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John Quiñones
Longtime ABC News reporter and anchor John Quiñones will receive the first-ever Varela Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming AL DÍA Foundation Fellowship Reception on Aug. 31, 2022. Photo: Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for NAHJ Hall of Fame Gala

John Quiñones to be honored with inaugural Varela Lifetime Achievement Award

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The AL DÍA Foundation’s upcoming Félix Varela Fellowship Reception on Aug. 31 at the Union League of Philadelphia will be a multi-generational affair.

In addition to recognizing the first two classes of fellows to pass through the AL DÍA newsroom, the ceremony will also be a time to recognize one of the greats of U.S. Latino journalism.

That great is longtime ABC News anchor and reporter John Quiñones, who will be bestowed with the first Varela Lifetime Achievement Award from the AL DÍA Foundation for the bilingual path he blazed in journalism for other Latinos to follow to this day.

Quiñones, born Juan Manuel, is a fifth generation Mexican-American and San Antonian, born into a Spanish-speaking family that eventually joined the migrant caravan of farmworkers that traveled the country for different harvesting seasons to make ends meet.

Thanks to a supportive English teacher that got him involved in his high school newspaper and an Upward Bound program, Quiñones was able to attend St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, where he graduated with a degree in speech communication. 

With his bachelor’s in hand, Quiñones still had trouble finding a job in news as a Latino in San Antonio — where the industry was still painfully white and prejudiced. 

Despite the barriers, Quiñones fought through for his passion and ended up as a radio reporter in Houston before scoring his first TV gig in the same city. 

In 1982, Quiñones was hired as a general assignment correspondent with ABC News, based in Miami, Florida, and his career took off from that point.

He would grow into a staple reporting figure at the national news station over the next four decades, and go on to anchor program like Primetime, and host the hidden camera show What Would You Do?, which wrapped up a 16th season in 2020.

Quiñones still occasionally reports for the ABC News programs Nightline, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, and 20/20

Along with honoring Quiñones, the AL DÍA Foundation will also bestow medals upon its 2022 class of fellows, or the next generation of Latinx journalists following in his footsteps, and carving their own paths in the news industry. 

The ceremony will also be a celebration and recognition of the work of the AL DÍA Foundation’s first fellow and new audiovisual coordinator at AL DÍA News Kianni Figuereo, whose fellowship project over the last year was a one-of-a-kind video series looking at Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis of the last two years.

Again, the AL DÍA Foundation’s Félix Varela Fellowship Reception will be held on Aug. 31, 2022 at the Union League of Philadelphia.

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