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Chiquita’s Aguirre honored with NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

The Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League presented Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer of Chiquita Brands International, with the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award for 2011 during the team’s game Sept. 25.

The NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation have partnered to launch the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards during the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The awards honor notable Hispanics in each NFL market who have distinguished themselves and made an impact on America and globally.

Mr. Aguirre was honored for his leadership in both business and civic organizations. He has led the transformation of Chiquita to a more diversified company since his appointment as CEO in 2004. Prior to Chiquita, he worked for more than 23 years as an executive in brand management, general management and turnarounds at Procter & Gamble. Besides serving on Chiquita’s board of directors, he also serves on the boards of Aetna Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co.

Mr. Aguirre has provided invaluable service to a number of charitable and leadership-development organizations. He is a member of the International Board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has helped raise millions of dollars for its local chapter during the past several years. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death for Hispanics in the United States.

“I’m honored to receive this award from the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL,” Mr. Aguirre said in a Sept. 26 press release. “As a Hispanic-American and a recent U.S. citizen, I am proud to have the opportunity to give back to my community in a way that helps improve the health and wellness of individuals. I’d like to thank the Bengals franchise for selecting me for this great honor.”

A native of Mexico, Mr. Aguirre earned a baseball scholarship at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business with a specialty in marketing in 1980. He was elected to the Athletic Hall of Fame at SIUE in 2007 and to the alumni Hall of Fame in 2009.

Most recently, he became the first Hispanic CEO to participate in the CBS reality television series “Undercover Boss.”

Each award recipient selects an organization of his or her choice that serves the local Hispanic community to receive a $2,000 donation. Mr. Aguirre has chosen the Anthony Muñoz Foundation to receive this donation. The Foundation was created in 2002 by Bengals legend and Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz in an effort to engage the tri-state region to better area youth mentally, physically and spiritually.

“I’m honored Fernando has selected the Anthony Muñoz Foundation as the recipient of the financial grant,” Mr. Muñoz said in the press release. “I’d also like to congratulate Fernando on the receipt the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. He has provided invaluable leadership for great organizations that benefit the health and wellness of so many in our community.”