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Meet the Nominees: Volunteer of the Year

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 nominated to be recognized for their contributions and positive impact, promoting Latino progress across sectors in the Scenic City!

We are especially excited to showcase some fantastic volunteers who have helped our organization grow and improve this year. We couldn't do it without them!

The Anne Shelton Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding dedication and volunteer service of one individual's commitment to the work and mission of La Paz Chattanooga.

Anne Shelton Volunteer of the Year: 2023 Nominees

Velvet Hernandez-Johnson

Tech Goes Home instructor

Velvet Hernandez-Johnson, a Guatemalan native, came to the United States as an

international college student. A graduate in International Business and Marketing from

Harding University in Arkansas; she also holds a master’s degree in business administration

from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Hernandez-Johnson has had an exciting career as a transformational leader, bilingual cultural coach, and speaker.

Recipient of multiple awards for leadership, she is most proud of supporting Irie Love, her

daughter’s initiative that provides care packages to Guatemalan children working in the

streets instead of attending school.

Her main passions are in women's and children's advocacy, arts, and culture. She is a volunteer-technology teacher for La Paz and Tech Goes Home and served on the

board of The Creative Discovery Children’s Museum. In 2012, she was a recipient of

La Paz Chattanooga Latino Leadership Award nomination. And in 2014 she was

recognized nationally as a Hispanic Young Achiever by the Hispanic Association of

Corporate Responsibility.

Hernandez-Johnson’s attributes her success to her parents for instilling a strong

work ethic and love for people. She believes that sharing our talents with others in

the community enriches the lives of all involved. Velvet lives with her husband,

Eugene, and daughter, Irie Isabella, in Lookout Mountain GA.

Amira Marquez Moreno & Raiza Barahona

La Paz food pantry launch team

Born in Cuernavaca, Morelos. Mexico, Amira was raised by Aurora Marquez, an English teacher. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos. While in college, she was part of the student association “La Carpa,” an activist group that aimed to provide food at a fair price for college students. Once she graduated, she moved to the US in 2016 as a live-in nanny and settled down in 2018 in Marietta, GA. In 2022 she was accepted into the Master Degree of I/O Psychology at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. She expects to complete her thesis about work demands and resources for immigrant workers in Chattanooga by 2024 and live a happy life besides her husband and two poodles.

Along with Amira, Raiza Barahona came to connect with La Paz after casually volunteering, but was looking for a way to create a larger impact. Raiza is a Masters candidate for I/O Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Raiza is a native of Ecuador and moved to Chattanooga from Florida. Raiza's volunteer work with La Paz resulted in securing the first grocery store donation to the La Paz food pantry in April 2023, from Supermercado El Sol, a 2023 LLA nominee in the category of Latino Business of the Year.

Ashton Jolley

Student Success & Engagement Intern, Spring 2023

Ashton is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she obtained a B.S. in Political Science and Public Service, with a minor in Anthropology. During Ashton's tenure as an intern under the Community Education & Engagement department, she conducted research on higher education pathways for Latinx students of varying documentation statuses as well as support for students and families during the transition between high school and college. Ashton's research also included scholarship and financial aid opportunities for Latino students.

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