AAMA Announces Illumine Gala

Vanessa Hernandez AAMA News, Events

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The Illumine Gala benefiting AAMA (the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans) will be held on Friday, October 28, 2022, 6:30-11:30 p.m. at The Ballroom at Bayou Place, 500 Texas Ave. Houston, Texas 77002.

Proceeds will go towards AAMA’s programs, George I. Sanchez Charter Schools, Prevention & Counseling, Early Childhood Center, Adelante Adult Education, and Work and Learn Center.

AAMA serves 10,000 people each year, including nearly 1000 students at two Sanchez charter schools, individuals who are recovering from substance use disorders or at risk of communicable diseases including HIV, those who participate in our classes for workforce development and career pathways. These efforts are possible due to the generous support of the Houston community.

Purchase your tickets here, Sponsorship Opportunities.
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Corporate Honoree

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Gala Co-Chairs
Christian Diaz and Agostina Loiacono

Christian Diaz and Agostina Loiacono were wed in December 2020 after spending many months living on different continents due to the pandemic. Christian, an accomplished IT professional, manages project portfolios for the multinational commodity trading company, Trafigura. The veteran of the US Navy, and father of two enjoys serving the community, notably through his charitable work with Ronald McDonald House, and now as a Board member of AAMA. Agostina, a native of Comodoro Rivadavia, Chubut, Argentina, had just graduated from medical school when COVID-19 emerged. She and her fellow graduates set up mobile hospitals in Buenos Aires, treating COVID patients. The couple resides in Houston and are honored to be closely connected to AAMA.

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Gala Co-Chairs
Telisa and Tom Shead

Telisa and Tom Shead live in Pearland, TX, with their two boys. The Sheads were connected to AAMA through Telisa’s job at Amegy Bank. They were immediately impressed by the mission of helping the residents of the East End through many services including education, which they are both passionate about.  Telisa joined the AAMA Board of directors in 2017 and is currently serving at the Finance Chair and Chair Elect.  Tom and Telisa both are proud graduates of Sam Houston State University where they met, each getting a business degree. Telisa went the financial path while Tom went into graphic design and sales.  They will celebrate their 19th wedding anniversary just a couple of weeks after this year’s Illumine Gala.


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Honorary Chairs
Veronica and Brian Neal

Veronica and Brian Neal have three children ages 28, 25, and 21 yrs. old. The Neals own an insurance marketing company, and Brian Neal also practices as a Nurse Anesthetist [CRNA] in the greater Houston area. The Neals were introduced to AAMA as guests to the 2021 AAMA Gala and were immediately compelled to support education and advancement for students at AAMA. Veronica too, was a high-risk student raised in the barrios of East Los Angeles to immigrant parents from Mexico. Brian had rough upbringing with little guidance to pursue higher education.

The Neals are opening opportunities at their company for students to do paid internships in various career paths and have the company's leadership team participate in mentorship and volunteering within the AAMA organization.


Gala Emcees

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Emcee
Mayra Moreno

Mayra Moreno joined KTRK-TV Eyewitness News in October 2015.

A journalist with years of experience, Mayra has reported all over the state of Texas. She comes back to her hometown of Houston from KENS 5 in San Antonio, where she worked as the weekend anchor and reporter for four years.

Mayra's television career started at the Rio Grande Valley's news leader, KRGV-TV Channel 5 News in Weslaco, TX. Mayra covered an array of stories; from border-crime issues, to hurricane coverage and other problems affecting the community. A few years later, Mayra found her way back to Houston a as a fill-in anchor and reporter for KIAH-TV's CW 39 News.

Mayra is happy to return home to Houston. She's a proud alum of the University of Houston, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major in Journalism and Spanish.

Mayra loves being involved in the Hispanic community. When she's not talking to kids at local schools about the importance of staying in school, Mayra loves to spend her free time with family and friends, working out and cooking.


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Emcee
Erik Barajas

Erik Barajas joined KTRK-TV's 13 Eyewitness News in March 2008.

A true Texas journalist, Erik has worked as an anchor and a reporter all over the state. He came to Houston from KSAT 12 in San Antonio where he was a weekend anchor and reporter for four years.

His television career began in Corpus Christi, Texas at KZTV 10 where he wore several hats. He worked as a news photographer, reporter, producer and anchor. He says his involvement in all those different positions helped give him an understanding and perspective of the challenges it takes to produce the news. He later moved to Austin, Texas and to KTBC Fox 7 to be that station's weekend anchor and reporter.

One of the most notable stories Erik covered has been the crash of the space shuttle Columbia on the borders of Texas and Louisiana. Erik has also traveled to Louisiana to cover the Gulf Oil spill, and he reported from Austin, Texas, to cover President Barack Obama's visit there.

He says working in Houston at KTRK-TV is "a true blessing" because he can do what he does for a living "in front of family and friends". He adds, "Staying in Texas throughout my career, thus far has been eye opening in terms of really getting to know the state on a deeper level and realizing just how diverse this state really is."

Entertainment for the Evening


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Telisa and Tom Shead
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View Photos from the 2021 Illumine Gala  |  George R. Brown Convention Center