Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15th – Oct. 15th) Celebration Includes Governor McDonnell, US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, former Governors Allen & Kaine, and dozens more

High-profile Gala began official kick-off to Hispanic Heritage Month

Governor Bob McDonnell opens the 2012 Hispanic Gala.

US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis accepts a VAHCC Bridge Builder Award from VAHCC President Michel Zajur.

Richmond, VA — The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (VAHCC) officially kicked-off Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15th) at the “The Hispanic Gala” on September 12th at the Science Museum of Virginia, to celebrate the successes of the VAHCC and to recognize the 2012 VAHCC Bridge Builder Award recipients. Award winners included US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, NASA Langley Research Center Director Lesa Roe, Sheriff Ken Stolle, CEO of CSI Consulting, Lynette Spano; and Alejandro Cedeño, Vice-President of Global Innovation for MeadWestvaco. Governor McDonnell provided opening remarks at the Gala, congratulating the VAHCC for its contributions to the Commonwealth and congratulating the 2012 Bridge Builder Award recipients. Also in attendance were former governors and senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine, as well as dozens of General Assembly and State Cabinet members.

Governor McDonnell issued a formal proclamation during his remarks to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month in Virginia and its importance in highlighting the accomplishments of Virginia’s Hispanic population, which is nearly 10% of all Virginians. “The Gala is a special time for us to recognize the significant contributions of Virginia’s Hispanic citizens to both its economy and cultural fabric,” says Michel Zajur, VAHCC President. “We are honored to have hosted so many leaders and dignataries this year as we began the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.”

By surprise, VAHCC President Michel Zajur was honored during the 2012 Hispanic Gala with the Ohtli Award from the Mexican government. The Ohtli award is the official recognition of Mexico’s Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (translated as “Program for Mexican Communities Abroad”), and is the highest award bestowed by the Mexican government to a non-Mexican citizen. It is awarded to individuals who have contributed to the empowerment of Mexican and Mexican-American communities in the U.S.

Director of the NASA Langley Research Center Lesa Roe accepts a Bridge Builder Award for NASA’s Hispanic outreach programs.

VAHCC President Michel Zajur receives the Ohtli Award from the Mexican government

Sheriff Ken Stolle accepts an award for excellence in public service

CSI Consulting CEO Lynette Spano receives the Impacto Latino award

Alejandro Cedeño, Vice President of Global Innovation for MeadWestvaco

About The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The VAHCC is a non-profit organization dedicated to cross-cultural commerce and economic development.

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