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Orlando Sentinel

Awards Honor Hispanic Women

by Denise-Marie Balona

November 12, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Orlando Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

Hispanics from all over the country will gather in Central Florida this month to recognize the achievements of women who have dedicated their lives to improving Latin communities.

The celebration is part of the eighth annual Mujer Award Gala, which is being held a second year at Walt Disney World`s Epcot.

Attendees will pay tribute to two women, one from Los Angeles and the other from Michigan, as well as participate in leadership workshops and enjoy the artwork of painters and a sculptor.

The one-day event is sponsored by the National Hispana Leadership Institute, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that offers leadership training to Hispanic women all over the United States in hopes of helping them become powerful leaders who will spur change.

One of the women who completed the program and went on to seek political office is state Rep. Annie Betancourt of Miami, who is expected to attend this month`s event, organizers said.

Some of the women who have been honored with the Mujer Award include U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Coello Novello; Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farmworkers of America; and Miriam Colon-Valle of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.

"Until we have Latinas and Latinos in positions of influence that could change the course of our communities, things will not change," said Marisa Rivera-Albert, who heads the Leadership Institute.

"It is of paramount importance that Latinas take up positions of power to prepare ahead," she said.

This year`s National Mujer Award, which will be presented Thursday, goes to Antonia Hernandez.

She is president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and has used that position, as well as others during the past 20 years, to fight for more rights in education, immigration, political access, voting and employment.

Marylou Olivarez Mason, executive director of the Michigan Commission of Spanish Speaking Affairs, will be given the 2000 Regional Mujer Award.

The child of a migrant farm worker, she has fought for rights for these laborers and lobbied effectively for state legislation to help Hispanics.

The gala reception starts at 6 p.m., when attendees can view the work of Orlando painter Sina Sutter, St. Cloud artist Angie Maloney and Orlando sculptor Aurora Rincon.

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