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2007 Outstanding American by Choice Recipients
The Honorable Manuel A. Diaz
Mayor Manuel “Manny” Diaz was first elected as Mayor of the City of Miami on November 13, 2001 and then re-elected to a second term in 2005. As Mayor, he has focused on operating the government as a service-focused organization, improving the quality of life in all neighborhoods, and advancing the economic health of the entire city.
Born on November 5, 1954, in Havana, Cuba, Mayor Diaz and his mother, Elisa, fled Cuba in 1961. He attended Belen Jesuit Prep School and continued his education at Miami-Dade Community College, Florida International University and the University of Miami Law School, graduating with high honors at both Miami-Dade and FIU. Mayor Diaz’s work in Miami is earning him national recognition. Considered one of America’s leading Mayors, Diaz was recently honored as the Manhattan Institute's Urban Innovator of the Year for 2004. Previous winners of the prestigious recognition include Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams (2003), Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley (2002), and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (2000). Mayor Diaz is also a member of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Civic Innovation advisory board and is currently a partner in the law firm of Diaz & O’Naghten, L.L.P.
Alejandro Gomez Monteverde
Mexican-born director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde moved to the United States at the age of 17, to Austin, Texas to pursue his film career. Mr. Monteverde graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an undergraduate degree in film. His first short film, Bocho, was followed by Waiting for Trains, which screened at many festivals, and The Alchemy of Thieves.
He has also directed several commercials and documentaries. Bella marks the feature directorial debut for Alejandro Monteverde, who also co-wrote its original screenplay. His first film, Bella took top prize at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival by winning the highly-coveted “Peoples Choice Award”, a distinction which puts it in the company of such Oscar-winning films as Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Life is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Hotel Rwanda. Mr. Monteverde is married to actress and former miss USA, Ali Landry.
Miguel Orozco was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. When he arrived to the United States, even though he could not speak a word of English and was not yet a citizen, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Mr. Orozco joined the U.S. Marine Corps because he felt that he should give back to his adopted country. He learned English and as he likes to say, learned to love America in the Marines. Mr. Orozco lives by the Marine motto of Semper Fi!
Mr. Orozco is professional consultant and heads the International Affairs practice of the Law Firm of Law Offices of James Roche in Orange County, California. He was recently appointed to the Hispanic 100 of Orange County, a prestigious professional organization of renowned private sector leaders. Most importantly, Mr. Orozco is a community leader. He works with the Lincoln-Juárez Opportunity Center of Santa Ana, which helps immigrants access vital services such as ESL classes, immigration services, employment, and health care. Mr. Orozco works with the center to provide his professional and life expertise to help immigrants integrate into American civic culture. He is married to Elizabeth Orozco and they have two children: Yesenia and Carlos.
Dr. Ricardo Ernst
Dr. Ricardo Ernst was born in Venezuela on January 9, 1959. He is a professor at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University. He holds a civil engineering degree from the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello and a master's in business administration from the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración, both in Venezuela. Dr. Ernst received a graduate degree and his doctorate in operations management from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is currently the co-director of the Global Logistics Research Program at Georgetown University School of Business.
Dr. Ernst has consulted with several national and international firms, including General Motors, CASE Corporation, Fairchild Industries, Fritz Companies and The World Bank. His contributions have appeared in several journals and his research interests include strategic analysis of logistics systems at both macro and micro levels. He is the co-author of a book on Global Operations and Logistics (John Wiley and Sons 1998) which includes an innovative framework as well as a series of cases from Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Latin America. Dr. Ernst is a member of INFORMS, Council of Logistics Management, POMS, and APICS, and is in the Editorial Review Board of Production and Operations Management and the Journal of Global Information Management.
The Honorable Alfonso Martinez-Fonts, Jr.
On November 27, 2005, Alfonso “Al” Martinez-Fonts, Jr. was appointed Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector Office at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As Assistant Secretary, Mr. Martinez-Fonts is charged with providing America’s private sector with a direct line of communication to the Department. He and the Private Sector Office work directly with individual business and through trade associations and other non-governmental organizations to foster dialogue between the private sector and the Department.
