On May 30, I had the pleasure of serving as a presenter at the 15th annual International Latino Book Awards ceremony held at Instituto Cervantes in New York City. I was in very good (and fun!) company: actor-director Tony Plana served as the master of ceremonies for the event and presenters included golf legend Chi Chi Rodriguez as well as esteemed colleagues from the world of publishing. The Instituto was filled to capacity with Latino authors and admirers of Latino literature—a truly inspiring sight.
The International Latino Book Awards are presented by Latino Literacy Now in partnership with Las Comadres para las Americas and the Instituto Cervantes. Latino Literacy Now is a nonprofit organization co-founded by actor Edward James Olmos to promote literacy within the community. Since 1997, it has organized 52 Latino Book & Family Festivals around the United States. The organization also conducts the Latino Books into Movies Awards in an effort to increase the number of Latino-themed films that are produced. Las Comadres para las Americas is a nonprofit organization empowering women to be actively engaged in the growing Latino communities through online and face to face networks. Instituto Cervantes is a nonprofit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991. Its mission is to promote the teaching of Spanish and to contribute to the advancement of the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. Instituto Cervantes is present on five continents with more than 50 centers spread out across many different countries.