Eduardo Centurion Jr.
Dr. Carlos Parra
Voting is open for the inaugural Latino Leadership Awards, with 15 nominees named as finalists for the Chattanooga's Choice Award to be picked by the public.
The new event is hosted by La Paz Chattanooga and will feature a keynote address by state Sen. Andy Berke and his wife, Monique Prado Berke, on Sept. 17.
In addition to the people's choice award, one finalist will be selected by the La Paz board of directors and staff as the Latino Leader of the Year.
Leaders with La Paz said the awards will be an annual event in Chattanooga to highlight individuals in the Latino community who are working to make the city a regional trendsetter.
According to the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, the Latino community in the United States will double over the next four decades, possibly reaching 30 percent of the population by 2050.
Chattanooga's initiative this year is in line with the center's Latino Leadership Initiative's program to address a void in developing the next generation of Hispanic leaders.
The 2012 finalists represent a variety of professional fields, from nonprofits and education to government and corporate realms.
All of the individuals being considered for the award this year have also demonstrated a strong commitment to the community, officials said, representing a healthy balance between professional success and community involvement. Profiles of each finalist can be seen on the La Paz website, where public voting takes place.
Martin said he was encouraged by the sheer number of responses the organization received after requesting nominations from the community this year.
"It was a difficult task to finalize the honorees field, but we are confident that we have identified a solid collection of leaders from all points across Chattanooga," Martin said.
The event will mark the first time Chattanooga has come together to celebrate outstanding Latinos, officials said.
Public voting for Chattanooga's Choice Award begins Aug. 1 and continues online until Sept. 1.