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HBA Award Gala recognizes leaders and visionaries


By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Newspaper


Hispanic Business Association (HBA) celebrated its 26 years of leadership, business success, and economic growth by ‘Opening Doors’ at Westlake’s LaCentre Banquet Hall on Oct. 25, 2008. HBA and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Ohio awarded recognized 14 dignitaries for outstanding community service, leadership, and visionary.

Gus Hoyas

“This is our annual fundraiser event and we will do very well this year,” said Gustavo ‘Gus’ Hoyas, Chairman of HBA. The event’s theme, “Abriendo Puertas” salutes the crucial role HBA plays in connecting Latino business with the greater community and “opening doors to opportunities, growth and development.”


The organization has 200 members in Cuyahoga County and services nearly 800 business in 15 counties of Northern Ohio. Hoyas is optimistic about the changes taking place in the organization and its future, adding it will be elevated to an international level with a focus on attracting foreign business investments to Cleveland.


He urged guests to bring their talents and connections to HBA. “We need to make an impact, we need to use our talent and I urged you to bring it to HBA,” he told the 500 guests.


He is passionate about equal opportunities for all business and said HBA will continue to advocate on behalf of the Latino community, encourage contractors to seek partnerships, and provide the pulse of the Latino business in the greater community.


Hoyas said Latinos need to be represented in Boards of the major organizations like Rockwell Automation, Sherwin Williams, and The Cleveland Clinic—“They need the Latino/Latina flavor if you know what I mean, it needs to start to happen.”

New Awards

HBA introduced two new awards this year—Attorney José Feliciano, a partner in the law firm of Baker & Hostetler, LLP, and Joe López, President & CEO of New Era Builders Inc., were the deserving recipients of the 2008 Legacy Awards, presented to them for their dedication to the Latino community. 

The second new category was the Physician Community Service e & Business Awards, given to Lenor María Osorio, DO, The Cleveland Clinic, and Juan R. Sanabria, MD, FRCSC, FACS, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “We think it is important to recognize folks in that industry, and have contributed to the community especially to HBA,” said Vice Chair, Jenice Contreras. She said the awards are a community effort, nominations are submitted in general categories, and HBA members and Latino leaders cast votes for the winners.

Dr. Leonor Maria Osorio, DO


Dr. Osorio provides education, health-screening services to the underserved Latino community.  “I am thrilled to receive this award, and it is amazing to be recognized for doing something you love,” Osorio said. She stressed the need for bilingual, healthcare providers in Cleveland, saying the language barrier can be daunting for patients.


“It is great to have that rapport with patients and go the extra mile to make them feel comfortable,” she said. Osorio said the medical field is in her genes as both parents are physicians. She said the Cleveland area has a great need for bilingual psychiatrists that can help the community cope with serious concerns like domestic violence victims, anxiety, depression, and counseling.


“We need to find mentors and encourage youngsters to pursue a career in psychiatry,” Osorio said.


“Our award recipients exemplify leadership. Dedication and commitment to the Hispanic Community,” said Stephanie M. Mercado, Interim Executive Director of HBA. She said one of the purposes of the banquet was to recognize and thank The Cleveland Foundation for its integral support of the Latino community.


“They have been major funders, especially in our regionalism initiative which includes setting up satellite offices in 15 Ohio counties,” said Mercado.  The Visionary Awards recognized many of the Foundation’s prominent Latino leaders—Dr. María Pujana, Dr. Eugenio Yanez, Jorge Delgado, Ronald Richard, and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.


Hoyas asked the audience to give a warm reception to Mayor Jackson for his leadership and commitment not only to Cleveland but to the Latino community saying Jackson is preparing the city for global commerce. HBA, along with the City of Cleveland and The Cleveland Foundation, is establishing business relations with Costa Rica and encouraging investors to establish headquarters in Cleveland.

Keynote speaker Ronald Richard, President and CEO of The Cleveland Foundation, shared the organization’s history and commitment to improving the quality of life for Clevelanders. He forecast plans to revitalize the region by making Cleveland a Global City and branding it as a desired location to base national headquarters.

HBA Honorees

“Nobody cares more about the Hispanic/Latino community more than The Cleveland Foundation; nobody else understands what a great gift from God this community and it is invaluable to us,” Richard said.


The foundation was founded in 1914 to enhance the Cleveland regions and to leave a lasting legacy for the region. Richard said while the city’s economy has plundered the Foundation has remained stronger than those in cities like Chicago and New York. Cleveland Foundation distributes more than $2 billion dollars annually in Cleveland and Richard said its success comes from effective collaborations and leadership between all factions of the city.


HBA is recruiting new business members and enhancing benefits and strengthening partnerships. Members now can obtain dual membership with HBA and COSE, the small business division of the Greater Cleveland Partnership that serves as a one-stop resource for nearly 17,000 member companies.


This was the first Award Banquet hosted in Westlake and the city’s Mayor Dennis M. Clough welcomed the Latino community and applauded HBA for helping business in Northeast Ohio flourish. He joked he won the mayoral election by 3 votes, “I cannot emphasize enough that each and everyone of your vote counts,” he said.  

Comedian Bill Santiago and Saborit Latin Soul provided entertainment for the evening. For more information on the organization visit:  www.hbahcco.org.

Legacy Award

Joe López, President & CEO New Era Builders Inc.

José C. Feliciano, Partner in the law firm of Baker & Hostetler, LLP

Visionary Award Recipients:

Ronald B. Richard, President & CEO, The Cleveland Foundation

Dr. Eugenio Yanez, Consultant, The Cleveland Foundation,

Dr. María Pujana, The Cleveland Foundation,

George Delgado, The Cleveland Foundation,

Frank J. Jackson, Mayor City of Cleveland


2008 Young Entrepreneur

David Antonio Wagner Toledano, Wagner Consultants LLC


2008 Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year: Businessman

Rick Zamora, Global Point Technologies, Inc.


2008 Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year: Businesswoman

Sharlene Ramos Chesnes, Executive Vice President and Chairman of the Board, InterChez Logistics Systems Inc.


2008 Padrino Award-Private Corporation

Louis L. Besses IV, Ohio/ Georgia Multicultural Developer, American Family Insurance


2008 Outstanding Supporter of the Hispanic Community

Andrés E. González, M.Ed, Director of Diversity, The Cleveland Clinic


Physician Community Service & Business Award,

Leonor María Osorio, DO, The Cleveland Clinic


Physician Community Service & Business Award,

Juan R. Sanabri MD, University Hospital



Murray Billfield, Mayor Frank Jackson,Ronn Richard, Jorge Delgado, Mr. Janiz, Gus Hoyas

Cleveland Councilman Joe Santiago, Stephanic Mercado, Judge Jose Villanueva


Ron Richard, Jorge Delgado

Stephanie Mercado






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