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LatinoLEAD Impact Awards 2023

With an inclusive and community-driven nomination process, our inaugural Latino leadership awards for impact took place on October 13, 2023.


Latino leadership awards that recognize the impact on the Latino community in Minnesota at large.

Numerous powerfully moving nominations showcasing the strength of our collective voice, each narrating a tale of unparalleled dedication and commitment.


Today we want to feature the winners of the inaugural LatinoLEAD Impact Awards (LIA) including the LatinoLEADer of the Year, the Emerging Leader, and the Solidarity Award. Also featured are the three honorees of the LIA 2023, the Community Impact Honoree, the Advocacy Honoree, and the Culture Honoree. Dive in to celebrate these luminaries and the stories that spotlight their transformative impact on our community.

The LatinoLEADER of the Year Award


Whenever we think of inspiration, tenacity, and drive, this award and its recipient come to mind. Tailored for those established leaders who've not just excelled in the workplace but have also fueled the spirit of our community and lead unapologetically with their cultura at the forefront. The honor this year goes to a beacon of resilience - an indigenous MaZaHua woman from Mexico.


As the founder of the MN Immigrant Movement and the force behind 'Drivers Licenses for All’ (DL4ALL), she's changed lives. Her tireless advocacy spanning two decades culminated in the DL4ALL bill becoming law, touching more than 80,000 lives in Minnesota. This wasn't an overnight feat. It was a journey, beginning with seeking advanced leadership training in 2005, laying the seeds for ‘Driver’s Licenses for All’ in 2008, and tireless campaigning across Minnesota from 2012-2015.


After over a decade, this month (October 2023) marks a new chapter where every Minnesotan can obtain a driver's license, regardless of their citizenship status. Here's to our LATINOLEADER OF THE YEAR, Jovita Morales!


Emerging Latinx Leader Award 2023: Camila Mercado-Michelli (Left)


The rise of a leader is a story to tell, and this award cherishes those early chapters of growth, ambition, and unyielding spirit. Honoring young leaders who are shaping their narrative with hard work, this award sings the tale of promise.


Our awardee, Camila Mercado-Michelli, embodies this promise. Through her role at CLUES, she has championed early childhood education, leading a movement to empower small business owners. But her vision is broad and inclusive. Acknowledging the deep-seated biases against our black and mixed peers, Camila established CLUES' first Afro Latino employee group. Being an integral part of LatinoLEAD and an alumna of our leadership program, she's redefining leadership. Congratulations, Camila Mercado-Michelli, for shining so brightly!


Solidarity Award 2023: Stan Alleyne (Right)


Unity and commitment are the pillars of progress. The Solidarity Award celebrates those who, irrespective of their background, stand unwaveringly with the Latinx communities, championing their cause and dreams.


Stan Alleyne is such a stalwart. From his days at Minneapolis Public Schools to his crucial consultancy role with LatinoLEAD, he's been a beacon of support. Beyond his professional roles, he's shown an unyielding commitment to supporting Latinx leaders, extending his networks, resources, and expertise. This year, as he receives the LatinoLEAD 2023 Solidarity Award, it's a testament to his continued dedication.


Our LatinoLEAD Culture Honoree spot is reserved for someone many of you might recognize at a glance - Amalia Moreno-Damgaard. A multifaceted talent – TV personality, chef, business magnate, and author – she's illuminated the essence of Latin culture on numerous platforms. Currently serving as the first Latina president of NAWBO-MN, Amalia's journey is best described by her endorsers: “Amalia’s remarkable journey encompasses entrepreneurship, culinary expertise... Amalia has emerged as a trailblazer and a powerful voice for positive change.”


We also celebrated the impact of Kenneth Ortiz, our LatinoLEAD Community Impact Honoree. Steering the Hispanic Latino Network at Medtronic and serving on the board of Boriken Cultural Center, Kenny's impact resonates deeply. He's not just connected newcomers to jobs but has also woven the vibrant tapestry of our culture into Minnesota. A testimony to this is a reflection from his endorsers: “Kenny has integrated his family into the Minnesota culture but equally as important, he has integrated our Latino culture into our current community in MN.”


Finally, standing tall as our LatinoLEAD Advocacy honoree is Mirella Ceja-Orozco. Leading the charge against the unjust cash bail system with the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Mirella's accolades speak volumes of her commitment. An alumna of the "Avanzando Liderazgo Program (ALP) 2023," her endorsers rightly remark, “She is known to be trustworthy, competent, and thoughtful. Mirella uplifts everyone around her and helps anyone in need no matter what.”


Each of these awards, recognitions, stories, and journeys shed light on the extraordinary endeavors within our community.


Our gratitude extends to every individual who contributed to the success of LatinoLEAD Impact Awards 2023 including everyone who submitted their nominations and participated in the volunteer-based selection committee.


Learn more about the LIA's here: https://www.latinoleadmn.org/impactawards2023

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