La Movida Radio celebrated the achievements of the local Latino community during their Ninth Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center on Oct. 11.

“Twenty years ago when Luis and I came to Wisconsin, there wasn’t a Spanish radio station in the entire state of Wisconsin so we were just looking for an opportunity to start this dream,” La Movida co-founder Lupita Montoto told the crowd

The Montotos began airing their first programs on the weekend way back in the day and now operate their 24/7 Spanish-language radio station. In fact, this past Monday the station celebrated 17 years of 24-hour broadcasting. The Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon offered an opportunity for attendees to sit back and reflect on the growth of the Latino community in both population and influence in Madison, as well as to recognize outstanding Madisonians for their contributions to the community. 

WISC-TV Editorial Director Niel Heinen wins the Amigo Award.

“We have Latino Chamber of Commerce and many, many organizations serving the Latino community,” Lupita Montoto said. “We are consumers. We are making a difference. Latinos are getting an education, opening new businesses. Latinos are making a difference in government.”

La Movida recognized several organizations and individuals at this year’s luncheon. Various awards were presented to the Latino Health Council (Community Institution of the Year), State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (Community Leader of the Year), Madison Alder Christian Albouras (Hispanic Achievement of the Year), WISC-TV Editorial Director Niel Heinen (The Amigo Award), State Farm Insurance agent Alejandra Bustamante (Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year), Latino Professionals Association President Nicole Sandoval (Believe and Succeed Award) and Madison Metropolitan School District Chief of High Schools Michael Hernandez (Making a Difference Award). 

Lupita Montoto presents Latino Professionals Association President Nicole Sandoval (right) with the Believe and Succeed Award. 

Zamarripa, who currently serves as the 8th District State Representative to the Wisconsin State Assembly, announced plans to run for Common Council in Milwaukee. She hopes to become the first Latina alder in the city. While she is excited to run, she also found it bittersweet that she would not travel as frequently to Madison. Zamarripa said she found a strong community among Latinos within Dane County.

“We are a young community. We are the future. We are the labor force so we need to demand our respect. We need to show our influence by voting in every election,” she said.

Various politicians, sponsors and police officers attended the luncheon Friday. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Madison Common Council President Shiva Bidar, Fitchburg Mayor Aaron Richardson, and Alder Julia Arata-Fratta stood on stage to present the Hispanic Heritage Proclamation. 

The ceremony, emceed once again by Murphy Desmond S.C. Attorney Mario Mendoza, featured words delivered by many supporters of La Movida. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Monica Sundal from the Office of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin offered special remarks for the program.

“In the last few years, Dane County has been very happy and fortunate to expand our partnerships with many organizations within many different Latino communities,” Parisi said. 

He said the county forged a great partnership with the Latino Academy of Workforce Development to help residents pursue drivers licenses. Parisi said the county would like to work towards making sure that Latinos are represented in various areas of the workforce. His 2020 budget proposal also includes additional support for an elevated Immigration Affairs Specialist position, currently held by Fabiola Hamdan, which will now a part of a new Office of Immigration Assistance. 

Luis and Lupita Montoto closed the programming thanking their supporters. 

“Latinos are the future and we contribute to this society like anybody and I really want that to be highlighted and recognized,” Luis Montoto said.