HISPA Announces Fundraising Gala Awardees and Leadership Transition

HISPA, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Hispanic youth, is thrilled to announce the recipients of this year’s prestigious Three Kings Banquet. This fundraising and awards event, which will take place in New Jersey and Florida on January 18 and 25, respectively, will celebrate the achievements of outstanding individuals and organizations and mark a significant leadership transition.


Three Kings Banquet Awardees:

HISPA is proud to honor those who have made remarkable contributions to HISPA and the Hispanic community. The awardees for this year’s Three Kings Banquet are shining examples of leadership, dedication, and community service, and HISPA is delighted to recognize and celebrate their achievements.


SHARE Award – Role Model of the Year: Lorraine Nieto, Verizon

Nieto made an impressive 14 Role Model Program visits to local schools, helped host an Imagine Day Corporate Visit to Verizon, and participated in all other HISPA education programs. Her efforts touched the lives and minds of HISPA students. On top of her volunteerism, she trained other employees to volunteer in HISPA programs, contributing to Verizon being HISPA’s most active volunteer group.


INSPIRE Award – Champion of the Year: PSEG Adelante

PSEG Adelante has been one of HISPA’s most enthusiastic advocates and active volunteer groups. A record number of Adelante members volunteered, participating in nearly every one of HISPA’s programs and events: the Kick-Off & Recruiting Event, Role Model Program, Youth Conference, the NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program, the HISPA Leadership Workshop Series at Passaic County Community College, and the Three Kings Banquet. On top of this outstanding volunteerism, PSEG supported the HISPA Role Model Program in five schools in Elizabeth, NJ, and the Latinos in College program at NJIT.


TRANSFORM Award – Sponsor of the Year: Merck

Merck’s financial and volunteer support were critical to HISPA’s accomplishments. ​​Merck funding supported a HISPA Imagine Day Corporate Visit to the University of Pennsylvania, HISPA Role Model Programs in Elizabeth, NJ, and Norristown, PA, and HISPA’s Youth Conference at Princeton University, serving over 380 students. Merck employees also volunteered for these programs, hosting interactive STEM workshops and visiting school classrooms, reaching 3,972 students in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Finally, Merck employees participated in three career panels for HISPA’s Latinos in College program at NJIT. All of this made Merck one of HISPA’s most active companies.


Leadership in Mentoring Award: Tony Rodriguez, Bristol Myers Squibb

Rodriguez distinguishes himself through his volunteerism and commitment to mobilizing other professionals to support the Hispanic community. During his 10-plus years as a HISPA volunteer, he has hosted dozens of STEM workshops for students at our Youth Conferences and Corporate Visits, made hundreds of classroom visits, and inspired thousands of Latino scholars from middle school to college. When HISPA was planning our most recent Imagine Day with BMS, we hit a roadblock; instead of giving up in the face of this obstacle, Rodriguez came up with a solution and found a way forward, a testament to his dedication to HISPA and passion for STEM education. He is a critical liaison between our organizations and has led the engagement and mobilization of new volunteers not only within OLA but also from other BMS BRGs.


Corazón Award: New Jersey Institute of Technology

NJIT has partnered with HISPA for over five years to bring the Latinos in College program to its talented students, providing campus space, tech support, and student outreach in support of this program. Latinos in College students and NJIT staff have volunteered in support of HISPA’s other programs, and in 2022-23, they offered stipends to support Latinos in College participants. They opened their doors to host HISPA’s 2023 Kick-Off event, working with us to plan the event, secure event space and speakers, and provide food for our guests.


Yvonne Shepard to Receive the First HISPA Lifetime Leadership Award:

HISPA is pleased to announce that it will give the first-ever Lifetime Leadership Award to Yvonne Shepard. Shepard decided to retire from her role as chair of the HISPA of Directors this past December. As she steps down, this award serves as a tribute to her passion for HISPA’s mission, her dedication to helping grow HISPA from its birth to the blossoming organization it is today, her strategic direction that shaped its evolution, and her unwavering commitment and significant impact on the organization and the community at large. Shepard has been a beacon of leadership in the Hispanic community for over 35 years, nearly four decades of tireless dedication to the betterment of others.


Leadership Transition – Kathleen Larkin as new President:

With deep gratitude for Yvonne Shepard’s exceptional leadership, HISPA is excited to announce the appointment of Larkin to President of HISPA’s Board of Directors. Larkin brings a wealth of insight and an unwavering commitment to HISPA programs, focused on inspiring our Latino youth to succeed in school, directly affecting their future career prospects and economic options. Over her ten years as a Board member, she has led the Strategy Committee and HR Committee and served on the Governance Committee. The former AT&T Vice President of Human Resources and present-day Principle of Essential Leadership, LLC consultant brings over 25 years of corporate leadership experience working with senior leaders in business and non-profit organizations to the position. As she takes on this pivotal role, HISPA looks forward to continued growth and success under her guidance.


The Three Kings Banquet promises to be an inspiring and memorable event, celebrating the achievements of remarkable individuals while ushering in a new era of leadership for HISPA.


We would like to acknowledge the sponsors who make this event possible: Gold Sponsors Bloomberg, Camera Mundi, Inc., Crum & Forster, LSEG, Merck, and PSEG; Silver Sponsors AT&T and PNC Bank; and Bronze Sponsors Bristol Myers Squibb, the Shepard/Zanders Family, and Visa.


HISPA’s educational programs are made possible by Founding Partners Verizon and Visa, Co-founding Partners and Supporters Merck, Bloomberg, Victoria’s Secret & Co., the PSEG Foundation, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Annual Partners and Supporters Prudential and Educational Testing Service.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Kelly Grossman

Communications & Development

609-865-0124 or kelly@hispa.org