Latino Spirit Awards

The Latino Spirit Awards were established in 2002 at the State Capitol in Sacramento to highlight positive role models within our diverse Latino community. 

Every year, the Caucus honors Latinos/as in a variety of categories that range from athletics/sports, to public service and human rights.  Many of our honorees are pioneers in their respective fields and have overcome tremendous obstacles, rising to become role models and community leaders.  They serve as a reminder of the talent we have within our diverse Latino community and are a source of inspiration to all Californians. 

Below you will find brief biographies of the recipients of The 18th Annual Latino Spirit Awards that took place Monday, May 6, 2019 at the California State Capitol during Assembly Floor Session. 

Achievement in Advocacy & Entertainment

Cristela Alonzo is the first Latina to create, produce, and star in her own Network TV sit-com, ‘Cristela’, which aired on ABC.  The semi-biographical show was based on her time living with her sister while also taking care of their mother.  Cristela proudly had an all-Latino primary cast, and hired numerous Latino writers for her show.  Cristela has also appeared on numerous TV shows and has been a recurring host on ABC’s ‘The View’.  In 2017, she released her first hour-long stand up special, ‘Lower Classy’ on Netflix as well as becoming the first Latina lead in a Disney/Pixar film with her breakout role as “Cruz Ramirez” in ‘Cars 3.’  In addition to her work in entertainment, Cristela has devoted a large part of her time to be a voice for Latinos, immigrants, the disenfranchised, and the underrepresented.  She frequently gives speeches, moderates panels, and helps raise awareness and money for numerous organizations and nonprofits.  This includes raising funds to sponsor Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, supporting the Dolores Huerta Foundation, appearing on Soledad O’Brien’s panels for her ‘I Am Latino in America’ national awareness tour, and advocating for the Special Olympics. Cristela is currently writing a memoir about her life for Simon and Schuster.  Latino Spirit Awards Video


Achievement in

Albert Camarillo is the Leon Sloss Jr. Memorial Professor and Professor of American History, Emeritus, at Stanford University. Camarillo’s storied career at Stanford began in 1975, when he was appointed in the Department of History.  He is widely regarded as one of the founders of the field of Mexican American history and Chicano studies (he is the first Mexican American in the nation’s history to receive a Ph.D. in U.S. History with a specialization in Chicano History). He has published seven books and dozens of articles on the history of Mexican Americans and other communities of color. He is the only faculty member in the history of Stanford to receive six of the highest awards for excellence in teaching and service to the university. He is also known as “MALDEF’s historian” after having served as an expert witness for several Voting Rights Act cases in California involving Latino plaintiffs. He was born and raised in Compton and is an alumnus of UCLA (BA ‘70, Ph.D. ’75).


Achievement in Education & Media

Dr. Carlos E. Cortés is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Riverside.  He has lectured and consulted on diversity throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.  He also serves on the faculties of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication, and the Federal Executive Institute.  Cortés was Scholar-in-Residence with Univision Communications and received the 2009 NAACP Image Award for being Creative/Cultural Advisor of Nickelodeon's award-winning children's television series, "Dora the Explorer" and “Go, Diego, Go!"  His many books include his memoir, Rose Hill: An Intermarriage Before Its Time, and the four-volume Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia.  He also travels the country performing his one-person autobiographical play, A Conversation with Alana: One Boy's Multicultural Rite of Passage.  During the past year he has been a fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.


In Memoriam

Los Angeles native Reginaldo F. del Valle (1854–1938) grew up a bilingual and bicultural Latino in the new U.S. state of California. He graduated from Santa Clara University in 1873 and was admitted to the state bar in 1877. As State Assemblyman (1880–1881) and State Senator and President Pro Tempore of the Senate (1882–1886), del Valle guided to fruition legislation establishing the Los Angeles State Normal School, Southern California’s first public institution of higher learning. In 1919, its assets were absorbed by the University of California to found its second campus, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After leaving office, del Valle practiced law, remaining active in the state Democratic Party. He served on Los Angeles’s Public Service Commission (1908–1929), most of that time as its president, overseeing the development of the water supply that made possible the city’s exponential growth during the 20th century.


