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Out & About in Cleveland

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Panel Discussion about Leadership and Diversity; Friends of Global Cleveland; 37th Annual Painesville Party in the Park; 27th annual C.A.M.E.O. picnic

On Thursday, July 13th, we went to the City Club of Cleveland for a panel discussion about Leadership and Diversity in which the panelists were Ms. Margie Flynn, Principal and Co-Founder of "BrownFlynn" the renowned local corporate sustainability and business consulting firm; Ms. Susan M. Fuehrer, Medical Director of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center; and Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, former President of Cuyahoga Community College moderated by Mr. Dan Moulthrop, City Club CEO.

The discussion was sparked by the recent publication a book written by Ms. Flynn and Ms. Barb Brown, the two Principals and Co-Founders of "BrownFlynn", entitled "UpliftingLeaders*(*Who Happen to be Women)".

As the description of the book on the "BrownFlynn" website reads:

"While women in the workforce have evolved and gained ground over the years there stills exists a large gender-based gap at the top. So what advice can those women who have earned spots in the C-Suite give to aspiring and current leaders? In celebration of BrownFlynn's 20th year in business and to 'pay it forward' Barb Brown and Margie Flynn set out on a mission to write their first book capturing insights and stories from some of these leaders to empower and uplift others as they seek to progress in their lives and careers. They traveled the U.S. to speak with 25 of the nation's most accomplished and influential leaders...All the leaders were candid, engaged and supportive providing thoughtful advice and lessons to uplift others.

When we arrived, we spoke with Ms. Barb Brown who expressed appreciation for the work that "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" does and wished that Ms. Margaret W. Wong, herself, could have been there.

During lunch, we sat at a tablelocated right next to that of the internship program "Summer on the Cuyahoga". Joining us at our table for lunch was Mr. Rick Krivanka, Executive Director of the "Jesuit Retreat House" in Parma and Ms. Barbara Milner, Clinical Nurse Specialist with the VA who really admired Ms. Fuehrer for her fine administrative work.

Indeed in the course of the ensuing discussion,, Ms. Fuehrer said that even when she first started at the VA as an intern being directed by others she considered herself a leader as she performed her duties which was a point of view that the other panelists were quick to agree with. Ms. Fuehrer went on to say that she considered herself a component of a much valued and diverse team of workers and that it was very important that each team member feel comfortable with herself/himself and know that it was all right to believe differently about issues within the institution as long as she/he had the institution's best interests in mind. When this happens, as Ms. Fuehrer maintained, the team "rocks" and the institution moves forward.

Mr. Moulthrop, a feminist himself, did a very skillful job in terms of guiding the discussion which touched upon such issues very relevant to men as well as to women such as how a woman was expected to behave as opposed to a man; the positive and negative effects of women in competition with each other; the time and the place to be assertive with about new ideas/visions and the necessity of perhaps persevering; the need to find the balance between being amenable to the realities of the workplace while maintaining one's own integrity; sexism which may have gotten better in recent years but is still very much a factor; and how the results can be outstanding when men and women can mentor and learn from each other.

The discourse took a powerful turn when Ms. Flynn shared with us all an incident that took place many years ago wherein a male cohort advised her to "show a little leg" during a presentation. She went on to talk about how such an insult could and should be be handled today.

Along these lines, Dr. Thornton wisely compared such obstacles to sand traps and lakes on a golf course; they are a detriment but they should not prevent a golfer from playing the game. In short, obsession with these drawbacks will prevent the achieving of one's goals.

The presenting sponsor of this program was "Ernst & Young" so before the program started Ms. Priyanka Chaudhry shared with us some inspiring statistics about the success of diverse organizations.

Since the net proceeds generated from the sale of "Uplifting Leaders..." will be donated to the YWCA of Greater Cleveland's Nurturing Independence and Aspirations (NIA) program to support the education of young women transitioning out of foster care, Ms. Margaret A. Mitchell, its President and CEO, introduced the proceedings by saying, "women are the backbone of this region and we are thrilled to hear their voice today!"

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Our second event for Thursday was the kickoff celebration of an exciting new professional development group called "Friends of Global Cleveland" whose mission is "to connect, welcome, and serve international Young Professionals in the Greater Cleveland area through engagement, opportunity, and advocacy."

