Mayor's Office of Special Events

2016 Hispanic Heritage Award Recipients Announced

Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced the recipients of the 2016 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards.  Each honoree was selected based on his or her outstanding contributions toward enhancing the quality of life and advancement of Houston’s Hispanic community.

This year’s Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Felix Fraga
Felix Fraga has been advocating for the Houston Hispanic Community for 70 years.  He is currently the Vice President for External Relations at Neighborhood Centers, Inc. where he has been employed continuously since 1946.  He is well known for his work to improve the social, economic and physical surroundings of Houston’s Hispanic dominated Second Ward.  He has served as a board trustee for the Houston Independent School District and a City Council member representing District H.  He is a member of the Houston Committee for Private Sector Initiatives, the Houston Housing Development Corporation, United Way of Houston and the Houston Housing Finance Corporation.  He has also served on the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, the Neighborhood Housing Service and the Houston Housing Authority.  His previous honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers as well as the Mexican American Bar Association’s Metro Salute to Hispanic Families and Community Service Award.

Community Activist: Marisela Vasquez
Born and raised in Houston’s East End, Marisela Vasquez has deeps roots in community service.  She is considered a phenomenal community activist and role model for Hispanic children and young women in Houston.  For more than 30 years, she has been involved in the Rusk Athletic Club, a local organization that showcases Hispanic athletes and provides college scholarships.  Vasquez is a longtime support of Shoes for Kids, founded by the late Yolanda Black Navarro.  Since Navarro’s passing, Vasquez has worked to keep the charity thriving.  She has also served as chair of the Queen of Peace Fall Festival, an annual school fundraiser.

Education in the Community: Christina Morales
Christina Morales is also deeply rooted in the Houston’s East End.  She took the reins of the family business, Felix H. Morales Funeral Home, at a very young age and with minimal preparation or experience.  After just a few years of guidance from her grandmother, she began serving as President of the funeral home.  She leads the Felix and Angela Morales Memorial Foundation that helps Latinos pursue education and leadership positions.  She also organizes the 85-year old funeral home’s annual back to school supplies giveaway.  Morales has held numerous positions for various charities and community organizations, including Incarnate Word Academy, Neighborhood Centers, Inc., the East End Foundation, the Houston Community College Foundation and Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Transition Committee.

Youth Activist: Yvette Hernandez
Since high school, Yvette Hernandez has known she wanted to give back to the community.  She started by tutoring fellow students at Ceasar Chavez High School.  On the weekends, she volunteered at Case Juan Diego, helping plant and harvest vegetables for immigrants and refugees.  Her Catholic faith is very important to her.  She attends Immaculate Heart of Mary and is involved in the Leadership Awareness Faith Family Self Esteem program.  She has also volunteered to help the JFK Toy Drive, DePelchin Children’s Center, Houston Food Bank and the Mayor’s Back to School Fest.  Her biggest passion is getting Hispanics to vote.  Hernandez was one of the youngest individuals elected as President of the Oak Meadows Civic Club and was also the youngest delegate elected by Senate District 6 for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Art in the Community: Richard Reyes
Richard Reyes, also known as Pancho Claus, has dedicated his life to promoting arts in the Hispanic community.  He has written and directed youth and adult plays at Talento Bilingue de Houston (TBH) at Ripley Houston Community Center, and directed Dia de la Raza for a number of years at Miller Outdoor Theater.  In 1993, he helped secured a million dollar grant to build the TBH Cultural Center at Guadalupe Plaza.  During this same time, he also worked with Precinct 6, the Houston Gang Task force and several Harris County Youth Detention Centers to expose youth offenders to the arts.  Pancho Claus began as a children’s play and has now evolved into Houston Christmas event encompassing parades, a band, toy cruises and, more importantly, the distribution of thousands of Christmas gifts to inner-city children and senior citizens.   Reyes has served on numerous local boards and organizations and has been recognized repeatedly for his volunteerism and work, including being honored with the title of Executive Director Emeritus from the Talento Bilingue de Houston.

The annual Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards are given out each September in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month.