Tag Archives: Hispanic Heritage Month

Houston Honors Community Leaders, Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

All too often when we turn on the news, we hear so much about people doing the bad things– someone who has committed a crime and escaped, another person that is going to jail, murderers, rapists and thieves.  Sadly, most media coverage of minority communities is especially guilty of focusing on the negative, while omitting the hard work of those trying to pave a better future.

This continuing imbalance is a huge part of why observations like Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), which goes from September 15th to October 15th of each year, are not only needed, but very relevant in contemporary American society.  It is a time for the nation to shine a light on the boundless contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and celebrate the culture’s place in our diverse society.

One way that the City of Houston celebrates this month is by recognizing outstanding community leaders with the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award.  Via the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, here’s information on this year’s honorees…


The 2015 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award recipients are being honored with proclamations from Mayor Annise Parker today and October 6, 2015 at Houston City Hall.  Each honoree was selected based on his or her outstanding contributions toward enhancing the quality of life and advancement of Houston’s Hispanic community.

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

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Josefina Rendon and Jose Adan Trevino
Josefina Rendon was one of Harris County’s first Hispanic women attorneys and the first woman and first Hispanic Civic Service Commissioner for the City of Houston.  In 1983 she became Houston’s third Latina municipal court judge, where she still presides.  Her judicial career also includes becoming the first Latina Civil District Judge in Harris County.  Judge Rendon is the immediate past president of the Association for Conflict Resolution – Houston and past president of the Texas Association of Mediators.  She is a published author of over 100 articles and the recipient of both the Justice Frank Evans Award from the State Bar of Texas and the Susanne Adams Aware from the Texas Association of Mediators.

Jose Adan Trevino is founder and former President/CEO of Univision 45, Houston’s first Spanish language television station.  Trevino has also been a strong voice on behalf of the Hispanic community at the local and national levels.  He has served on many boards including the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Chancellor’s Council at the University of Texas-Austin, Houston Community College Foundation, Texas State Securities Board, Baylor College of Medicine, Governor’s Business Council and the Greater Houston Partnership.

Community Activist: Gilbert Garcia
Gilbert Garcia has enjoyed much success professionally, but he has also been a dedicated volunteer, leader and activist in the Houston Hispanic community.  In 2010, Garcia was appointed as the first Hispanic chairman of METRO.  Under his leadership, METRO has restored its public image, repaired its relationship with the Federal Transit Administration, improved customer service, obtained voter approval for more funding, expanded light rail service to the Hispanic community and received the Gold Leadership Circle Award for transparency from the Texas State Comptroller.  His volunteer work includes countless hours of service on difference nonprofit boards and fundraising for community improvement efforts and organizations that benefit the Hispanic community.

Education in the Community: Gloria Zenteno
Gloria Zenteno founded Barrio Dogs in 2010 after she moved back to the East End and witnessed homeless, neglected and mistreated animals seemingly everywhere.  The organization stresses the importance of spaying and neutering pets and encourages residents to report animal abuse or neglect to authorities.  By working in community centers and schools and holding events at civic association meetings and parks, Barrio Dogs spreads its message to the larger community.  Zenteno’s hard work and commitment to her East End community and to its animals are obvious and serve as a great example for others to follow.

Youth Activist: James Lee
James Lee is the public affairs field specialist for Legacy Community Health.  While a student at the University of Houston (UH), he founded LGBT Advocates, the first undergraduate political organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.  As the leader of the organization, he worked to expand UH’s nondiscrimination policy to include protections for all LGBT students.  As a member of the UH Student Government Association, Lee also advocated on behalf of undocumented students and for revisions to academic policy regarding mental health.  His work in the area of healthcare policy advocacy has been recognized by the Texas Freedom Network, which honored Lee with the 2012 Samantha Smoot Activist Award.

Art in the Community: Daniel Bustamante
Daniel Bustamante is Executive Director of the Greater Houston Fair Housing Center and a founding member of the Multicultural Arts Cooperative of Houston. He is an experienced producer, director and administrator of festivals, tours, television, community programs and special events.  Bustamante’s record of community service spans nearly 40 years and includes being a founding member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Go Tejano Committee, membership in the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals and serving as chair of the Casa de Amigos Health Clinic Advisory Council.  He has been founded, produced or directed a dozen local shows and festivals.


2015 marks the 10th year of this prestigious group of awards.  Here’s the list of past honorees.

These citizens are working everyday to improve the lives of Houstonians, and it is great to see them recognized for all that they do.  A special congratulations to Josefina Rendon, Jose Adam Trevino, Daniel Bustamante, Gloria Zenteno, Gilbert Garcia and James Lee.

Beyond these awards, there are lots of special events happening throughout Houston for Hispanic Heritage Month.  For more information, check out this great calendar compiled by Hispanic Houston.



2015 Hispanic Heritage Honorees pose with City Council Members, and citizens on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board.  Photo credit:  Victoria Lara via Facebook.  


Music Musings: Luis Fonsi

There are lots of good singers in the music industry today, and indeed many singers that are very good, if underrated.

But then, once in while, you hear a singer so good that they literally stop you in your tracks.  Right then and there, you hear a voice that you’ll literally never forget.  For me, one of those voices belongs to singer, songwriter and international superstar Luis Alfonso Rodríguez López-Cepero, better known as Luis Fonsi.

The above is how I first encountered Fonsi, appearing on this stunning duet with Christina Aguilera from her 2000 album Mi Reflejo.  As you can hear, it takes a voice of significance to match Aguilera in a duet without getting overshadowed, and Fonsi proves to be every bit her equal.  In fact the sheer power and unbeatable dynamic range of Fonsi nearly steals the show on this song.

Right after this epic feature with the predominantly English-language diva, Fonsi himself tried to cross over with an English-language album, 2002’s Fight the Feeling.  Though he wasn’t a big success there, Fonsi has continued to be a major force in music world, winning both a Latin Grammy award and topping the Billboard Latin charts.  From his latest album 8, Fonsi recorded a song with the legendary Juan Luis Guerra which has already garnered the singer another Latin Grammy nomination.

Fonsi’s incredible pipes are just the beginning of the story.  He’s also a songwriter, guitarist and dancer.  With such talents in his possession, it’s no wonder that he has reached great success.

Here’s a video of his 2014 single Corazón En La Maleta…



Music Musings: Jaci Velásquez

If there’s one place that most people can be assured to experience music their week, that place is their house of worship.  Music traditions are as old as the churches, synagogues and mosques that practice them, if not older.  That’s why it’s no surprise that some of the best contemporary singers come from Contemporary Christian music.  This is definitely the case with Houston native and bi-lingual superstar Jaci Velásquez.

As the child of evangelical ministers, Velásquez literally grew up singing in the church.  By the time she had her first breakout hit at 16, she was already a more experienced singer than many young stars of a similar age.  The song that was that hit, On My Knees, is one that touched the hearts of millions.

Since then, Velásquez has gone on to win 7 Dove awards, Grammy nominations and various other accolades, fielding successful albums in both English and Spanish.  The emotional and dynamic range of her voice is what sets this singer apart, and has undoubtedly been a key ingredient to her worldwide fame in the Christian community.  Check out some of her songs below.

On My Knees


Un Lugar Celestial  (A Heavenly Place)


Llegar A Ti