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Centro Hispano of East Tennessee names 2021 Latino Award recipients

The 2021 Latino Award were handed out online on Thursday, September 30.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On September 30, 2021, Centro Hispano of East Tennessee payed tribute to the women and men making a difference in our community with the online 2021 Latino Awards

Each year, the Latino Awards event brings people together to celebrate Latinos, Latinas, and community allies doing outstanding work in the community. 

Spanish Version: Centro Hispano entregará los Premios Latinos 2021 el 30 de septiembre

The awards will be handed out in 3 categories:

The Latino Community Leader Award

The Latino Community Leader Award is defined as, "A Latino or Latina who has been a catalyst for meaningful change in the Latino Community. Someone who has helped the community to use its voice, promoting empowerment and engagement in other Latinos."

Verónica Calderón-Speed is the winner of the Community Leader Award category. She is an English Language Learner, or ELL, teacher at Hardin Valley Academy.

She learned the meaning of hard work and education from an early age. Her parents were immigrant farm workers, and she is a first-generation college graduate. Now, she passes her knowledge along to her students.

Calderón-Speed established the Latino Student Alliance at Hardin Valley Academy in 2017 to give a voice to Latino students.  

She partnered with the Latino Student Success Coalition and Centro Hispano to give a voice to her students beyond school walls.

Here are the other nominees for the category:

Meet Latino Leader Award nominee Yolanda Rodriguez:

Meet Latino Leader Award nominee Luis Mata:

The Latino Ally Award

The Latino Ally Award is defined as, "An organization (nonprofit or for-profit) serving the greater Knoxville Area that has gone above and beyond to further the opportunities of Latinos and Latinas in our community."

The Knox County Schools Welcome Center is the winner of the Latino Ally Award. It's a space that builds trust and provides resources for non-English speaking families.

Even before Knox County Schools developed the Welcome Center, KCS and the English Languages Learners Department had multiple Family Community Liaisons working to support our non-English speaking families. 

Before the brick and mortar building opened in the Lincoln Park Technology Trade Center, those liaisons were the mobile diplomats welcoming those families into the district.  

The Welcome Center opened in November 2017. It's a centralized location where non-English speaking families can come and register their children and a place where they would have the language support to understand school and district policies. 

The Welcome Center has expanded since it opened. The Family Community Liaisons work nonstop to complete translations and are the first point of contact when schools need to communicate directly with families regarding their students.

Best Latino Restaurant

Meet Taqueria La Herradura:

Click here to meet all of the 2020 winners.

The nominees come from different backgrounds but all share a commitment to helping Centro Hispano, a Knoxville-based nonprofit that serves the Latino community throughout East Tennessee.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 2021. Click here for a list of activities going on in our area.