More than 200 Sandia staff and visitors celebrated Hispanic Heritage month last week with speeches, good food, delicious paletas, music, and dancing.
Events were organized by HOLA — Hispanic Outreach for Leadership and Awareness — and sponsored by DOE/NNSA, Kirtland Air Force Base, and the Sandia Zero Waste program. HOLA leaders Rita Garcia and Keith Vigil and a cadre of volunteers labored for months to stage the event, which included a student art contest, a Diversity Cinema showing of The Latino List and entertainment at Hardin Field.
Month officially established in 1968
Labs Chief of Staff Pablo Garcia handled emcee duties, telling the crowd that Sandia sees the month-long celebration as muy especialmente. He added that President Lyndon Johnson began the tradition in 1968 to “recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino-Americans to the country’s heritage and culture.”
Pablo thanked HOLA volunteers Catalina Acosta, Erin Akinnikawe, Emily Baca, Veronica Barraza, Miquelita Carrion, Dorean Chaleunphonh, Daniel Cordova, Theresa Cordova, Liz Gallegos, Joshua Herrera, Riley Jordan, Guadalupe Massoth, Juan Molinar, Lyndsy Ortiz, Stefanie Portillos, Roberta Rivera, Daniel Sandoval, Lisa Sena-Carian, and others.
Associate Labs Director of Mission Services Scott Aeilts told attendees that he’s honored to serve as executive champion for HOLA. In nearly three decades of service to the Labs, he said, the organization has helped place qualified Hispanics in Sandia jobs, promoted awareness of career opportunities for local Hispanic youth, and fostered mentorship opportunities.
Other VIP speakers included NNSA Sandia Field Office Manager Jeff Harrell and USAF Col. Michael Harner, 377th Mission Support Group commander at Kirtland.
Finally, Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada, one of the stars of TV’s Breaking Bad series, gave a funny, piquant keynote address about growing up in Albuquerque, his Chicano identity, and his work to reduce gang violence through Youth Development Inc.
The crowd then enjoyed musical stylings and the high (alternative) energy of The Solarez Band, Sandia staff members from the National Solar Thermal Test Facility.