NOCHE's Jobs Equation; Web RIOT; COSE Coffee; City Club's Inevitable Tech; Freedom Award and Fests with Jamaicans, Serbs, and Scandinavians
On Monday, July 13th, our only event was a program put on by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) and Inside Business Magazine titled "Educating for Growth-Business + Education=Jobs" which was held at the Cleveland Marriott East in Warrensville Heights and attended by about 100 people. The program was introduced by Mr. Rob Briggs, the President of NOCHE. According to Mr. Briggs and the notes we were given, the reason for this function was that "64% of Ohio jobs are projected to demand college-educated workers by 2020. However Ohio's post-secondary educational attainment lags the national average with just 37.5% of Ohioans having at minimum an associate's degree. Raising postsecondary attainment must be among the most important economic priorities for our region. No one segment of our community can do this alone. Only through collective action will we be able to reach the more than 60% required educated talent needed by our employers." The program featured two excellent speakers, Mr. Charles E. Jones, President and CEO of FirstEnergy Corp, and Dr. Richard Rhodes, President and CEO of Austin Community College District. Both speakers stressed the need for business and education to partner together. Some of the ideas that were brought up during the course of the program that merit further exploration if not pursuit were paid internships, program advisory committees, incubator assistance (companies offering students space to explore starting their own businesses), faculty sabbaticals in which instructors would work with industry and bring the knowledge that they acquired back to the classroom, and, in lieu of budget cuts, business should lobby our lawmakers on behalf of education. We asked Dr. Rhodes what was being done to assist immigrants trying to move through our educational system. Dr. Rhodes replied by saying that this was definitely an important issue and he went on to talk about how important ESL programs are to El Paso, TX where the population is 85% Spanish. In Austin, TX people who have immigrated to the United States from other countries (not only from Mexico) are the fastest growing segment of the population. He discussed the ESL programs available in Austin; some of them address those who are well-educated but struggling with English whereas others target those who are do not have a good educational background as well as problems with English. We made several good connections at this event including Ms. Dawn Calvert, President/CEO of Team Lorain County who told us that immigration is becoming more and more an important topic. We gave Ms. Amy French, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of OEC, information about Global Cleveland if her company should decide to hire international talent. President Reagan's immigration reform policies were recalled to us by Mr. Ralph Sinistro who now works as the OMJ Service Manager for Ohio Means Jobs in Akron, Ohio. In the 1980's he used to work for a rural advocacy group called Rochester Rural Opportunities (now Pathstone, Inc.) and helped put packets of immigration materials together for agricultural workers. Dr. Para M. Jones, PhD, President of Stark State College in North Canton told us that Margaret W. Wong and Associates has helped several of the college's faculty members with immigration issues. Dr. irsten M. Ellenbogen, PhD of the Great Lakes Science Center told us that Ms. Margaret W. Wong used to sit on the board of the Great Lakes Science Center and has done a lot to help the Center. Finally, immigration was indeed an important topic for Ms. Rebecca Crowl from Aultman College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Canton, Ohio because she adopted two children from China who are now in their mid to late teens. Interestingly, she worked with European Adoption Consultants whose annual event at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo we attended a couple of months ago.
On Tuesday, July 14th, our first event was Coffee with COSE (Council of Smaller Enterprises) held at Panera's on Mentor Avenue in Mentor. We always like to go to COSE events because we make all sorts of contacts there including a few who are not involved with small businesses but still come to COSE events because of the organization's great reputation and the wide arrange of talent that it attracts. Surprisingly though, there were only five people total at this particular function who were Ms. Lisa Mullin, COSE Membership Advisor; Ms. Katrina Marsh, Madison-Perry Chamber of Commerce; Ms. Faith Andrews, Virtual Ally; Ms. Rachel Zake, Design Room Creative; and, of course, representation from Margaret W. Wong and Associates. Much of the time between 8:45am and 10am was spent discussing the upcoming marajuana initiative that will be on the November ballot because Ms. Mullin wanted to get our opinions on it before COSE took an official stand. Of particular concern to her was the provision that might allow sick people to use medically-prescribed marajuana at the workplace. No tempers flared at this meeting; instead all of us took part in a very thoughtful discussion regarding the pros and cons of the initiative. We have been to several events in which good networking habits have been discussed and we have learned that it is sometimes better to get to know a few people at a time instead of handing out business cards to everyone in the room. Therefore, we regarded this event as a very positive networking experience because all of us left with heightened respect for each other as representatives of our companies and occupations.
