At the time, Ms.
Martínez told LaPrensa she was excited to focus her OCHLA
efforts on areas of concern drawing on her rural roots,
including education and migrant farmworkers.
58, is the daughter of migrant workers who worked the fields of
Paulding County before settling in Ottawa. She now works as a
librarian in the Continental school district and as a monitor
for the online learning of at-risk students to ensure they can
one of my biggest things that my parents always impressed on
me,” said the Pandora-Gilboa High School graduate at the time of
her initial appointment. “They said, ‘You have to graduate. You
have to be better than we are. So that’s something I’ve always
been passionate about.”
Rev. Juan M. Rivera
of Youngstown took over as lead pastor the largest congregation
of an eight-campus megachurch in early 2018. Rivera first
attended Victory Christian Center while in high school and
courting his future wife. He is a father of three children.
Rev. Rivera was born in Brooklyn, New York, but was raised on
the south side of Youngstown. He has spent 13 years as a pastor
and serves on the national board of the
Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), a group of
Hispanic evangelicals with 40,000 member churches.
The other two OCHLA appointees are from Hamilton County. V.
Anthony Simms-Howell of Cincinnati was born in Panama, but
he and his wife moved to the U.S. in 1968. Simms-Howell became
the owner and vice president of a bilingual accounting and tax
He is a founding member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of
Greater Cincinnati and LULAC Cincinnati. Simms-Howell was
inducted a decade ago into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame in
recognition of his 50 years of service as a community leader. He
is OCHLA’s most experienced commissioner.
Michael G. Florez,
64, of Cincinnati has served as an OCHLA commissioner for two
decades. He has been an attorney for nearly 30 years, after
graduating from law school at the Ohio State University. He has
served the last 16 years as an assistant Hamilton County
The 11-member commission was established in 1977 by
then-governor James A. Rhodes.
OCHLA advises state government on issues affecting Hispanic
Ohioans, connects Latino communities, and builds the capacity of
community organizations to better serve the growing Latino
population of Ohio.