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Immigration, U.S. Census, health care, Puerto Rico, Human Trafficking highlight C.H.I.P.’s Latino leadership conference

By La Prensa Staff Reporter


April 24-25, 2009: Coordinators Mike and Dina Ferrer were pleased with the turnout and intensity at last weekend’s 14th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference.

Andrés González and Guadalupe Lara were among the participants at last weekend’s Youth Leadership Conference, presented by C.H.I.P.


Hosted by C.H.I.P. (Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues & Progress) and under the leadership of its president Joel Arredondo, the all-day event was held on Saturday, April 25, 2009, in the Spitzer Conference Center at the Lorain County Community College at 1005 Abbe Road North in Elyria, Ohio.


In addition to a full range of workshops and presentations, the conference featured cultural entertainment performances by comedian Alex Ortiz, and musical and dance presentations by Justo Saborit (Cuban musician, artist, composer), Adriana & Orlando (Colombian artists with tango presentations), and Minas Katsantouris & Company (international).


Also highlighted was a Youth Leadership Tract hosted by the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA) and LULAC. Richard Romero, Board Chair of OCHLA, and Ezra C. Escudero, the commission’s executive director, were among the many leaders who were speakers and panelists at the conference.


U.S. Congresswoman Betty Sutton (13th congressional district), Lorain Mayor Anthony Krasienko, and Marcia Ballinger (Vice President of LCCC) were among the speakers welcoming the attendees.


There was a free reception on April 24, 2009, at LCCC’s Stocker Center, where an art exhibit entitled  “Sueños y Esperanza,” featuring the art of José R. Alicea, along with the Prayer sticks and sculpture of Mario Kujawski

Here are a few selected highlights of what attendees witnessed:

Civil Rights and Equality for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State Ken McClintock, Luis Balzac (Northeast Regional Director for PRFAA), and Rafael Rodríguez (President/Founder of Center for PR Equality and Advancement) had a spirited debate as to whether Puerto Rico should become the 51st state of the United States, become independent, or remain a Commonwealth of the United States. Jeff Farrow (Former Co-Chair of President Bill Clinton’s Inter Agency Council on Puerto Rico) moderated.


All agreed that there was tremendous inequality between Puerto Rico and the 50 states within the United States, especially in the civil rights, taxing, voting, and health services arenas. All agreed that the 2010 U.S. Census was extremely important and that all Latinos should respond to the census as their being Puerto Rican—this was especially true of the City of Lorain, Ohio, which had the largest Puerto Rican population in the United States, per capita

Ken McClintock


They all agreed that a referendum should be held in Puerto Rican, to decide, once and for all, the legal status of the island. They differed on whether the referendum should be initiated in the United States or Puerto Rico, or if, in fact, this mattered. 


Secretary of State McClintock stated that under X Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Puerto Rico would be protected from the U.S. Congress imposing its will as to the official language in Puerto Rico, be it  Spanish or English—“this right would remain with Puerto Rico whether it became a state or not,” said McClintock.


The 2010 Census
Guadalupe Lara
, LMSW, Regional Migrant Partnership Specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau in the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducted a workshop on the 2010 Census: Beyond the Fear.


Lara, who works out of the Commerce Department’s regional office in Detroit, has responsibility for Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia. She noted that Michigan is the state with the largest number of farmworkers.


Because of her focus upon migrant workers, Lara has worked closely with organizations such as the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and its president Baldemar Velásquez—Lara began life as a migrant worker and received a migrant scholarship for college in Texas.


Lara received her professional training as a social worker and worked in that capacity for 27 years. She retired in 2006 as Corporate Director of Social Work at the Detroit Medical Center with responsibility for eight hospitals on the campus including Children’s Hospital.


She is also well known to many Detroiters for her award-winning work as the producer of two Latino community shows broadcast over WDET Public Radio from 1980 to 1994.


Lara encouraged all Latinos to partake in the U.S. Census, which commences in February of 2010.


Immigration Update 2009
Ezra C. Escudero, the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs, and attorney Murray Bilfield, Managing Partner of Murray Bilfield and Associates LPA and a noted expert on immigration affairs, hosted the Immigration Workshop. The nature and extent of immigration reform in the United States was the primary focus.


Minority Health

The workshop on Linking the Uninsured & Underinsured to Healthcare Resources was presented by Irvin Delvalle, MSW, the Outreach Specialist of Community Health Partners.

Murray Bilfield


“This month is Minority Health Awareness Month,” said Delvalle, adding that 45 million U.S.-Americans lack health insurance.”

