53rd Annual Aztec Awards Virtual Gala
September 16, 2021
Please join the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) for an exciting virtual broadcast of our annual Aztec Awards Gala on October 14th-5:00 pm as we celebrate our honorees and network of partners for their support of the Latino community.
For 58 years, with the support of our growing community of stakeholders the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation has dedicated its efforts to bringing social economic impact services to support impoverished families, children, and seniors. Your generous support will provide direct services to a community challenged further by COVID-19. Join us for an informative, passionate, and entertaining evening as we highlight another year of dedicated service in the community.
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla
Outstanding Leadership and Public Service
Senator Alex Padilla is the proud son of immigrants from Mexico, his father a short-order cook and his mother a housekeeper. Padilla attended Los Angeles public schools and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating from MIT, Padilla was elected to the Los Angeles City Council where he served as the youngest Council President in Los Angeles history and provided citywide leadership at critical times, including serving as acting Mayor during the tragedy of September 11, 2001. He was elected to the State Senate in 2006 to represent the more than 1.1 million people in the San Fernando Valley. As a State Senator, Padilla passed more than 70 bills, including landmark legislation to combat climate change, and was named as one of Sacramento’s "most effective legislators."
Padilla served as California’s first Latino Secretary of State starting on January 5, 2015 and was re-elected in 2018, receiving the most votes of any Latino elected official in the United States. As Secretary of State, Padilla worked to make our elections more accessible and inclusive, while fighting to protect the integrity of our voting systems.
As California's Junior U.S. Senator, Padilla serves as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety. He also serves as a member of the Senate Committees on Budget, Environment and Public Works, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Judiciary, and Rules.
Senator Padilla lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Angela and their three sons: Roman, Alex and Diego.
Dionicio Morales Lifetime Achievement Award
Chris was born in Norwalk California. Strong work ethic and education was of high importance to his parents. While working as a bus boy in Downey, he met the VP Program Manager of the NASA Space Shuttle Program. This Chance meeting led to him becoming a Co-op student at Rockwell International while he attended Long Beach State and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. He worked at Rockwell for 11 years on the Space shuttle and other advanced spacecraft.
In 1987 he moved over to Northrop Grumman Corp to work on the B2 Stealth Bomber where he rose in the engineering ranks, becoming the VP and Chief Engineer for the B2 Bomber.
His career continued at Northrop until he retired as the VP Research, Technology, and Engineering, a 33-year run.
While Chris put in long hours in the key roles, he had in the technical ranks he also gave back to the community. In 2000 he was made a member of the board of directors for MAOF, and served a term as chairman of the board later. He continues to serve. He also has been involved with the Great Minds in STEM org who promotes underprivileged to obtain degrees in technical fields. He also serves on the Deans Advisory board for CSULB College of Engineering, one of the Top diversified engineering programs in the country.
For Exemplary Service to MAOF
In July 2000, Martin Castro was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, an Educational/Charitable California Benefit Corporation. The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) is a statewide organization, serving five (5) California counties with 33 service locations and over 800 employees. The annual budget exceeds $50,000,000. Martin Castro has been employed with MAOF since 1979 with a five year break in service while he pursued opportunities in Washington D.C. Mr. Castro’s responsibilities include administering government and private sector funded projects and management and administrative duties for the organization. Mr. Castro has spearheaded the organization’s restructure through growth and program expansion. As President, Mr. Castro maintains complete fiduciary responsibilities for MAOF’s activities.
Prior to June 2000 In 1986, Mr. Castro relocated to Washington D.C to serve as a Project Management Specialist with the National council of Senior Citizens, where he monitored programs across the United States. Mr. Castro also provided technical assistance to local directors and conducted training sessions at regional and national training conferences. Mr. Castro returned to MAOF in 1991. As Administrator and Director of the MAOF Kern County Programs, Mr. Castro supervised a variety of programs including Computer, Medical Worker, Bookkeeper, and Basic Skills Training Programs, Foster Grandparent Program, and Senior Citizens Community Service Employment Program. Mr. Castro also initiated literacy programs across the County and launched an annual older worker recognition breakfast along other special fundraising events. Mr. Castro was instrumental in obtaining a land donation from the County of Kern on which a preschool center serving 144 children was built.
Bachelor of Science in Biology, California State University at Bakersfield
- Student Body Treasurer and Chairman of the Budget Committee, 1976
- Chairman, CSUB Lucha Club
- Outstanding Graduate Student, EOP Program, CSUB 1978
- Most Active EOP Student, CSUB 1977
- Exchange Student, Cuernavaca, Mexico 1974 A.A. Degree, Bakersfield College
- Deans List, 1974
Associate of Science in Pre-Med/Science from Bakersfield College
- Member, Rotary Club Montebello Chapter
- Member, Rotary Club Bakersfield Chapter
- Member, Programa Paisano
- California Childcare Network Association
- L.A. County AP Alliance
Mistress of Ceremonies
Daniella Guzman is co-anchor of NBC4’s morning newscast “Today in LA,” airing weekdays from 4 to 7 a.m. She is known for her dynamic reporting and genuine warmth that comes across on the air to help viewers start their day.
She broadcasted live for “Today in LA” from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, delivering local news and providing viewers with all access coverage of the games, including of the gold medal win for the U.S. Final Five gymnastics team. Guzman also brought viewers closer to the culture of Rio, showcasing iconic sites including Christ the Redeemer and the Selaron Steps.
Prior to joining NBC4, Guzman worked for NBC5 Chicago and covered a fast-moving blend of the latest breaking news stories and issues important to local residents. Earlier in her career, Guzman was an anchor and reporter at the NBC affiliate KPRC-TV and Telemundo station KTMD in Houston.
Serving the community is a way of life for Guzman, from a young age she has volunteered her time to help others. Guzman remains active in the community and supports many causes throughout the Southland. She has also been recognized for her work, including the Excellence in Broadcast Journalism award by the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
A native of Texas, Guzman is also fluent in Spanish. She graduated with a B.A. in bilingual journalism and communications from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. She is married and has two daughters.
Featuring Music from
Jóse Hernàndez is a master of mariachi music. An internationally recognized musician, composer and educator, Jóse Hernàndez continues to break boundaries in the world of mariachi.
A fifth generation mariachi, Jóse brings the pleasure of mariachi music to audiences all across the globe. He is the founder of two world-famous ensembles: Mariachi Sol de México® and Reyna de Los Angeles®, America’s first all-female professional mariachi ensemble.
Jóse continues to advance the art of mariachi with daring new compositions and arrangements. He has composed, arranged, and provided music for 15 Sol De México® albums. He sings, and plays trumpet, violin, guitarrón, and vihuela, and has performed in some of the most renowned venues around the world. He has recorded with the most respected and recognized names in the industry, including Selena, Vicente Fernandez, Luis Miguel, Bryan Adams and the Beach Boys, and has received four Grammy nominations.