News Column

California Honors Stellar Group of High-Achieving Hispanics

May 7, 2007

By Leanndra Martinez

Continuing a Cinco de Mayo tradition begun six years ago, on Monday the California Latino Legislative Caucus recognized a stellar group of Hispanics who call the Golden State their home.

At its annual Latino Spirit Awards in Sacramento, the caucus honored:
-- Maria Contreras-Sweet, chairwoman of Los Angeles' first Hispanic-owned bank;

-- Edward James Olmos, an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated Mexican-American actor;

-- Victor Villasenor, author of the best-selling "Rain of Gold" and advocate for dyslexic children;

-- the Molina family, socially conscious entrepreneurs behind the publicly traded Molina Healthcare;

-- Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado;

-- Raul Vargas, founder of USC's Mexican American Alumni Association;

-- Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina; and

-- former Rep. Esteban E. Torres, a current member of the California Transportation Commission.

California Governor Schwarzenegger, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, and the chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, Assemblyman Joe Coto, co-hosted Monday's award ceremony.

"This event allows us to showcase just a few of the many outstanding Latinos and Latinas in the state, and it reminds the public of the many contributions Latinos have made to our society," said Mr. Coto. "These honorees also serve as role models for so many of our Latino youth because they represent success and inspiration."

Started in 2001, previous honorees include Carlos Santana, the Grammy-winning guitarist; boxing champ Oscar de La Hoya; Andy Garcia, an Academy Award-nominated actor; and Rita Moreno, an Oscar-winning actress.

"California is a pace-setting state," reflected Ms. Contreras-Sweet, former secretary of business, transportation and housing for California. "One in three is of Hispanic descent. One in every two new businesses is Hispanic-owned. In order to energize our economy, we have to lift the entire population."

Source: (c) 2007. All rights reserved.

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