Mr. Martinez-Fonts was born in Havana, Cuba. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from Villanova University in 1971 and his master’s degree in business administration in finance from Long Island University in 1974. He began his 30-year career with Chemical Bank (a JP Morgan Chase predecessor organization) as a management trainee and worked his way through the organization as a lending officer in the Metropolitan Division and the International Division. He then became president of the Bank in San Antonio. In April 2002, he retired as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Chase Bank. Mr. Martinez-Fonts has served on many boards, including The Greater El Paso Chamber Foundation, Project ARRIBA, ACCION International, and ACCION USA.
The Honorable Josefina G. Carbonell
Josefina G. Carbonell was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2001. She has extensive experience in community-based long-term care services having served as the President and CEO of Little Havana Activities & Nutrition Centers (LHANC) in Dade County, Florida, an organization she helped establish in 1972.
A native of Cuba, Ms. Carbonell attended Florida International University and was the recipient of a fellowship in health management at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As the longest-serving Assistant Secretary for Aging, Ms. Carbonell has focused on the importance of community-based organizations helping adults as they age. Under her leadership, the National Family Caregiver Support Program was successfully implemented. Ms. Carbonell is also focused on establishing enduring partnerships among health and human service entities at the national, state, and local levels to further healthy aging and care for adults as they age. She is nationally recognized for her work and is the recipient of numerous awards.
Rear Admiral Dr. Cristina V. Beato, FAAFP
Dr. Cristina V. Beato is focused on leading the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts to reduce health disparities, combat HIV/AIDS, encourage prevention strategies for reducing chronic diseases, and advance women's health. She is a spokesperson for HHS and has been actively involved in the Department's efforts to encourage immunizations, increase preparedness for public health emergencies, promote research integrity and ethics, and establish a women's hospital in Afghanistan.
Board certified in family medicine, Dr. Beato has dedicated her professional life to improving the health and well being of individuals, families, and communities. She emigrated from Cuba in her childhood, and went on to receive her undergraduate and medical school education at the University of New Mexico (UNM). During her medical residency, Dr. Beato instituted the first formal medical community outreach program for abused, neglected, and abandoned children at the All Faiths Receiving Home in Albuquerque where she later served as medical director. Prior to joining the Department, Dr. Beato served her community in various capacities, including as the UNM School of Medicine associate dean for clinical affairs and chief medical officer of the UNM Hospital System, the first woman to serve in that position.
The Honorable Dina Habib Powell
Dina Habib Powell was nominated by President Bush to be Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs on April 29, 2005, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 24, 2005. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also designated her as Deputy Under Secretary and principal deputy to Ambassador Karen Hughes, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
Assistant Secretary Powell leads the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the team that administers exchange programs that are among the most effective tools of public diplomacy. Previously, Assistant Secretary Powell served as Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel, a senior staff member at the White House. Assistant Secretary Powell is currently a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. Assistant Secretary Powell graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin. She was born in Cairo, Egypt.
Indra K. Nooyi
Chairman-elect and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, Indra K. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and directed worldwide strategy for over a decade. She was the primary architect of PepsiCo’s restructuring and transformation, which added some of the world’s strongest health and wellness brands to PepsiCo’s portfolio. While at PepsiCo, Mrs. Nooyi has also served as President and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Ms. Nooyi spent four years as Senior Vice President of Strategy, Planning and Strategic Marketing for Asea Brown Boveri, Inc. She was also Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning at Motorola, Inc.
Mrs. Nooyi was born in Madras, India. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Madras Christian College and a graduate degree in business administration from Indian Institute of Management. Mrs. Nooyi also earned a graduate degree in public and private management from Yale University. She is a member of Yale University’s President’s Council on International Activities and also serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the International Rescue Committee, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, Motorola, Eisenhower Fellowships, and Asia Society.
Farooq Kathwari is Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc. He has been President of the Company since 1985 and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 1988. In 1989, he formed a group to purchase Ethan Allen and took the Company public in 1993. Under Mr. Kathwari’s leadership, Ethan Allen has transformed into a leading manufacturer and retailer of home furnishings in the United States.