Tuesday afternoon we attended the Cleveland R.I.O.T. (Realizing the Internet of Things) Happy Hour at the Music Box Supper Club in the Flats. This event was put on by OneCommunity whose mission is "expanding high-speed internet broadband access and adoption to strength Northeast Ohio." Ms. Catherine Bules, Project Manager for OneCommunity, said that Northeast Ohio is well-suited for this because of it has a history of being a "powerhouse in manufacturing", its innovations in the health care field are quite prominent, its educational legacy is outstanding, and that it contains the fastest fiber infrastructure in the country. This day was all about hi-tech innovators getting together, sharing ideas and seeing if they could be of use to each other. We know that the hi-tech field is international so we decided to attend in order to tell the innovators about the services that Margaret W. Wong and Associates has to offer in terms of dealing with situations involving immigration should they want to bring an overseas colleague to the United States temporarily or permanently. Accordingly, we talked to representatives from such companies as Enterprise Data Solutions, Inc.; Maker Gear; Victory Sales; Everykey; Juniper Networking; USA Firmware; danati, llc; Visualized Energy; and Rockwell Automation. Several of them said that they could conceive of cases where we just might be of service to them and they will definitely forward the information to the proper parties in their organizations. We had a particularly good visit with Ms. Kelly Zelesnik, Dean of the School of Engineering, Business and Information Technologies Division at Lorain Community College. Ms. Zelesnik told us that they will be attempting to reach out more to international students to come to the Lorain and take part in their two year program. We also met Ms. Myra G. Orenstein who was there as the President of CATV, Inc., an award-winning advertising collaborative. She also is the Executive Director of Cleveland Independents, an association of restaurateurs of which our Ms. Rose Wong of Pearl of the Orient is a member. On Tuesday night we went to the Hungarian Museum in the Galleria to meet Ms. Judith Petres Balogh, a noted Hungarian author who has written seven books including the one that she was there to talk about this evening, "School of a Different Kind" about her own experiences and those of others as students at the Hungarian boarding school for girls at Niederaudorf in Bavaria that was created in the aftermath of World War II. We talked to Ms. Balogh before the program and bought a copy of her book for Ms. Wong. Ms. Balogh told us that her family fled Hungary in 1945 and settled in Bavaria where poverty was very high because World War II had "ruined" the infrastructure of Europe. She said that her book would be of interest to Ms. Wong because she discusses the 1948 immigration laws which allowed people to immigrate from Europe to the United States only if they had a job, an apartment (i.e. a place to live) and a sponsor. Ms. Balogh, herself, came to the United States in 1951 with her mother and sister. She eventually became a teacher and taught at Aurora Elementary School during the 1970's. One of the other teachers at the school, Ms. Ann Krapf was there and she told us that Ms. Balogh taught the fifth grade and could really relate to the students who loved hearing about her experiences at Niederaudorf. The program's introduction was given by Dr. Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter who said that "School of a Different Kind" should be of particular interest to historians because it helped to fill in the gap regarding what was happening in Europe in the postwar years of 1945-1951 and how people had to struggle to stay alive. From what we learned from Dr. Pereszlenyi-Pinter and Ms. Balogh, we believe that it was astonishing that this school succeeded as well as it did without hardly any resources at all including proper food. Ms. Balogh attributed its success to the fact that the girls were very appreciative of their parents' sacrifices to give them this opportunity because they wanted their children to be educated but also wanted them not to forget their Hungarian heritage. What's more the girls, themselves, really wanted to learn and were not there because they needed an education in order to get a good job. Ms. Balogh said that in addition matters of the "heart" and of the "spirit" were also addressed there. It says at the bottom of the book cover of "School of a Different Kind" that credit should also go to "33 former students, who generously contributed their memories, letters, diaries, photos, and biographies" to make this book possible. Two of these thirty-three students were there with us so we got to meet Ms. Judith Abraham and Ms. Eva Kardos both of whom also immigrated to the United States in 1951. Ms. Abraham had an especially interesting story to tell about how her father, who was a doctor in Europe, was allowed to practice medicine here in the United States only if he would agree to work at an African-American Hospital in Mississippi while he studied to be certified. Thus, he "broke the barrier" by being the first white doctor to practice at that hospital although he, personally, had no prejudices and it was no big deal for him to do so. He eventually passed all of his tests and was allowed to have his own practice so he moved the family to Ohio. Everyone applauded when Ms. Ildiko Peller, board member of the Hungarian Association, an international organization based in Cleveland, announced that her organization had named "School of a Different Kind" the book of the year. We were in full agreement with Ms. Balogh when she answered a question about what the best way was to inspire young people to learn these days. She said that young people must "be born into an environment where education is valued."
