WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Thursday, May 8th, members, leaders, and esteemed guests of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) convened for the organization's 10th annual awards gala to celebrate CHLI's work promoting diversity and Hispanic leadership. The date marked a decade of CHLI's dedicated effort to foster broad awareness of the diversity of thought, heritage, interests, and views of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent. CHLI's areas of focus are in commerce, trade, energy/environment, technology and higher education and are at the core of its globally competitive youth leadership development programs.
"CHLI is proud of our honorees. Each of them personify values admired by the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, and we are privileged to be able to recognize their extraordinary accomplishments," said The Honorable Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Founder and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute and former Member of Congress.
The CHLI Leadership in Public Service Award was presented to The Honorable Eric Cantor, of Virginia, House Majority Leader. Rep. Cantor was honored for his support of the approved bilateral free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, his support of the STEM Jobs Act and for championing the SKILLS Act which improves job training programs. "I was honored to receive the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute's award and for the opportunity to highlight our shared commitment to free trade, a growing economy with greater access to better education and training, and an America that works again," said Majority Leader Cantor.
The Honorable John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate Minority Whip, was also honored with CHLI's Leadership in Public Service Award for cosponsoring a resolution to support Venezuelan freedom fighters and deplore the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in the country. Sen. Cornyn introduced the Securing Talent America Requires for the 21st Century (STAR Act) and also promotes Hispanic education initiatives. He has also voted to pass the bilateral trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. "It's an honor to receive the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute's award for public service, and I am grateful for the insight and expertise that CHLI has shared with me over the years. I look forward to continuing to work together towards our shared goals for improving economic opportunities and access to education in the years ahead," said Senator Cornyn.
Michael Camuñez received CHLI's Leadership in Public Service Award. As Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Camuñez served as one of our nation's leading commercial diplomats, helping to lead the U.S. government's efforts to open new markets for U.S. goods and services around the world. He is widely recognized for playing a critical role in rebalancing U.S. economic policy toward Mexico and was the chief architect of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue. Previously, Mr. Camuñez served in the White House for two years as Special Counsel and Special Assistant to the President where he was one of the highest ranking Latinos on the White House Staff. "I am very honored to receive CHLI's Leadership in Public Service Award. I appreciate CHLI's commitment to promoting the economic advancement of the Hispanic community, including through global competitiveness and trade. I appreciate the board's recognition of my efforts to strengthen ties between the United States and the Americas, as the award further motivates me to continue this work from the private sector," said Mr. Camuñez.
Emilio Estefan Jr. received CHLI's Corporate Leadership Award. As the founder of Estefan Enterprises, he has become one of the most successful producers in the music industry and has been instrumental in shaping, developing, and directing the careers of dozens of artists. In 2002, Mr. Estefan was appointed by President George W. Bush as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities. Most recently, he was named by President Barack Obama as the vice chair to the new commission that will create the National Museum for the American Latino. "It's always an honor to be recognized for your accomplishments but this award is not about me, but rather about an organization who for the last 10 years has worked so hard to promote and acknowledge the achievements of Hispanics in this great country. That's what makes this honor so special and rewarding," said Mr. Estefan.
Ms. Wendy Martinez, an alumnae of CHLI's Leadership Program in 2005, was the keynote speaker for the evening representing the 110 alumni of CHLI's programs. Alumni from throughout the country participated in the gala to mark the milestone anniversary and the annual awards gala, the largest fundraising event that supports CHLI's internships. Wendy Martinez is a Partnership Officer at the Inter-American Development Bank. Wendy is also the co-founder of Jovenes por Nicaragua, a non-profit that provides financial resources to low-income, academically talented Nicaraguan students interested in pursuing an education abroad. Ms. Martinez earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies from the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University and a Master's in Latin American Studies from Georgetown.
"Thank you to the generous support of our sponsors, partners, founding members, board members and corporate advisory council members for celebrating 10 years of service with us," expressed Mary Ann Gomez, CHLI Executive Director. The awards gala was possible through the support by: Comcast/NBCUniversal, Altria Client Services, Univision, Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Verizon, AARP, Amgen, AT&T, Azteca America, Banco Popular, BP America, Coca-Cola Company, Constellation Brands, Dell, Exelon, Facebook, Heineken USA, Herbalife, Intuit, JP Morgan Chase, MillerCoors, National Association of Broadcasters, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Oracle, Pfizer, PG&E, Softtek, StateFarm Insurance Companies, TECRO, Tonio Burgos & Associates, United Technologies, Walmart and Western Union.
"A special thanks to the CHLI Founding Board Members who are not currently on the board, and were able to join us to reflect on the 10 years of the vision they helped create," said Mary Ann Gomez. Founding members present were: Troup Coronado, Troup Consulting; Rocky Egusquiza, Telemundo; Bert Gomez, Univision and Jorge Plasencia, Republica.
Current board members of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute include: The Honorable Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Member of Congress from 1993 - 2011); Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart; Congressman Henry Cuellar; Congressman Bill Flores; Congressman Raul Labrador, Congressman Devin Nunes; Congressman Pedro Pierluisi; Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Congressman Albio Sires; Congressman David Valadao; Rudy Beserra, The Coca-Cola Company; The Honorable Francisco Canseco; Belinda Garza, Univision; Juan Carlos Gutierrez, Oracle; Ray Dempsey, BP America; Ivette Fernandez; John Hoel, Altria Client Services; David Olivencia, Verizon; Juan Otero, Comcast; Orlando Padilla, Padilla Networks; Nicolas Perez Stable, General Electric, Susan Santana, AT&T; Christopher Turner, Dell; Patrice Web, Webb & Flow Group; and Alejandro Sarria, Pro-Bono General Counsel with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.