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2nd Day of The Society of Human Resource Management Conference and Exposition.

On Tuesday, April 19th, we were still in Orlando, Florida at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference and Exposition.

We spent most of the day tabling in the exposition hall but we still had time to attend a luncheon where we listened to an inspirational speech by Ms. Kat Cole, Chief Operating Officer at Cinnabon. Ms. Cole spoke about how she got her start by working as a hostess at Hooters and in a relatively short time, IMG_0285through hard work and initiative, became its Vice President of Training and Development when she was still in her early 20's.

Ms. Cole is also very socially committed and told us about an incident that occurred while when she was on a trip to Africa with other philanthropists. Her group was getting ready to leave to return home when they found out that the tribesman who had been their guide was very seriously ill. Accordingly, they returned to the tribe and made provisions that saved the life of their friend. As a result of this, members of the tribe that had been distrustful of them (with good reason-many outsiders had visited them and promised a lot but never delivered) became supportive and things got done.IMG_0286At lunch we shared a table with a young woman who worked with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma providing services for its members as well as another woman who immigrated to the United States from Germany 20 years ago. To be sure, she had her green card but has postponed getting her U.S. citizenship until dual citizenship between the U.S. and Germany was possible.

As for tabling, between Monday and Tuesday we collected over 70 business cards from people who stopped at our booth. We made many good connections including a manager of a healthcare facility in IMG_0280Minnesota who would like to explore the possibility of recruiting nurses from Canada; a career services person from a college in Virginia who knows some international students that could use the assistance of a good immigration attorney; the Vice President of Human Resources for a large hotel chain that employees many people who have immigrated to the U.S.; and two people who suggested Margaret W. Wong and Associates open an office in Florida because a lot of foreign-born people live there.

Unfortunately, we also talked to human resource people who indicated that they would love to make use of international talent but the process is just too expensive, too complicated, and too exhausting for them to consider doing so. Now this is, in our opinion, an excellent illustration of why immigration reform is so badly needed.

IMG_0279We enjoyed talking to a woman named Donna who was very proud of the diversity of Fairfield, CA where she lives. First of all, her husband immigrated to the U.S. from Canada. Next door to them lives an African-American and a man from India lives across the street. Surrounding homes are occupied by Hispanic and white people (including French immigrants) and just down the street lives an LGBT person. According to Donna, they all get along fine and we were tempted to ask if we could move in.

Later, we were sitting at our table when a person chanced to walk by and glanced at our banner. He/she stopped suddenly and exclaimed, "oh my, Margaret Wong! She helped my father immigrate here from Europe!..."

Note: these were not the exact words but close enough.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.