Reclamation hosts National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations

Written by: Doug Hendrix

From September 15 through October 15, 2020, Reclamation is observing National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) to celebrate the many contributions of the diverse cultures of the Hispanic communities.

This year's NHHM theme is “Hispanics: Be Proud of our Past and Embrace the Future.” Over the next several weeks, each of Reclamation’s six regions will celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting special observances and online presentations reflecting this theme.

On Wednesday, September 23, Commissioner Brenda Burman joined forces with Reclamation Civil Rights Division Manager Lara Grillos and Luz Moreno, EEO specialist from the Columbia-Pacific Northwest Region, via a Microsoft Teams online broadcast to kick-off a month-long slate of local celebrations profiling Hispanic and Latin history and culture.

Joining Commissioner Burman as principal participants in the online celebration were guest speakers:

- Donna Vasquez, a Boise-based artist and native of Southern California, who shared employment perspectives and personal growth tips gained from her Hispanic Chicana culture; and,

- Yuliana Porras-Mendoza, a Civil Engineer with Reclamation’s Research and Development Office, who shared highlights of her experience as past president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and discussed topics such as recruitment, retention and the importance of mentorships. Collectively, both speakers emphasized the importance of passing on knowledge and mentoring the younger generations of employees that will follow along behind you. Both speakers noted how important it is for employees to establish professional relationships both within and outside of their workplace – as a means to accelerate their career growth and development.

On Thursday, September 24, the Lower Colorado Basin’s EEO staff sponsored a live WebEx discussion with Marisa Rivera, President of the Florida-based Mpowerment Works Company, who profiled the positive growth and influence that the Hispanic and Latin communities have experienced in the government, private industry, corporate and cultural sectors of the United States. Ms. Rivera encouraged all employees joining the online discussion to value their respective cultural backgrounds and become positive agents of diversity, inclusion and social change.

The NHHM observance began in 1968 as a week-long event. The Hispanic Heritage observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

People of Hispanic origin represent Reclamation’s largest minority group at more than 10 percent of the total workforce. At present, Hispanics account for 52 percent of the U.S. annual population growth with more than 62 million people of Hispanic/Latin descent living in the United States.

Published on September 28, 2020