Leadership, compassion, determination and commitment are just a few of the qualities that distinguish the winners of the ‘Personajes Destacados del Año’ recognition, awarded by MundoHispánico for the sixth consecutive year on Friday.
Every year, the Spanish-language newspaper (part of the Cox Media Group) recognizes individuals who, through a variety of initiatives and achievements, have enriched and improved the lives of Hispanics in Georgia.
Each person selected for the award has been featured in the newspaper for a wide span of different, but impressive, reasons. One of the winners, for instance, donated one of her kidneys to a patron of the restaurant where she works when she found out he was in desperate need of a transplant. Another was accepted to four of the most prestigious universities in the country, including Harvard and Stanford. Yet another winner was able to establish a successful business after becoming unemployed when the company where he worked at the time went bankrupt.
This year’s list of winners includes: Teodoro Maus, ex-Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta and founder of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (activist category); Aida Quiñones, director of the Pinewoods Library and Learning Center (education); Paul Serrato, student at Stanford University (student); Carlos Quiñones, owner of Display America (entrepreneur); the organizations Ser Familia (organization) and Caminar Latino (community service); business owner Elizardo Sanz (worker); singer Fernanda Noronha (artist); and Mariana Villareal (humanitarian).
“This award … makes me feel really proud of the job that I have been doing at the Pinewoods Library all these years, and it is a surprise to me that people from outside of the Athens/Clark County community are appreciative of what we are doing,” said Aida Quiñones, who has worked for five years at the education center, which offers free tutoring for children as well as English and computer classes for adults who reside in a neighboring mobile home community.
Teodoro Maus was fulfilling his duties as Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta, when he noticed that the Hispanic community was the target of abuse and mistreatment. Inspired to go beyond the responsibilities of his position, in 1999 Maus cofounded, along with activist Adelina Nicholls, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.
“When you realize what is going on with the community, when you realize the abuses they are suffering every day and night, then you either close your eyes and not see it or you get involved,” said Maus.
Latinos were not the only award recipients. Every year, one person from outside the community is recognized for efforts to support Hispanic immigrants.
This year, the ‘Amigo de los Hispanos’ award was given to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, due in large part to his Welcoming Atlanta initiative, which strives to make Georgia’s capital a welcoming place for immigrants and recognizes the contributions that these communities make.
As well, Mayor Reed was part of the coalition of more than 30 cities and districts across the country – including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington D.C. – that supported the immigration reform legislation promoted by President Barack Obama last year.
“I am using my office to be a voice against all of the messages that I think are so unfair and so mean that are directed towards the immigrant community in Georgia. So whether it is speaking out against legislation that I think is wrong minded, whether it is speaking out for the children of immigrants, or whether it is speaking out for a young man who was valedictorian in his class and couldn’t attend the University of Georgia or the Georgia Public University System and is now at Fisk University in Tennessee. All of these things are things that I consider part of my role as a leader of the city,” said Reed.
CONTINUED COVERAGEEach Saturday look for a feature story from our media partners at Mundo Hispanico that highlights an aspect of the Hispanic community. For a closer look at its content, go to www.mundohispanico.com or contact editors and reporters directly at 404-881-0441.