Siembra Latinos Fund Announces Inaugural Alfred Diaz-Infante Award Recipient: Ernesto Vela, Ed.D.

Monterey County, California — The Siembra Latinos Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County is proud to announce that Ernesto Vela, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services for the Monterey County Office of Education, is the recipient of the inaugural Alfred Diaz-Infante Award. The award was established in 2023 to honor the late Alfred Diaz-Infante, a community leader and nonprofit executive who created partnerships to elevate the Latino community in Monterey County.

In his 27 years in public education, Dr. Vela has served as an elementary school teacher, principal, district office administrator and program director. He considers himself a lifelong learner and constantly finds ways to build his knowledge and capacity. He holds two Master of Arts degrees in education and a doctorate in educational leadership. Intending to attend law school, he held a summer position supporting out-of-school youth for the Migrant Education Program. This short-term position made him realize that his true calling was in education, recognizing his potential to make a difference in the lives of others.

Dr. Vela cherishes his background as a migrant student and English language learner while attending Bardin Elementary, El Sausal Middle School and Alisal High School in Salinas. He stays active and gives back to the community as a member of the Salinas-Alisal Rotary Club and is in his tenth year as a board member and team leader for the Salinas Valley Dream Academy, a nonprofit youth leadership organization that supports high school youth with civic engagement, leadership development and college and career readiness.

I am thrilled and humbled to be recognized with this award. Thank you to the Siembra Latinos Fund, The Community Foundation for Monterey County, and especially the Diaz-Infante family for this great honor. I can’t express in words what this honor means to me” noted Dr. Vela when notified of the award selection.

The Alfred Diaz-Infante Award was created to honor his legacy by recognizing individuals who work in a collaborative way to make positive change for the Latino Community. “Siembra” means “to sow” and Alfred sowed seeds of goodwill and progress along his path, leaving this community better than he found it. The award is presented to someone who uses their position and influence in the community to advance positive change for Monterey County Latinos and has a commitment to areas including equitable opportunities, civic engagement, housing, education and the farmworker community.

“We are honored to present this award to Dr. Vela who carries on Alfred’s spirit as a champion for the Latino community in Monterey County,” said Lorraine Yglesias, Siembra Latinos Fund Co-Chair. “Our family is proud to honor the legacy of my brother by partnering with Siembra Latinos Fund on this award. We hope it will inspire others to continue in his footsteps,” said Louie Diaz-Infante, Alfred’s brother and member of the Siembra Latinos Fund Advisory Board.

The award will be presented at the Siembra Latinos Fund Annual Celebration on Thursday, September 28, 2023, at the Taylor Farms Headquarters in Salinas. Tickets and sponsorship information can be found here.

For more information, call (831) 375-9712 or visit

Thank you to our generous Event Sponsors:
Venue Sponsor – Taylor Farms
Presenting Sponsor – Soledad Community Health Care District
Presenting Sponsor – Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas
Presenting Sponsor – Salinas Valley Health
Presenting Sponsor – U.S. Bank
Platinum Sponsor – Bibiana & Joel Hernandez and CFMC Employee Matching Gift Program
Platinum Sponsor – Karina Gutierrez-Barboza & JP Barboza and CFMC Employee Matching Gift Program
Platinum Sponsor – Jose & Brenda Arreola
Platinum Sponsor – CHISPA
Platinum Sponsor – Soledad Hair Company

About the Siembra Latinos Fund

The Siembra Latinos Fund was created in 2017 to improve the quality of life for Latinos in Monterey County. It was created by a group of local Latino leaders to build on a culture of philanthropy and inspire giving by and for Latinos. “Siembra” means “to sow” and the fund seeks to grow opportunity for the Latino community in Monterey County. Siembra has granted more than $100,000 supporting education, mental health and economic development. It is an affiliate fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

About the Community Foundation for Monterey County

The mission of the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC) is “to inspire philanthropy and be a catalyst for strengthening communities throughout Monterey County.” Thanks to generous individuals, families and businesses who have created charitable funds, the CFMC has granted more than $268 million to nonprofits working towards healthy, safe, vibrant communities. For more information visit or call 831.375.9712.

About Alfred Diaz-Infante

The proud son of farmworkers who instilled their belief in the power of both education and home ownership, Alfred Diaz-Infante graduated from Hartnell College in 1984 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance and an M.B.A. in real estate and land use economics from the University of California, Berkeley. A gifted community leader who was passionate about improving lives and creating opportunity in the Salinas Valley, he was president and CEO of CHISPA (Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning), Inc., a nonprofit developer and provider of affordable housing based in Salinas.

Among a breadth of community service, Diaz-Infante served on the Hartnell College Foundation Board of Directors from 2007-17 and was a trustee of several local nonprofit and educational institution boards, including the Community Foundation for Monterey County, the Big Sur Land Trust, York School and Salinas Regional Sports Authority, and a past board member of the Youth Orchestra Salinas. His many honors include the 2015 Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award and the 2013 Distinguished Fellow Award from California State University, Monterey Bay for his work in community and public service.