This event took place at the Ukrainian Museum-Archives on Kenilworth Avenue in Tremont and was attended by probably 100 people including ourselves and our friend Mr. George Koussa, also from "Margaret W. Wong & Associates". "If you are interested in the international community, then this is the place to be!" exclaimed Ms. Yulu Li who first came to Cleveland from China in 2012 as a graduate student and is now a Senior Account Analyst at "Hanna Commercial Real Estate."

Accordingly, all of us took part in a game called "Global Bingo" in which we tried to hook up with people whose countries of origin were featured on the bingo squares of the cards given to us as we arrived. Of course there were several speakers who spoke about the potential and hopes for "Friends of Global Cleveland" whose vision is to create "a dynamic community with a high quality of life for international Young Professionals. Together with Friends, we are building a better home for international newcomers."

Among the speakers was Mr. David Fleshler, Vice Provost of International Affairs at CWRU, who acknowledged that while he, himself, represented the board of "Global Cleveland" the young internationals present that night more importantly represented "Global Cleveland" itself and what it was all about.

Another speaker wasMr. Andy Fedynsky, Director of the Ukrainian Museum-Archives who was especially poignant as he shared with us his own experience having been born in a refugee camp in Austria after WWII and coming to the U.S. as a refugee when he was quite young. Mr. Fedynsky emphasized the importance of knowing one's heritage when he said, "if you don't know where you have been you don't know where you have been, you don't know where you are going."

He then recalled that when he was a boy he used to engage in sports in Lincoln Park (located right across the street from the museum) with his friends who were of Eastern European descent and now he affectionately watches as young children of Asian descent play in the park exactly where he and his own friends played. Mr. Fedynsky reminded us that that Cleveland was built by immigrants and thus the international young professionals present this evening "will build the next generation of Cleveland" so he extended his welcome to them and the vision they bring with them.

Friday and Saturday, July 14th and 15th, were devoted to tabling on behalf of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" at the 37th Annual Painesville Party in the Park which took place in Veterans Park in downtown Painesville. Last year we tabled there also and we wrote at the time that annual event dubbed "Ohio's largest free music festival" is attended by 55,000 to 60,000 people from 43 Ohio counties and 23 states but we wouldn't be surprised if we were to learn that the 2017 attendance was even greater due to the beautiful, warm but not-too-hot weather with no rain clouds in sight.

We were very fortunate to be assigned a space on the outer fringes of the park right next to a drinking fountain (free water) and a funnel cakes vendor (always popular) so our locale never suffered for lack of people and all of them saw and were aware of our banners even if they did not stop and visit with us.

Among those who did stop and converse with us were:

***A woman who was very familar with our literature because she was once assisted by our office subsequently pointed out that one of our pieces mistakenly read, "Ms. Wong hosts live radio SHOES..." instead of "Ms. Wong hosts live radio SHOWS..." We thanked her for calling this to our attention and assured her that the next time our literature is printed, the mistake will be corrected.

***Two people who may need our help; one of them was a woman whose fiance may need a K1 visa and another whose relative had a fiance in Russia who was having a tough time with the Visa process.

***A man from the Middle East stopped by and looked at our materials. We offered to give him some copies but he laughed and said, "don't worry, she's my lawyer" before he moved on."

***Ms. Veronica Dahlberg from "Hola" smiled, waved to us and said a cheery "hello" as she walked by. We had learned from email sent out by "Hola" that it was Ms. Dahlberg's birthday and she was holding a lovely bouquet of flowers. That night "Hola" also sponsored a performance of the band "Justin Saborit & Latin Soul" which sang a song in Spanish with a beautiful melody that was dedicated to Ms. Dahlberg.

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***A man who shared with us his wife's experience when she immigrated to the United States from Jamaica back in the 1970's and another person who told us about how his grandparents immigrated here from Finland.  Likewise a man who used to be a supervisor at a local manufacturing firm before he retired told us that Ms. Margaret W. Wong once helped one of its employees who was trying to get permission to remain in the United States after coming here from the Ukraine. He told us that when the paperwork was finally in order (and it was quite an undertaking) he showed it to the Ukrainian immigrant who was so happy that he literally cried.

***A sweet lady who immigrated to the U.S. from Europe, asked us what she would have to do to finally become a U.S. citizen. We learned that she was married to a U.S. citizen and had been here lawfully as a permanent resident for 50 years. Of course we gave her our contact information and advised her to call our office about this matter. And, yes, we did hint that we felt optimistic about her wish being granted without too much trouble.

