AAMA Announces Illumine Gala

Vanessa Hernandez AAMA News, Events

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 & 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.

To become a sponsor, view Sponsorship Opportunities. View Save the Date


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.


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.


Honorary Chairs

Brian and Veronica Neal

Veronica Neal 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.


View Photos from the 2021 Illumine Gala  |  George R. Brown Convention Center