COUNTYWIDE : Group Honors 5 Latinos for Leadership

El Concilio del Condado de Ventura has chosen five county residents to receive its annual Latino leadership awards, which will be given out at a Jan. 31 dinner at the Radisson Suites Hotel in Oxnard.

"The reason for these awards is to continue to nurture and develop leadership within the Latino community here in Ventura County," said Marcos Vargas, executive director of Oxnard-based El Concilio, a Latino advocacy and service organization.

The recipients, he said, "are all individuals who have exhibited a strong commitment to their community and to serving as role models for Latino youth."

The recipients include:

Education: Vince Ruiz, who recently retired after nearly 20 years on the Ventura Unified School District board. The Ventura resident has been active in the PTA, the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, the Ventura Youth Basketball Assn., the United Fund and the Ventura Girls Club. He also served for 27 years as president of Construction Laborers Union Local 585.

Cultural arts: Javier Gomez, who teaches multicultural studies, music and art at Hay dock Intermediate School in Oxnard. He is artistic director of the Ballet Folklorico Regionale, a Mexican dance troupe, and other area Latino arts groups. The Oxnard resident also serves as chairman of the Ventura County Multicultural Arts Council and as district commissioner for the Ventura County Arts Commission.

Business: Arturo Hernandez, co-owner of Panda Graphics, a graphics, printing and copying service. A longtime El Rio resident, Hernandez sits on the Rio Elementary School District board. He does volunteer work for El Concilio, the United Way of Ventura County and the El Rio Lions Club. A co-owner of Home Center Real Estate, he belongs to the Harbor Board of Realtors, the El Rio Jaycees and the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce.

Community service: Roberta Payan, who has helped establish programs for at-risk youths from the Ventura Avenue area where she lives. A founding volunteer member of Renewed Avenue Pride, she tries to offer positive alternatives to youths and to involve parents and other avenue residents in neighborhood improvement and safety projects. As director of the Westpark Community Center, she serves on Ventura's Youth At Risk/Gang Task Force.

Youth leadership: Randy Martinez, a senior at Ventura High School who has won various honors, including the Outstanding Art Achievement Award, the Anacapa School Principal's Award and the Outstanding Achievement in Arts Award. Martinez also serves on his school's Rainbow Coalition, a clearinghouse for student issues. Martinez hopes to pursue a college degree at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Tickets to the awards dinner are $25 per person. Proceeds will benefit El Concilio's youth program, Project Pride.

For ticket information, call 486-4587.

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