Cristina Jiménez Named Octaviano “Tony” Gonzales Abrazo Award Winner

The National Hispanic Council (NHC) presented this year’s Octaviano “Tony” Gonzales Abrazo Award to Cristina Jiménez, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country.

The Abrazo Award, sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education, is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to improving the educational opportunities of Latino children through their time, energy and resources.

Jiménez, originally from Quito, Ecuador, came to the United States at age 13 with her parents as an undocumented young person. She and her family “experienced poverty, abuse by police, wage theft from employers and fear of deportation,” said Steve Corona, NHC chairman.

At a young age, Jiménez decided to fight back against unjust practices, and under her leadership UWD has grown to 48 affiliates in 26 states and over 400,000 members.

“This youth-led model of social justice has changed the national conversation on immigration,” added Corona.

“My fear changed into courage with the work of United We Dream,” said Jiménez.

First presented in 1998, the Abrazo Award is given annually by the NHC to honor individuals who have committed their time, energy and resources to improving educational opportunities for Latino children. The term “Abrazo” in English translates to “hug” or “embrace,” a common gesture used to greet and say goodbye.

For more information on NSBA’s National Hispanic Council, visit

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