CINCINNATI -- Every year, Latino community leaders, legislators, friends and family gather in Columbus to celebrate the Distinguished Hispanic Ohioans.
Five local women will receive Distinguished Hispanic Ohioans Awards for their work with the Latino communities at the 36th-annual gala held Oct. 7 in Columbus.
The Ohio Latino Affairs Commission (OCHLA) in partnership with the Ohio State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion will honor individuals and organizations for outstanding achievements in their professional or community endeavors as role models for the Hispanic community.
The event began in 1980 to fulfill the mandate to “secure appropriate recognition of the accomplishments of Hispanic/Latino people to this state.”
“The Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan awards are an important distinction to recognize Ohio citizens who contribute to their community, state and country in an exemplary manner, which is beyond one’s job duties, obligations and of exceptional benefit to Ohioans,” said Dan Molina, one of the commissioners and a Loveland resident.
These are the local women who will be honored on Friday:
Luz Elena Schemmel is the wellness and immigrant services coordinator for Santa Maria Community Services.
Schemmel has worked with the grassroots organizations in Price Hill to help low-income Hispanic families gain access to after-school programs, healthy food and banking services.
Her nomination letter describes as a “capable, respected leader who has demonstrated a strong work ethic” and has “integrity and kindness.”
Schemmel shrugs off any praise.
“I enjoy helping people. I am just doing my job and I am lucky that I love my job,” she said.
“This award is given to me but everyone is Santa Maria works hard. Everyone goes that extra mile to serve people,” said Schemmel, who was born in Mexico and lives in Cincinnati.
Katherine Fowler-Córdova is a senior lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Miami University.
Her expertise is taking the study of Spanish and making it “real” to the students who will use it in their professional development.
“I try to bring the community into the classroom,” said Fowler-Cordova, who was born in Lebanon and now lives in downtown Cincinnati.
Fowler-Cordova served as the Health Promotion and Education Specialist at Su Casa Hispanic Center in Cincinnati, where she managed health and education programs.
She was also the program assistant for the Latina Girls Health Initiative for Harmony Garden, an independent community research and education center, where she organized Latina groups for pre-adolescent girls and their female caregivers.
“I am very honored, very thankful and very humbled to receive this award. My work is my passion and it's very rewarding to combine it with a nonprofit and being aware of the Latino community,” Fowler-Cordova said.
Farrah Jacquez is an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati's psychology department. She was born and raised in Bethel.
Jacquez’s research focuses on working with communities to eliminate health disparities. She is a founding member of Latinos Unidos por la Salud, a team of academic partners and Latino immigrants working together to improve Latino health in Cincinnati.
She has recently been named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leader, a fellowship that makes her part of a national network of researchers and community leaders working to create a culture of health in the United States.
“My passion for addressing health inequities has led me to engage communities in every aspect of my professional life,” Jacquez said.
When asked about the award, Jacquez said: “What touches me most was the students participated in nominating me, that was just awesome. I am excited that we beefed up our efforts at UC to recruit and retain Latino students and faculty.”
Jacqueline Rioja-Velarde is an educator, community advocate and a champion for human rights and social justice.
As the associate director of the Center for American and World Cultures, Rioja-Velarde coordinates Miami University’s annual Latin American and Caribbean festival in Oxford, which draws 2,000 people annually.
She coordinates the annual Cesar Chavez program, which takes place at the end of March and the first week of April to coincide with Chavez’s birthday.
For two years, Rioja-Velarde was the president of the university’s Association of Latin American Faculty and Staff (ALFAS). During her term, the organization was engaged in numerous activities that celebrated the achievements of the Hispanic/Latino faculty and staff, while bringing their concerns about climate, pay equity, and other issues to the attention of the vice president of institutional diversity.
Glenna F. Anderson was born and raised in Cincinnati and is not a Latina, but has spent her life in raising awareness of the Hispanic community and helping them with employment.
She just retired from Procter & Gamble and was a member of the Hispanic Steering Team, which is called the “Voice of Hispanics” at the company.
She also developed and led the Hispanic Leadership Group, which consisted of managers from all business functions at P&G.
While working for Procter & Gamble, Anderson represented P&G on the National Corporate Advisory Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA). She was one of a small local group who worked to develop and present NSHMBA National with the business case required for Greater Cincinnati to become a Chapter in Formation and then receive Full Chapter Status.