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9.28.22 – Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month – Spotlight: Derek Chavez

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions, heritage, and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans. We honor and celebrate the languages, traditions, values, and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15th to October 15th. It dates back to 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill designating the week of September 15th as “National Hispanic Heritage Week.” Twenty years later, in 1988, Hispanic Heritage Week was lengthened to an entire month under President Ronald Reagan.

Proclamation on National Hispanic Heritage Month
from the White House on September 14, 2022


Spotlight: Derek Chavez

Today, we spotlight SFO-based Flight Attendant Leroy “Derek” Chavez. Derek has been flying with American Airlines for six years. He splits his time between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Derek was named after his grandfather Leroy Ward, a logger from Happy Camp, California. Happy Camp is where the Indigenous people were taught the importance of replanting trees to replenish the forest.

Derek has a family lineage on his mother’s side of the family that goes back to the Cahuilla tribe, which is around Palm Springs, California. His mother, Beverly, lives in Happy Camp, California, and works for the Kurak Tribe, where his grandmother Laura and aunt also live. Derek’s mother and father met shortly after he left his home of Jiquilpan (San Gabriel), in the Mexican state of Jalisco, in the 1980s, with $10 in his pocket. As an immigrant, he worked in the fields of agriculture around Crescent City (Arcadia), California. His mother and father married and settled in Oregon. Derek has four siblings, Daniel, Delmar, Domingo, and Rebecca.

“I am so happy I come from a family of immigrants. I am humbled by the sacrifices my family made to give me a better life. My father told me to be proud of my heritage. I come from Mexico and the United States. My parents are from two different cultures. My father taught me the value of hard work and appreciating what I have, such as the bare necessity of clean water. It humbles me as a human being, and I have been encouraged to help others who need it.

I was furloughed from American Airlines in 2020. During that time away from the airline, I had time to evaluate things. I had never had a job where I was part of a Union. I saw the daily work of my APFA SFO Base Representatives, Tim Schwartz and Brian Yan. I knew I had to get involved.

I understood that it takes a village for change to happen. The more people involved in our Union, the easier our fight becomes. I used to think the people I elected to do Union work were just there be the face of the Union. I was so wrong. I am very appreciative of what they do each and every day.”

Derek is also an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco and Portland. He has helped raise money for “The Pride of the Rose” scholarship, which gives the opportunity for LGBTQ+ and families of LGBTQ+ to have a higher education. He also supports The Wings Foundation by volunteering his time, and also performed for the Wings fundraiser, “Lip Sync.”

Derek volunteers his time to our Union by getting the word out about Contract Negotiations through our Contract ACTION Team (CAT). These volunteers inform us how easy it is to stay up to date on the progress of contract negotiations.

We are so inspired and encouraged by Derek’s journey. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize the contributions and the important presence the Hispanic-American community has left on our government, culture, and economy. We celebrate our Hispanic communities and listen to the stories of culture and heritage each person brings to our hearts and lives.

In Solidarity,

Chaddrian Calhoun and Rhonda Curtright
APFA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee

[email protected]

APFA Headquarters
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APFA Headquarters
1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
M-F: 3:00PM - 11:00 PM (CT)
Sat-Sun: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)

APFA Events

Currently, no scheduled events...

APFA Headquarters
1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
M-F: 3:00PM - 11:00 PM (CT)
Sat-Sun: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)

APFA Events

Currently, no scheduled events...

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