Mr. Kathwari was born in Kashmir and earned his undergraduate degree from Kashmir University in English literature and political science and a graduate degree in business administration from New York University. He serves on several not-for-profit organizations, including Chairman of the National Retail Federation, Refugees International, and the Kashmir Study Group. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Trustee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, a Trustee of Freedom House, a Director of Henry L. Stimson Center, and a Director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.
As a Houston City Council Member, Mr. Khan has a long record of community service. He has served as Vice President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston and President of the Pakistan American Association of Greater Houston. He also served on the Small Business Advisory Board of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. Currently, Mr. Khan is the President of MAK Development, Inc. a real estate development company in Houston, TX.
Mr. Khan is a living example of the American dream. Earning undergraduate degrees in physics, mathematics, and engineering from the Universities of Sind and Karachi, Pakistan; he went on to earn two graduate degrees, one in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, and a graduate degree in business administration from Rice University. Mr. Khan has been married for 32 years to Dr. Attiya Khan, a renowned Cardiologist in Houston, TX and the first female cardiology fellow at the Texas Heart Institute. Together, he and his wife have one son, Faraz.
Dr. Samuel G. Saldívar
Dr. Samuel G. Saldívar is a professor emeritus of Spanish and director of instruction at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Dr. Saldívar was born in Mexico, and in 1956, he was invited by Mr. Merrill Hathaway Ruggles, a high school teacher from Punta Gorda, Florida, to study in the United States. At Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Dr. Saldívar began to learn English in the eleventh grade. Upon graduating from high school, he entered Florida State University (FSU) where he earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish, French, and English, and a graduate degree in foreign language pedagogy. He joined the FSU faculty as an instructor in the Foreign Languages Education Department.
In 1966, Dr. Saldívar became a civilian instructor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages at the United States Military Academy (USMA). At that time, there was only one civilian instructor for each language. While teaching full time, he earned a doctorate in Latin American Literature at New York University. In 1989, he became a naturalized United States citizen. In 1994, Dr. Saldívar was promoted to the rank of Professor of Spanish, and for the last eleven years, he has held the position of Director of Instruction in the Department of Foreign Languages. He has been a member of several USMA faculty committees and has participated in numerous institutional and community projects and activities. Using his leave time for twenty summers, Dr. Saldívar also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the Spanish School at Middlebury College. Dr. Saldívar and his wife, Toni, met at Florida State University as undergraduates. They have two sons, Samuel and Matthew.
Vartan Gregorian is the twelfth president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grant-making institution founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911. The pledge Mr. Gregorian made early in life to become “a person of learning and consequence,” has served him well. Born to Armenian parents in Tabriz, Iran in 1934, Mr. Gregorian came to the United States to attend Stanford University in 1956 and began a prestigious career in academia.
Mr. Gregorian joined the University of Pennsylvania faculty in 1972 and was appointed Tarzian Professor of History and professor of South Asian history. He was founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and four years later became its twenty-third provost until 1981. As president of the New York Public Library from 1981 to 1989, Mr. Gregorian is credited with changing the direction of the institution and bringing the library back from the brink of bankruptcy. In 1989, Mr. Gregorian was named president of Brown University where he increased the prominence of the university, tripling the university’s endowment and diversifying the student body. Today, Mr. Gregorian serves on the boards of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art.
Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, Jr.
Eduardo Aguirre, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Andorra, was appointed by President George W. Bush and sworn-in by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He presented diplomatic credentials to H. M. King Juan Carlos I of Spain on June 29, 2005. He also presented credentials to President Jacques Chirac and Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicília, Co-Princes of Andorra. Previously, he served, as the first Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an Under Secretary rank position in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He led a team of 15,000 employees serving over 6 million annual applicants seeking immigration benefits. Under his leadership, USCIS made significant and measurable progress towards eliminating the application backlog, improving customer service, and enhancing national security. Previously, he served as the Acting Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and President of Bank of America’s International Private Bank.
