The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame was established by the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs to honor, and to ensure that the efforts of outstanding Latino leaders are honorably recognized and celebrated. The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame is held around 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.

Five remarkable Iowans, including a Latino youth and a recipient of the Governor D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice, will be inducted into the Third Iowa Latino Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa. The 2019 honorees are:

  • 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.

To celebrate the honorees, their families and friends, the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs will host a reception immediately following the ceremony. The reception is free and open to the public and sponsored by FALO (Friends of the Iowa Commission & Office of Latino Affairs). Attendees do not need to register.

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