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Hispanic Roundtable hosts KeyCorp’s CEO Meyer at Leadership Reception

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent 

Hispanic Roundtable hosted KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Henry L. Meyer III at its annual Leadership Reception on March 4, 2009, at the law firm of Baker Hostetler in downtown Cleveland, to discuss the importance of diversity in the workplace, incorporating Latinos in leadership positions, and staying above the economic recession. 

Meyer said KeyCorp is successful because it embraces diversity, invests in the community, and kept its employees abreast of all changes in this challenging time. “I never imagined how quickly ‘bank’ could become a nasty four letter word, and I am here to tell you it is not true… banks are not the enemy,” Meyer said. 

He said despite the U.S. Congressional rhetoric disseminated by the media, banks make money by lending to people and KeyCorp makes sure it invests locally in the Greater Cleveland community, by sponsoring education programs, provide low income families with financial guidance, and assisting small businesses. Recently, KeyCorp employees volunteered their Saturdays to helped 168 low-income families to file their taxes.

Meyer stressed personal responsibility and contributions to strengthen the economy and suggested one simple way to boot the recession: spend!  Meyer recommended distributing tax returns between spending, pay outstanding bills, and saving a little.  “I have always told people to save and now that they finally are I want to say: ‘I didn’t mean now’,” he said, “We can’t grow the economy if we don’t spend.”

Henry L. Meyer III

Meyer encouraged individuals to become more active in leading organizations like the Greater Cleveland Partnership, which he chairs, and Business Unlimited saying Cleveland can only succeed if all its communities collaborate to make it better.

He applauded the Hispanic Roundtable efforts and said as a partner in the Convention, KeyCorp is eager to assist Latino businesses get established and increase their visibility. ‘The Hispanic Roundtable and other organizations are devising strategies for local business to get the most from Ohio’s portion of the Stimulus Bill funding.’

Meyer is a ‘proud seventh generation Clevelander’ and would like to see his children raise their families in the city as well. Improving the education system is the most crucial element to reform the area. “We cannot be the community we envision without doing something about education,” Meyer said.

He finds overwhelming high school dropout rates troublesome and said more programs need to give children the incentive to succeed.  That’s why KeyCrop supported the initiative to launch a STEM school, focused on a curriculum rich in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, to give students exposure to a dynamic college-ready and real-world work environment and culture.

John Marshal High School teacher Ilka Díaz appreciated Meyer’s passion for improving education in Cleveland schools but said KeyCorp must do a better job of promoting their initiatives within the community, especially in schools.  She said students need more incentives like jobs and paid internships to want to stay in school and work in Cleveland. Díaz also stressed parents need to take more interest in their student’s success at school.

Iris Rodríguez, Board Member at the Cleveland Municipal School District concurred and reminded the 50 guests that Ohio Graduate Testing will take place between March16-29, 2009, and students must pass all five subjects—reading, writing, math, science, and social studies—to graduate with their G.E.D.

Rodríguez suggests 10 simple steps parents can take to help their child graduate. They are as simple as being familiar with the school district, understanding graduation requirements, keeping regular contact with teachers, establishing study routines, seeking help from tutors, and mostly positive reinforcement for their child.

Meyer said while many issues need to be addressed in Cleveland, improving education should be the top most priority to strengthen the city and secure its future.

Ingrid Angel

Iris Rodriguez


Lorraine Vega





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