MALDEF Pays Tribute to National and Community Leaders at 10th Annual Washington, D.C. Awards Gala

February 24, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization, celebrated its 10th Annual Washington, D.C. Awards Gala, recognizing leaders in the public and private sector who have been critical forces in advancing the goals of the community and providing social justice for Latinos.

Tonight’s honorees included: Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), presented with the Excellence in Government Service Award, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with the Community Service Award, Alliance for Justice (AFJ) with the Excellence in Legal Service Award, and Marriott International with the Corporate Social Responsibility Award.

“It is with great pride that we honor Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez for her passion and dedication to improving the lives of Latino families not only in her state but across the nation. MALDEF looks forward to working with her as the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in furthering the national public policy goals of the Latino community throughout the 111th Congress,” stated John Trasviña, MALDEF President and General Counsel.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, recipient of the Excellence in Government Service Award, was recognized for her outstanding leadership in the Latino community and for her strong advocacy for equal rights and economic development for the working class and poor.

“It is an honor to be recognized by MALDEF, a leading Hispanic civil rights organization. With the growing political and economic influence of Latinos, our community is no longer defined by one issue alone. Working together we can ensure the Hispanic voice is heard on issues from improving healthcare to supporting entrepreneurs,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “Strengthening the nation’s 47 million Hispanics will change the direction of our country and help get the economy back on track.”

The Community Service Award honoree, ADL, was recognized for being at the forefront of national and state efforts to combat hate crime, raising awareness on the disturbing rise of hate crimes against Latinos and other minorities, and exposing the virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric that has risen to the surface as part of the public debate over immigration.

AFJ was recognized with the Excellence in Legal Service Award for standing alongside MALDEF against extremist judicial nominees and for working tirelessly in favor of increased diversity on the federal bench. MALDEF also recognized the AFJ for their invaluable guidance on non-profit administrative matters.

Marriott International was selected as the recipient of the Corporate Social Responsibility Award for their strong commitment to social responsibility programs including diversity initiatives with minority, women and LGBT suppliers and a five-point environmental strategy for full future sustainability of its hotels and operations.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund