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An Invitation to Alumni: Join NHI for Celebracion 2019!

nhi alumni celebracion 2019 first families roots
Posted: October 30, 2019 at 6:18 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

NHI Alumni, you’re probably aware that we’ve turned 40 years old this year! To celebrate, we’re returning to our roots.

Forty years ago, NHI’s founder and president, Ernesto Nieto, had a vision for his community in the future. While many affiliated with NHI know that the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session was named after the legendary, historical Texan, that name has additional, personal significance for Nieto. DeZavala Park is where Ernesto grew up, where his parents and brothers were, as well as his best friend and numerous tios and tias.

The lessons he learned there were worth sharing. There were stories, legends tragedies, and celebrations around the park’s community life. People came together around common purpose…it was a community of pitching in and contributing to a project. It was familia.

Civic engagement was at an all-time high in the late ’60s, but the Latino community’s leaders saw little rest and slow progress with no end in sight. Nieto saw that the leadership supply would soon run dry if something wasn’t done about it.

This was the beginning of the National Hispanic Institute, a vehicle through which the Latino community could select and train its own leaders. Only a couple of years after piloting programs for professional audiences, Gloria de Leon joined him, and they changed NHI’s role to reaching Latino youth.

This year, Celebración focuses primarily on NHI’s beginnings. We honor people who were the early stakeholders and investors in growing the organization. These are individual parents who answered the call to leadership, who believed NHI would become valuable in the community. These individuals said yes to an unproven product, and stuck with Ernie and Gloria as NHI’s first volunteer representatives in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Individuals include:

Louis de la Garza (Austin, Texas)
Silvia and Daniel Garcia (Brownsville, Texas)
Virginia Garcia (Las Cruces, New Mexico)
Hector and Mary Helen Gonzalez (San Antonio, Texas)
Minerva Hernandez (Waukegan, Illinois)
Tony and Barbara Hinojosa (Baytown, Texas)
Leonila Lopez (McAllen, Texas)
Doris and Richard Lucero (Pueblo, Colorado)
John and Irene Rosales (Houston, Texas)
Tita Yanar (El Paso, Texas)

Individuals being honored who cannot be in attendance include Gloria Mayo-Moreno from Austin, Louis Gonzales from Lubbock, Rene and Veronica Vela from Corpus Christi, and, post-humously, Alberto Nieto from Houston.

We also invite you to join us to hear Ernesto Nieto deliver a State of the State address covering NHI over the last 40 years. We will host an exhibit of NHI through the years, honor our First Families, and then head to an alumni social at Acenar restaurant on the River Walk. Please RSVP!

We invite alumni, free of charge, to join us for these activities.


NHI Alumni and Families
Agenda – Celebracion 2019

Saturday, November 2, 2019
Wyndham San Antonio River Walk
111 E. Pecan Street, San Antonio, Texas

(Parking garage and underground walkway at 451 Soledad St.)

12-1 pm, Registration: Wyndham San Antonio River Walk, Level 3, ES-2
(RSVP here:

1 pm, NHI Founders Exhibit and Seating, Level 3, ES-2

1:30-3 pm, State of the State of NHI, Ernesto Nieto & Gloria de León

3-3:30 pm, Break

3:30-4:45 pm, Honoring of NHI First Families
Master of Ceremonies – Humberto Saenz, Jr., NHI Alumnus
Louis de la Garza, Austin, Texas
Silvia and Daniel Garcia, Brownsville, Texas
Virginia Garcia, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Mary Helen and Hector Gonzalez, San Antonio, Texas
Minerva Hernandez, Waukegan, Illinois
Barbara and Tony Hinojosa, Baytown, Texas
Leonila Lopez, McAllen, Texas
Doris and Richard Lucero, Pueblo, Colorado
Irene and John Rosales, Friendswood, Texas
Tita Yanar, El Paso, Texas

5:15-6:45 pm, Alumni Reception
Acenar, 146 E. Houston Street

*Posthumous honors for Rev. John Minogue, Dr. Michael Gibbs, and Mr. Alberto Nieto will 
be celebrated on November 1, 2019.

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