40/40 Awards honor Hispanic Roundtable Alumni Association
By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent
The Hispanic Roundtable, a Greater Cleveland nonprofit corporation formed to advance Latino causes, took a huge step toward enlisting the help of a new generation of Latino leaders, by hosting its first-ever Cuarenta/Cuarenta (40/40) Alumni Engagement event on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at The Iris S. and Bert L. Wolstein Research Building, 2103 Cornell Road, Cleveland.
The event, sponsored by University Hospitals, was an opportunity to encourage past 40/40 honorees to organize as an alumni organization, and to bring together the group for a cultural night of networking, food, and musical entertainment.
“This was an opportunity to bring together our past Cuarenta/Cuarenta recipients to continue their leadership in the community as an alumni group, and to honor those members who made outstanding contributions in the areas of Health, Education, Empowerment, and Economic Development,” said Magda Gómez, President of Hispanic Community Programs, Hispanic Roundtable.
“The Cuarenta/Cuarenta alumni are the best and the brightest of our young people. I have high hopes and great expectations for their future contributions to the development of our community,” said José Feliciano, Sr., a Cleveland attorney and Hispanic Roundtable chairman. “Our event was high-energy and inspiring. I think we will look back on this occasion as a historic event, which established one of the key leadership institutions in our community to chart our future and empower our community.”
Nearly 600 Greater Cleveland Latino leaders have been awarded the Cuarenta/Cuarenta designation over the years. Each August, Kaleidoscope Magazine recognizes 40 Latino-Americans ages 40 and under who are making significant professional contributions in Greater Cleveland. All of them have been invited to join the alumni association, with the hope they will become more actively involved in Latino issues across Northeast Ohio.
“My personal hope is that they will aggressively address the Hispanic agenda developed at Convención 2013, sponsored by the Hispanic Roundtable, and endorsed by the whole of the Hispanic community,” said Feliciano.
According to Ms. Gómez, nearly 250 people attended the inaugural alumni association event, which also served as an occasion to highlight and recognize a number of key young leaders: Jonathan Rivera (education), Magistrate Judge Pablo Castro (civic empowerment), Luis Cartagena (economic development), and Dr. Wanda Cruz-Knight (health). Those four areas comprise the Convención agenda over the next three years.
Steven D. Standley, Pablo Castro, y José Feliciano, Sr.
Rivera was recognized “for his dedication and support” working with Latino youth in Cleveland’s inner city high schools “to ensure their success, including their community involvement.”
Castro won “for his commitment to help increase voter registration and civic participation among Hispanics” via his leadership on the Spanish Language Advisory Committee of the board of elections and his involvement in retaining a bilingual ballot in Cuyahoga County.
Cartagena, business advisor for the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center, was lauded for his efforts at strategic planning, managing a Latino portfolio, and where he was responsible for creating more than 75 jobs and more than $2 million of business value.
Dr. Cruz-Knight received an award “for her commitment to diversity in the medical field” and her contributions to the Hispanic community through research and presentations highlighting specific issues that affect Hispanics individually and family dynamics.
“They have set a very high bar,” said Feliciano.
The Hispanic Roundtable is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to act as a catalyst to empower the Latino community to become full partners in economic, education, political, civic and social life of Greater Cleveland.
Dr. Cruz-Knight, residency director and associate professor, Dept. of Family Medicine and Community Health, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, later took to the podium and spoke on the issue of prevention as a key to better health and wellness.
In his welcome remarks, Steven D. Standley, chief administrative officer of University Hospitals, spoke about the interest and action of the hospital system to strengthen the relationship with the Latino community. He told the crowd that “embracing diversity and inclusion efforts are at the core of the mission and long-term vision of University Hospitals.”