ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) — At a press conference sponsored by Florida Blue, the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, Inc. (HBIF) and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) announced the Lifetime Achievement Award and Hispanic Community Champion Award recipients as well as the 12 finalists from 4 other categories for the 18th Annual Don Quijote Awards.
The award winners in those 4 categories will be announced at the Don Quijote Awards Gala on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at the Epcot World Showplace Pavilion. Each year, the Don Quijote Awards recognize business excellence, dedication to service and outstanding professionalism among Central Florida’s Hispanic community.
“Each year as we prepare for the Don Quijote Awards Gala, we are reminded of the admirable talent, service and leadership that exists in our community,” said HBIF President and CEO Augusto Sanabria. “We have the privilege of recognizing these individuals and celebrating their accomplishments, which benefit all of Central Florida.”
“This event, which has become an annual tradition in our community, is a great celebration for the Hispanic community of Central Florida. We cherish the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding business and civic leaders, whose contributions to our community have demonstrated success serving as inspiration to many in our region. We are honored to be part of such an amazing community filled with such amazing talented individuals,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando President Diana Bolivar.
Honorable Mel Martinez will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for his impact and legacy on the Hispanic community in Central Florida and the nation. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2004, representing Florida as a U.S. Senator. Prior to his time in the Senate, he served as the 12th Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He was the first Cuban-American to serve in both of these high ranking positions.
Senator Martinez also served as Mayor of Orange County (Orlando, FL) and prior to his public service, he practiced law for 25 years having received both his B.S. and J.D. degrees from Florida State University. Today, Senator Martinez serves as Chairman of the Southeast U.S. & Latin America for JP Morgan Chase & Co.
The Hispanic Community Champion Award recognizes a non-Hispanic individual who has supported, promoted the advancement, and demonstrated leadership or involvement for the benefit of the Hispanic community in Central Florida. Aaron Hill, General Manager for Reed Nissan, is the recipient of this award in recognition of his generous spirit and his passion for the community.
For Hill, Reed Nissan is more than just a place to sell cars; It’s a place where the community—its citizens and its businesses—can come together. Aaron has developed numerous Hispanic outreach initiatives. On several Saturdays throughout the year, Aaron invites Hispanic businesses to showcase their products, goods or services on the showroom floor. He has also made it a priority to contract Hispanic-owned businesses as a way to support their economic growth. Even with a busy schedule, he finds time to mentor Latino youth.
Beyond those two prestigious awards, three finalists were named in each of four categories. The 18th Annual Don Quijote Awards finalists are:
Hispanic Business of the Year, Five Years or Less
- Chatter Buzz – Asheley Cisneros and Shalyn Dever
- E-Vacations, Inc. – Maria Guardera and Marco Antonio Galindo
- Hispanic Family Counseling, Inc. – Denisse Lamas
Hispanic Business of the Year, More Than Five Years
- Albu & Associates, Inc. – Jason and Andrew Albu
- ECX Electronics – Ricardo and Rick Ballester
- FLQ Interior Design – Erika Benfield
Professional of the Year
- Dr. Cyndia Muñíz, University of Central Florida
- Gloria Puerto, Feed and Fortify Community Organization, Inc.
- Karla Radka, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida
- Henry Maldonado, Enzian and Florida Film Festival
- Janet Perez Eckles, Language Line Solutions
- Shawn Seipler, Clean the World Foundation
The Don Quijote Awards are made possible thanks to the support of the Central Florida business community. The event sponsors include Walt Disney World Resort, Florida Blue, CenturyLink, Darden, Florida Hospital, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, Duke Energy, Fields Auto Group, and UPS, among others.
For more information on the Don Quijote Awards, please visit www.donquijoteawards.com.
About the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, Inc.
The Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida (HBIF) is the leading Hispanic economic development nonprofit organization specializing in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their business in the State of Florida. Since 1991, HBIF has promoted the Hispanic entrepreneur, provided programs and created community partnerships to advance economic development and foster job creation. For more information, visit www.HBIFFlorida.org or call 407-428-5872.
About the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide leadership and support the economic development of the Hispanic business community of Metro Orlando. Since 1993, HCCMO has strengthened the Central Florida Business Community by providing quality programs through our business model of networking, business development, exposure and recognition. For more information about the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.hccmo.org or call 407-428-5870.