The Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs and the Iowa Department of Human Rights Announce 2020 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Honorees
The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame was established by the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs to recognize and celebrate the efforts of outstanding Latino leaders are honorably recognized and celebrated. The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame also commemorates National Latino & Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, which celebrates and honors the contributions made by Latinos and Hispanics in the United States.
This will be the fourth year of inductees. Five remarkable Iowans, including a Latino youth, a recipient of the Governor D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice, and a recipient of the inaugural Iowa LGBTQIA Leadership Award will be inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 17, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. at the Des Moines Art Center in a live-streamed ceremony.
The 2020 honorees are:
- Elizabeth Balcarcel from Zacatecas, Mexico – Des Moines, Iowa
- Gabriela Rivera from Mexico City, Mexico – Coralville, Iowa
- Michael R. Reyes of Mexican heritage – Davenport, Iowa
Iowa Latinx Youth Leadership Award: Crystal Ambriz from Tijuana, Mexico Columbus Junction, IA
Iowa LGBTQIA Leadership Award: Buffy Jamison from Des Moines, IA
Robert D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice: Henny Orr from Korea, Johnston, IA
Michael Reyes, LULAC Iowa past State Director, will join his uncle Salvador Lopez (2018 Inductee) as a member of the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame.
“I am humbled by my induction into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame this year. To be associated with such a distinguished group of Latino leaders is truly an honor” said Michael Reyes to Hola Iowa.
Gabriela Rivera, assistant director for diversity, inclusion, and student success in the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business Undergraduate Program Office (UPO), is also an inductee this year.
“This honor and recognition reflects my love and commitment to the advancement and wellbeing of my Latinx community. I am excited to celebrate with the other honorees who represent an impactful group of individuals in the state of Iowa.” Rivera said.
Both in her current role in the Tippie College of Business and in her former role as multicultural specialist in the Center for Diversity and Enrichment (CDE), Rivera has demonstrated a passionate commitment to supporting undergraduate students through advising, mentorship, and advocacy.
The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame was established in 2017 by the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs to recognize and celebrate the efforts of outstanding Latino leaders are honorably recognized and celebrated. Each year, the commission approves the selection of up to four Latinos and an Iowa Latinx Youth Award by a committee composed of three commissioners and two public citizens.
Past inductees to the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame are:
2017 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Honorees:
- Henry Vargas (Davenport): Founding member of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission and what is now called the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs and the Office of Latino Affairs.
- Ila Plasencia (West Des Moines): Community volunteer, organizer and activist. Served in the first Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs, Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Iowa Status of Women Commission and many more organizations.
- Mary Campos (Des Moines): Mentor, role model and advocate. First Latina appointed to the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, and co-chair of the Iowa Brown-Black Presidential Forum.
2018 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Honorees:
- Ernest Rodriguez, Bettendorf, IA – A founding father of what is now the Iowa Commission & Office of Latino Affairs and long time activist.
- Salvador (Chavo) Lopez, Davenport, IA – Champion of social and economic justice for all races, but especially those of Hispanic heritage.
- Warren Marrow (posthumous), Des Moines, IA – Honored by the Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival, he was an activist, visionary and game changer in the state.
Latinx Youth Leadership Award: Vanessa Espinoza, Iowa City, IA – A young activist, educator and co-founder of Latinos for Washington, Inc.
Iowa Latino Ambassador Award for Equity and Justice: Governor Robert D. Ray (posthumous), Des Moines, IA | Governor, humanitarian and civil rights activist. Served as the 38th governor of Iowa for 14 years, signed into law the Spanish-Speaking People’s Commission which is now known as the Office of Latino Affairs, and charged it with coordinating services for the states expanding Latinx population.
2019 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Honorees:
- Carlos Portes (posthumous), from Havana, Cuba – Marshalltown, IA
Former U.S. Special Ambassador to Latin America and presidential advisor. A true “Orgullo Latino.” Recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for the Immigrant who contributed the most in this country and having served as Special Ambassador for Latin American Affairs are just two of his significant accomplishments.
- Dr. Hector Avalos, from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico – Ames, IA
The founder and inaugural director of the first US Latino/a Studies program at Iowa State University and an internationally recognized and respected scholar in the area of biblical studies.
- Lando X. Valadez (posthumous), of Mexican Heritage – Des Moines, IA
A Latino migrant worker that became a community leader, political activist, advocate for Latinos, court interpreter, historian, mentor, founder of organizations, and war hero. Recipient of the Silver Star and the Purple Heart and of the Outstanding Community Volunteer Award, by Governor Robert D. Ray
Latinx Youth Leadership Award: Lilián Sánchez, from Mexico – Des Moines, IA
A leader, immigrant, first-generation college student, the University of Iowa’s first Latina student government vice president, and a public servant.
Robert D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice: Jan Mitchell, Marshalltown, IA
In 2005, Jan Mitchell had the vision to empower the Latina youth that she served in her classrooms to have a greater opportunity for lifelong success. She founded Al Exito.