Mayor's Office of Special Events

2012 Hispanic Heritage Award Recipients Announced

Mayor Parker Reveals 2012 Hispanic Heritage Awards Recipients

September 26, 2012 -- Mayor Annise Parker today announced the recipients of the 2012 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards, an honor that is part of the city’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“This year’s honorees have each contributed in their own way to the Hispanic community of Houston, and it’s time we gave them a special recognition for their efforts,” said Mayor Parker. “ In addition to this year’s awardees, I am grateful to my Hispanic Advisory Board for all they do to help the community.”

All recipients will be honored at the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award Reception to be held October 3 from 5:30- 7:30 pm at the Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby St .

The following awards were announced for 2012:

Lifetime Achievement: Janie and Frumencio Reyes -- Janie and Frumencio Reyes are two of the most respected and accomplished Latino leaders in Houston . Frumencio was instrumental in the creation of the single-member city council districts, serving as lead council in the lawsuit that ultimately created single-member districts in the City of Houston . Frumencio reprised his role as a redistricting expert in 2010, working with Mayor Parker on the successful redraw of the council map . Janie and Frumencio have been recognized through honors and awards by The Texas Democratic Women, the Texas State Mexican American Democrats, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement/AFL-CIO, Volunteers in Public Schools and many others .

Community Activist: Sylvia Louise Gonzales -- Sylvia Louise Gonzales is a native Houstonian and has had careers in both law enforcement and education . She worked as a special education teacher for Alief School District for one year, then found a career in Harris County Juvenile Probation for 28 years . Gonzales has been an active LULAC member for 43 years, which she credits for teaching her how to do civil rights and community service work .

Education: Rick Cruz -- Rick Cruz is passionate about providing Latino and low-income students with access to educational opportunities. After graduating from Yale with honors, Cruz moved to Houston to live close to his family. He worked at the Baker Botts law firm where he volunteered to help on several pro bono cases, then joined Teach for America where he held numerous leadership positions on his campus . In 2010, Cruz started a program called EMERGE Fellowship to help Latino and low-income students in the Houston area be successful in attending and graduating from Ivy League and top-tier colleges .

Youth Activist: Genry Santibanez -- Genry Santibanez is a proud graduate of public schools in HISD, and was most recently the valedictorian at Stephen F. Austin High School . He was involved in numerous activities in high school where he took leadership positions, including National Honor Society, Science Club, Student Council and many more . In addition to his involvement in academics and campus activities, he avidly participated in community service. He volunteers every year on Thanksgiving, helping to feed Houston's homeless at the George R. Brown Convention Center. He tutored first graders in math, reading and writing at local elementary schools. He was also involved in an "Adopt a Fire Station" project with his school's chapter of the National Honor Society.

Art in the Community: Tony Diaz -- Tony Diaz is a novelist and an entrepreneur who brings together contemporary Latino arts, culture and business in what has now blossomed into the Librotraficante Movement . He is the founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, which promotes Latino literature and literacy through workshops, readings and book fairs . Diaz is originally from Chicago, and moved to Houston to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the University of Houston . He is currently the host of the Nuestra Palabra radio show on KPFT 90.1 FM.