Each year, Feria also honors community heroes that have served the Latino community in one of three areas: Education, Economic Development, and Arts and Culture. This year we honor three heroes who lost their lives last year, Educator Maritza Hernandez, Mental Health worker and cultural activist Dr. Dante Sanchez, and Community Leader Michael Thompson.
Quiet, unassuming, yet fiercely dedicated to educating students in and around her childhood neighborhood of Fairhill, her goal was to show students that they, like her, could make a difference in the world no matter the obstacles.
Dr. Dante Sánchez, a native of the Dominican Republic, was a pillar of the city’s Latino community as Director of the Latino Treatment Program at COMHAR and later as CEO of Cognitive Behavioral Services in Philadelphia. He Co-founded the Dominican Medical College, Delaware Valley Branch, co-founded the Dominican Parade and Festival, and founded the Dominican House of Culture all in Philadelphia. An avid dancer he was a member of the Dominican Dance Ensamble Larimar.
Michael Thompson served as the Director of Adult Education at Congreso de Latinos Unidos coordinating GED programs, digital literacy, ESL courses and more. He consistently served youth and community members looking to better their education and skills touching the lives of many with his thoughtful conversation and curiosity and his drive to make everyone and everything around him better.
He is survived by his life-partner of 26 years, Michael J. LoFurno.