Ambassador Aguirre earned an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University (LSU). He is a graduate of the American Bankers Association's National Commercial Lending Graduate School. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Connecticut, the University of Houston, and the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago in the Dominican Republic. Born in 1946, Ambassador Aguirre and his wife, Maria Teresa, each emigrated from Cuba as “unaccompanied minors” at the age of 15. The Aguirres have two adult children, Eddy and Tessie.
Peter W. Schramm
Peter W. Schramm is the executive director of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs and a professor of Political Science at Ashland University. Prior to his work at Ashland, he served in the Reagan Administration as the director of the Center for International Education in the United States Department of Education. Before entering government service, Dr. Schramm was the president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, in Claremont, California. Dr. Schramm earned his doctorate in government from the Claremont Graduate School in 1980. He holds two graduate degrees, one from Claremont in Government and the other in International History from The London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London.
Dr. Schramm has edited, co-edited, and contributed to a number of books, including, Natural Right and Political Right, The 1984 Election and the Future of American Politics, Lessons of the Bush Defeat, American Political Parties and Constitutional Politics, Consequences of the Clinton Victory, Separation of Powers and Good Government, Statecraft and Power, History of American Political Thought, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and wrote the Introduction to Lord Charnwood’s Abraham Lincoln: A Biography (Madison Books, 1996). Dr. Schramm was born in Hungary in 1946. He and his family left Hungary in late 1956 after the Communist revolution and made their way to America.
Franklin Chang Diaz
Franklin Chang Diaz is an astronaut, rocket scientist and a new space entrepreneur. He was born April 5, 1950, in San José, Costa Rica and, after completing his secondary education, immigrated to the United States in 1968 to pursue his dream of space flight. After learning English as a senior student at Hartford Public High School he earned a scholarship to the University of Connecticut. He earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut and a doctorate (1977) in applied plasma physics from MIT.
Selected by NASA in May 1980, Dr. Chang Diaz became an astronaut in August 1981. A veteran of seven space flights, he has logged over 1,600 hours in space, including 19 hours and 31 minutes in three spacewalks. In July of 2005, Dr. Chang Diaz left NASA for the private sector. He is the founder and current Chairman and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company, a private firm specializing in advanced plasma rockets based in Houston Texas, with research operations in Houston and Costa Rica. Dr. Chang Diaz, inventor of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR, U.S. patent 2002) and other advanced propulsion technologies founded the Ad Astra Rocket Company in 2005, after 25 years of service as a NASA astronaut. He continues to serve in academia as an adjunct professor of Physics at Rice University and the University of Houston. He is married and has four daughters.
Born Gloria Maria Fajardo in Havana, Cuba, her family fled Cuba in 1959, when Fidel Castro seized power of the country, and settled in a neighborhood behind Miami’s Orange Bowl Stadium. In 1975, she met Emilio Estefan, who invited her to join his band, which eventually became the Miami Sound Machine. Starting in 1985, the band became an international success with such songs as, "Conga" and "Words Get In The Way." Throughout her career with the Miami Sound Machine and as a solo artist, Ms. Estefan has sold 70 million albums worldwide and won five Grammy Awards.
Ms. Estefan has received numerous recognitions and honors. In 1992, she was invited by President George Bush to serve as a public member of the United States Delegation to the 47th General Assembly to the United Nations. In addition, she was the first-ever Latin female to receive the BMI “Songwriter of the Year” award. She has composed 15 of her own Top 10 Hits and has written worldwide hits recorded by renowned artists such as Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. Ms. Estefan is married to Emilio Estefan and they have two children, Nayib and Emily Marie.
Emilio Estefan arrived in the United States from Cuba as a teenager during the 1960s. He has been instrumental in the careers of many artists such as Carlos Ponce, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jon Secada, Victor Manuelle, Carlos Vives, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, among many others. Mr. Estefan is also involved in film, television, hotels, and restaurants. He has produced television events for four different broadcasting companies including CBS (The Latin Grammy’s), NBC (The Hispanic Heritage Awards), Telemundo (Nuevas Voces de America), and Univision (Nuestra Navidad). President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Estefan as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Mr. Estefan has more than 70 musical productions to his credit, and more than 25 music videos, including over 30 Grammy Award nominated productions, which resulted in 14 awards. He was honored as the first "Person of the Year" by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In addition, Mr. Estefan, with his wife, established The Gloria Estefan Foundation for the purpose of supporting various organizations that work toward research and cures for different illnesses that effect children all over the world.
