La Paz Chattanooga celebrated the start of Hispanic Heritage Month with the second annual Latino Leadership Awards at the downtown DoubleTree by Hilton on Monday. Over 200 Chattanogans filled the venue to celebrate the accomplishments of 10 area Latino leaders, which included the 2013 "Chattanooga's Choice" and "Latino Leader of the Year" award winners.
The event's keynote speaker was Dr. Julia Perilla, faculty member at Georgia State University and director of the National Latin@ Research Center.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke offered opening remarks at the awards banquet, saying, "We are at our best when every single member of our community feels included, and we tap into their strengths and abilities."
Unum employee, Jorge Perez took home the "Chattanooga's Choice" award, which was voted on by the community, via online vote. Local businessman, José Luis Loa Garcia was the recipient of the "Latino Leader of the Year." The "Latino Leader of the Year" is chosen by a selection committee, comprised of La Paz Chattanooga board and staff, past award winners, and close associates of the organization.
"We couldn't be happier with how things turned out today," said Stacy Johnson, executive director at La Paz Chattanooga. "Once again, Chattnoogans showed how passionate they are about creating a stronger, more connected city. Today they showed that by coming together to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of some wonderful area leaders. We were thrilled to shine a spotlight on these incredible community members."
In addition to the awards ceremony and event speakers, La Paz took the opportunity to showcase one of its longest-running initiatives, Entre Nosotras, a program that strengthens families by supporting female heads of households and cultivating them into leaders. As 2014 approaches, La Paz aims to have Entre Nosotras, as well as the rest of its programming, funded by local entities. The localization of its financial portfolio will be a chief organization aim of La Paz Chattanooga moving into the New Year.