2009 Annual Awards Gala

If you missed it, you can watch CHCI's 32nd Annual Awards Gala on HITN TV by clicking the links below.

CHCI 32nd Annual Awards Gala Part One:
The Red Carpet Interviews

CHCI 32nd Annual Awards Gala Part Two:
Gala Opening

CHCI 32nd Annual Awards Gala Part Three:
Remarks by President Obama

CHCI 32nd Annual Awards Gala Part Four:
Chair's Award to Marc Anthony

The hallmark event of Hispanic Heritage Month, CHCI's 32nd Annual Awards Gala, drew more than 2,200 guests, including 62 Members of Congress, ambassadors, celebrities, dignitaries, CHCI sponsors, fellows, and alumni to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. During an elegant night to remember, CHCI honored "Latinos Leading in the Arts."

CHCI Chair Nydia M. Velázquez and CHCI President & CEO highlighted the organization's leadership development programs for Latinos and CHCI's 2009-2010 class of Fellows took to the stage to be recognized as the next generation of Latino leaders.

The introduction of the evening's guests read like the "Yellow Pages of Latin Power" combined with many of our nation's leaders. The list included the president of the United States, the First Lady, the Speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader, an A-list of senators and congressmen, Cabinet secretaries, and ambassadors, and many more.

President Barack Obama returned to this year's gala, no longer a candidate, but the first minority president of the United States. In addition to appointing the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice in Sonia Sotomayor, he said that the list of Latinos and Latinas, in about equal measure, in high-level positions in his administration exceeds any other administration in history: and he's not finished yet.

But he noted that he not only selected the best Latino for the job, but the best person for the job. He said that his proudest moment as president was when Justice Sotomayor was sworn into office. "Across America," he said, "millions of American children set their sights higher. Our success depends on our willingness to see our challenges together."

He pledged to tackle the dropout rate and return America once again to the highest college graduation rate the in the world, to press forward to ensure Americans work in the clean energy jobs of tomorrow, and to provide affordable health insurance for all Americans. He noted that Hispanics are more likely to be uninsured and Hispanic small businesses are likely, like all small businesses, to be struggling to provide coverage.

"No one," he said, "should be dropped from coverage due to preexisting conditions; no one should go broke because they got sick." While he noted that the undocumented won't be covered under the plan, it underscores the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi quoted President Kennedy, "There is a connection between achievement in public life and the arts," in recognizing the importance of Latino culture in our nation. She said that the House is studying a new museum for Latino culture to honor the ways Latino immigrants have enriched our culture. She added her commitment to pass comprehensive healthcare reform, seek energy independence, create new green jobs, and provide a world class education for all our children, including $100 million per year for Hispanic-serving institutions.

Puerto Rican music icon Marc Anthony, accompanied by his wife Jennifer Lopez, was on hand to accept the 2009 Chair's Lifetime Achievement Award and celebrate his birthday. He was recognized as the most influential artist of his generation, who ushered in the 1999 Latin pop explosion with his smash single hit "I Need to Know."

Also recognized were CHCI 2009 Medallion of Excellence Winners, Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero and Soledad O'Brien. Guerrero was internationally recognized as the "Father of Chicano Music" and wrote hundreds of songs during his seven-decade career. Soledad O'Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN/U.S. Her upcoming documentary "Latino in America" examines the growing diversity within our nation.

The evening's festivities were hosted by news anchor Maria Hinojosa and included a special appearance by actor and comedian John Leguizamo and a featured performance by Ozomatli. The 2009 CHCI Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented posthumously to Anna Maria Arias for her strides to advance Latinas within the United States.

The 32nd Annual Awards Gala was hosted by CHCI's Legacy Partner, Walmart.

To view photos and video highlights from the 32nd Annual Awards gala, click here.


President Barack Obama, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, inspired the crowd of more than 2,200, including 62 Members of Congress, ambassadors, celebrities, dignitaries, CHCI sponsors, fellows, alumni, and guests with his speech highlighting the tremendous impact CHCI's education and leadership development programs have on the Latino community. Attendees stood intently on their feet as President Obama spoke of his commitment to Hispanic issues and diversity in his administration.




CHCI's 32nd Annual Award Gala heated up on Wednesday, September 16 with internationally acclaimed urban-Latino-and-beyond collision group Ozomatli. The crowd danced the night away to the sounds of the group who in their 14 years together as a band have gone from being hometown heroes to being named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors. 

Their music-- a collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga-- has long followed a key mantra: it will take you around the world by taking you around L.A.


Marc Anthony has sold over 10 million albums worldwide, making him one of the most influential artists of his time and a true ambassador of Latin music and culture. He has been awarded over 12 Latin and Standard gold and platinum certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The list of Grammy accolades begins with a 1998 Grammy for Best Latin/Tropical Performance for "Contra La Corriente," followed with a 1999 Grammy for Song of the Year for "Dimelo."

