About the Hispanic Roundtable

The Hispanic Roundtable (HRT) is a nonprofit civic leadership organization whose purpose is to empower and serve the Hispanic community.

Its fundamental mission is to act as a catalyst for the Hispanic community in E3: empowerment, education, and economic development.

HRT was founded by a group of civic-minded Hispanic leaders (Jose Feliciano, Adrian Maldonado, and Judge José Villanueva). Its members include, and have involved, leaders from business, politics, including elected and appointed public officials, nonprofit organizations, and civic organizations. All volunteers. That volunteer tradition continues today, where all activities and programs are created, lead, and implemented by volunteers.

The methodology used to serve and empower the community includes forums, seminars, training sessions, community meetings, and community-wide conventions.

HRT’s principal activity has been a community convention held every three years where the entirety of the Hispanic community is invited and involved, including every Hispanic organization in the Greater Cleveland area. The entire Hispanic community is invited to suggest and identify issues. Every Hispanic organization is asked to identify its top agenda items. The agenda is developed, and resolutions related thereto are passed. Between conventions, HRT assists in implementing the agenda through its influence, advocacy, relationships, and leadership.

The fundamental idea behind the community convention, known as Convención Hispana, is Greece’s original civic forums where citizens participated directly in identifying, debating, and implementing the ideas and issues of the day. Typically Convención Hispana attracts some 3000 people. At the convention also numerous community services are provided. A typical Convención Hispana will have a resource fair, job fair, health fair, health screenings including, among other things, on hypertension and diabetes, workshops on economic development and other issues, essay contest, business pitch, and community and business booths, among other things. Please see Cleveland Foundation blog post: Convención Hispana 2019.

Notable agenda items which have become a reality over the years include:

  • The Hispanic scholarship fund, now known as Esperanza
  • The Hispanic Business Association
  • The Hispanic Contractors Association
  • The Mercado project, now known as CentroVilla25 Project.
  • The Hispanic Senior Center
  • The Hispanic Domestic Violence Center
  • Bilingual Ballot ·  La Villa and others

Significant keynote speakers over the years have included:

  • Former Secretary of HUD and former presidential candidate Julian Castro
  • Former Secretary of HUD Henry Cisneros
  • Rita Moreno of West Side Story who he won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner (EGOT) and
  • Grammy winner and world-renowned singer Jose Feliciano.

Other examples of initiatives and issues that the Hispanic Roundtable has led includes:

  • School levies
  • Education reform
  • Economic development and inclusion
  • Immigration reform
  • Digital divide
  • Health disparities
  • Voter registration
  • Nonpartisan candidates and issues nights
  • Matchmaking Mentoring between Cleveland CEOs and young Latinos
  • Puerto Rican migration to Cleveland post-hurricane Maria programming
  • Leadership on the transition in Cuyahoga County government from county commissioners to the county executives and council form of government, among other involvement.

Collaboration is a critical component of the Hispanic Roundtable. The following are not exhaustive, but examples. HRT has collaborated with numerous Cleveland institutions, such as the Cleveland Metropolitan School District on school levies, curriculum issues, the Cleveland plan, among other topics. It has collaborated with Cuyahoga Cuyahoga Community College on access, scholarships, and levies. It has collaborated with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on registration, the bilingual ballot, and other access issues. It has worked on the economic development front with Greater Cleveland Partnership on inclusion and economic development issues, such as tax credits and the state of Ohio’s capital budget, for the Hispanic community and Hispanic projects.

HRT has used its voice of advocacy on public policy issues, such as voting rights. It was the lead community organization in implementing the bilingual ballot in Cuyahoga County. HRT led the City of Cleveland’s effort related to redistricting, preserving the Hispanic ward, and leading to the election of Councilwoman Jasmin Santana.

The HRT has also acted as a facilitator. It has helped obtain funding for projects of the Spanish American Committee and the Hispanic Business Association related to CentroVilla25 Project, among others.

The Hispanic Roundtable existed in a prior legal form known as the Hispanic Forum when it put on the first Convención Hispana in 1983.

HRT’s driving, operating principle is captured in a quote from Rabbi Hillel:

If not you, then who?

If not now, then when?

We want to make the old adage of teaching people how to fish a fundamental reality in our lives. We want our voice and actions to make a difference for everyone.

Our ultimate goal is to develop a vibrant, independent, and self-reliant Hispanic community, one which is making a significant contribution not only to the advancement of the Hispanic community but also to the betterment of the entire community.