design consultancy. As an entrepreneur, she aims to create diverse and inclusive experiences and inspire school age girls and young women to learn careers in the technology field.
Dr. Pamela Anne Quiroz is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Education in the Community Award. Dr. Quiroz has dedicated her life to preserving historical documents and making contributions for the betterment of the Latino community. She is Executive Director of the Inter-University Program on Latino Research (IUPLR), a national consortium of U.S. Latino, Latin American and Latino-Caribbean university-based institutes and research centers, dedicated to the advancement of the Latino intellectual presence and scholarship. She also serves as the Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies and Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston. Most recently, Quiroz was elected the 2020 Vice President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
Jesse R. Rodriguez is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Art in the Community Award. As a native Magnolia Park resident, Rodriguez graduated from Stephen F. Austin Senior High School in 1989 and the Art Institute of Houston in 1991. He is proud of the roots his family has planted in Magnolia Park since 1929. Artistically known as Magnolia Grown, Rodriguez has made outstanding contributions to sustaining the community’s 109-year history through his passion for art. He has promoted art in Magnolia Park and served as an artistic voice for the cultivation of the community. In December 2015, he started Magnolia Grown, which began with a well-received T-shirt design that communicated the rich history of Magnolia Park through art. The artistry displayed on the shirt grew a strong following on social media and Jesse began receiving requests for Magnolia Grown merchandise. In February 2016, he had his first Magnolia Grown pop-up shop, with 25 pop-ups since then.
Irma Torres is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award. She has dedicated her time to cultivating young leaders through her personal, professional and academic experiences. A Houston native, Torres is a senior attending DeBakey High School for Health Professions. The summer before starting high school, she volunteered over 100 hours to the Children’s Museum of Houston. She returned for the summer 2017 Discovery Squad program, where she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award, gold status.
The Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board is co-chaired by Roland Garcia and Lenora Sorola-Pohlman.