On Thursday, July 16th, we attended "Coffee Contacts" put on by the Painesville/Mentor Chambers of Commerce at the Sinistra Hair Lounge on Tyler Blvd. in Mentor, Ohio. This business was created in October of 2014 by Ms. Hannah Brehm and Ms. Alexandra Comer and is doing very well thus far. Ms. Brehm and Ms. Comer are stylists themselves and four other stylists also conduct their business there. It should be noted that each stylist works independently and pays rent for their own workspace. They do all of their bookings on their own and there is no receptionist. The ambiance seemed conducive to both genders so anyone should feel comfortable being a customer there. About 30 people were there for this function and we connected with several people that we had not met previously like a representative from a staffing agency that sometimes deals with people struggling with issues pertaining to immigration.
On Thursday afternoon we went to the City Club to attend a program titled "Inevitable: How Disruptive Shifts in Technology and Behavior are Redefining Cities Across the Globe" featuring Mr. Dustin Haisler, the Chief Executive Officer of e.Republic, "a market connector created as an ecosystem to educate, accelerate and ultimately scale technology innovation within the public sector." Mr. Haisler presented an inspiring case about how technology can be used to make government more efficient and less costly. We shared a table with Mr. Thomas P. Furnas, Senior Director of Technology for ideastream; Ms. Lori Baukus, Business Development Manager for Team Lorain County; and Mr. Ron Copfer, Jr. of Heureka Software, LLC., and Ms. Margaret W. Wong who arrived just in time for the presentation. Mr. Haisler talked about his tenure as the Finance Director and the CIO of Mano, TX so we went home and looked up his record. We learned that he "pioneered" the use of commercial technologies not used in the public sector up to this time which included crowdsourcing and gamification to address the situations that the community was confronted with. Mr. Haisler is also a big promoter of Code for America Brigades which are local volunteer groups that bring together community members to make government more responsive. Brigades use technology to build new tools to help with local civic issues. Also there on this day complementing what Mr. Haisler had to say were Ms. Jill Miller Zimon and Ms. Beth Sebian, co-founders of OpenNeo which is "a not for profit organization advancing open data and civic technology in Northeast Ohio." It's vision is "a robust ecosystem of data sharing between government, nonprofits, businesses, academic institutions and the public." "Open data" is defined as "public data that is online, machine-readable, published in a timely manner, and offered without any conditions on use or distribution." An example of how open data was used to help a community was in Chicago where the Department of Public Health used a predictive model to narrow lead building inspections from 195,000 locations to 378. Another example, also in Chicago, was the "Food Borne" program which made use of residents' tweets for information about food poisoning and to prioritize restaurant inspections based on twitter-users survey responses. After the program, we talked to Mr. Haisler about how the things that he talked about could possibly improve immigration proceedings. He told us that he really had not done much research into this area regarding specific instances but it was an area that "could come into play" and cited an example of how New Zealand was able to expedite the visa process so that the workers it needed could enter the country. As we were leaving we spoke to Mr. Andrew Kohn, an attorney who is very much fascinated by technological advances, who we had seen earlier in the week at a OneCommunity gathering where a lot of advanced equipment was on display and concepts discussed. We both admitted that what was going on at the OneCommunity function might have been a little too technologically advanced for us but we really admired Mr. Haisler, as well as Ms. Miller Zimon and Ms. Sebian, for what they were doing and agreed that their efforts were helping to make life better for people now and paving the way for the future. On Thursday evening we went to the 54th Annual Captive Nations Dinner put on by the American Nationalities Movement of Ohio which was held at Wal-Tam's Grand Ballroom in Garfield Heights. Every year we enjoy attending this summer banquet as well as the holiday party in December. On this occasion the recipients of the Freedom Award were Mr. Andrew Fedynsky, Director of the Ukrainian Museum-Archives; Mr. Maris Mantenieks, former Information Director of the Latvian American Association in the United States; and Mr. Abdullah (Abby) Mina, former President of CAMEO. All three were honored for their contributions to the fight against tyranny and oppression and all three immigrated to the United States from other countries. Among their many accomplishments, Mr. Fedynsky served on the staff of Senator Robert Dole handing Soviet Affairs. Mr. Mantenieks assisted Senator George Voinovich (who was there and presented the award to Mr. Mantenieks) in his successful battle to bring the Baltics into NATO. Mr. Mina has helped many immigrants fill out the necessary paperwork in order that they may remain in the United States and eventually become citizens. After the awards, Mr. James M. Craciun gave a powerful speech about the destructive nature of the communist system of government. What we really like about this annual event is the opportunity to connect with many people who we seldom get to see. Accordingly, at this function we shared a table with Mr. Salvatore Felice and his wife Ms. Rose Marie Felice who we sat with last year. Also at our table were Mr. Michael Wojtila who entertained us before the program by beautifully playing some songs on the accordion and his stepdaughter, Ms. Tori Allen; Mr. George Popovich who was acting as photographer for the evening; and Dr. Elizabeth Balraj and her husband Mr. Winfred Balraj who are old friends of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. We also visited with Ms. Jayne Zborowsky who served on the Cleveland City Council representing the Buckeye/Shaker Square area in the late 1960's/early 1970's along with her friend, Ms. Anda Cook of the Latvian Church in Lakewood who promised to keep us informed regarding some concerts coming up in the fall. The invocation and benediction were both given by Reverend Father John M. Loejos of the Saint E.Premte Church on Jasper Avenue in Cleveland. When we introduced ourselves to Father Loejos, he told us to be sure to say hello to our Mr. Leo Shipcka who is part of his congregation. Asking us to say hello to Ms. Margaret W. Wong was Judge Anthony "Tony" Calabrese who said that she was "a good person". Ms. Wong appreciated his compliment so much that she gave him a hug when she arrived a short time later.
