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Meet the Nominees: Emerging Leader


Get to know our amazing individuals and organizations as we get ready to celebrate them at our 2023 Latino Leadership Awards on September 21st!


We've been sharing a little about the folks and agencies our city (you!) nominated to be recognized for their contributions and positive impact, promoting Latino progress across sectors in the Scenic City! Take a look at our nominees for Emerging Leader!


The Emerging Leader category recognizes the emerging influence and accomplishments of a Latino young adult who is under the age of 25 years. The winner of this category is eligible for a $2,000 educational scholarship.


Chattanooga's Choice: 2023 Nominees


Daisy Hernandez Puac

Chattanooga State Community College; The Howard School

Heritage: Guatemalan-American


Daisy is a graduate of The Howard School, serving as student body president her senior year. Daisy has been recognized for her poetry, having participated in the Hunter Art Museum's 2022 Teen Art Show with her piece, No Matter the Action, This is My Passion. Daisy is an active volunteer at La Paz Chattanooga and has worked to engage her community in varying capacities.


"I’m more than blessed, honored, and thankful for being nominated. Growing up and seeing my family struggles for being Hispanic/Latinx immigrants touched me a lot, especially when I had the opportunity to go to my family’s homeland, Guatemala. Having to experience going to Guatemala was enough for me to have that courage to stand up for those who are not viewed as equals. I've had a lot of recognition for my hard work on showing how much I care for the Latino community and that was the key to where I am today. By me continuing to find ways to prove my point of views that Hispanics, Latinxs, and immigrants should be seen, heard and known for the hard work, determination, and culture that has shaped not only for the Chattanooga community but for the world. I’ll forever have that heart in helping others! I hear my family's stories but not only theirs but other families and individuals' stories inspire me to work harder and to find as many resources as I can for our Latino families. Overall I’m thankful I have people in my life that understand how much I care, want, and desire to help the community."


Mateo Jimenez

The Enterprise Center; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Heritage: Guatemalan-American


Mateo Jimenez is a first-generation Guatemalan-American. He was born in Asheville, North

Carolina and grew up in Chattanooga, TN. Mateo graduated from East Ridge High School in 2019 and is currently a senior at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. Mateo’s passion for serving his community began back in 2019 when he served as a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council, tackling community challenges with his peers. Going into college, he has been involved in a plethora of organizations while representing his heritage proudly in every space he is in.


Mateo is currently an American Connection Corps Fellow serving as an AmeriCorps Member

with The Enterprise Center. Throughout his term, Mateo has analyzed digital equity practices,

created data on broadband serviceable locations in 16 counties, conducted affordable

connectivity program outreach in latinx communities, and championed the importance of digital equity overall. In addition, Mateo served as a Community Liaison in the Tennessee Broadband Accelerate Program, where he supported Roane County, TN on leveraging historic broadband infrastructure funding for community-driven broadband expansion.


As Mateo continues his journey, he hopes to inspire young latino/a/xs to follow their passion and that anything is possible.


“Being recognized among the emerging leaders in the Latino community is truly humbling, and it serves as a testament to the collective efforts we have made to drive positive change in our community. I firmly believe that leadership is not just about personal achievements but also about uplifting others, fostering collaboration, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. This nomination reinforces my commitment to advocating for diversity, inclusion, and equitable opportunities for all. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a movement that amplifies our voices as Latinx leaders and our contributions to society.”


Liliana Trejo Zavaleta

UnifiEd, Red Bank High School

Heritage: Mexican-American


Liliana is a sophomore at Red Bank High School. She believes in quality education for all and feels that many students are often not given equal opportunities because of their background. She became a part of UnifiEd because she has “always loved to advocate about education, since every student deserves to get a good education.”


Of Liliana, her nominators say:


Based on the energy she brings on campus, she has emerged as a voice not only for the Latinx community, but also to the student population at large. As a freshman she became active immediately in various clubs and extra-curricular activities around campus. Upon finding out that there was no mental health club, she started one. She is passionately against bullying and has written published essays on the topic. Being a victim of bullying, she used her voice to advocate for others experiencing the same, in a way that is healthy and helpful for others. Lili is a confident well-spoken student, passionate about learning more and taking care of others, both in and out of a school setting. She takes the initiative to be involved in many opportunities. Lili has worked for UnifiEd since her freshman year of high school. She believes in quality education for all and feels that many students are often not given equal opportunities because of their background. She became a part of UnifiEd because she has always loved to advocate about education, since every student deserves to get a good education. With UnifiEd, she is currently taking part in a Listening Tour of Hamilton County Schools, in which they are listening to different perspectives - giving students, teachers and parents a voice, with the focus of making the schools a better place for everyone.

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