The City of Houston Reveals 2014 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award Recipients

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 9/15/2014, 4:45 p.m.
The City of Houston Reveals 2014 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award Recipients

The City of Houston Reveals 2014 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award Recipients

The 2014 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards is a distinction which reflects the outstanding contributions each honoree has made toward enhancing the quality of life of our Hispanic community.

“Each award recipient has displayed leadership and dedication to advancing our Hispanic community,” said Mayor Parker. “Houston is enriched by their volunteerism, activism and public service. The Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards recognizes their contributions and celebrates our city’s diversity.”

This year’s Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Richard Tapia

Richard Tapia is a professor at Rice University in the Computational and Applied Mathematics Department and a national leader in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and research. His commitment to higher education, college readiness and promoting greater participation of underrepresented students in the sciences is evident through his interactions and lasting impressions with his students. Professor Tapia’s efforts have been recognized through numerous awards and recognitions, including the National Medal of Science by President Obama, and most recently, the National Science Board’s Vannevar Bush Award, among several others.

Community Activist: Demetrius Navarro

Demetrius Navarros is a native Houstonian who enjoys giving back to his community by supporting his children’s schools and various professional and civic organizations, including Tejano Center for Community Concerns, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Spring Branch Community Health Center, among several others. His efforts have instilled leadership skills in our youth and have raised funds that have enriched the success and awareness of several organizations.

Education in the Community: Professor Michael Olivas

Dr. Michael Olivas is the Director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance and the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston. Professor Olivas has captured and preserved the rich history of our nation and city’s Hispanic community through engaged lectures which highlight landmark cases in the areas of civil rights and liberties. His passion for equality has reached leaders in business, government and academia, and his work has received numerous recognitions, including the coveted Esther Farfel Award, the highest honor accorded to a University of Houston faculty member.

Youth Activist: Maria Castillo Valle

Maria Castillo Valle was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. with the hopes of a bright future. Her interest in politics and educating others regarding the political process stemmed from her desire to make changes not only in her life but in others. Maria has led efforts to mobilize fellow students at St. Thomas University to register to vote by establishing an organization on campus that teaches youth the importance of civic engagement. She will be fulfilling her dream of attending law school this fall at South Texas College of law and will also have the opportunity to intern in Harris County’s 174th District Court.

Art in the Community: Jose Antonio Diaz

Jose Antonio Diaz is a renowned music educator and the founder of Diaz Music Institute, an after-school enrichment program that presents, develops and teaches children Latin jazz and salsa music. He is a tremendous force in the development of Latin music in our communities and presents cultural events which transcend cultural lines and generations of listeners. Diaz Music Institute’s annual presentation of Noché Caliente at Miller Outdoor Theatre has been recognized as one of the most premier Afro-Latin youth ensembles in the country. His success as a music educator has garnered him national recognition and has been the subject of featured cover stories in SBO Magazine and Band Director’s Guide Magazine.

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