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Out & About in Cleveland

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Global Cleveland: Hiring International Talent

On the morning of Friday, September 26th, we traveled to Jumpstart on Carnegie Avenue for a seminar put on by Global Cleveland titled "Hiring International Talent" wherein the presenter was Mr. David Leopold, noted immigration attorney. Before Mr. Leopold made his presentation, Ms. Joy Roller, President of Global Cleveland spoke for several minutes. Ms. Roller said that Global Cleveland is about attracting, connecting, and welcoming immigrants to Cleveland. During the month of October, 2014 there will be community conversations in five different locations throughout Cleveland as to how to do this. Ms. Roller feels that this is necessary because "we are not as open to the world as we should be." One issue that these community meetings will address is the fear that the foreign born are taking jobs away from the people born in the United States. Ms. Roller urged the attendees to seek out the writings of Mr. Richey Piiparinen, Senior Research Associate, The Center for for Population Dynamics at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and, as a starting point, cited "From Balkanized Cleveland to Global Cleveland" which proposed a theory of change for Cleveland pertaining to economic and community development.

Then Mr. Leopold went on to do an excellent job of explaining different visas, the process of obtaining them, and comparing them to each other in a time frame of just under two hours! Among the visas that Mr. Leopold discussed were F1 International Student Visas; H1B Visas for Foreign Workers in Specialty Occupations; TN Visas pertaining to Workers in the United States, Canada and Mexico: L Intracompany Transferee Visas; O-1 Visas for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement; E1/E2 Treaty Trader Visas; and EB5 Investor Visas. He also spent some time talking about "optional practical training for foreign students".

There were about 20 people there and we spent some time talking to Ms. Sheila E. Manley, Transitions Coordinator III for the ABLE/GED/ESOL Programs at Cuyahoga Community College. As it turned out, she served on a couple of boards with Ms. Margaret W. Wong including the YWCA but she hasn't seen Ms. Wong in about 15 years even though they had a very good association while they were working together. Ms. Manley told us to be sure to say hello to Ms. Wong.

Today's information packet contained several excellent articles, including two from "Crain's Cleveland Business" about how immigration has the potential to contribute positively to a region's economic growth. We also looked up an article that was published in the "Beacon Journal" on July 18, 2014 in which Ms. Roller talked about immigration. She said, " I think think there is some fear out there that they are going to take or jobs or use our resources. But the fact is that they contribute to the economy-they make it a more vibrant place...We want immigrants, we need immigrants in this region. And we are not going to be competitive globally with other cities if we don't have more immigrants and refugees in this area."

We couldn't be in more agreement with Ms. Roller.

We then journeyed to Independence where we attended a luncheon put on by the British-American Chamber of Commerce at Delmonico's. This was our first time attending this meeting and we were welcomed warmly. There were several other attorneys there who deal with immigration like Mr. Brian J. Halliday, Esq. and Ms. Marin Ritter, Esq. but we treated each other as associates and not as competitors and we all had a pleasant lunch together.

We recognized several other people there who we have encountered during our travels around Cleveland including Mr. Don Esarove of the International Business Network and Mr. Michael Farago of the Oswald Companies.

We talked to Mr. Bruce J.L. Lowe, Esq. who knows Ms. Wong well; in fact his sister-in-law Ms. Kathy DeVito lives in Ms. Wong's neighborhood. Mr. David V. Allen, Esq. was several years behind Ms. Wong's son Paul Wong in school but still remembers his talents as a musician.

During the luncheon, our friend Ms. Mary Hamlin from the Cleveland Cultural Gardens was given a few minutes to speak and she made a very poignant plea for assistance in the upkeep of the British Cultural Garden which will be 100 years old in 2016. She told that attendees that, except for herself, the people who used to take care of the garden are no longer able to and she cannot do it alone. The attendees listened to her with compassion and said that they would see what they could do; it sounded like what was needed was the ongoing services of a landscaper.

Another man that we talked to was Mr. Mark Baxter who immigrated to the United States from England just eight weeks ago. The immigration process has been fairly easy for him so far because he is married to a United States Citizen from Cleveland. Mr. Baxter used to be a teacher but now, in the United States, he is happy to be a District Director for the Boy Scouts of America. We found Mr. Baxter to be a very upbeat, engaging person who should be able to make a positive contribution to the Cleveland area and we wish him well in his endeavors.

On Friday night we went to the La Villa Conference Center for the Spanish American Committee's Black Tie Benefit Gala celebrating "48 years of continuous service to our community."

According to their website, the Spanish American Committee (SAC) "was founded in 1966 and is the oldest social service agency serving the area's Latino population. It was founded to enhance the capacity of Latinos to achieve economic well-being, to participate fully in society and to enjoy a full and productive life. When SAC first opened the primary service was teaching English as a second language. By the 1990s SAC's operating objective was to help stabilize and strengthen the family unit, and then help create the conditions and resources within the family leading to social and economic well-being. As a respected organization in our community and a United Way partner, SAC helps people find a way to turn economic barriers, crisis and difficulties into opportunities for progress, independence and a hope for a better way of life. Along with serving a diverse and culturally rich community from more than 20 Latin American countries, we also serve other ethnicities from different parts of the world including: the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as monolingual English speakers."

We were glad to see that Ms. Margaret W. Wong's name appeared in the program under the "Special Thanks" designation. There were several fine speeches including that of Mr. David J. Elk who is the Senior Partner of Elk and Elk which was the "Presenting Sponsor" of the evening. Elk and Elk has recently set up an office on site at SAC to assist clients and there is a bilingual specialist from the law firm there once a week.

Our good friend Dr. Maria Pujana presented the Latino Leadership Award to Mr. Ronn B. Richard, President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation which has donated millions of dollars to Latino and Hispanic organizations in Cleveland over the years. During the course of his acceptance speech Mr. Richard talked about how the Cleveland Foundation "promotes growth that presents real economic opportunity." Among the things that he touched on during this speech was the Cleveland Foundation's program in which they bring artists from all over the world to Cleveland.

When we first arrived we spoke to Ms. Stacy Cozart (who is the Board Treasurer of SAC) and Mr. Andy Bramante. Both are immigration attorneys and both of them used to work for Margaret W. Wong and Associates and both said to say hello to her.

We spent a few minutes speaking with Mr. Danny Kelly, the site coordinator at Lincoln-West High School in Cleveland. Mr. Kelly told us that he thought that Margaret W. Wong was the best commencement speaker at Lincoln-West that he had ever seen because of the way she related to the audience.

We shared a table with Mr. James W. Starks of Starks and Associates, a Professional Management Service, who told us that Ms. Margaret W. Wong once helped a client of his who immigrated to the United States from India. An old friend of Mr. Starks who was also at our table was Mr. Myron Scruggs, Director of Property Management for the Cleveland Public Library who recalled the fundraiser that Ms. Wong had at our office for the ballot initiative for library funding. He remembered all of the signs that we had in front of our office on that day.

It was quite a night for socializing and we got to say hello and briefly chat with Ms. Ramonita Vargas, Executive Director of SAC: Lucy Torres, Hispanic Liaison of the City of Cleveland; Mr. Jose Melendez, Vice President of SAC and Ms. Maria Anderson, 2nd Vice President of SAC: Mr. Chris Martinez, President of the Board of Trustees; Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins; and Pastor Omar Medina who gave the invocation. We believe the Board Vice President Mr. Jose Melendez captured the spirit of SAC when he said that it was about providing "the same opportunities to others that I was given once."

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