Winners 2016

Vibrant faces of all backgrounds are featured in David Acevedo’s latest series of works. A Geisha, an African American woman, a Hispanic man—but none of these paintings were derived from a particular person. Acevedo instead began by sketching general features that eventually shaped stories of their own.

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A Guatemalan woman once brought her 2-year-old daughter in need of immediate surgery to a Lee Memorial Health System facility. The presiding physician needed consent from the distraught mother, who seemed confused at the physician’s questions, which were being asked in Spanish.

With little time to waste, the physician and unit director contacted the hospital’s diversity office, which concluded the mother knew only bits of Spanish and primarily spoke Mam, a minority indigenous language. Staff tracked down an independent Mam interpreter who came to speak with the mother. She consented to her daughter’s surgery and the little girl was operated on that same day.

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“Joy,” “Love,” “Believe,” “Relax.” Those are just some of the words that adorn the walls of House of Gaia, a nonprofit community center in Naples and project of Bee Gaia Inc.

It’s those simple concepts that founder and president Maria Luisa “Lulu” Malta Carter hopes to teach children and adults who visit the facility.

“We build up self-esteem, we build on their own skills. We give them room to exercise their own selves without fear of being judged,” Carter says.

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Javed Kapadia first joined State Farm Insurance as a summer intern working in auto accident claims before being hired fulltime in 1998 and eventually running his own business within the corporation.

Kapadia, whose heritage is Pakistani and religion is Muslim, says perhaps people looked at his initial employment as part of some sort of affirmative action plan, noting that some companies were participating in this practice during the late 1990s.

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Uprooting to another country as an adult might sound intimidating. For a teenage girl, it can be like a nightmare. But that is what Sylvia Dorisme had to do in order to better her life.

Financial aid did not exist back home in the Caribbean, and Dorisme’s mother could not afford to pay for her six children to go to school. So, at just 14, Dorisme was sent to the United States to earn an education.

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There was a point in time when Lipman Produce considered hanging a flag in its headquarters for each country represented by team members. “But we couldn’t because there just wasn’t enough room in our office,” says Jaime Weisinger, the company’s director of community and government relations.

As the nation’s largest field tomato grower, Lipman Produce employs some 8,000 people across the country—from Southwest Florida to the Pacific Northwest—many of whom hail from very different places.

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