Each year CHCI presents its Highest Honors at its Annual Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. during Hispanic Heritage Month. CHCI is honored to award José Andrés, Anthony Muñoz and Sonia Gutierrez with the 2015 Medallion of Excellence Awards.
CHCI and its Alumni Association (CHCI-AA) will also recognize CHCI Alumnus Alejandra Ceja (1996-97 Public Policy Fellow) as the recipient of the 2015 Medallion of Excellence for Distinguished Alumnus, during this year’s CHCI’s Public Policy Conference Education Luncheon on Wednesday, October 7.
CHCI will also recognize Roselyn Sánchez with the 2015 CHCI Excellence in Service Award at CHCI’s Board of Director’s Luncheon October 8.
Named as one of Time’s “100” Most Influential People and awarded “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, television personality, humanitarian and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. He is also a committed advocate of food security and hunger issues and is known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy. This work has earned him distinctions such as Outstanding American by Choice, awarded by President Barack Obama, and the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award. José Andrés has recently been lauded for standing up to hate speech towards Latinos.
For his significant contributions in the field of culinary arts, his courage to combat hate speech, and as an outstanding role model in the Latino community and the nation, CHCI is proud to bestow the 2015 CHCI Chair’s Medallion Award to Chef José Andrés.
Anthony Muñoz is an eleven-time NFL Pro Bowl selection—considered by many as the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history—and has a record of excellence that is unrivaled in professional football. Following his retirement, Muñoz received the ultimate honor for an athlete when he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first attempt on the ballot in August of 1998. He is the only Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in Cincinnati Bengals history and only the second Hispanic ever elected to the Hall.
In 2002, Anthony established the Anthony Muñoz Foundation, a non-profit organization that engages the Tri-State region to impact area youth mentally, physically and spiritually. Since its inception, the foundation has impacted thousands of children and raised more than $11 million for its impact programs.
Anthony spends countless hours reaching out to other communities. He has spoken to military units all over the country and in March 2011, he traveled to Afghanistan to American soldiers on a week- long USO tour.
For being an outstanding role model in the Latino community and for his countless philanthropic achievements, Anthony Muñoz is awarded the 2015 CHCI Medallion of Excellence in the Arts, Entertainment, Music or Sports.
Sonia Gutierrez is the President Emeritus & Founder of the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School and has spent over 43 years as a principal, counselor, advocate, and organizer for more than 70,000 adult immigrant students.
She has dedicated her life to transforming the lives of immigrants by investing in and supporting their journeys to achieve the American dream. She has been a constant and passionate advocate for the rights to education and to family-sustaining wage jobs for immigrants. Gutierrez’s commitment and hard work for the cause, what started as a small, under-funded grassroots program, evolved into what it is today a nationally and internationally recognized award-winning model in adult education.
Ms. Gutiérrez began her career in the District of Columbia Public Schools in May 1972 as a counselor of the Program for English Instruction to Latin Americans (PEILA). There she began her mission: to provide holistic education to adult immigrants with little formal education in their native countries, enabling them to succeed by addressing their social and academic needs.
In October 1972, Ms. Gutiérrez became the Director of PEILA and transformed the small, under-funded English as a Second Language (ESL) program into a comprehensive adult education program. In 1974, the Office of Right to Read of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare designated it as one of the best literacy programs in the nation. As PEILA outgrew its facility, Ms. Gutierrez commenced a two-year effort to secure a school building for the program. In 1978 she was successful in relocating the program to the old Gordon Junior High School in Georgetown; PEILA then merged with the old Americanization School with an initial enrollment of 800.
In 1992, Ms. Gutierrez requested that the city council rename the school after Carlos Rosario who founded PEILA. Subsequently, it grew to provide 4,500 students per year with crucial language, cultural, vocational and job skills with a waiting list of 2,000. The school became a national model. Delegations from other states and even other nations frequently visited the center to review its operations and curriculum, seeking to replicate the program.
1996, the District of Columbia faced a financial crisis that brought about the elimination of all DC Public Schools adult education programs including the Carlos Rosario Adult Education Center. Ms. Gutierrez vowed to rebuild the school for the benefit of her students and her community. From August 1996 to March 1997, Ms. Gutierrez worked out of the basement of her home and raised $100,000 dollars from local foundations to reopen the school as the non-profit Carlos Rosario International Career Center. The new school opened its doors in April 1997 with Ms. Gutierrez as Executive Director & Founder. Recognizing the tremendous need for additional classes, Ms. Gutierrez actively sought for Public Charter School funding. She succeeded and in 1998 the school became the first Adult Public Charter School in the nation.
From 1997 to 2003, the school expanded from one small site to six different sites around the community.
After an extensive Capital Campaign Ms. Gutiérrez was able to secure and renovate an $18 million dollar facility and brought the six different sites together in the state of the art building located at 1100 Harvard Street N.W. Today with an additional brand new campus in Ward 5, the non-profit Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School provides more than 2500 students with English as a Second Language, GED in Spanish and English, courses in different areas of technology, citizenship classes, culinary arts, nurse aide, family literacy and Spanish classes. Ms. Gutiérrez continues to train a new generation of Rosario faculty and staff to ensure that Carlos Rosario School provides its model of excellence for years to come. In 2005 the school received full accreditation from the Middle State School Association and in 2006 also received an award from the DC Mayor as one of the 10 best Charter Schools in the city. The school was re-accredited for another seven- year term in 2012 and the Charter was renewed for 15 additional years in the summer of 2013.