“The focus of this workshop is going to be upon resources such as those offered by Ohio’s Jobs and Family Services program and hospitals. Many people are not familiar with the methods of getting access to health care. If people are uninsured or just don’t have enough insurance, they just don’t go for medical treatment. Information is often just not readily available,” explains Delvalle.


He points to outstanding community efforts such as that by Catholic Health Care for providing services to the poor and underserved through CareNet in Toledo.


“We at Community Healthy Partners serve the Latino community by providing interpretative services and translating material to make healthcare more accessible to the Spanish speaking community,” said Delvalle.

The conference also featured a workshop on Minority Health Disparities: Impacts and Solutions featuring five panelists: Andrés González, Diversity and Community Outreach Director of the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Leonor Osorio DO (Lutheran Hospital), Gabriela Sehinkman MA, MSW (Clinical Therapist, WSEM), Victor Leandry (Executive Director of El Centro de Servicios Sociales, Inc.), and Pastor Max Rodas (Executive Director of Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center). 

Mr. González informed La Prensa that he will address several important issues, including: 1) Healthcare disparities have created inequities for Hispanics/Latinos in Northeast Ohio. “As Latino leaders/providers, we must engage in dialogue with the Healthcare providers to discuss the importance of providing cultural and linguistic services to our community members.”

2) “Healthcare providers must continue providing education as it relates to access to care, primarily in the area of preventive care vs. emergency care. Hispanics/Latinos should be accessing services via their primary care rather than emergency physician. It is important for a patient to establish trust and a relationship with a primary care provider,” said González. 

Other conference topics included: Foreclosure Prevention and Intervention, Understanding Federal Stimulus Packages, Latin Dance, and Human Trafficking.


Mike and Dina Ferrer
The unsung heroes of the annual Hispanic Leadership Conference programs are

Mike and Dina Ferrer, who have coordinated all 14 conferences.


“The history of the conference goes back to when it started with the old Lorain Ford plant’s UAW Hispanic Council, Local 425 and Local 2000.  When they first came forward, they said they did not want to be seen only as autoworkers who did not contribute to the community, so they asked what they could do,” recalls Mike Ferrer.


“I was then with El Centro, a provider of social services in Lorain. I talked with Local 2192 and also the workers at the Brook Park plant who wanted to give back to the community. Because I had worked with the National Council of La Raza, I decided we would put on our first conference like La Raza.

Dina Ferrer


They commented on the early organizing efforts of UAW members Francisco Hernández and Angie Martínez.


“So we dealt with issues such as ‘how can we do our jobs better?’ and continuing education.  Now we deal with issues like housing and human trafficking. Our motto is ‘Opening doors.’


“Since 2006, the program has been hosted by C.H.I.P. That was made necessary because when the plant closed the union membership transferred to Kentucky. Over the years, more than 15,000 people representing more than 4,000 organizations throughout the United States have attended this conference.


“This year, we expect more than 500 participants and 100 students to attend from the five-state area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and Michigan. We now have 55 collaborating organizations taking part in this event,” said Ferrer.


Alan Abrams, La Prensa Senior Correspondent, contributed to this report. 


Internet: Visit CHIP at www.chiplorain.org
Justo Saborit at www.justosaborit.net

Adriana & Orlando at www.dancesport.com/studio_staff_details.php?staff=46

Minas Katsantouris at www.letsdancecleveland.com/dance_instructor_katsantouris.php

Ohio Commission of Hispanic/Latino Affairs at http://ochla.ohio.gov/

Murray Bilfield at www.1800abogadoohio.com

Community Health Partners at www.health-partners.org

10th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2005/April%2013%202005/Hispanic%20Leadership%20Conference%20this%20weekend.htm

12th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2007/042007/CHIP.htm


Angie Martinez with Ken McClintock

Art on display


Antonio Barrios con esposa Miriam Rosa

Juan Díaz, Ayla Tibbetts, Cierra Rivas, and Luis Valdez comprise the color guard from Southview High School’s Army JROTC.

Congresswoman Betty Sutton

Ezra C. Escudero

Dave Flores and Alex Ortiz

Jennifer con novio


Hector Flecha

Joel Arredondo addressed audience

Justo Saborit

Angie Martinez and Dan Martinez

Ken McClintock

Joel Arredondo

Angie Martinez

Luis Acosta and Miriam Rosa

Marie Leibas and Greg Ortega

Mike Ferrer

Richard Romero

Orlando and Adriana

Minas Katsantouris

Mayor Tony Krasienko

Pepe Rivera


Rico with Alex Ortiz





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