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CHIP hosts sold-out Hispanic Leadership Conference

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

The 19th annual Hispanic Leadership Conference, organized by the Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues & Progress (CHIP), held on Sat., April 26, 2014, featured a panel discussion on immigration reform and about 11 workshops on topics that affect the  Latino community, both locally and nationally. The day-long conference and gala was held at Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center in Elyria.


Dina and Michael Ferrer were the conference directors.

One of the new features at the conference was a panel of medical and health experts,

which gave participants a chance to ask a variety of health-related questions.

Participants also were able to obtain free health screenings for diabetes, prostate cancer,

and glaucoma, among other maladies.

The immigration reform panel discussed the continued political fallout from the inaction of US Congress, which could have a lasting impact at the ballot box during the 2014 election cycle, considered by many to be a key Congressional midterm voter referendum on gridlock in the nation’s capital.

However, the panel explored and discussed new strategies, approaches and ideas that may be used to resolve the issue. One of those is President Barack Obama’s deferred action program, where young immigrants who came to the U.S. without documentation as children received a two-year administrative reprieve from deportation. Those same immigrants can now apply to renew their deferred action status for another two years.

The immigration reform panel included Lorain Police Chief Celestino Rivera, well-known Cleveland immigration attorney Richard Herman, Fr. Bill Thaden (a Catholic priest who has served the Latino community in Lorain, Cleveland, El Salvador, and elsewhere since he was ordained 25 years ago), and former Border Patrol agent-turned attorney Michael Rendón.

Lilleana Cavanaugh, executive director of the Ohio Commission on Latino Affairs, addressed the gathering on her view of the state of Latinos living in the Buckeye state. 

Workshop topics also included changes to voting laws that will affect the 2014 election, a topic key to Latinos as one of the state’s fastest-growing voting blocs; Ohio’s new third grade reading guarantee, which could result in children being forced to repeat a grade (there are exceptions for students who are learning English); how to protect children in an age where human trafficking is quickly on the rise; and how to prepare healthy Latin food, a workshop presented by the executive chef at Lorain County Community College.

Margarita De León of Toledo (and native of Lorain) delivered a workshop on “Increasing Market Share in the Hispanic/Latino Community.” The workshop focused on the unique characteristics of Latino families and culture, which can afford savvy business owners an opportunity to appeal to and harness a profitable share of the growing economic power of the country’s fastest-growing population.

A separate Youth Leadership tract focused on bullying and sexting. A pair of young, Cleveland-area attorneys spoke to teens on the ramifications of each controversial trend. Student participants had the opportunity to role play, analyze and interpret bullying situations while coming to understand how different sections of the Ohio Revised Code cover bullying and by extension, telephone harassment.

Award-winning Colombian-American writer, film director, and singer-songwriter Andrés Useche spoke at the conference. Useche has become a strong advocate for immigration reform in recent years, writing and performing his song “Marching into the Light” at rallies and marches across the country. The activist also has supported  DREAM Act organizations and aided efforts related to the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) initiative, which grants deportation relief and work permits to the undocumented youth.

Useche also performed at the conference gala along with well-known comedian Erik Rivera.


Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/29/14 20:25:16 -0700.




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