The Governor’s 39th
Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Awards Gala
honors individuals and organizations that have demonstrated
outstanding achievements in their professional or community
service endeavors, and who serve as role models for the growing
Latino community in Ohio. The event will be held Saturday,
Oct. 26, 2019, 6 to 9 p.m., in the Governor’s Ballroom at
the Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square,
75 E. State St., Columbus.
As previously reported in La Prensa, three Northwest Ohio
Latino individuals and institutions will receive the
Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan (DHO) award:
longtime Hispanic Outreach Coordinator at Toledo Public Schools,
will be honored with a DHO award. Ezekiel Villa of Toledo
will be presented the Latino Military Service of Distinction
Award. Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union will
receive the Nuestra Familia Award.
The Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Award recognizes
outstanding Hispanics who have excelled in the professional
arena, leadership and community services.
The Latino Military Service of Distinction Award pays
tribute to serving men and women who continue to support our
country through their engagement in their communities, along
with leadership and success in their careers.
The Nuestra Familia (Our Family) Award acknowledges
non-Latino individuals, organizations, and businesses who are
making a difference through their inclusion efforts to improve
the lives of Latinos and help them integrate to the communities
where they live.
This year’s complete list
of award winners is as follows:
Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Awardees: Angel
(Cincinnati), Amy García (Bedford Heights),
José Luna (Toledo), Julio Mateo (Dayton), Hector
Medina (Mason), Jorge Pérez (Cincinnati), Yahaira
Pérez-Caraballo (Westerville), Mary Lou Reyes
(Youngstown), and Victor Ruiz (Cleveland).
Military Service of Distinction Awardees:
Air Force Colonel Walter Bustelo (Dayton) and Air
Force Technical Sergeant Ezequiel “Frank” Villa (Toledo).
Nuestra Familia Awardees: Dr.
Christopher Babiuch (Lorain), General Electric Hispanic
Forum Cincinnati Chapter, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
(Columbus), Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union
(Toledo), Rocking Horse Community Health Center
(Springfield), Inna Simakovsky (Columbus), Suzanne
Smaltz (Copley), and Bryan Wright (Cincinnati).
This year’s keynote speaker is Judge Marilyn Zayas, who
serves in Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Judge Zavas was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in tough New
York City neighborhoods as the daughter of a printer and
seamstress. She graduated with a college degree in computer
science and moved to Cincinnati to work as an IT manager for
Procter and Gamble. But she later went to law school and served
as a private practice attorney for 20 years.
Judge Zavas was elected to the appeals court in 2016 and was
selected to sit on an Ohio Supreme Court case last year. After
becoming a judge, Ms. Zavas
created the “Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders” program, an
educational program for high school students, inviting them to
interact with judges and attorneys and learn about the law.
As an attorney, Ms. Zayas partnered with local police on
victim’s advocacy issues to develop best practices so that
foreign born victims would overcome their fears, report crime
and cooperate with investigations, and appear in court. Judge
Zavas was awarded the LULAC Women's National Convention
Service and Commitment Award in 2014.
Originally the Hispanic Service Award, the Distinguished
Hispanic Ohioan Award was established in 1980 by the Ohio Latino
Affairs Commission. This award was created to fulfill the
Commission’s mandate to “secure appropriate recognition of the
accomplishments of Hispanic/ Latino people of this state.” In
2010, the DHO Awards started honoring Latino service members
through the Latino Military Service of Distinction Award.
The event is open to the public. Tickets cost $75 per person
with dinner included and can be purchased at