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 19th Annual Latino Spirit Awards that took place Monday, May 3, 2021 at the California State Capitol during Assembly and Senate Floor Sessions. 

Achievement in Health & Science

Dr. Jeffrey Garcia, OD has been practicing optometry at Family Eye Care Optometry in Lemoore, California since 1996. In that time, he has grown his optometry business to 4 doctors and 18 staff members with three Central Valley locations.  Family Eye Care provides full scope eye care utilizing cutting-edge technology and eye care in the areas of ocular disease, dry eye and specialty contact lenses.  Family Eye Care Optometry has generously given back to its community, providing free eye exams and eyeglasses throughout Kings County, especially focusing on rural unserved areas. In 2017, Assembly member Rudy Salas named Dr. Garcia’s practice as the California Small Business of the Year in the 32nd Assembly District. Per his staff, Dr. Garcia is an amazing mentor who fosters a joyful work environment. Aside from being an optometrist, Dr. Garcia is also a Veteran, a retired Captain in the Navy Reserve, having served over 32 years as both an Enlisted and Officer. He is very active in his community and is a member of the Kings Lions Club.  He regularly travels abroad to provide free eye care services and eye glasses to the underserved communities in North America, South America, and Asia.



Achievement in
Literature & Advocacy

Reyna Grande, is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us (Atria 2012), where she writes about her life before and after she arrived in the United States from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant. The much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home was released in 2018. Her other works include the novels, Across a Hundred Mountains (Atrial 2006) and Dancing with Butterflies (2009) which were published to critical acclaim. Her books have been adopted as the common read selection by schools, colleges and cities across the country. Reyna has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the International Latino Book Award. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards, and in 2015 she was honored with a Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. Writing about immigration, family separation, language trauma, the price of the American Dream, and her writing journey, Reyna’s work has appeared in The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post, among others.  Reyna was born in Iguala, Guerrero, where 43 college students were abducted and forcibly disappeared in 2014. When she was two years old, her father left for the United States to look for work. When she was four, her mother also left. After several years of separation, her father returned for her, and with the help of a smuggler, they made the dangerous journey across the U.S.-Mexico border. She has been in the United States for 36 years, overcoming the many barriers before her by reminding herself that her superpower is knowing how to cross borders.



Achievement in Journalism & Media

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning trailblazer in news and investigative journalism. Her 30-year history reporting on critical issues and focusing on the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad have won her the highest levels of recognition in journalism, including four Emmy Awards.  Hinojosa dreamt of a space where she could create independent, multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diverse American experience. She made that dream a reality in 2010 when she created Futuro Media, an independent, nonprofit newsroom based in Harlem, NYC with the mission to create multimedia content from a person of color perspective. Hinojosa, as the Anchor and Executive Producer of the Peabody Award-winning show “Latino USA” and Co-Host of Futuro Media’s award-winning political podcast “In The Thick,” is able to provide coverage of issues that are of critical importance to the Latino community and helps give a voice to the civic and social justice issues facing a more diverse America.



Achievement in Radio
Broadcasting & Philanthropy

Jaime Jarrín is the Spanish language voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. One of the most recognizable voices in Hispanic broadcasting, Jarrín, "the Spanish Voice of the Dodgers" is also heard on Spectrum SportsNet LA's SAP channel.  His soothing voice combined with his colorful descriptions of game action, welcomes listeners of all ages to the Dodger Spanish-language broadcasts. Jarrin honed his craft of baseball play-by-play since he arrived in Los Angeles from his native Quito, Ecuador in 1959. Instrumental in building the large base of Latino listeners to Dodger broadcasts, Jarrin has always been a class representative of the Dodger organization. In the initial years of Dodger Spanish-language broadcasts, Jarrin had to re-create road games by sitting in a studio and listening to Vin Scully’s descriptions. No small task, but it afforded Jarrin the opportunity to hear Scully and incorporate a similar storytelling style into the Spanish-language broadcasts. Jarrin became only the second Spanish-language broadcaster to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26, 1998 as winner of the Ford C. Frick Award. Jarrin was the first recipient of the Southern California Broadcaster Association’s President’s Award in February 1998. Jarrin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 1998. Jarrin is the longest-serving broadcaster in MLB (began his 63rd season in 2021).



