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Gloria de Leon and Ernesto Nieto honored by Con Mi MADRE with Corazon Award
National Hispanic Institute co-founders Gloria de Leon and Ernesto Nieto have received a number of accolades in recent years. Their latest one, the Corazón Award, is an honor from Austin-based nonprofit organization Con Mi MADRE, an organization that prides itself on its work with Latina girls and their mothers. Board member Denise Hernandez, who nominated de Leon and Nieto for the award, knows their work first-hand — from the time she first participated in NHI in 2003 as a Cy-Ridge High School student.
According to Hernandez, the Corazón Award was established for Con Mi MADRE to honor those who make a “real big impact in the Latino community, essentially, leaders that our participants would look up to.”
“Of course,” she added, “Gloria and Ernesto are big influencers and changemakers in the Latino community.”
The April 9 gala at Junior League of Austin’s Community Impact Center will honor de Leon and Nieto’s achievements and raise funds for the nonprofit organization.
Con Mi MADRE (with the MADRE part of the name an acronym for Mothers and Daughters Raising Expectations) was created in 1992 and has evolved and expanded over time to serve the Latino community in Texas.
According to its website, the impetus for creating Con Mi MADRE “stemmed from a statistic that a Latina baby had less than a 1% chance of obtaining a college education. Initially named the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program (HMDP) in 1992 as a project of the Junior League of Austin, the program set out to create positive change in the lives of young Latinas by empowering them to earn a college education. In 2008, the HDMP transitioned into its own organization, adopting the name Con Mi MADRE, becoming a freestanding and independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.”
Hernandez noted that her NHI journey was instrumental in Con Mi MADRE recognizing the NHI leaders. “I’ve known about Gloria and Ernesto for the majority of my life now,” she recalled, adding that she’s stayed in contact with them after participating in what was then known as the Young Leaders Conference (later the Great Debate) and serving as a mentor to other YLC students who came after her.
“I did NHI, my sister did NHI, all of the people I grew up with did NHI, and it was a really transformative experience for me,” she recalled. She nominated de Leon and Nieto upon running for a judicial seat in Travis County — which she won earlier this month — in large part because of a personal revelation she had during that campaign.
“I had just made an announcement to run for office,” she remembered. “And it was just in that moment, having a realization that a lot of the reason that I was even able to run for office, that I could do that, was because of the programming that Gloria and Ernesto created.”
“We are honored to be acknowledged by Con Mi MADRE, a standout institution in our community,” de Leon asserted. “As a forerunner in altering social narratives, they recognized that our support systems, our strongest models, come from within our own community. There is no greater endorser of a young woman’s aspiration to succeed than her own mother. When our daughters become better educated, the history and legacy of our families are changed forever.”