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Joining me at Hispanic 100's Lifetime Achievement Award Gala was Mentor Program Chair Tina Aldatz and Hispanic 100 Chairman Mario Rodriguez

Joining me at Hispanic 100’s Lifetime Achievement Award Gala was Mentor Program Chair Tina Aldatz and Hispanic 100 Chairman Mario Rodriguez

I was looking forward to meeting Tina Aldatz at Hispanic 100’s Fourth Annual Lifetime Achievement Award Gala at the Island Hotel. I was impressed that this Orange County gal – she grew up in Buena Park and Fullerton – created and founded Foot Petals, the original designer insoles, in 2001 and later sold the business in 2011 for $14 million. Currently she is offering her time as chair of Hispanic 100’s Mentor Program, and that is what I wanted to talk to her about. The tall, beautiful brunette was quick to say of her involvement, “I feel that God has blessed me by giving me this opportunity.” She went on to say that the kids are the creme de la creme of the Hispanic community. “They are driven to succeed,” she said.

The 370-guest black-tie crowd was welcomed by mistress of ceremonies and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, a success in her own right. She raised a toast to the group’s 10 years and its Mentor Program legacy and invited the evening’s entertainer Larry Braggs to sing the National Anthem. No one sings the National Anthem like this man! His impassioned version brought instant applause at its conclusion. Gala chair Don Garcia spoke about Hispanic 100 and its mission in identifying and supporting qualified Hispanic business men and women for public office in order to uphold ideals and pro-growth policies that foster opportunities for all Americans, as well as the group’s signature Mentor Program. He then introduced his mentee, Ericka Lopez, who spoke briefly about the program and introduced a video of Aldatz’ life, which showed that Tina grew up in very poor circumstances with a father in prison and a mother struggling to keep the family together while moving constantly. Aldatz spoke glowingly of the Mentor Program and expressed gratitude to Hispanic 100 Chairman Mario Rodriguez for giving her the opportunity.

The live auction saw a glass of water auctioned off to Alejandra Garcia Williams, Consul of Mexico, in good natured fun for $200 (see photo). Other auction items included sports opportunities with Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks, as well as a Sonoma wine country getaway and a Mexican dinner for 30 at Miguel’s.

Hispanic 100 board member Julio Gudino introduced Monica Lozano, the evening’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. Gudino lauded Lozano’s achievements as CEO and Chairman of ImpreMedia, the leading Hispanic news and information company in the country. “She has more than 25 years of experience in Hispanic media,” Gudino said, “having started with La Opinion, one of ImpeMedia’s star publications, in 1985 and working her way up to the position of Publisher and CEO.” I was impressed that her grandfather founded Los Angeles-based La Opinion in 1926, and that she was was born and raised right here in Newport Beach.

Lozano commended her grandfather for fulfilling the American dream. “I know that I stand on his shoulders,” she said, “and, I would not be here today if not for my parents.” At that point she introduced her parents, Marta and Ignacio Lozano, who still reside in Newport Beach. “They gave me inspiration, character and values,” she said. Joking that she felt too young to be receiving a lifetime achievement award, Lozano said her mission is to leave the legacy she’s inherited stronger when she leaves, to integrate Latinos into every level of society, and to, as she stated, “make this a stronger America.”

Successful mentee Jonathan Espinoza spoke about the Mentor Program and its positive impact on his life. Born and raised in poverty in Santa Ana with five other siblings, his family struggled after his parents divorce, with his mother barely keeping the family together. Convinced from his kindergarten years that he wanted to be President of the United States, Espinoza said he knew academics was the answer. Today he is a student at Georgetown University and is majoring in Government and Philosophy with a minor in Psychology. After graduation, he plans on pursuing an MBA and finally a law degree in the hopes of seeking public office. Espinoza introduced his mentor, Mario Rodriguez, to which Rodriguez said, “I love Jonathan like a son!”

Bragg, lead singer in Tower of Power, brought down the house with his and his band’s performance, which kept the dance floor packed well into the night. The $90,000 net proceeds was targeted to support the Mentor Program, which gives goal-driven Latinos between the ages of 18 and 24 the opportunity to be paired with highly successful Hispanic professionals to prepare them to become future business and civic leaders.

Photos courtesy of Tony Lattimore and Mike Munzing