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Sold-Out MAPS 2016 Awards Gala Raises Record Funding and Honors Inspirational Leaders

A magical evening of inspiring award recipients, cultural entertainment, glamorous red carpet arrival, silent auction and an elegant banquet helped the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) raise a record $162,000 at the nonprofit organization’s 2016 Awards Gala in Cambridge on April 9th.


MAPS 2016 Person of the Year: David Simas, Former Assistant to President Barack Obama and Former Director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach

MAPS gave its Person of the Year Award to David Simas, a first-generation Portuguese-American attorney from Taunton who rose through local and state government positions to become a top advisor to President Barack Obama.

Simas, Director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach as well as a Presidential advisor, accepted the health and social service provider’s highest annual award from Pinto and MAPS Board President Paula Coutinho, LICSW, with characteristic humility.

“You understand that, being the son of an immigrant, you don’t do anything by yourself,” he said. “All of us who achieve anything in life do so because we stand on the shoulders of other people who made our lives possible.”

MAPS 2016 Manuel N. Coutinho Oustanding Volunteer: Lidia Souza, New England Community Center

Lidia Souza of Stoughton received the MAPS Manuel N. Coutinho Outstanding Volunteer Award named after the late Manny Coutinho, a longtime MAPS volunteer who helped hundreds of immigrants prepare to become U.S. citizens.

Souza, a Brazilian immigrant, is well-known for volunteering on many social causes and community fundraising campaigns, such as the one to assist young cancer survivor Filipe Wolff.

She also recently founded the New England Community Center in Stoughton, which provides educational, cultural, health and social services targeting the Brazilian community.

MAPS 2016 Alvaro Lima Outstanding Business Award: Maria Moreira, Executive Director, World Farmers

Maria Moreira of Lancaster, MA, Executive Director of World Farmers and an Azorean immigrant, was presented with the MAPS Álvaro Lima Outstanding Business Award.

World Farmers has provided land, support and technical assistance for many years on agricultural production and marketing to multitudes of immigrant, refugee and historically under-served small farmers from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

MAPS 2016 Mary & Manuel Rogers Lifetime Community Service Award: Victor M. Do Couto, MMHS

Victor M. Do Couto, MMHS, of Somerville, received the MAPS Mary & Manuel Rogers Lifetime Community Service Award for more than three decades of public service, including a total of 23 years with MAPS in its various forms.

During his tenure, he oversaw major renovations on what later became the MAPS Cambridge Office; greatly expanded MAPS funding and services; opened new offices in Allston/Brighton and Lowell; and successfully advocated for immigrant communities on a variety of issues.

MAPS 2016 Jorge Fidalgo Community Service Award: Aminah Fernandes Pilgrim, Ph.D.

Aminah Fernandes Pilgrim, Ph.D., from Southeastern Massachusetts, was honored with the MAPS Jorge Fidalgo Community Service Award.

Pilgrim, of Cabo Verdean and Caribbean descent, recently took over as Executive Director of CVC UNIDO.

She also founded the H.I.P.H.O.P Initiative, which uses Hip Hop to increase media literacy among youth and their families in Greater Boston, and serves as an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at UMass Boston as well as an affiliated faculty member of the Pedro Pires Institute for Cape Verdean Studies at Bridgewater State University.