On Friday, July 17th, we attended the second day of the 38th Annual Convention of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO) which was held at the Marriott East Hotel in Warrensville Heights. We arrived in time to sit in on the Health Symposium in which doctors who have been practicing in Jamaica reported on the projects that they have taken part in and the progress that that has been made regarding health care issues. For instance, Dr. Juan Reid, noted dental surgeon from Atlanta, GA spoke about a dental clinic that he plans to open in Jamaica that will involve 120 dental practitioners many of whom will be from the United States. Present at this meeting was the Honorable Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health in Jamaica. Dr. Ferguson said that the goal was justice and health care for all with a particular outreach to the most vulnerable groups. Dr. Ferguson said that there are "great possibilities" regarding what they have been able to do and what they can do over time. We are very thankful to Ms. Kameika Bruce of the Jamaica Cultural Association for inviting us to the convention. Ms. Bruce went out of her way to introduce us to some very prominent people including Ms. Joan O. Pinnock, Esq. who is President of the Jamaican Bar Association and might be open to working with Margaret W. Wong and Associates on some immigration matters. Another person Ms. Bruce introduced us to was Mr. Roy Davidson, past President of NAJASO, who told us that he is very worried about a current trend to deport to Jamaica United States-born people of Jamaican descent who have been in trouble with the law. It seems that this is possible because Jamaica recognizes those born of Jamaican parentage as Jamaican citizens. The problem is that most of these people have never been to Jamaica and know little about the country so they are, in effect, displaced people when they arrive there. During the symposium, Dr. Robert Clarke, Executive VP of NAJASO, said that "our mission is the people of Jamaica, period. During his speech at lunchtime, Mr. Ricardo Nugent, the current President of NAJASO, reminded everyone that Jamaicans have been a part of every significant change in the United States throughout history. Mr. Nugent said that "we must move forward" not just by making plans but by working together collectively; "we must agree to disagree." He concluded by saying that if we can do that then "we can go places and we will travel far and wide." Friday night we went to Cleveland City Hall to attend Republic of Liberia's 168th Independence Day celebration put on by the Liberian Association of Cleveland (LACE) which took place in the Rotunda. We could only stay a short while which was our loss because it seemed like they had a very good program lined up including a speech by Mayor Frank Jackson as well as several other promising invitations; a video presentation regarding the Cultural Heritage of Liberia and the Effect of the Ebola outbreak; music and dance performances; and dinner. It was good seeing old friends like Mr. Rufus Darkortey, former President of LACE, and Mr. Prester Pickett, Coordinator of the Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center, and we got to talk with some good people like Ms. Wanda Findley from the St. Clair Place Tenants Organization who told us that her organization has quite a few members who have immigrated to the United States from other countries and her office is mindful of the need to have a translator available to help those struggling with the English language. On Saturday night we stopped off for an hour at the Liberian Ball at St. Helena Party Hall on West 65th Street in the Detroit-Shoreway area. Things were a bit slow in getting started since almost everyone had been at Humphrey Field playing soccer earlier in the day but we still got to say hello to Mr. Martin Zeinway and Mr. Leon Poah, the President and the Treasurer of LACE respectively. We enjoyed visiting with Ms. Janway Bass from the "Plant a Seed for a Child Program" who looked lovely in a dress which celebrated her heritage. We shared a table with Mr. Jackson Seo, a young accountant who immigrated to the United States from Liberia in 2007. When we told him that we work for Margaret W. Wong and Associates, he smiled and told us that Ms. Wong is his attorney and he appreciates the work that she has done to help him. When we saw the program notes for the Friday night event we were glad to see that Ms. Wong was acknowledged as the speaker for their program in 2010. It described Ms. Wong as "an accomplished and world renowned immigration attorney." Another celebration of heritage that we attended over the weekend were the opening ceremonies for the first annual Scandinavian Festival which was held at Our Savior's Rocky River Lutheran Church on Hilliard Blvd. Ms. Mandy Forshey, the festival coordinator, and Pastor Charles Eduardos were glad that we were there and Mr. Stan Zeager took the time to show us some photos and citations that documented the evolution of the congregation. During the ceremonies, Ms. Serena Cottrell said that all of us were here on this day to extol the rich history of this church which was founded by people who had immigrated to the United States from the Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Sweden and Norway. She noted, however, that all are welcomed here which drew laughter from Pastor Eduardos who is actually Puerto Rican. Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst acknowledged that we were there from Margaret W. Wong and Associates during her remarks. Mayor Bobst said that the immigrants who founded this church would be very proud of its service to the community since Father Eduardos serves as the chaplain of the safety forces of Rocky River and the church is home to the meals-on-wheels program and the annual safety forces breakfast is held here each year. Both Mayor Bobst and Ms. Cottrell credited the late Mr. Jerry Berkshire for coming up with the idea of the establishment of an annual Scandinavian festival. The ceremonies ended with a maypole dance that was dedicated to Mr. Berkshire. The rest of the day looked like a lot of fun because there were to be food demonstrations, a performance by a band from the All-Saints Church, a meet and greet, and a contemporary worship service. Most of our time on Saturday and Sunday, however, was spent tabling for Margaret W. Wong and Associates at the 2015 Annual Serbfest at St. Sava Cathedral on Broadview Road in Parma. We first contacted Ms. Dorothy Winovich of St. Sava's about tabling there more than a month ago so she arranged for us to have a wonderful location indoors right next to the dining area so people would be sure to see us when they came for food. When we first arrived we encountered the Very Reverend Zivojin Jakovljevic and asked if we could take a photo of him. Of course Rev. Jakovljevic consented but asked that we include Mr. Milos Veljkovic who worked very hard to put the festival together. Of course we said yes. As we were setting up Mr. Lex Machaskee arrived and set up his own beautiful display of photos regarding the history of the Serbian Cultural Garden. Throughout the two days we spent most of our time at our table but still got to walk around and have some good food (we loved the rice and potato salad); walk around the beautiful sanctuary where tours were given by Ms. Winovich and our friend Ms. Laureen Solomon who, even though she now lives in Painesville is an active member of the St. Sava congregation. On Saturday night we watched the Serbian Folklore Dance Ensemble perform in the tent outside. We admired the young dancer because even though our iphone indicated that it was 90 degrees, the Ensemble performed like troopers. Several people stopped off at our table to tell us that they knew or had met Ms. Margaret W. Wong at some event. Ms. Anna Hsu told us that she was a friend of Mr. Alex Machaskee and met Ms. Wong, as well as Ms. Wong's mother and Ms. Rose Wong, at a function put on by Mr. Machaskee. Along these lines, Mr. Radujkovic Dragan, the brother-in-law of Ms. Lori Pinjuh who used to work for us, walked over and said that Ms. Wong is "the one to go to" regarding immigration matters." Ms. Anne Vorkapich sat with Ms. Wong at a dinner at St. Sava's several years ago and told us that Ms. Wong impressed her as being "a beautiful person." Other people that we talked to at St. Sava's over the weekend included:
- Mr. Milan Stojadinovic, who immigrated to the United States from Serbia over 40 years ago, recalled in the early 90's accompanying the noted Russian pianist Mr. Sergei Babayan when he went to see Ms. Wong for help because he wanted to remain in the United States.
- Mr. Bogosav Bojovich told us that he immigrated to the United States from Serbia in 1974 and that he now works for Jakprints which is across the street from our office.
- Mr. Steve Kristof told us that Ms. Wong helped him 30 years ago when he immigrated to the United States from Hungary.
Even though we were tabling indoors it still got to be pretty warm so were grateful to both Mr. Stojadinovic and his good friend, Mr. Zika Markov for stopping by our table fairly frequently to ask if we needed some water. But perhaps the most delightful meeting that we had over the weekend was with Mother Ana who lives at the Monastery Marcha in Richfield. Mother Ana told us that she always enjoys receiving Ms. Wong's holiday cards and invited us out to the monastery so she could she show us around. Mother Ana was accompanied by Sister Anastasia who took two of our cards intending to give one to a person who might need our services and file the other card so they would know how to contact us should the need arise.