Major General Antonio M. Taguba, United States Army, (Retired)
Antonio M. Taguba was born in Manila, Republic of the Philippines. His father was in the U.S. Army while his mother raised seven children. When Major General Taguba (ret.) was eleven years old the family moved to Hawaii where he graduated from high school. He graduated from Idaho State University in 1972 and joined the U.S. Army. He assumed increasingly responsible positions with commensurate rank and studied at prestigious military schools, including the U.S. Command and General Staff College, U.S. Naval Command and Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. He earned three graduate degrees.
In June 1995, he was Commander of the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, TX. From 2004 to 2006, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (Readiness, Training and Mobilization) in Washington, DC. His military career covered 34 years and included a three-year tour of duty in Germany and six years in Korea. Major General Taguba (ret.) has received various decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and the Meritorious Service medal. He retired in 2006 and now pursues a full-time position. He also heads a U.S. Army mentoring program, pro bono, to train Asian Pacific American officers and enlisted men to succeed in their military career. Major General Taguba (ret.) is a member of the Japanese American Veterans Association, the Asian American Veterans Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Katja Bullock was born and raised in Germany. She emigrated to the United States in 1965, having seen the conclusion of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War that divided Germany. Upon arriving in the states, Ms. Bullock became interested in American politics. She became a citizen and registered to vote so that she could participate in the American democracy. Since 1976, Ms. Bullock, has been a part of every presidential campaign as a volunteer or a paid staffer. With more than 30 years of experience in politics, today Ms. Bullock works in The White House, serving as a Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel. She held the same position and duties under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
As the Operations Officer in the Office of Presidential Personnel, Ms. Bullock is responsible for all non-career appointments at the Office of Personnel Management, the General Services Administration, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Merit System Protection Board, and the Government Printing Office. Ms. Bullock oversees the Correspondence Unit, the Resume Management Group, as well as the clearance and nominating process of all presidential appointments in the federal government. In 2002, she accepted an assignment in Iraq as the Director of Civilian Personnel. Her efforts there helped establish the Coalition Provisional Authority government in Iraq.
As a native of Vienna, Austria, Dr. Luis Glaser and his family fled the Holocaust when he was only six and settled in Mexico where he grew up. Dr. Glaser graduated with honors from the University of Toronto in 1953 with an undergraduate degree. He then came to the United States to Washington University in St. Louis to pursue a doctorate, which he received in 1956. After 30 years on the faculty of Washington University and for the last 10 years as Chairman of the Department of Biology and Chemistry and Director of the Division of Biology and Biomedical Science, he joined the University of Miami as Executive Vice President and Provost in 1986.
Dr. Glaser retired from that position in July of 2005 and is currently a Professor of Biology and Special Assistant to the President. Dr. Glaser is the author of over 180 scientific articles in major scientific journals. His memberships in societies include Sigma Xi, American Society of Biological Chemists, American Chemical Society of Microbiology, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society for Neuroscience, and Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, and has been editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Cell Biology.
Chief Warrant Officer Abida S. Shoyeb
Abida Sultana Shoyeb is a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. She is originally from Pakistan and immigrated to the U.S. with her mother in 1989, and joined the military. After enlisting in the United States Army, Chief Shoyeb wanted to become a U.S. citizen and was naturalized on February 27, 1998 in Port Hueneme, CA.
Her first assignment was in Great Lakes, IL working at the commissary from June 1991-May 1996. Chief Shoyeb was assigned to the Western Pacific District Veterinary Command, Guam with duty at Singapore Branch Veterinary Service in June 2001. While there, she and her senior enlisted NCO headed the Food Safety and Quality Assurance department. Chief Shoyeb is now assigned to the South Atlantic District Veterinary Command at Fort Stewart, GA. Chief Shoyeb has been recognized with many awards and decorations which include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medals, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medals, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Non-commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbons, and Overseas Service Ribbons.
