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AMERICA FERRERA AND SYLVIA MENDEZ TO RECEIVE THE MEDALLION AWARD AT THE CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS INSTITUTE (CHCI) 44TH ANNUAL AWARDS GALA
Washington, DC – August 09, 2021 – The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) has announced that it will present the Medallion Award at its upcoming CHCI 44th Annual Awards Gala to two distinguished leaders in the Latino community: Emmy Award-winning actor America Ferrera and civil rights leader Sylvia Mendez. The gala will take place September 23 in an all-virtual setting.
The Medallion Award is CHCI’s highest accolade and one of the most prestigious honors in the Latino community. It is presented annually to exemplary individuals for their contributions as Hispanic American role models and whose extraordinary careers, civic leadership, and service contribute to the greater American society. Previous recipients of the CHCI Medallion Award include Astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Chef José Andrés, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos, actor Salma Hayek, and AltaMed Health Services President & CEO Castulo de la Rocha, among others.
“The Medallion Award is the highest honor that CHCI offers, and this year’s recipients are exemplary awardees,” said Nanette Diaz Barragán, CA-44, CHCI Chair. “Through their lifelong commitments to social activism and their continued work to identify and lift up the next generation of Latino leaders, both America Ferrera and Sylvia Mendez represent the highest standard of leadership and civic engagement that we can all aspire to emulate.”
America Ferrera is the recipient of the 2021 Medallion of Excellence in the Arts, Entertainment, Media, Music or Sports Award. Ferrera is an award-winning actor, director and producer known for her breakthrough role as “Betty Suarez” on ABC’s hit comedy, Ugly Betty. For her performance, Ferrera was awarded a Golden Globe®, an Emmy®, and a Screen Actors Guild Award®, as well as ALMA and Imagen Awards. Ferrera recently wrapped production on Season 2 of NETFLIX’s hit Latinx Dramedy, Gentefied. The show will make its return later in 2021 with Ferrera returning as an executive producer and director. A longtime activist, Ferrera recently launched Poderistas alongside Eva Longoria Bastón and other Latina Leaders. Poderistas is a digital lifestyle community and non-profit built to inspire, affirm, and inform Latinas so they can leverage their power to transform their lives, their families, their community, and their nation. As part of this organization Ferrera campaigned heavily in Georgia during the Senate Runoff. In 2017, she worked as one of the driving forces alongside other powerful women in Hollywood to establish the TIME’S UP movement.
“I’m very humbled to receive this recognition from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute,” Ferrera said. “It’s an honor to join the list of so many distinguished recipients of the Medallion Award who have impacted and inspired me greatly.”
Sylvia Mendez is the recipient of the 2021 American Dream Medallion in Education, Science, Medicine or Civil Rights Award. Mendez is the oldest daughter of Gonzalo Mendez, a Mexican immigrant, and Felicitas Mendez, a Puerto Rican, who challenged segregation so that she and other Latino children could be provided the same quality education provided to white students. Her parents were plaintiffs in the landmark Mendez v. Westminster School District (1947) case that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and ended school segregation in California. In 1943 in Westminster, California, students of Mexican descent were required to enroll in segregated and inferior schools known as “Mexican Schools.” When Sylvia was in the third grade, she and her brothers, Gonzalo, Jr., and Jerome, were denied admission to the “white” school near their Westminster home. The Mendez family, along with four other Latino families, fought to integrate the school. Mendez won in Federal court in 1946, then again in appeal in 1947, and helped make California the first state in the nation to end school segregation. Seven years later, Mendez served as significant precedent for the NAACP in its US Supreme Court school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education. Ms. Mendez and her family have received numerous awards and recognitions, including a US Postage stamp commemorating the 60th anniversary of the appellate victory; two public schools are named after Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez; a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the National Parent Teacher Association; and the US Congress Civil Rights Champion Award. On February 15, 2011, President Barack Obama presented Sylvia Mendez with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“I am extremely grateful to receive this award from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. As an advocate for quality education for all students. I am encouraged by the CHCI mission,” said Mendez.
“America Ferrera and Sylvia Mendez represent the highest caliber of leadership in the Latino community,” said Marco A. Davis, CHCI President and CEO. “We are proud of them and are proud to recognize them for their dedication to blazing pathways for others to follow – as well as working tirelessly to ensure that all can climb the ladder of opportunity.”
The Annual Awards Gala is the culmination of CHCI’s Leadership Conference in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. In alignment with the theme for 2021, Presente: Latinos Leading the Way, the CHCI Leadership Conference will welcome an engaging virtual line-up of national leaders, elected officials, other policymakers, and influencers recognized for their vision, expertise, and influence across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Past conference speakers have included national leaders such as President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama, and Secretary Hillary Clinton. Attendance at the conference and gala is free but registration is required at https://chci.events/2021hhm.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) is the premier Hispanic nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization in the country dedicated to developing the next generation of Latino leaders®. CHCI provides leadership, public service, and policy experiences to outstanding Latino/a/x students and young professionals, and convenes Members of Congress, other public officials, corporate executives, nonprofit advocates, and thought leaders to discuss issues facing the nation and the Hispanic community.
Santa Cruz Communications