Driven in part by the crossover success of his smash single "I Need to Know (Dimelo)," "Marc Anthony," his English language debut album, helped usher in 1999's Latin pop explosion, and went on to achieve triple platinum status in the U.S. And, in 2005 Marc Anthony went home double fisted with a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album of the Year for "Amar Sin Mentiras" and another Grammy for Best Tropical Album of the Year for "Valio la Pena." He has won a total of 18 "Premio lo Nuestro" Awards throughout his career, the most won by any artist.

Marc has also established a highly credible acting résumé and may be seen in Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead" (1999); opposite Selma Hayak in the Showtime original film, "In the Time of the Butterflies" (2001); and appears with Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken in director Tony Scott's "Man On Fire" (2004). He also appeared in the 1997 Paul Simon musical, "The Capeman." Marc Anthony starred as the Puerto Rican salsa pioneer Héctor Lavoe, with Jennifer Lopez as Puchi, in the biopic, "El Cantante," directed by Leon Ichaso.


Winner of numerous awards for her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence, Soledad O'Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe and has produced critically acclaimed and record-breaking documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today.

O'Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN/U.S. Since joining the network in 2003, O'Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe and has produced award-winning and record-breaking documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today. She also covers political news as part of CNN's "Best Political Team on Television."

She joined CNN in July 2003 as the co-anchor of the network's flagship morning program, American Morning, and distinguished herself by reporting from the scene on the transformational stories that broke on her watch, including Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

O'Brien came to CNN from NBC News where she anchored the network's Weekend Today since July 1999. Prior, O'Brien anchored MSNBC's award-winning technology program The Site. O'Brien joined NBC News in 1991 and was based in New York as a field producer for Nightly News and TODAY. Before her time at NBC, she served three years as a local reporter and bureau chief for the NBC affiliate KRON in San Francisco. She began her career as an associate producer and news writer at the then-NBC affiliate WBZ-TV in Boston.
O'Brien is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She is a graduate of Harvard University.


This award was given posthumously and accepted by Dan Guerrero, son of the late and great, Lalo Guerrero at the 32nd Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday, September 16. 

Guerrero, internationally recognized as the "Father of Chicano Music," wrote hundreds of songs during his seven-decade career including the classic bolero Nunca Jamas and Cancion Mexicana, considered the "unofficial anthem" of Mexico. At the height of his recording years in the 1940s and 1950s, he dominated the Latin American charts in the United States and Latin America and was an early pioneer in writing and recording bilingual songs. The Smithsonian Institution declared Lalo Guerrero a National Folk Treasure. His countless other honors include induction into the Tejano Hall of Fame, the Mariachi Hall of Fame, a National Heritage Fellowship award and in 1997, the National Medal of Arts for a Lifetime of Creative Achievement, the first Chicano to receive our nation's highest arts award.  







Maria Hinojosa is the Senior Correspondent for the acclaimed series NOW on PBS, the anchor and managing editor of NPR's Latino USA, and the anchor of her own Emmy Award winning talk show One on One with Maria Hinojosa from WGBH/La Plaza. Hinojosa has won top honors in American journalism including 2 Emmy's, the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Reporting on the Disadvantaged, and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club for best documentary for her groundbreaking piece Child Brides: Stolen Lives.

Prior to joining NOW in 2005, Hinojosa spent 8 years as the Urban Affairs Correspondent for CNN. Before joining CNN, Hinojosa was a news correspondent for National Public Radio in New York. Three times over the past decade, Hinojosa has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in the United States by Hispanic Business magazine. She has received the Ruben Salazar Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of la Raza and was inducted into the "She Made It" Hall of Fame at the Paley Center/Museum of Television and Radio in a program that honors women trail blazers in the media.  Hinojosa was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in Media by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors and received the Crossing Borders Award from the Feminist Press and was honored with the North Star News Prize in recognition of her continuing in the tradition of Frederick Douglass. She has received the Imagen Award, the Latino Leaders Eagle Leadership Award and the Catalyst Award by the National Association of Minority Media Executives
Hinojosa also worked at CBS News as a radio producer for Walter Cronkite and Charles Osgood.


Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez is currently serving her ninth term as Representative for New York's 12th Congressional District. In the 111th Congress, she is the Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Chair of the House Small Business Committee and a senior member of the Financial Service Committee.





The CHCI Annual Awards Gala is the hallmark event during Hispanic Heritage Month and serves as the unifying event for the Hispanic American community. This year, the Gala program is developed around the unifying theme of Latinos Leading in the Arts, which will highlight CHCI, its mission and programs, the annual Chair's Award(s), and the CHCI Medallion of Excellence honoree(s). This widely attended event gathers industry and community leaders to celebrate the achievements of the Latino community.

A 32-year tradition, The Public Policy Conference and Annual Awards Gala raise more than 60 percent of the Institute' s revenue for its programs, which develop the next generation of Latino leaders.


Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard
Hon. Grace Flores Napolitano
Hon. Dennis Cardoza

*The views or opinions of awardees or guests throughout CHCI's Hispanic Heritage Month events do not reflect the views or policies of CHCI. CHCI is a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, which provides leadership development programs and educational services to students and young emerging leaders. The CHCI Board of Directors is comprised of Hispanic American Members of Congress, nonprofit leaders and corporate executives.