Major Manuel Dominguez
Born in Havana, Cuba, Major Manuel Dominguez and his mother escaped communism when he was two weeks old. His father was forced to stay behind for not accepting the communist ideology. Major Dominguez was raised in Miami, FL and in 1986 completed high school and enlisted in the United States Marines. Shortly after, Major Dominguez became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988. Major Dominguez served for General Schwarzkopf in 1990. He deployed to the war with the General and upon returning from the war, General Schwarzkopf awarded him the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his superb performance. Major Dominguez returned to duty in Tampa, FL, and completed his graduate degree in business administration.
By age 24, Major Dominguez had been accepted to the School of Computer Science at Nova Southeastern University’s doctorate program. During his doctorate, Major Dominguez rose quickly through civilian sector ranks in the systems arena. At 29, he had become a chief information officer. In 2005, Major Dominguez wanted to serve again in the military and transitioned back to active duty as an IT Flight Commander. Currently, Major Dominguez is the Chief of Expeditionary Systems, where he is managing a multi-million dollar project to rollout an electronic health record.
Captain Rasul Alsalih
Born in 1956 in Samawah, Captain Rasul Alsalih is a native of Southern Iraq. Captain Alsalih is currently serving on active duty as the Chief of Design, Detachment 15 of the United States Air Force in his former homeland, Iraq. In August of 1992, Captain Alsalih and his family were selected to relocate to the United States and arrived on September 24, 1992. Captain Alsalih and his wife became American citizens at the NY Supreme Court in Binghamton in 1997. In 2004, Captain Alsalih returned to Iraq to serve as the liaison officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Government, working closely with Ambassadors Bremer, Browning and Jeffrey. The U.S. Army commanding officer, Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, granted him the right to wear the 1st CAV’s combat patch for his tireless support and contribution.
Captain Alsalih proudly serves each day for his new country to provide hope and promise for the people of Iraq. He says, "I always feel that I am indebted to this country (the United States); my wife, daughter’s lives and mine were saved from a certain death and we would have been killed in a horrific way similar to what happened to those who could not make it and for the dream opportunity given to me to restart my life. I will do my best to pay back as much as I can by serving in the military and deploy where ever I am ordered to go to. I am certain that I will not be able to pay back all the debt but I will keep on trying.”
Captain Van T. Thai
Captain Van T. Thai is a mobility instructor pilot assigned to the 18th Operations Support Squadron (OSS), Kadena Air Base (AB), Okinawa, Japan. Captain Thai was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1976. Captain Thai and his family became naturalized U.S. citizens in 1990 after immigrating to the United States from Vietnam in 1983 and settled in Oklahoma City, OK. Captain Thai has exhibited superior leadership and has accomplished several outstanding achievements during his military service. Captain Thai epitomizes responsible citizenship and he has an endless commitment to this country.
Captain Thai attended Westmoore High School where he took on many leadership roles and then went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy. Captain Thai entered undergraduate pilot training (UPT) and continued to excel. Operationally, he deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom and executed POTUS/SECDEF-directed missions and was awarded an aerial achievement medal for his skillful flying in a hostile environment. Captain Thai finished his first graduate degree in economics and is working on his second graduage degree in international relations. Captain Thai is an outstanding officer that excels at his duties and strives to seek out opportunities to enrich himself and the community.
Technical Sergeant Oluwasina Awolusi
Technical Sergeant Oluwasina J. Awolusi is a pharmacy craftsman assigned to the 42d Medical Support Squadron, 42d Medical Group, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. He was born in 1979, in Lagos, Nigeria. He attended Camden County College, NJ completing his associates degree in applied science. He entered the United States Air Force in October 1997 after one year at Camden County College. He received his citizenship in 2002 while stationed at Hurlburt Field, FL.
