September 30, 2017

(San Antonio, TX) - Texas Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, and visual artist Jesse Treviño were honored Friday at the 2017 MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) San Antonio Gala. The annual event brings together individuals, corporation and law firms dedicated to advancing Latino causes and civil rights in the United States.

Univision41 anchor Brenda Jiménez served as Master of Ceremonies, and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg offered welcoming remarks. MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz delivered remarks highlighting the civil rights challenges and opportunities Latinos face in the coming year.

"While it is always our pleasure to reune with our supporters in San Antonio, where MALDEF was founded 49 years ago, this year's gala comes at a critical time for the Latino community in Texas and nationwide," Saenz said. "We know that the Texas Latino community will play a pivotal role in responding to the threat to civil rights posed by the Trump White House and replicated by Texas Governor Abbott."

Texas State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia received the Matt Garcia Public Service Award.

She previously served as director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System, was later elected to serve as Houston City Controller, and in 2002 was elected to the Harris County Commissioner's Court. She was the first Latina and first woman to be elected in her own right to the office of County Commissioner. Throughout her years of service, she earned a reputation as the taxpayers' watchdog, fighting to protect the pocketbooks of working families.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez received the Excellence in Government Service Award.

She has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement in Texas. In 2012, she was elected Travis County Constable Precinct Three. Two years later, she was elected sheriff of Travis County and is one of only five women who currently hold that job in the state of Texas. As sheriff, she challenged a federal policy on immigration detainers, noting that requests to hold individuals without a warrant can result in unlawful detention, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. She is also passionate about addressing the plight of individuals with mental illness who are incarcerated, often as a result of crimes committed as a result of their condition.

Visual artist Jesse Treviño received the Lifetime Achievement, Leadership in the Arts Award.

A Vietnam veteran, he has spent his life honoring San Antonio. In 1987, he was awarded the Hispanic Heritage Foundation's inaugural Hispanic Heritage Award. In 1994, Treviño's work was featured in a one-man show at the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where two of his paintings are included in our nation's permanent collection. In recent years, Treviño has focused on large-scale public art projects such as Velador on the Guadalupe Theater, a 40-foot, three-dimensional mosaic dedicated to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. His latest work in progress is a 130-foot-tall Veterans Monument Tower at Elmendorf Lake in San Antonio's Westside.

The annual gala attracted notable elected officials and community leaders who gathered to celebrate the honorees and MALDEF's long-standing civil rights leadership.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund