2018 Hispanic Heritage Month Honorees in Central Florida

October 10, 2018
Press Release

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month 2018, U.S. Congressman Darren Soto will recognize nine individuals in Central Florida for their invaluable contributions to the community. The honorees' biographies were submitted into the Congressional Record and they will receive official Congressional Certificates.

“The thriving culture, economy and overall prosperity that we witness everyday right here in Central Florida have been much provided by the unwavering dedication and hard work passionately reflected by the Hispanic community.  It is a distinct honor to celebrate the achievements of these leaders whose contributions continue to inspire current and future generations of Floridians looking to change our state, and our nation, for the better,” stated Rep. Soto.   

The nine honorees will be recognized by Rep. Soto in a ceremony taking place in the Kissimmee district office at 5:00pm on October 15, 2018.

Major Jacob Ruiz

current Director of Media Relations and Public Relations for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. A former Marine, he has played a vital role in forging closer ties between the Hispanic community and police through communication, education, community service and celebration of diversity and inclusion. For full video, click here

Roxana De la Riva

Mexican-American journalist, with over 18 years of experience and an education from Mexico’s first school of Journalism. De la Riva recently volunteered during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, where she assisted distributing donation items and covered stories highlighting the efforts. She currently writes for La Presna and is also a vocational training mentor in Journalism for youth female students, whose parents are immigrants and part of the Hope Immigration Center. For full video, click here.

Betsy Franceschini

current Senior Director of Florida and Southeast Programs and Policy for Hispanic Federation. With a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s in Guidance and Counseling, she has dedicated her work to encouraging civic engagement, Hispanic community empowerment and also advocates on behalf of issues impacting Hispanics. For full video, click here.

Nancy Batista 

Florida State Director of Mi Familia Vota, an organization that aims to build the political power of the Hispanic community. Originally from Guatemala, she uses her experience as an immigrant to amplify the voices of those who are oppressed. Under her leadership, she has led her team to register 27,000 people this year alone as they are working hard to register 30,000 in all by October 9th.  For full video, click here.

Kira Romero-Craft

Managing Attorney of the Southeast Regional Office of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Romero-Craft leads a team of attorneys and advocates passionate about immigrants’ rights, voting rights, economic justice and criminal justice reform. She is also the current co-chair of the advocacy committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Central Florida chapter. For full video, click here

Dr. Edwin DeJesus

graduate from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and current faculty member of the University of Central Florida School of Medicine in Orlando. With over 25 years of practice, he has implemented one of the most successful clinical trials research centers in the country. Dr. DeJesus has focused his work on investigating effective HIV treatments and has also played an active role in the Florida HIV Hispanic community and has been featured as one of Orlando’s Top Doctors in Orlando Magazine for the past seven years. For full video, click here

Dr. Fernando Rivera

has conducted much research in sociology of health/medical sociology, disasters, race and ethnicity. Dr. Rivera’s work has focused on the investigation of factors associated with disaster resilience and restoration and resilience in coupled human-natural systems. He has accomplished various publications, one of which takes an in-depth look at the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida.  For full video, click here

Gonzalo Gutierrez Lemus

first generation Mexican-American student who founded and presided over the Key Club as a student at Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School. Holding numerous roles in Student Government at Polk State College, he became the Honors Program Student Council President, where he mentored freshman students and tirelessly advocated on behalf of his fellow students and the greater Polk County Community.  For full video, click here

Fernando Negron 

notable radio host to Quedate con Miguel Radio, a popular program in the Central Florida Hispanic community. Negron has become an influential personality in both local and national politics. He is passionate about educating voters in our region and highlights the problems that affect the current Hispanic diaspora.  For full video, click here