PALCUS announces honorees for Leadership Awards

WASHINGTON — An internationally known cancer researcher, the first female superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, a champion for world language education and a relentless immigrant advocate are among those who will recognized at the 22nd Annual Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS) Awards Gala.

“This year, as in years past, our group of awardees are stellar,” PALCUS Chair Angela Simões told O Jornal. “They are all so different in their areas of industry and accomplishments — from medical research, to language education, to immigration services and advocacy to public safety — and all of them are at the top of their game.”

Dr. Ronald A. DePinho, the former director of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science and past president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will be receiving the PALCUS Leadership in Scientific Achievement Award. DePinho, who is internationally recognized for basic and translational research in cancer, aging and age-associated degenerative disorders, has been described as a visionary and innovator who seeks novel approaches to problems and challenges.

Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director for the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety, will be receiving the PALCUS Leadership in Public Service Award.

The first woman and the first Portuguese-American to be appointed to the position of Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, Assumpico possesses more than 40 years of law enforcement experience. The granddaughter of Portuguese immigrants, she has said that her heritage is the reason she is able to connect with others and lead the police force with an open mind.

Dr. Duarte Silva, executive director of the California World Language Project (CWLP) in the Graduate School of Education at StanfordUniversity, will be receiving the PALCUS Leadership in Education Award. Silva is responsible for providing leadership to the project designed to strengthen and enhance professional development opportunities for California’s language educators and oversee evaluation of the programs outcomes at each of seven CWLP regional sites.

Helena da Silva Hughes, the executive director for the Immigrants’ Assistance Center of New Bedford, will be receiving the PALCUS Leadership in Community Service. Hughes will be recognized for her commitment to serve as a resource for immigrant needs and developing programs for the overall benefit of the community. Under Hughes’ leadership, the center has tripled in size, currently providing services and advocacy to about 9,000 individuals per year.

Jordan Thomas, a Princeton University 2018 Rhodes Scholar, will be receiving the Young Portuguese-American “Promessa” Award. Thomas remains connected with his Portuguese and Newark, N.J., roots, and has interned in Portugal and volunteered in Brazil. This fall, he will use his Rhodes scholarship to pursue a Master’s in Philosophy concentrating in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford. He plans to return to the United States for law school and ultimately get involved in public policy, with plans to run for public office.

“The Gala continues to be one of the best ways for us to recognize the incredible talent and accomplishments of so many amazing people in our community,” Simões said. “It never gets old for me – in fact it’s almost a way for me to recharge my batteries and fuel my drive to keep working on all the programs and initiatives we have to help our community in so many ways.”

“How can your heart not burst with pride when you are in a room full of hard working people, dedicated to keeping our community alive and active, and we are there together to celebrate those who are so deserving of an award and so much more,” she added.

PALCUS will present the awards on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Washington Marriott at MetroCenter in Washington, D.C.

A special award will be presented to the Radio Voz do Emigrante of Fall River to mark its 30th anniversary.

This year’s gala honorary chairs will be Journalist and TV Personality Meredith Vieira and the Ambassador of Portugal to the United States Domingos Fezas Vital.

Master of ceremonies will be Journalist Pedro Bicudo.

Entertainment will be provided by Portuguese singer and master impressionist Fernando Pereira, who has been dubbed the “Lord of the Voices.”

“It is important to have these awards, especially at the national level, to bring awareness to our entire community of how diverse our community really is; how we have evolved and grown in so many ways; how we are having a positive impact on the world around us and not just in our local clubs,” Simões said.

And these are the things we, the Portuguese, can and should be proud of, she added.

“We see other ethnic groups doing all of these things and when someone says to me, why don’t the Portuguese do that? Why don’t we have someone in that kind of position? I say, ‘We DO!’ We just need to make people aware of it. This is one way to do that,” she concluded.

For more information about the gala, call 202-466-4664, send and email to or visit PALCUS website at

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