Achievement in
Community Empowerment

Carlos and Linda LeGerrette, inspired by freedom rights activist Cesar Chavez, and merchandising magnate, Sol Price, promote civic engagement and community service activities in San Diego via their Chavez Clubs organization and its 500 young members known as Chavistas. Wanting to pass on the organizing lessons the LeGerrette’s learned through their 53-years of activism, they founded the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs in 2001 after California created Cesar Chavez Day in honor of Cesar Chavez.  The San Diego natives had worked with Chavez for 12 years, beginning as idealistic college students in 1967. They then mentored under Sol Price for 8 years beginning in 1983. Inspired to engage the next generation in civic participation and community service, the Chavez Clubs located in 22 schools learn civic responsibility and leadership through a 10-point curriculum founded on values Chavez embodied, including nonviolence, respect, and service. Chavistas organize community events, service projects and opportunities for civic participation, including weekly canyon clean-ups, feeding the hungry, and making presentations to governing bodies regarding student and community issues. Since 2001 over 10,000 students have become Chavistas and the Chavez Clubs are recognized as the largest club in the San Diego Unified School District, performing over 15,000 hours of community service annually.  Si Se Puede!




Achievement in Public Service

Frank V. Líma has dedicated his life to family, firefighting and organized labor. As a former professional boxer, Los Angeles City fire captain and grassroots labor leader, he lives by his personal credo, “Unite, Fight and Organize.”  Hired into his dream job in the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) at the age of 19, Lima rose through the ranks as a fire fighter, apparatus operator, engine captain, and truck company captain. Now, in his 29th year of service, Líma continues to be active in the field. He has worked in specialized companies including hazardous materials and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), and was deployed to New York City on September 11 to work as a rescue worker at ground zero after the terrorist attacks.  Just as he worked and earned his way through the ranks of the LAFD, Líma put the same dedication into the work of the union, starting as a station steward and later elected to the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (UFLAC) Local 112 Executive Board as a director, vice president, lead negotiator and eventually president in 2012. In 2016, Líma was unanimously elected as International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 10th District Vice President, where he unified members from California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Arizona and Guam. In 2021, Lima was elected to serve as only the 12th General Secretary-Treasurer in the history of the IAFF, and the first Latino in this role.



Achievement in Business & Philanthropy

Patty Rodriguez is a nationally recognized entrepreneur. When she’s not raising her two beautiful children, Alexander and Oliver, she’s busy as the senior producer for “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” and MALA, her jewelry line worn by artists and celebrities. Patty also co-founded “Lil’Libros,” a publishing house that has now reached over a million dollars in revenue. Other than being a successful woman, Patty is dedicated to giving back to her community. From community events to local library speaking opportunities, she continuously keeps herself engaged. She is a role model and a thought leader in the Latino community. So much so, that her grassroots campaign to persuade MAC Cosmetics to create a collection honoring the late Selena Quintanilla turned out to be a success. MAC x Selena was released on October 1st 2016.




Achievement in
Public Service

Mary Casillas Salas is a public servant whose South Bay roots run five generations deep.  Born and raised in Chula Vista, she has dedicated her career and life's work to family and to the community she loves. She began her public service on the Chula Vista Civil Service Commission in 1991 and was then appointed to the City’s Planning Commission in 1993, where she served until she was elected to the Chula Vista City Council in 1996.  After leaving the Council in 2004, she served as a Director of the Sweetwater Authority/South Bay Irrigation District. In 2006, she was elected to the California State Assembly where she chaired the Committee on Veteran's Affairs. Her love of community spurred her to once again seek election to the Chula Vista City Council, so she ran and was elected in 2012.  In 2014, she made history as the first elected Latina mayor in Chula Vista and the County of San Diego.  Serving her hometown has always been Mayor Casillas Salas' passion. During her tenure as Mayor, Chula Vista has received national and international recognition for our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and prevent climate change, our smart cities initiatives, and our actions to ensure sustainable development. 




Achievement in the Arts

Simón Silva is a distinguished artist, acclaimed speaker, and celebrated author who champions the way for a society filled with confident, creative, and critical thinkers equipped with the 21st century skills necessary to better the world.  Born in Mexicali, Mexico and raised in the Imperial Valley as a migrant field worker - Silva used his challenging childhood and harsh working conditions as inspiration to pursue a better life. Despite the odds not being in his favor, Silva graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the ArtCenter College of Design.  Silva’s renowned artwork has become a global sensation; and beautifully complements his message of hope, perseverance, and individuality. Silva enjoys traveling the country sharing how to “Cultivate a Creative Mind” at his in-demand workshops and keynotes; inspiring others to overcome their obstacles, embrace their individuality, which (Silva discovered firsthand) is their greatest asset, and regain their creative confidence. Simon Silva is bringing creativity back!




2021 Latino Spirit Awards Highlights video

Links to photo galleries of previous Latino Spirit Award celebrations:
Photo Gallery: 2019 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


Links to Videos of previous Latino Spirit Award celebrations:
2019 Latino Spirit Awards Highlights video (produced by the CA State Senate)
2019 Latino Spirit Awards highlights video (produced by the CA State Assembly)