Latino community voice. This year’s winner was Gilma Arenas. Arenas has been deeply involved with Latino youth and families for more than 40 years. She also
spent more than a decade at Centro, as a Juventud Youth Program Coordinator at Sherman Middle School.
Joe Hankey, secretary of the Centro Board, presented the Roberto G. Sanchez Award., honoring an individual who had demonstrated leadership in advancing
educational and career opportunities for Latinos in Dane County. A very deserving Silvia Gomez De Soriano accepted this year’s award for her work as a bilingual
resource specialist for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Gomez humbly accepted the award and noted that she was honored to be in the same category as
Professor Sanchez and acknowledged the many mentors who had helped her along the way.
The Marcus S. Miles Volunteer Award was newly created in honor of community photographer Marcus Miles, who left a void in the community with his passing a
year ago. Lourdes Godinez introduced his partner, Rissel Mabel, who presented the award in his memory. The award is presented to a volunteer who significantly
helped to advance Centro’s goals and mission through their talents and expertise. The second year winner, Rosemary U’Ren, is the human resources advisor
director at American Family Insurance and the founding chair of the Becas (scholarship) Committee at Centro. Under her leadership, the committee has awarded
over $50,000 in scholarships to Latino youth over the past three years.
Centro’s executive director, Karen Menendez Coller, stepped up to present the Young Dreamer Award. This new award will be given each year to a young Latinx
who has completed their education and reached their goals and dreams, while contributing significantly to the community and serving as an example to others. In a
surprise announcement, Coller shared with the audience the award would be known as the Mario Garcia Sierra Young Dreamer Award, moving forward, in honor of
Centro’s Board Chair, a man who exemplifies the characteristics of the award. A very moved Julissa Ventura, this year’s recipient, accepted the award for her
contribution to youth served by the agency today and beyond.
New board member Rich Lynch presented the last award of the evening, the Centro Visionary Award, which is given to a person who consistently strives for Centro’
s greater vision of a thriving Latino community in Dane County and who is deeply committed to the agency’s role in helping to advance this vision across multiple
sectors. Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, appropriately accepted the honor for her work at leveraging support for the agency as well as for the Latino and immigrant
community in Dane County. Bidar-Sielaff encouraged the crowd to stay vigilant in the face of national adversity and was the perfect segue into Executive Director
Karen Coller’s Call to Action.
Attendee’s left the ballroom to enjoy a desert of churros with warm chocolate sauce and fresh fruit, while the dance floor was cleared for the energetic rhythms of
Grupo Candela, featuring Angela Puerta. Together awardees and guests celebrated and danced the night away to the infectious Latin sounds.