In 2012 Ms. Gutiérrez secured a grant to purchase a property in northeast to build a Workforce Development Campus. In 2013 the new Sonia Gutiérrez Campus opened in Ward 5 with three main academies: Culinary Arts, Nurse Aide and IT. At the present time there are 500 students being served at the Sonia Gutierrez Campus.
Ms. Gutiérrez has many accomplishments as a community organizer and leader and has received many awards for her work and commitment to her community. In May of 2013 she received the In Her Honor Award for Women who have made outstanding contributions in service to the not only to the Hispanic but African American communities in DC from the Community Arts Collective. In March of this year, FOCUS, the Friends of Choice in Urban Schools honored her for her work as a pioneer in the Charter School movement. In late 2014 the DC Commission of Human Rights bestowed her with the Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award. The Hispanic Bar Association of Washington, DC awarded her with Hugh A. Johnson Memorial Award for her contributions to the DC Hispanic Community. For excellence in the field of adult education she received the Administrator of the Year Award from the Commission of Adult Basic Education (COABE) in 2013.
On June 5th of this year in front of the Campus that bears her name the Mayor, Muriel Bowser and the City Council of Washington, DC named the 500 Block of V Street. NE, as the Sonia Gutiérrez Campus Way. Ms. Gutierrez is the only Latino in the District of Columbia to have an honorary street with her name.
For her significant contributions in the field of education, and as an outstanding role model in the Latino community and the nation, Sonia Gutierrez is awarded the 2015 CHCI American Dream Medallion of Excellence in Education, Science, Medicine or Civil Rights.
Alejandra Ceja came to Washington in 1996 to accept CHCI’s prestigious Public Policy Fellowship where she worked on Capitol Hill with Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and at the National Council of La Raza. From there, she went on to occupy a variety of notable and prestigious roles, such as, program examiner for the White House Office of Management and Budget where she helped develop the federal budget for the U.S. Department of Labor and the Corporation for National and Community Service and as senior budget and appropriations advisor at the House Education and Labor Committee. Prior to her current appointment, she served as chief of staff for Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter.
Alejandra Ceja was appointed by the White House in 2013 to serve President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In this role, Ceja works closely with the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the Federal Interagency Working Group on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in an effort to increase the educational attainment and life outcomes of Hispanics across the nation.
As a founding member, former president and active senior member of the CHCI-AA, Alejandra Ceja has played a pivotal role in expanding its network of more than 3,200 alumni across the country and shepherding a new direction for the Association. Alejandra Ceja helped pioneer the full engagement of the CHCI-AA on the CHCI Board of Directors, securing a full voting seat on the Board in 2010. She regularly supports CHCI’s public policy work as a sought-after expert, appearing at CHCI’s Public Policy Conferences, Capitol Hill briefings and professional development programming for current participants and alumni. Alejandra has served as an inspiring and dedicated mentor to the increasing number of students and young professionals who come to Washington D.C. every year.
Ceja is a native of Huntington Park, CA, though her family’s roots trace back to Michoacan, Mexico. She received her M.P.A in public administration at Baruch College, City University of New York, and her B.A. in political science at Mount St. Mary’s College in California. She is also a member of the National Urban Fellows, the National Hispana Leadership Institute, a graduate of the Presidential Management Fellowship program and a 2015 Marshall Memorial Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
For her significant contributions to the CHCI-AA and the Latino community, Alejandra Ceja is awarded the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Roselyn Sanchez is the 2015 CHCI Excellence in Service Award recipient. She has been acting for more than 20 years and her break through role came in the blockbuster hit Rush Hour 2 in 2001. She received an ALMA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance and has appeared in numerous movies and television shows ever since. Roselyn can currently be seen starring on the hit TV series, Devious Maids, for Lifetime. Produced by Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria, the show was recently renewed for a fourth season. After conquering the big screen, Roselyn set her sights on music and was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Music Video for the single “Amor Amor.” Roselyn commits a great deal of time to her community work where she recently organized the Triathlon For A Smile that benefitted the San Jorge Children’s Foundation and the Fundacion Caritas Alegres. She also organized a unique scavenger-hunt competition benefitting PETSOS, a non-profit to end the suffering of displaced dogs and cats in Puerto Rico. She recently displayed courage and pride by speaking out against hate speech directed at the Latino community.
For her dedication to improving the lives of Latinos throughout the country, her courage to combat hate speech, and for serving as an exemplary role model for the Latino community, Roselyn Sánchez is awarded the 2015 CHCI Excellence in Service Award.
The Medallion of Excellence awards are presented to an individual who conducts himself or herself in an exemplary manner and who serves as a role model and standard-bearer for the Latino community, particularly Latino youth. The individual must have at least a 15-year record of contributions and accomplishments in his/her field with solid leadership and community involvement. The qualifying factor is philanthropic and civic engagement through the initiation or support of programs that benefit the Hispanic community as a whole.
The Medallion of Excellence for a Distinguished Alumnus recognizes a CHCI alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to the Latino Community and who has thereby achieved distinction. This prestigious annual award is meant to highlight the impact of CHCI’s programs and the prominence of its alumni. Those considered are judged on the full range of their professional accomplishments. Alumni must have graduated from the Fellowship program at least 15 years or the Internship program 20 years from the date of nomination.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, provides leadership development programs and educational services to students and young emerging leaders. The CHCI Board of Directors is comprised of Hispanic members of Congress, nonprofit, union, and corporate leaders. CHCI does not attempt to influence legislation and does not employ or retain lobbyists.
The views or opinions of awardees, speakers, or guests throughout CHCI's Hispanic Heritage Month events do not reflect the views or policies of CHCI.
Learn more at www.chci.org.
Copyright 2016 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Inc.