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Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association Honors Co-Founder Through Annual Award

News - Inclusiveness and Diversity | March 05, 2020


The Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA) will hold its 15th Annual Gala on Friday, March 6 in Minneapolis. Among the attendees is Todd Guerrero, whose father Manuel co-founded the association in 1991 and served as its first president. Though the senior Mr. Guerrero passed away in 2014, his legacy continues through the annual Manuel Guerrero Courage in Leadership Award.

Each year, the MHBA recognizes a community leader whose work advances social change and the capacity of others to improve the wellbeing and prosperity of the Latino community.

“During his long career, my father made an effort to make people of color, particularly Latinos and Latinas, feel like they were an important part of the Twin Cities and state legal community ,” said Todd Guerrero, partner and chair of Kutak Rock’s energy group. “It means a lot to our family that this award continues to honor him and more importantly those who are continuing his efforts.”

Manuel’s early efforts included working his way through college. “Dad was one of nine children whose parents immigrated from Mexico when they were very young and who settled in Indiana to raise their family,” said Mr. Guerrero. “He was the first of his family to attend college.” He attended the University of Notre Dame on a baseball scholarship but graduated from Franklin College of Indiana and the Indiana University School of Law. At just 29, he was elected a circuit court judge, and six years later ran for U.S. Congress. He also held several academic positions.

Manuel was a criminal defense attorney who represented Latinos and other underserved communities until his death six years ago. Some of his more high-profile cases drew criticism, but he was unfazed by controversy and public opinion. The Courage in Leadership Award memorializes the legacy of Manuel's lifetime of work as a friend, mentor, community leader, and advocate for justice.