The whole thing culminated with NALIP's annual awards to honor world-renowned advocacy and filmmaking pioneers like Ray Andrade, this year's recipient of the Pioneer Achievement for Advocacy award. Andrade was the inspiration and associate producer for the television series "Chico and the Man," the first US sitcom set in a Mexican-American neighborhood. Starring Freddie Prinze, the series ran from 1974 to 1978. Raphael Montaez Ortiz, was this year's recipient of the Pioneer Achievement Award. Montaez Ortiz is a Rutgers University professor of fine arts who completed his doctorate at Columbia University in 1982. In the late 1950s, Raphael was a central figure in the international art movement including one of the first U.S. Latino films. In 1969, he founded El Museo del Barrio. His work has been exhibited in collections at museums around the world, including the MoMA, and the Pompidou of Paris, France. These two media luminaries paved the way for the third honoree and Outstanding Achievement Award recipient, Kenny Ortega.

Ortega is an Emmy-award-winning producer/director/choreographer whose box office gross for his creative work just surpassed $1 billion. Mr. Ortega went on to fame when he choreographed the 1987 classic film "Dirty Dancing". He has won awards for choreography in music videos, such as Madonna's "Material Girl" and, together with Michael Jackson, created and designed the Dangerous World Tour 1992-1993 and the HIStory World Tour 1996-1997. Ortega has achieved unprecedented success as the director/co-producer of the "High School Musical" series phenomenon and the Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert. There is no doubt that the three individuals honored this year have certainly paved the way to change.

As clich as it sounds, if you can believe it, you truly can achieve it, and NALIP honors perfect examples of this idea every year, creating opportunities for hard working and well-deserving Latinos. Latin culture has long been regarded at the forefront of artistry and creativity in the world, and now, more than ever, we are finally seizing the roles of control and power that were simply unheard of in our parents' generation. What we choose to do with this power is up to us, but the most important aspect of commanding this respect and opportunity is to remain focused on who we are, as well as recognizing the hard work it took to get us here. Unity will always be one of our strongest assets and must not be forgotten as the torch is passed from generation to generation. No longer are we relegated to simply being entertainers, models, musicians, or athletes, we are at last creating a foothold on the corporate and industry sides of those entertainment professions that were previously closed doors to us in the past. The future is ours, let no one tell you what you can or can't do, and let no one deny you of your talents and aspirations, as dreams are all we've got in this lifetime. Let us take inspiration from those who have come before us as we seek out our own destinies. Be encouraged!

Since its inception in 1999, NALIP has emerged as the premiere Latino media organization addressing the most underrepresented and largest ethnic minority in the country.

NALIP has four national initiatives: The National Conference - NALIP 10: A DECADE OF INFLUENCE -- This year the conference included the second edition of the highly successful Latino Actorfest and a spectacular line up of keynote speakers and panelists. The conference also offered a "Loteria" which is a special cash prize awarded to a conference attendee for project development or completion. The Latino Media Market focused on selecting top film, television and documentary projects for targeted one-on-one meetings with executives, representatives and funders in order to facilitate more business deals and steps to production. This year NALIP added a category for completed films seeking distribution.