I had the pleasure of stopping by the MALDEF Gala reception this year at the Westin Bonaventure in DTLA. Each time I attend events that support leading Latino initiatives and leaders, I come away feeling extremely inspired and motivated to reach out within my own network to keep the momentum of goodwill moving forward! Seeing the familiar and friendly faces of the Latino community is not only encouraging but a reminder that we have come a long way and we must continue to pave the path for future leaders.
In case you’re wondering, MALDEF is one of the longest standing institutions advocating for the rights of Latino workers; it’s the leading Latino legal voice for civil rights in America. Its mission is to implement and promote programs structured to bring Latinos into the mainstream of the American political and socio-economic life; provide better educational opportunities; encourage participation in all aspects of society; and lastly, offer a positive vision for the future.
This year’s Los Angeles gala awards paid tribute to the work and achievements of three Latino community leaders including:
- Diane Media, Vice President of Diversity and Community Relations at KABC-TV, for the Lifetime Achievement, Corporate Social Responsibility
- Thomas B. Reston, Former Board Chair, MALDEF, for the Valerie Kantor Award for Extraordinary Achievement
- Dr. Cynthia Telles, Director, UCLA Spanish-Speaking Psychosocial Clinic Neuropsychiatric Institute, UCLA School of Medicine, for the Lifetime Achievement, Excellence in Community Service
And of course, you can’t mention Latino leaders without bringing to mind the iconic and trailblazing civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta whose presence was very well noted at this year’s event.
If you want to get a good idea of who the civic leaders and influencers are for what matters to Latinos in LA and the companies that support their tireless efforts, this is the event to attend and support (with a donation). There were many execs and representatives from various longtime supporters including Toyota, Anheuser-Busch, Kaiser-Permanente, Walmart and more.
One personal highlight for me was getting into a conversation with a few Latina executives about doing more to inspire young Latinas to explore themes of #community #leadership and #socialjustice. I’ve always had an interest to reach out to Latino youth in general – to empower and to inspire them – there’s no time like the present and little did I think that stopping by this reception, I’d walk away with renewed interest. Incidentally, we’re setting a date in January 2016 to go speak to a local high school.
I heard folks mention at the reception that MALDEF will be posting the acceptance speeches of the award recipients sometime this week so keep your eyes on their Facebook and Twitter for more inspiring words!