The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation (HHAF) announced the appointment of Antonio Tijerino as executive director. Mr. Tijerino, Nicaraguan-born, brings a public relations and community affairs background to the Foundation. Most recently, he served as director of public relations for the Fannie Mae Foundation in Washington, D.C.
"The mission of the Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation is to promote Hispanic excellence and provide role models within the community and that's very much a public relations function," said Board Member Elaine Dagen Bela, who served as executive director for HHAF's first 14 years. "This job is also a function of somebody who has the heart and soul of the Hispanic community -- Tony has that quality and commitment."
Prior to his position at the Fannie Mae Foundation, Tijerino worked for Nike as manager of corporate communications in their headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Before that, he worked in the District of Columbia for public relations firms Cohn & Wolfe and Burson-Marsteller, the largest in the world.
"I am thrilled to work for an organization that recognizes not only the rich heritage of the Hispanic community but its future through the Youth Awards," said Tijerino. "The resources we provide as a foundation are not traditional in the world of philanthropy. We provide inspiration, pride and a celebration of who we are as Americans. In addition, a strong focus on education and high expectations are important messages we send to the next generation of leaders -- Hispanic youth. The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation is a great fit and I'm grateful to the board of directors and the staff for allowing me to join their familia."
HHAF was established 16 years ago to celebrate Hispanic excellence, provide a greater understanding of the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States, and promote role models to inspire youth. Through its mission, HHAF brings together corporate sponsors, community leaders and government officials for an evening of cultural pride during its Gala celebration. The Hispanic Heritage Awards is the only one of its kind endorsed by 34 national Hispanic organizations, which serve as the nominating and host committee.
In 1998, the Foundation created the Youth Awards program in an effort to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Hispanic high school seniors across the nation. Six recipients in 12 cities, a total of 72, are selected for their: academic accomplishments; potential for leadership; and community service. Candidates also must demonstrate strength and quality of character and show that their Hispanic heritage plays a significant role in their lives. The recipients receive a grant for their education and a donation made, in their name, to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Six national recipients are feted, along with the Hispanic Heritage Award Honorees and celebrities, on national television during the Gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Tijerino, who lives in the District of Columbia, is extremely active in the community by serving on several boards including Bright Beginnings, Identity, Washington Animal Rescue League and as communications counsel to numerous national and local nonprofits. Mr. Tijerino has been recognized as an Outstanding Young American and the Fannie Mae Foundation honored him with the Chairman's Community Service Award in 1999 and 2000. He currently serves on D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams' Commission on Latino Affairs. He is a free- lance writer and has been published by various publications.