The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) and Prospera recognized Florida Technical College (FTC) president Dr. James Michael Burkett as the Hispanic Community Champion of the Year at the prestigious Don Quijote Awards ceremony held at Epcot Center this past weekend.
The Hispanic Community Champion Award recognizes a non-Hispanic individual who has led by example in supporting the progress of Hispanics in the Central Florida region. It is one of the six coveted awards presented during the 25th anniversary celebration of the ceremony. Past winners include: former Florida Senator, Andy Gardiner and Clint Bullock, General Manager and CEO at Orlando Utilities Commission.
“To receive the Don Quijote Hispanic Community Champion Award is a privilege and I am deeply grateful for the recognition,” said Dr. James Michael Burkett, president of FTC. “AT FTC, we have worked together to make a significant positive impact in the lives of people in our campus communities and it is truly an honor to be recognized for these efforts.”
Dr. Burkett has played a central role in developing initiatives aimed at enriching the lives of underserved communities across the college’s footprint.
Under his tenure, FTC has won the Institution of the Year Award, twice, in 2020 and 2022. The honor presented by the FL Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC) is awarded for implementing outstanding practices that enhance student excellence and making significant contributions to the community. Also in 2022, FTC received the Medium Size Business of the Year Award from the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Unity Award, awarded to an organization who truly embodies the essence of the Kissimmee Chamber of Commerce’s core values, “Embracing Heritage,” “Creating Opportunity,” and “Building Unity.” Known for transforming FTC into one of the state’s strongest pipeline of Hispanic graduates in culinary arts, construction trades and allied health professionals, in only 6 years serving as president, the institution has established a solid identity built on diversity and inclusion, strong community partnerships, transparent leadership, collaborative decision- making and on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all students, especially to those from underserved populations, such as the Latino community.
His bold leadership and his relentless tenacity for ensuring a more inclusive and more equitable region was recognized by the Orlando Business Journal with the 2019 Diversity Business Award. This year, 2022, the leader has received multiple awards including HCCMO’s Ignitors of the Year Award, NBA Orlando Magic’s Magic Diversity Game Changers, FAPSC’s Member of the Year, Award and Osceola Star’s Education Star Award.
During the 25th Don Quijote Awards, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and Prospera also recognized Guacamole Mexican Grill, represented by owners Diego Rojas and Gustavo Aristizabal, winner of the Hispanic Business of the Year Award (established for five years or less), SkyBuilders USA, represented by company owners Marcela Restrepo and Juan Vélez, winner of the Hispanic Business of the Year Award (established for five years or longer), Luis Nieves-Ruiz, director of economic Development at East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, winner of the Professional of the Year Award and Former State Rep. Bob Cortes, senior administrator for Government Affairs for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, winner of the Excellence Award, and Modesto Alcalá, Senior Vice President of Global Restaurant Development and Placemaking for Universal Creative at Universal Orlando Resort, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award.