Five Latino Leaders Honored by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty at Hispanic Heritage Month Ceremony

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October is Hispanic Heritage Month, and Member of Congress Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) hosted a ceremony at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center, on October 6, for local elected officials, community activists, educators and students from across the state to honor five individuals from across northwest and central Connecticut for their hard work and commitment to their communities.

“I continue to be inspired by the contributions of Connecticut’s Latinos – particularly those who are being honored here today,” Esty said. “By serving as advocates and leaders in their communities, these individuals are setting an example for our young people and strengthening our cities, towns, and state. I am honored to recognize these Latino Leaders and celebrate the heritage, culture, and contributions of our diverse Latino community.”

In 2014, the Latino population in the United States reached an all-time high of over 55 million. In Connecticut, the Latino population grew by 50 percent from 2000 to 2010.  

“Hispanics have contributed to the entire fabric of our great state for many years,” said Geraldo Reyes, Jr., of the Office of Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary. “It’s an honor to share some of these success stories that ordinarily go un-heralded. I’m excited and proud for these Connecticut Hispanic Leaders who are being recognized by Congresswoman Esty for their civic service and community work over many years in the Fifth District and [the] State.”

Meriden City Councilor Miguel Castro stated, “Hispanics have had a very profound and positive influence on our country, through our commitment to hard work, service, faith and family. We made a significant contribution to our country’s history with centuries old traditions that reflect multicultural customs and values of our community. The Hispanic award winners are a testament of long lasting leadership and exemplary values. I thank Congresswoman Esty for her acknowledgement of Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Both Reyes and Castro are among a group of Fifth District leaders who served on a volunteer selection committee. 

In Congress, Rep. Esty coauthored a resolution recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of Latinos in the United States and the immense contributions of Latinos to the United States. The Resolution, H.Res. 426, was introduced by Congressman Tony Cardenas (CA-29).

Additionally, Esty is working with Hispanic lawmakers and educational leaders across northwest and central Connecticut to promote the White House’s Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics.

A full list of honorees is below.

Aida Carerro, of Meriden, Site Director of Casa Boricua

Ms. Carerro is a tireless advocate for Meriden’s Latino senior community, working to give them an enjoyable and welcoming environment to socialize, relax and receive assistance with various services.

Lucas Codognolla, of Danbury, Lead Coordinator, CT Students for a Dream

Mr. Codognolla advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants and comprehensive immigration reform by engaging public officials, raising public awareness of the struggles of those trying to obtain citizenship, and helping undocumented immigrants secure their rights.

Yoellie Iglesias, of Waterbury, Executive Director of Madre Latina

Through Madre Latina, Ms. Iglesias has connected local Latina women with the resources they need for personal and professional development and a network that empowers them to reach their full potential.

Oscar Nieves, of New Britain, Founder of WPRX

Nieves has brought the finest Spanish-language music and programming to Connecticut’s Latino community since 1993 through WPRX, the Spanish-speaking radio station based out of New Britain. WPRX also provides news and programming for matters from real estate to legal issues.

Dr. Nivea Torres, of Watertown, Superintendent of Connecticut Technical High School System

Dr. Torres oversees 11,200 full-time high school and day students. CTHSS prepares students for immediate employment in various trades and for apprenticeships to master many different vocations. 

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