Mayor's Office of Special Events

Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Awards 2010 Honorees



mayor parker announces 2010 hispanic heritage awards recipients and mayor's hispanic advisory board


Hispanic Heritage Awards Graphic


October 1, 2010 -- Mayor Annise Parker today announced the recipients of the 2010 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards and the members of the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board.


“With the help of my new Hispanic Advisory Board, we found five unsung heroes in the Hispanic community who really made a difference in other people’s lives,” said Mayor Parker. “I am proud to recognize their contributions, and am looking forward to hearing about their many more achievements in the future.”


Lifetime Achievement: John Castillo

John Castillo is a Hispanic activist and political strategist who has played a key role in shaping Houston’s history and future by helping others’ elections. His political interests began with the campaign to elect Lauro Cruz to be the Houston area’s first Mexican-American state representative. His political acumen came from working in Houston’s political scene, working on the campaigns of Roman Martinez, Mario Gallegos, Tina Reyes, Ben Reyes and Leonel Castillo, to name a few. He eventually became a candidate himself, running for Controller, Harris County Constable and winning the election to become a member of Houston’s City Council.


Community Activist: Maria Jimenez

Maria Jimenez has been a strong voice and activist in social justice issues for the past 39 years. She began by organizing border communities in redressing human and civil rights violations in enforcement and immigration laws. She developed human rights monitoring and documentation methods and helped write several human rights reports on abuse of authority and violations of rights in the enforcement of border policies and immigration laws. Maria is a pioneer in her efforts for social justice, currently as part of the Central American Resource Center and as a Visiting Lecturer for the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston.


Education: Alma Lara

Alma Lara is a Houston native and has been an educator for 36 years at both elementary and university levels. She began as a teacher at Lamar Elementary, where she found her passion to reach out and help families in need. She then became a counselor and then principal, and eventually moved to Lee and then Ketelsen Elementary schools to lead their faculty and staff. Alma has touched the lives of many, serving as a role model for educational excellence herself by completing her Masters degree and now as a student in the Educational Administration Doctoral Program at Texas A&M University. She is recent appointee to the READ Commission, and also volunteers her time at NCI Ripley House and Crockett Elementary.


Youth Activist: Florencia Quesnel

Florencia Quesnel is a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of St. Thomas. As a little girl, she was stricken with a rare disease that destroyed her liver and she has just been diagnosed with kidney disease. She is currently waiting for a liver transplant, and she’s on a mission to raise awareness in the Hispanic community about organ and tissue donation. As a living example of the need for organ donation, she volunteers her time by promoting donation in various media outlets, organizing and appearing at donor drives and health fairs, as well as speaking as a donation advocate in front of City Council.


Public Safety: Dee Leal

Dee Leal is a police officer in the Houston Police Department who contributes to her community in many ways. Every holiday season, Dee helps various organizations to ensure every child receives a present at Christmas time. She also spearheads the Houston Police Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers scholarship program, raising funds and gathering a panel of judges to designate the recipients. In addition, Dee volunteers her time helping Houston area officers injured in the line of duty and in need of assistance. This includes organizing fundraising efforts, providing emotional support to family members and helping transport officers to their treatments.


Mayor Parker also announced the following individuals as members of the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board:


Roland Garcia (Chair) Victor Castillo Gilda Ramirez
Yolanda Black Navarro
Marilyn Ortiz DiSimon Raul Reyes
Carlos de Aldecoa Mario Duenas Epifanio (Epi) E. Salazar, Jr.
Anibal Alvarado Gabriel Esparza Jesse Saldivar
Yolanda Alvarado Ramiro Fonseca Lauren Soliz
Karen Becerra John Hernandez Lenora Sorola Pohlman
Olivia Carbajal David D. Medina Dr. Adolfo Santos
Rob Caballero Dr. Tatcho Mindiola Lillian Villarreal
James Cardona Terry Morales Ed Ybarra
Liz Lara-Carreno Dr. Laura Murillo