As the National Football League and its teams will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the New Orleans Saints honored Kathia Duran at Sunday's game with the NFL Hispanic Heritage Foundation Leadership Award. The NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation have partnered to recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders in each team's market.
As the recipient of the award, Duran had the chance to select a non-profit of her choice to receive a $3,000 donation. As the Executive Director of the Latino Farmers Cooperative in Louisiana, she was humbled by the recognition and the opportunity to help increase funding towards the organization's mission.
"I'm very excited to have been chosen to represent the Latino community," she said. "Most importantly, it's something for all of those Latinos and Latinas who have brought culture and music to the beautiful city of New Orleans. It's an honor for their work ethics and how much they bring to the city's economy – I'm just the messenger."
The Latino Farmers Cooperative is a demand-driven, grassroots nonprofit organization planned that serves emerging farmers, gardeners and conscientious consumers by working together to provide access to farmland, resources, education and training so members can grow healthy food in urban sustainable farms, foster entrepreneurship and address the socioeconomic issues of the Latino community.
Since moving to New Orleans to study international business in 1990, Duran fell in love with the city and never left. During her time in the Crescent City, she's worked for a number of companies, but feels most passionate in her current role – with the non-profit Louisiana Farmers Cooperative.
"It's the first time in my life that I've been working for people in need," she said. "This award is not for the organization, it's for all of the Latinos and Latinas that will never be recognized – they're the ones cleaning homes, landscaping backyards, baby-sitting children, cleaning hotel rooms and most importantly, it's recognizing this wonderful work force for being here and making economical contributions to the city."
Excited for the opportunity for the organization to receive funding towards its mission, Duran also sees a bigger picture in the recognition.
"It means that Latinos are integrated in the make-up of not just the city of New Orleans, but are recognized as a vibrant community across the country that brings lots of culture and music and work force for this community," she said.