April 28, 2000

Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation Appoints San Diegan as New Executive Director

Susan Santana Joins to Lead Foundation During Year of Expansion

Washington, DC — The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation today announced the appointment of Susan Santana as its new Executive Director. Ms. Santana brings her successful background as a teacher, attorney and community activists to her position during a year of the Foundation's escalating growth and success.

"I am delighted that someone as accomplished as Susan joins the Foundation at a pivotal point in its development. She has the experience, commitment and vision to accomplish the goals of the foundation," said Elaine DagenBela, who recently retired from the position of Executive Director after fourteen years.

Ms. Santana comes to the Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation from the law firm of Baker & McKenzie in San Diego, CA, where she specialized in general corporate matters, including multi-jurisdictional and cross-border transactions. Although she is a San Diego native, Ms. Santana is no stranger to the Washington, DC area. After graduating from law school at UCLA, she came to Washington to accept a Congressional Hispanic caucus Fellowship; and in 1996 she began to Washington to accept a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Fellowship, and in 1996 she began work as a trial attorney in the General Counsel's Office at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Before returning to San Diego, in 1998, Ms. Santana clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo. Before attending law school, Ms. Santana was a bilingual elementary school teacher in San Diego, and also worked at a public relations firm at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Ms. Santana's varied professional experience is a great asset to the Foundation as well as her tremendous commitment to the Latino community which she has demonstrated through many volunteer efforts. She has served on panels and given presentations to the California Latino School Board Association, the Latina Youth Conference in San Diego and for the University of San Diego. Ms. Santana has also served on the Board of Directors for the Latino Civil Rights Center and on the Board of Governors for the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington, D.C. She was also appointed General Counsel for the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She has volunteered her time extensively teaching English to adult immigrants and has chaired a high school Latina mentoring program. "I am honored to serve my community through a Foundation that celebrates Hispanic excellence and provides role models to our youth. I look forward to working towards an even greater success in realizing our mission."

The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation is dedicated to promoting Hispanic excellence, providing greater understanding of the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the U.S., and recognizing an awarding role models who inspire our youth. The Foundation is acclaimed for its Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards program and its annual Hispanic Heritage Awards Ceremony, which is televised nationwide on NBC television.

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