Achievement in
Business & Philanthropy

Ángel del Villar is the Founder of DEL Records, one of the most successful Latin independent entertainment labels in Regional Mexican music, which has over 23.8 million fans on social media. Through all of Mr. del Villar’s success, he remains humble and a strong advocate of giving back to the community. His devotion to philanthropy derives from his challenged upbringing and compassion to make positive changes in peoples’ lives. Mr. Villar has donated over $1 million to various organizations and projects, such as Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for Autism research, holiday turkey giveaways, Shop With a Cop, and supports many local law enforcement programs throughout the nation to provide food for those in need. In 2008, he launched DEL Records, and has expanded his brand to include DEL Publishing, DEL Studios and DEL Entertainment, and recently launched DEL’s first podcast.  Del Villar has 360 deals in place with his acts involving him in all aspects of their careers.  DEL Records successful artists have redefined the Regional Mexican genre by topping charts and winning awards across the music industry, while reaching millions of fans in the U.S and Latin markets through digital platforms, TV, radio and events.  Latino Spirit Awards video



Achievement in
Business & Philanthropy

Dorene Dominguez is the Chairwoman and CEO of Vanir Group of Companies, Inc. and its subsidiaries Vanir Construction Management, Inc. and Vanir Development Company, Inc.  The Vanir companies are national leaders in program, project and construction management and real estate development. Dorene oversees 17 offices throughout the United States and employs a growing staff of 400 talented executives.  Ms. Dominguez serves as a director of KB Home as well as CIT Group and CIT Bank NA.  Dorene founded The Dominguez Dream in memory of her father, which empowers children in underserved communities to achieve in literacy and S.T.E.A.M.  Dorene is a minority owner of the NBA Sacramento Kings and has been listed by FORTUNE as one of The 50 Most Powerful Latinas of 2017 and 2018.  Dorene graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.S. in Finance and holds a Certificate in Corporate Governance from Harvard University.



Achievement in
Public Service

Zuleima Flores-Abid is a rising star in the movement for gender and social justice in Stockton, California and the surrounding region. Flores-Abid currently works as the Programs Manager at the National Alliance on Mental Illness California office where she works to engage and mobilize diverse populations across California to break stigma surrounding mental health and become advocates and teachers for their families and their local communities.  In addition to her professional work, Flores-Abid is a dedicated community servant. In 2016, she founded the Stockton Younger Women’s Task Force (YWTF) with the vision to empower and uplift the diverse voices of young women, providing the tools and resources needed to take action on issues that are the most relevant to them. As the Chapter Director of the organization, she has worked to focus on shifting the paradigm for women’s rights, gender equality in education, healthcare, local government, and voter participation. With the keen vision to build solidarity and unity among community members, Flores-Abid, YWTF, and other local organizations collaborated to bring the first ever Women’s March to Stockton on January 19, 2019.


Dynamic Youth Award

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Anthony Gonzalez is an American actor and musician, who began performing at the age of four. Most notably Anthony voiced the lead role of ‘Miguel’ in Pixar’s Oscar-winning animated feature Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich, for which he won Teen Choice and Annie Awards. Anthony starred in the feature Icebox, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and is available on HBO. He also starred in the Universal feature Grandaddy Day Care. Within his community Anthony has been involved in various charitable causes including: Univision’s event TeletonUSA, which has raised millions of dollars for the Children's Rehabilitation Institute of TeletónUSA; We Day, an event that seeks to end child labor, support international development, and encourage social activism among young people; and McDonald’s Houston Children’s Festival, whose proceeds go toward funding help for abused and neglected children. Anthony grew up reading in Univision’s Club De los Libritos, a program that seeks to cultivate the Spanish language within the United States. He also helped raise almost half a million dollars for the Colburn Music School, an institution dedicated to providing a scholarship-based education program for young musicians.


Achievement in

Nationally regarded for her expertise in immigration, civil rights and philanthropy, Antonia Hernández has spent more than four decades advocating for social justice and improving the lives of underserved communities in Los Angeles County and beyond.  Since 2004, she has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of California Community Foundation, one of Southern California’s largest and most active philanthropic organizations, which has served Angelenos for over a century. The Foundation partners with more than 1,600 individual, family and corporate donors and holds assets of more than $1.7 billion. During her tenure, California Community Foundation has granted nearly $2 billion, with a focus on health, housing, education and immigration programs. Previously, Hernández was president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a national nonprofit litigation and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of the nation’s Latinos through the legal system, community education and research and policy initiatives. Hernández is a member of the board of directors of the Automobile Club of Southern California, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Association, Grameen America and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute.


2019 Latino Spirit Awards Highlights video (produced by the CA State Senate)

2019 Latino Spirit Awards highlights video (produced by the CA State Assembly)

Links to photo galleries of previous Latino Spirit Award celebrations:

Photo Gallery: 2018 Latino Spirit Awards (May 6, 2019)
Photo Gallery: 2018 Latino Spirit Awards (May 7, 2018)
Photo Gallery: 2017 Latino Spirit Awards (May 1, 2017)
Photo Gallery: 2016 Latino Spirit Awards (May 1-2, 2016)
Photo Gallery: 2015 Latino Spirit Awards (May 3-4, 2015)
Photo Gallery: 2014 Latino Spirit Awards (May 4-5, 2014)
Photo Gallery: 2013 Latino Spirit Awards (May 5-6, 2013)
Photo Gallery: 2001-2012 Latino Spirit Award Honorees