Ohio Latino Affairs Summit Shows that Latino Growth is Ohio Growth
Education, healthcare and workforce/business development were among the topics on the agenda at the 2023 Ohio Latino Affairs Summit "¡Juntos! Latino Growth Is Ohio Growth," which kicked off on Friday at Kent State University's Kent Campus.
The summit brought together about 500 participants in-person and virtually, including educators, legislators, state and local communities and stakeholders to discuss issues affecting the Latino communities and how best to improve them together.
Kent State collaborated with the Ohio Commission on Latino Affairs to bring together the education, health care and business/workforce development summits in person in a single summit for the first time.
Daniel Diaz Nilsson, assistant dean of access and engagement for the College of Education, Health and Human Services, served as the summit chair.
In opening remarks Kent State President Todd Diacon, Ph.D., said there are many words that either should or should not be used, but he set all those words aside to emphasize Kent State’s core values of kindness and respect.
“At Kent State it’s not the words that matter it’s the action that matters,” Diacon said. “At Kent State it’s not the words that matter it’s the attitude and culture that matters. At Kent State we are fiercely committed to our core values, particularly kindness and respect in all we do and a fierce commitment to freedom of speech. When those collide, we encourage people to disagree, but we always encourage people to recognize with kindness and respect the opinions of others.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Ph.D., sent his greetings to attendees in a videotaped message.
“Across the U.S. our Latino communities embody the best of American values,” Cardona said. “We are bilingual, industrious, patriotic and resilient. We’re vital to education, the government, the military, the workforce and the economy.”
Dr. Marla Perez-Davis, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Advanced Air Mobility in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering at Kent State, was the keynote speaker for the event. Perez-Davis is a native of Puerto Rico and previously served as the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
Annabel Melean of the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission gave an Ohio Public Policy Update in which she talked about the statewide and national issues of importance.
She said a 2022 Pew study shows that the economy is the top issue for Latinos and Hispanics, followed by healthcare, education, violent crime, gun policy, abortion and immigration. The numbers for Ohio’s 505,000 Latinos and Hispanics mirror the national statistics on these topics.
She urged those who are registered and vote to urge friends and family to do the same.
“We have the power to hold our representatives accountable to meeting us where we are at,” Melean said. “Lawmakers represent you.”