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Latino bridge-builders honored during Los Cien awards dinner

A psychologist who works with marginalized communities, a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit that links Latinos with social services and the late founder of an organization that helps farmworkers and low-income families throughout Northern California were honored Wednesday by the Latino leadership group Los Cien.

The three were recognized at the group’s second annual Puente & Ganas Awards Dinner, which recognizes individuals and organizations that work alongside and empower Sonoma County’s Latino community. “Puente” and “ganas” translates to “bridge” and “desire,” respectively.

The event, the first in-person gathering hosted by Los Cien since the start of the pandemic, was hosted Wednesday night under large tents at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts campus.

It was attended by roughly 400 people, among them local elected officials, business owners, nonprofit heads and candidates in local races.

State Sen. Mike McGuire oversaw a fundraising portion of the event, in which attendees pledged money to help students and people with low resources attend future Los Cien events. At times resembling an auctioneer as he called out donors in the crowd, McGuire’s efforts resulted in $62,150 in pledges from attendees.

“Money will never be a barrier to their participation,” said Lisa Carreño, Los Cien vice chair and CEO of United Way of the Wine Country. “If they are coming to a luncheon, if they’re coming to the State of the Latino Community (event), if they’re coming to any other activity, the money raised tonight will pave their way. It’s to be at the table instead of on the menu.”

The event kicked off with wine, food and performances from more than two dozen musicians with Mariachi Cantares de Mi Tierra, an ensemble made up of students led by Jose Soto, the Luther Burbank Center’s music specialist.

Dinner included carnitas, black beans and roasted vegetables that were prepared by local chef and restaurateur Octavio Diaz.

Dr. Daniela Domínguez, a psychologist and founder of On The Margins, received the first award of the night. An assistant professor at the University of San Francisco, her San Francisco-based consulting, coaching and therapy business works with marginalized communities and aims to disrupt systems of oppression.

She was also one of the speakers of a previous Los Cien event discussing mental health in the Latino community, and is working with Cloverdale nonprofit La Familia Sana to provide free mental health therapy sessions for area residents, including local farmworkers.

In a video played during the ceremony, Domínguez’s students commended her ability to have difficult discussions about race, gender and other topics in their lives.

“I feel the love of all of you,” Domínguez told attendees during the ceremony. “We have to do this work together, there’s so much work we have to do and we have to be honest.”

Latino Service Providers, a community-based nonprofit that works directly with the Latino community in Sonoma County to connect them with resources, was the winner of the group award.

Besides providing resources to local residents, the nonprofit also runs a Youth Promotor internship program that gives bilingual and bicultural students the opportunity to build leadership skills through work with the community.

“We are all here to put our own little grain of sand (into the community), and that is what our youth promotores are doing,” Latino Service Providers Executive Director Guadalupe Navarro said.

The final award was presented to the family of the late George Ortiz, the founder of the California Human Development anti-poverty agency and the Latinos Unidos scholarship and cultural organization. He died in January 2020 at the age of 85 following a decadeslong legacy of advocating for the equal treatment of Mexican Americans in the state.

Zeke Guzman, who now oversees Latinos Unidos, presented the award to Ortiz’s family during Wednesday’s event.

Ortiz’s wife, Carol Ortiz, was among the relatives who accepted the award.

“I honestly believe that he is here with us tonight,” Carol Ortiz said as she spoke to the crowd. “He’s ecstatic that the energy is still here and the momentum still continues for Mexican Americans.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

Nashelly Chavez

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat 

Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.   

 

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