La Paz Chattanooga recognizes Latino leaders at awards ceremony

La Paz Chattanooga recognizes Latino leaders at awards ceremony

September 19th, 2017 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

Presented by La Paz Chattanooga, local artist Kristina Sanchez-Mills wipes away tears as she is awarded Latina of the Year Monday at the 6th Annual Latino Leadership Awards Monday at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Stacy Johnson, stands left.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

2017 Latino Leader honorees

Chuy Esquivel, Mexiville

Martha Flores, BB&T

Neysa Gorgas-Ríos, Chattanooga Police Department

Carlos Garcia, Victor Holdings

Daniel Ledo, Lynch Sales Company

Pablo Mazariegos, Hamilton County Department of Education

Sheila Ortiz, Grant, Konvalinka, and Harrison, P.C.

Enrique Ordoñez, Erlanger Health Systems

Daniela Peterson, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise

Kristina Sanchez- Mills, Artistic Kreations

Emerging Latino Leader
Jose Francisco Ferraz “Zeca”

Other award winners
Kristina Sanchez-Mills, Latina of the Year

Daniela Peterson, Chattanooga’s Choice

Gladys Piñeda-Loher, Community Champion

Clínica Médicos, Organization Impact

Brittany Faith, Anne Shelton Memorial Volunteer of the Year

La Paz Chattanooga held its sixth annual Latino Leadership Awards ceremony Monday morning at the Chattanooga Convention Center, recognizing Latinos and Hispanics for their career achievements and community involvement here.

Ten people were recognized as Latino Leader honorees, and there were several other recipients in seven different award categories. Of the selected Latino Leaders, two also were recognized as Latino of the Year and Chattanooga's Choice.

Chattanooga Police Department Chief David Roddy delivered the opening remarks, thanking leaders in the Latino community for working with the police department to build cross-cultural bridges.

"In doing so, you are helping members of the Latino community trust law enforcement," he said. "You are helping police fight crime. You are educating both Latinos and police about cultural differences and similarities. You are helping us make our community safer."

Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, left, talks with Community Champion award winner Gladys Pineda-Loher, right, Monday at the 6th Annual Latino Leadership Awards Monday at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Irma Velazquez, is seen, center.

Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, left, talks with...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Heidi Ramirez, senior adviser to America Achieves, a nonprofit organization that brings educators and other leaders together, was the keynote speaker. She engaged the audience throughout her speech, asking them to name famous Latino men and women.

"We went through these lists of famous Latinos, [but] we left off those lists some really extraordinary people," she said. "We are great authors, we're not just bombshells with great lipstick and bosoms. We are educators, we are doctors, lawyers, police officers."

Several of the Latino Leader honorees worked in those fields Ramirez listed.

Pablo Mazariegos, one of the honorees, is director of the international family resource center for the Hamilton County Department of Education.

"It's very emotional sharing the stage with friends and leaders," he said after receiving his award. "And to see all of the Latin women recognized tells of the value of women in our community."

Chuy Esquivel, owner of the 3-year-old restaurant Mexiville, was another honoree. He said it was an honor just to be nominated.

"I try to keep everything I do low key, so for someone to nominate me and them to hear about it means a lot," he said.

Kristina Sanchez- Mills received the Latino of the Year award.

"Thank you for believing in us, for seeing beyond labels, beyond any prejudice," she said through tears. "We are people who are really trying to impact our community."

She said sometimes things don't work out, but members of the Latino community "have let that construct us instead of destroy us."

"There are no typical Latinos," Ramirez said at the end of her speech. "They only exist in our imagination."

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.