Maria Hernandez to receive Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council Award at Annual Luncheon

This notice is archived content and this information may no longer be accurate.

The City of Tampa Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council has selected Maria Hernandez, a 37- year professional with the non-profit Lutheran Services Florida (LSF),  as the  5th recipient of its  Matilda Martinez Garcia Leadership Award.  The award, to be presented at the Council’s 20th annual Latinos Unidos Luncheon on May 8 at 12:00 p.m., recognizes persons or organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the betterment of the Hispanic community.   


As a refugee herself, Ms. Hernandez came to the United States in 1967 seeking freedom and a better life. In her more than three and a half decades of providing services through LSF‘s Refugee and Immigrant Services, she has impacted the lives of thousands of local immigrants, many of whom have succeeded in professional careers with attractive benefits and pay. The diversity of this population proves valuable in meeting a number of societal needs in schools, hospitals and other service areas across Tampa Bay, while enhancing our community’s attitudes toward migrants, especially in today’s politically charged environment.  Thus, her work has had a positive influence on the Tampa Bay community, both economically and in terms of basic human development.  On a personal level, Hernandez has touched clients’ lives by helping them cope with the complexities of transitioning to a life of stability and peace in their new country.


“Maria’s 37 years serving LSF and the community is impressive on its own, however her tenacity and persistence is equally as inspiring as her dedicated service. She is incredibly valuable to the organization and is deserving of this award,” said Sam Sipes, CEO of Lutheran Services Florida. “It takes a special kind of person to empathize with refugees and immigrants. She helped open doors and take down obstacles for vulnerable people. She is as enthusiastic today as the first day she started with Lutheran Services. I attribute much of their growth her to her leadership and efforts,” said Tony Morejon, Community Affairs Liaison with Hillsborough County and last year’s recipient of the Matilda Martinez Garcia Award.


The Matilda Martinez Garcia Award is named for an outstanding Tampa native and founding member of the Council.  The Latinos Unidos Luncheon showcases the rising influence and economic impact of Hispanics in our region, state and nation, and raises funds for need-based scholarships for local students. For tickets to the event, go to


About Lutheran Services Florida: LSF is a non-profit organization transforming lives by ensuring safe children, strong families and vibrant communities. Founded in 1982, LSF currently touches the lives of 1 in 50 Floridians every year through various programs, including early education, youth shelters, foster care, refugee and resettlement services, substance abuse mental health services, and adult guardianship. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, LSF has more than 60 programs throughout Florida and approximately 1,400 dedicated employees.

For additional information, please contact:  

Melisa Martinez, Liaison  

(813) 274-3193