Selling African wares directly across from us were two upbeat guys who immigrated to the U.S. from Senegal named Isma and Mouctao to whom we gave copies of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way." Isma and Mouctao were so grateful that they gave us a very good deal on the purchase price on an African drum which we loved beating (hopefully with some rhythm) for the two days we tabled in their vicinity; perhaps we got them some customers.  

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Also selling African wares a few spaces away from us was Mr. Bunja Sako who immigrated to the United States from the West African country of Gambia and has known Ms. Wong since the late 1980's. Accordingly, Mr. Sako gave us small"Kuba" about which "Wikipedia" says, "are highly desired...Noted for their detailed and tightly woven design, Kuba rugs are prized as the finest of all Caucasian rugs..." Mr. Sako asked that we make sure that his longtime friend receives it so we sent a photo of him holding the Kuba to Ms. Wong who was thrilled. 

One person who recognized us at "Party in the Park" was Mr. Eric Condon, a candidate for Euclid Municipal Court Judge, who was visiting the festival with his family. We learned this from Mr. Condon when we talked to him on Sunday, July 16th, at the 27th annual C.A.M.E.O. picnic held this year, as it has been for the last several years, in the Middleburg Heights Recreation Park.

One of the General Sponsors for the event, along with the "American Druze Society of Ohio" and "Profile News", was "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" and several other supporters stepped in to sponsor the food and the drinks that were plentiful. First and foremost, it was a day for the members to get together, have a picnic lunch, and have a good time. Along these lines, we were entertained by Mr. Danny LaHood who performed Middle Eastern melodies on the keyboard and there was dancing to his music. Our friend, Ms. Shirien Muntaser read two of her excellent poems regarding the need for warring factions to come together and find common ground to establish unity.

One of the attendees was Ms. Jamila Alhaib who we interviewed earlier in the year for "I, Foreign Born" and she was very enthused about an international art exhibition that she has organized entitled "The Other Face" which will have its opening ceremony on Friday July 21st at 78th Street Studios. In attendance will be participating artists from such countries as Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Holland, Switzerland, Canada, Sudan, Canada and the United States.  

We also got to hear from quite a few candidates for public office who will be seeking C.A.M.E.O.'s endorsement in the upcoming elections of 2017 and 2018 or have been endorsed by C.A.M.E.O. in the past and wanted to say hello.

One of these former candidates was Ms. Meryl Johnson who ran successfully for Ohio School Board in 2016 . Ms. Johnson reported that she has been hard at work on Ohio's rendering of the federal "Every Student Succeeds Act"  and was pleased to announce that she has succeeded in establishing a "culturally relevant curriculum" to address the particular needs of all students.

Among the candidates running in 2017, Mr. Condon spoke well and mentioned that he had gained a lot of insight by having friends from the Middle East while he was growing up.

Looking forward to 2018, we heard from Ohio State Senator Frank LaRose (Republican, District 27) who will be running for Secretary of State. Senator LaRose recalled that his family immigrated to the United States from Italy some 80 years ago but he and his relatives are still active in Italian American Clubs because they want to never lose touch with their heritage. He also said that he realizes part of his job if he is elected Secretary of State will be to ensure that the right to vote of all people will be protected. The senator, who is a decorated Army veteran who served in the U.S. Special Forces as a Green Beret in Iraq, shared with us what he had witnessed regarding how precious the right to vote is to Iraqi citizens; so much so that despite definite physical threats from terrorist groups, 70% turned out to vote in Iraq's first election after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

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Another short but excellent speech was given by Mr. Steven Dettelbach, who for six years served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and is a now a democratic candidate for Attorney General of Ohio. Mr. Dettelbach believed that the local Middle Eastern community, from all countries in the region, coming together under the umbrella of C.A.M.E.O. was what the United States was all about. As for his own family, Mr. Dettelbach said that his grandparents immigrated here from Europe "by boat" with almost nothing and yet he was able to attend and graduate from Harvard Law School and his own children are those of an immigrant since his wife's native country was Mexico. Regarding the controversial policies of the Trump Administration pertaining to immigration, Mr. Dettelbach was quite firm when he said that there should not be "a sign on the Statue of Liberty's arm saying that 'you're not welcome so go back.'"

The turnout for this event was excellent and we estimated that maybe 75 people stopped by in the course of three and half hours. Former Judge Rocky Perk, a longtime C.A.M.E.O., supporter, put it well when he said that such involvement indeed "enhances C.A.M.E.O.'s prestige."

 

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC