2009 Director’s Community Leadership Awards
Matilda Martinez Garcia is a devoted advocate for Hispanic Americans in Florida. Ms. Garcia is a third-generation Floridian whose grandfather came from Spain to Tampa via Cuba. Ms. Garcia was employed with Social Security as a Hispanic Officer for over 40 years. That position carried over to her personal life, where she represented the under-represented and looked out for the rights of the underprivileged, especially for the immigrant population. Ms. Garcia is regarded as a champion of Hispanics. She has been recognized for her efforts involving human rights, housing, schools, civic groups, government, and the elderly. She belongs to more organizations today than most people will join in a lifetime.
Ms. Garcia has served many years on the Tampa Bay Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committee. She served as the chair of the EEO, and today they have the “Matilda Garcia Total Commitment Award” in honor of the chair emeritus for her leadership and total commitment to the Tampa Bay Federal EEO Committee.
Ms. Garcia has dedicated herself to the Hispanic rights cause, which reflects her involvement in the State of Florida Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council, the Hispanic Advisory Council of the City of Tampa Chief of Police, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc., Hispanic Business Institute, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Hillsborough Scholarship Hispanic Foundation. Ms. Garcia is a lifetime member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest and largest Hispanic organization in the nation. She is a past Florida state director of LULAC.
Ms. Garcia is very concerned about civil rights, as her involvement in Floridian Representing Equity and Equality (FREE) indicates. She received the Advocacy Award from the National Association of Human Rights Workers in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in October 2000. In June 2001, Ms. Garcia received the National Jefferson Award given by the American Institute for Public Service founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Hon. Robert Taft, Sr. In 2002, she was awarded the Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award from The Community of Tampa Bay on behalf of all her efforts to promote dialogue and respect among cultures, religions, and races.
She is very concerned about the education of our young people and has sponsored scholarships worth thousands of dollars for the Latino Scholarship at the University of South Florida. As a member of the Florida Institute for Community Studies board of directors, Ms. Garcia speaks to children, relating stories of her childhood and her life growing up in Tampa as a child facing challenges in the Hispanic community.
Matilda Garcia follows this mantra: “Believe in what you do, be sincere, think of people who are less fortunate than you and may not be aware of their civil rights.”