MALDEF last week celebrated its 35th Annual Los Angeles Awards Gala at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, honoring civil rights icons and trailblazers who have been critical partners in advancing the goals of the community and providing social justice for Latinos. More than a thousand advocates, elected officials, attorneys, corporate leaders and city officials were in attendance, including newly appointed Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck.
The gala held particular significance for the community as MALDEF celebrated the return of Thomas A. Saenz as its new president and general counsel. Saenz most recently served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s counsel and as a MALDEF litigation attorney for 12 years. Saenz said, “The evening was a very special reunion of MALDEF friends and collaborators of many years. Our four honorees’ stories inspired everyone in attendance, adding a powerful tone to the evening.”
Among the honorees, EJS board chair Anthony Solana Jr. received the Excellence in Legal Service Award for founding For People of Color, Inc., an advocacy organization which shares MALDEF’s belief in supporting the success of minority law students.
Dr. Rodolfo Acuña was honored with the MALDEF Lifetime Achievement Award as the pioneering scholar whose many works on the U.S. Latino experience made him a leading voice in our nation’s Latino civil rights movement.
Anheuser-Busch Companies was recognized with the Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its longstanding financial commitment to MALDEF and to the Latino community.
Eva Longoria Parker received MALDEF’s Community Service Award for her activism with non-profits including Eva’s Heroes and Padres Contra El Cancer. “I am grateful to MALDEF for the honor of sharing the stage with America’s Latino civil rights legends, who are unified by the desire to serve our growing Latino community,” stated Eva Longoria Parker. “The evening was truly inspiring for me and will serve as a reminder of not only the great work that is being done by so many, but of how much yet remains to be accomplished.”
Giselle Fernandez served as the Mistress of Ceremonies with special presentations by Dolores Huerta, Antonia Hernandez, José José, Keisha Whitaker, Lupe Ontiveros, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a performance by Nydia Rojas, and a special message from former President Bill Clinton. Click here for photos of the event.
MALDEF was pleased to honor and recognize the leaders in the public and private sector who have been instrumental in advancing justice for Latinos.