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Friends of the American Latino Museum Announce Inaugural American Latino Influencer Awards in Houston

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Joins Celebration of Houston Leaders Committed to American Latino History, Arts and Culture

Houston, TX - This evening, the Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS), the only organization dedicated to the creation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum, will honor the three recipients of the inaugural American Latino Influencer Awards. Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia; Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin American Art for Houston's Museum of Fine Arts; and Mark Montgomery, Houston City President of BBVA Compass will be honored for their contributions to the Hispanic community in the public service, arts & culture, and corporate sectors, respectively.

The FRIENDS will also present the American Latino Influencer Awards to cultural and community leaders in Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Miami later this year. "The committment and achievements of Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Mari Carmen Ramírez, Mark Montgomery embody everything the American Latino museum will commemorate," said Estuardo Rodriguez, executive director of FRIENDS. "We founded the American Latino Influencer Awards to ensure that the historic, as well as contemporary, contributions, large and small, to the U.S. are recognized and applauded. We look forward to honoring more hometown heroes around the nation this year."

Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia is a native of the South Texas farming community, Palito Blanco. One of ten children, Sen. Garcia began her career as a social worker, protecting her community's most vulnerable. She went on to a distinguished career as a public servant as Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System, then as Houston City Controller, to her election to Harris County Commissioner's Court, and now to the State Senate. Senator Garcia is our inaugural public service honoree.

Mari Carmen Ramírez is the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and Director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Ms. Ramírez has dedicated her career to the study of Latin American art at museums and institutions in Texas and Puerto Rico. She has received multiple awards for curatorial excellence and in 2005 TIME magazine named her one of the twenty-five most influential Hispanics in America. Ms. Ramirez is our inaugural arts & culture honoree.

On behalf of BBVA Compass, Mark Montgomery serves as Houston City President where he oversees the bank's commercial banking, commercial real estate and large middle market business. He is a dedicated community servant and a member of the boards of Rebuild Houston, Prepared for Life, the Rice Alliance, and The Woods Project. BBVA Compass is our inaugural corporate honoree in recognition of its established reputation for supporting programs and initiatives that promote U.S. Latino art, history and culture.

Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino (www.americanlatinomuseum.org) Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, Inc., a 501(c)(3) incorporated in Washington, D.C., strives to create a museum in our nation’s capital to educate, inspire and encourage respect and understanding of the richness and diversity of the American Latino experience within the U.S. and its territories by highlighting the contributions made by Latino leaders, pioneers and communities to the American way of life.


Francella Chinchilla: (202) 587-4944