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2021 Latino Hall of Fame Honorees

Elizabeth BernalMarcela HurtadoDr. Lorenzo JassoNixson BenitezItzelManuel

Elizabeth Bernal was born in Mexico. She has called Iowa City home for 17 years where she is raising her five children. She has attained many of her personal accomplishments including completing her GED, receiving her U.S. Citizenship in 2017, and being involved with several community organizations that promote the inclusion and wellbeing of immigrant communities in Iowa. She has made Iowa City the place to empower, welcome and uplift Latino and immigrant


Marcela Hurtado was born in Puebla, Mexico. She moved to Iowa 16 years ago and is currently raising a family of five in Iowa City where she is a fierce community advocate. Mrs. Hurtado is the co-founder for the Center for Workers Justice of Eastern Iowa or CWJ, where she serves as the elected President of the board. She led the organization in a successful campaign to raise the minimum wage in Johnson County and helped recover thousands of dollars in stolen wages. 

Dr. Lorenzo Jasso was born in 1953 and he moved to Iowa in the 1970s. He pursued his doctorate in Education at Drake University, becoming one of the first Latino school principals in the Des Moines School District.

Dr. Jasso’s enduring contributions to the Latino community impacted children, youth, as well as adults and
Dr. Lorenzo Jasso served in numerous boards and volunteered his time generously and tirelessly not only in the areas of education, health care, political involvement, parental empowerment, and academic excellence but also leading by example. elders. He was a mentor to many.


Nixson Benítez was born and raised in Des Moines in a Salvadoran immigrant household. He is a junior at the University of Northern Iowa or UNI, majoring in Digital Media Journalism with a cumulative GPA of 3.77. Mr. Benítez is a first-generation college student striving to uplift his community in all that he is involved in.

Benítez is opening doors and creating spaces for Latino writers. He does this by fighting

stereotypes that Latinos endure through storytelling and facts-based information. He also does this through representation. He believes that Salvadorians do not see themselves represented in many occupations, including writing. This encourages him to work to inspire others in the community as a young person showcasing his roots.

Itzel Padrón Zuñiga was born in Reynosa, Mexico, she immigrated to Ames as a teenager. She attended Iowa State University (ISU) where she majored in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. While at ISU, she studied abroad in the Netherlands to attend NOISE summer school for Ph.D and MA students as one of few undergraduates. While abroad, she gained experience as a researcher. She conducted independent research on non-profit organizations in Utrecht, Berlin, Prague, and Krakow. She was also a Research Assistant for ISU’s Department of Sociology. She

became a Research Assistant for the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change. She also served as a volunteer Sexual Assault Advocate. While at ISU, she received several scholarships and awards for her leadership including the Outstanding Student Leader Award and the Undergraduate Social Action Award.

Juan Manuel Gálvez Ibarra, known in the community as Manny Gálvez, was born in Sahuayo, Michoacán, México. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Regional Studies. Manny worked in the Mexican Capital Government and the Mexican Federal Government. As a Cultural Program Coordinator in Mexico City, he developed and implemented popular budget and policy strategies in which people and civil organizations decided where, when, and how to spend part of the public budget. After moving to Iowa in 2003, he spent over a  year serving the community at the Catholic Worker house in Des Moines.

Latino Heritage Month Proclamation

Latino Heritage Month Proclamation

2021 Selections Committee Members:

  • Caleb Knutson, Commission Chair, Committee Ex-Officio

  • Dalila Sajadian, Commissioners

  • David Suarez, Community Member, Ottumwa

  • Gabriela Rivera, 2020 Honoree, Iowa City

  • Marlu Abarca, Commission Vice-Chair, Committee Chair

  • Vanessa Santos-Nila, Community Member, Des Moines