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PR Herald

2002 PROFESA Awards Recipients

September 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PR Herald. All rights reserved. 

PROFESA's Board of Directors is proud to announce its 2002 PROFESA Awards Recipients. These will be presented at PROFESA's 3rd Anniversary Dance & Awards Banquet, featuring live entertainment by EDDIE SANTIAGO, September 28th, at the Wyndham Bonaventure Resort and Spa in Weston. Join us as we celebrate PROFESA's 3rd Year Anniversary and honor these deserving Puerto Rican professionals. For more information please visit and purchase your tickets (before Sept. 20th) at the Home Page.

The voting process for these awards was very difficult as all the nominees were extremely deserving. PROFESA congratulates all the nominees and awardees which included Teresa Albizu, Wilson Alers, Alicia Baró, Terri Castellano, Manuel Mirabal, Ervin Ramos-Moll, Wilfredo Morales, Neda Oqueli, and Miream Sierra.


Professional of the Year Award - Manuel Mirabal

Manuel Mirabal is President of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc. (NPRC). NPRC, with over 400 civic organization members, is the leading

national advocacy and public policy organization representing the Puerto Rican community in Washington, DC. Additionally, Mr. Mirabal has served for two consecutive terms as the Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA). NHLA, with a coalition of 41 National Hispanic organizations, addresses public policy issues affecting the Hispanic Community. He is also the Founder and Co-Chair of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) which is a coalition of 20 national and local Hispanic organizations that address digital divide issues affecting underserved communities.

Mr. Mirabal is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. From 1994-1996, he served as Chair of the Puerto Rican Leadership Summit (Boricua First), and from 1990-1994 served as the President of the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade. Mr. Mirabal is the founder of the Puerto Rico Disaster Reconstruction Fund, which helped Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity, build a home in 1988 for homeless elderly persons in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

As a vocal advocate for social and economic justices, Mr. Mirabal has spearheaded many national efforts including protests over the bombing of Vieques and television networks negative profiling of Puerto Ricans. Mr. Mirabal has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United States and one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in Washington, DC.


Culture Award - Alicia Baró

Ms. Alicia Baró was born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Hunter College in New York with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Ms. Baró remained in New York until 1952 when she moved to South Florida with her husband and began working with the First National Bank of Miami until 1955, when she stayed home to raise her two little girls. She began working for Kendar Realty, in Coral Gables in 1964 and currently serves as their Senior Vice President.

Ms. Baró was one of the Founding Organizers of the Puerto Rico Day Festival Committee in 1955, and every year since then, Ms. Baró has continued to present to all of South Florida one of its most significant cultural events, most recently to an audience of over 600 people. In 1955, she founded the Puerto Rican Democrats Organization and served as President 1982-1983. Florida governors twice appointed her to the Florida Commission on Hispanic Affairs. She is Founder of the Miami Chapter of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women in 1977, where she served as its President for three years. She served as the First Chairperson of the Board of Ser Jobs for Progress in 1980-1981, and was also a Co-Founder of ASPIRA of Florida. In 1984, she was a Founding member of the Women's Chamber of Commerce and the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of South Florida. She is also a Founding Member of PROFESA.

Ms. Baró has also been extensively involved in her church serving as Choir Director for the Hispanic Methodist Church for 12 years, and as Secretary of the Miami District, United Methodist Women from 1988-1991.Ms. Baró has received numerous awards, recognitions, and honors including being listed in Who's Who in Latin Women and Who's Who in the Florida Latin Community; is a recipient of the Governor of Puerto Rico Award for dedicated service to the victims of Hurricane Hugo, was featured in Mujeres Hispanicas, EXITO, and Vida Social of El Nuevo Herald and, with her family, was honored with the Florida's Hispanic Family of the Year, 1991.

Ms. Baró was married to Joseph Baró and has two grown daughters, and one granddaughter.


Network Award - Miream Sierra

Miream was born in New York City and is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. She is also a licensed bilingual special education teacher.

In 1994, she was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Broward County. In 1997, she became the first Director of Hispanic Services at Memorial Hospital Pembroke and later in the year 2000, her role was expanded to include Customer Relations at Memorial Regional Hospital.

She has served on the Broward Alliance, the World Trade Center for Ft. Lauderdale, Davie-Cooper City and Hollywood Chambers of Commerce. She is a founder of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Broward County, currently serving as Secretary. She is a member of PROFESA, has served on the Board of Alzheimer's Association - Broward County Chapter, the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Broward County, the Board of the Clinica la Luz del Mundo, and the Hispanic Alliance of the National Conference for Community and Justice.

Additionally, she helped establish ASPIRA Broward Council and currently serves as its Chairperson. She also serves on the Hispanic Advisory Committee of Broward Community College. She is a graduate of the Leadership Broward Class of 2002 and is also active in the Iglesia Bautista Stirling Road where she serves as Treasurer, Chairperson of Finance, and is a Sunday School Teacher for the Elderly.

Miream is the proud mother of Miream Alexandria Laguerra-Sierra (Alex) who attends the McNichol Middle School Science and Pre-Engineering Magnet Program.


Empowerment Award - Neda Oqueli

Ms. Oqueli was born in Santurce and grew up in Villalba, Puerto Rico. She graduated from the Catholic University in Puerto Rico with a Bachelor of Science degree and later became a Registered Nurse in 1975. Ms. Oqueli has worked as a Registered Nurse for more than 25 years. She began her career with the US Federal Government in 1982 at the VA Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has been working at the VA Hospital in Miami since 1988.

Ms. Oqueli is a FNA member and has shown leadership in the Hispanic Employment Program ensuring the hiring of additional Puerto Rican nurses. Most significantly, in 2001, Ms. Oqueli created a political action plan to address the need for nurses in Florida. She spent over $4,000 of her own personal funds to hire an attorney to change the Florida Nursing Law to allow Puerto Rican nurses and others, to have a Florida license by endorsement, as opposed to having to take the licensing exam again. State bill #519 was signed by Governor Jeff Bush and became law this year, thus allowing expanded professional opportunities for Puerto Rican nurses.

Ms. Oqueli is married to Jorge Ivan and has two sons, Ivan Jorge, 14 years old and Jorge Ivan- 12 years old. Their first born son, Eliudnet Reyes an active Marine, died tragically at age 20 three years ago.

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