Technical Sergeant Awolusi was deployed to Ali Al Salem Airbase in Kuwait in 2002 where he was a flight leader of operations. He was also deployed to Al Udeid Air Base. During this tour he was an active member of the base honor guard and the Base Top 4. He was named January 2005 Pharmacy Outstanding Performer, 3rd MDSS and MDG NCO of the quarter, 3rd MDSS NCO of the Year, 2005. Technical Sergeant Awolusi’s educational accomplishments include a CCAF degree in pharmacy technology, an associate's degree in industrial technology, and a graduate of Hurlburt Field Airman Leadership School in 2002. He also holds a national certification as a pharmacy technician.
Chief Warrant Officer Mitzie A. Robinson
Chief Warrant Officer Mitzie A. Robinson joined the United States Coast Guard in 1983 and since then she has risen to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. Born in Jamaica, she chose to become a United States citizen after serving three years of active duty service. She was naturalized in 1987, achieving her goal of U.S. citizenship. During CWO Robinson’s off-duty time, she participates in numerous community projects. She assisted Lucy Stone Elementary School, Dorchester, MA in building a playground. Once the plan was approved CWO Robinson volunteered to help build the playground. She also volunteered her off-duty time to participate in school book fairs and tutoring elementary students. In recognition, CWO Robinson was awarded the SECDOT Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement.
CWO Robinson is actively pursuing an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. She has been recognized for her work which has earned her many awards including: Coast Guard Commendation Medal, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, Joint Service Achievement medal, four Commandant Letters of Commendation, seven Good Conduct Awards, two Enlisted Person of the Quarter Awards, Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement, and Honoree for the Women Officers Professional Association for exceptional leadership and mentorship qualities.
General John Shalikashvili (Retired)
An American military general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili was born June 27, 1936 in Warsaw, Poland. His family came to the United States in 1952, and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1958. In a military career that spanned over 30 years, Shalikashvili served as NATO's 10th Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and became the first foreign-born Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In August 1991 he became assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He next served as Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (SACEUR) and Commander in Chief of the United States European Command from June 1992 to October 1993. General Shalikashvili was then appointed by President Bill Clinton as the 13th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Department of Defense), assuming his duties in October 1993. In this capacity, he served as the principal military adviser to the president, the secretary of defense and the National Security Council. Prior to serving as Chairman, he served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, and also as the Commander in Chief of the United States European Command. In September 1997 he stepped down as Chairman and retired from the Army.
Anna Prager came to the United States as a holocaust survivor in 1952 at age 16, with her parents, who had escaped from Europe before World War II. They had escaped from Poland into Russia during the Russo-German Pact. After the war, they returned to Poland to find all of their close family killed in the war. They emigrated to Sweden, then to Israel, from Israel to Canada, and finally to the U.S. The family settled in New York City, where Ms. Prager attended high school at Seward Park and attended Queens College.
In her professional life, Ms. Prager has touched many people’s lives in a variety of roles including research chemist and chemistry teacher, community planner and policy analyst, and leader of Rhode Islanders for a Drug Free Community. Ms. Prager has also served in leadership positions on the South Kingstown Town Council, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, Save the Bay, Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, Governor's Council on Environmental Affairs, Rhode Island Section of American Planners Association, and Rhode Island Land Use Commission. Ms. Prager has been recognized as an outstanding leader with the Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Planners Association and the Leadership Rhode Island Community Service Award.
As an immigrant from Hong Kong, Tze Ng arrived in the U.S. as a student in 1976 having obtained a degree from a Hong Kong college in social work. He is now a leader and one of five Deacons for the largest Chinese community church in the region, the Chinese Christian Church of Rhode Island, in Pawtucket. Mr. Ng is on the board of the Rhode Island Association of Chinese Americans. These two organizations are the only organizations that provide support to the Chinese community in Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts. Additionally, Mr. Ng is a former board member and current advisory board member of the International Institute of Rhode Island.
Mr. Ng began his professional life as an entrepreneur in dry cleaning. He then moved into commercial development and in this role has had significant community impact. For example, one building he developed includes the 66,000 square foot building that houses his church, the Chinese Christian Church, as well as space for a variety of other community activities. Although a very humble man, Mr. Ng has played an important leadership role in Rhode Island and to the growing Chinese community in the region as both a civic and business leader.