An Austin man has received one of the highest honors bestowed by the King of Spain to foreign citizens, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit.
Octavio Hinojosa Mier received the award Monday at a Washington, D.C., ceremony from Spain’s Ambassador to the United States, Ramón Gil-Casares. A proclamation from Spain’s King Juan Carlos recognized Hinojosa for his leadership in promoting stronger U.S.-Spanish relations.
A native of Los Angeles who grew up in Kansas, the 41-year-old Hinojosa lives in North Austin with his wife, Gina, and their three children. He is the vice president of government relations for Austin-based marketing and communications firm Cultural Strategies.
“I’m still on cloud nine, as you can imagine,” Hinojosa said Friday about the award.
For much of his career, Hinojosa has promoted the U.S. Hispanic community as a partner with foreign governments and organizations. Before joining Cultural Strategies, he was the founding executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, where he said he built ties with the Spanish embassy, facilitating meetings with members of Congress.
Hinojosa said the honor demonstrates how foreign governments are recognizing the emerging influence of U.S. Hispanics. In the case of Spain, he said, “it’s a strategic initiative on their part to reconnect with the second-largest demographic group in the U.S.,” and to establish stronger commercial ties with the United States.
More than two dozen Spanish companies are currently investing in Texas and creating jobs here, Hinojosa said.
In 2004, Hinojosa was selected to participate in the Young Hispanic Leaders program, which each year selects five American professionals between the ages of 28 and 38 to travel to Spain. There, Hinojosa said his group met with Prince Felipe and proposed creating the nonprofit Young Hispanic Leaders Association, which celebrates its fifth convention next week in Miami, hosting Spanish business and political leaders and alumni of the U.S. Hispanic leaders program.