Veronica Isabel Dahlberg was born in Canton, Ohio. She is the daughter of Mexican and Hungarian immigrants who arrived in Cleveland over 60 years ago. Her father was a Hungarian refugee who met her mother in Mexico. She remembers her late parents, who became U.S. citizens: “My dad, a Hungarian immigrant who put on a suit when he voted, and my mother, a Mexican immigrant who joined him every Election Day.”
The family moved to Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood, populated by other Hungarian immigrants. From there, they moved to Ashtabula, where they built a home they owned for over 50 years. Her family was active in church and community, promoting Hispanic culture and helping people for many decades. This legacy was carried forward by Ms. Dahlberg, who has been active in the northeast Ohio Latino community for over 20 years.
Veronica is founder and executive director of HOLA Ohio, the organization she founded in 1999, which works to empower Latinos through leadership development, civic engagement and advocacy. HOLA has received recognition for its groundbreaking advocacy over the course of over 25 years.She also established the HOLA Business Association, a group of over 60 Latino-owned small-businesses who provide support. HOLA’s work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Washington Post, and a three-part series on Telemundo.
In an MSNBC interview celebrating her immigrant rights advocacy for over 20 years, she said, “Over 20 years ago I worked on a two-week university project interviewing farm workers on Virginia’s eastern shore. I was shocked at the working and living conditions for these 5,000 Mexican immigrants picking America’s crops. I saw how pesticides, long hours in the blazing sun, low pay and decrepit housing took a toll on them. I ended up staying eight months trying to learn how to organize the workers to improve their lives, a commitment I carry on to this day.”
She has said that, “A typical day involves fielding calls from desperate immigrants in deportation, finding ways to keep them here with their families, whether through a public action or legal maneuver. I often feel like a circus performer spinning plates — each deportation case is high stakes and requires quick action. I contact elected officials, lawyers and other leaders daily. I drive to immigration in Cleveland, HOLA meetings, sometimes I drive 1,000 miles weekly. I delegate tasks to HOLA volunteers, and consult my mentors to strategize or get moral support.”
Recently, under her direction, HOLA Ohio developed a new, $2 million Hispanic Community Center in Painesville, which opened to the public on Cinco de Mayo, 2022.
She was awarded the Cleveland Cavaliers "DIFF Maker" award for HOLA in 2023, and previously recognized with the Crain's Cleveland Business Woman of Note, and Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan award, and has been inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
Veronica says, “The biggest misconception about undocumented immigrants is that they are an economic drain on our country, and that immigration reform will negatively change America and all it stands for. As a patriotic American, I have come to appreciate their work ethic, love of family, and can-do attitude. I’ve seen how they are an indispensable part of our labor force and economy. They work hard and live frugally to build their American dream. When given the opportunity to learn and participate, they quickly adopt all that is great about America.”
Veronica Dahlberg will be inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame Class of 2024 by...”Read
Sister Alicia Alvarado, OP
The induction speech for Sister Alicia Alvarado was given by 2012 Cleveland International Hall of Fame inductee and fellow Puerto Rican José Feliciano.
Click on the white arrow in the image below to watch video of the speech. Then, click the icon in the lower right to make it full screen.
Watch Sister Alicia Alvarado's acceptance speech.
Enjoy these other images from Sister Alicia Alvarado's induction into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame. Scroll down to read her bio.
Congratulations Sister Alicia Alvarado
Sister Alicia Alvarado, OP Bio
Sister Alicia Alvarado was born in Villalba, Puerto Rico on December 31, 1948, the second child of Felipe J. Alvarado and Rosa Maria Rodriquez Alvarado. She imigrated to the United States of America as a 6 year old child with her older sister Carmen and her sister Lourdes. Her educational background consistes of attending a public school, St. Wendelin & St. Patrick's Catholic grade schools, St. Stephen High School, Tri-C Community College, where futures begin;Cleveland State University with a BA in Spanish Secondary Education; MSSA in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University; BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Kent State University.
Sister Alicia entered the Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace, from San Juan Bautista Parish, Cleveland in 1979. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee of Religious Profession in 2007. Sister Alicia has ministered with the Hispanic communities most of her religious life and before entering. In 1982-84 she was Hispanic Program Coordinator on the Commission on Catholic Community Action for the Cleveland Diocese. From 1985-88, she was Associate Director of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Toledo,OH. While in St. Louis, MO, she was Director Catholic Hispanic Center in 1992 and in 1993-97 served as Director of Los Caminantes Project.
After 6 years in St. Louis, she returned to the area and served as Director of the Hispanic Office for the Cleveland Diocese in 1998. In 2005, she was elected to a four-year term as Fourth Councilor for her religious congregation.
Sister Alicia was also Executive Assistant to Cleveland's first Hispanic Councilman Joe Santiago for ward 14. “Santiago has chosen community organizer Sister Alicia Alvarado as his Executive Assistant. According to a campaign insider, Alvarado neutralized opposition to Santiago's sexual orientation within the Catholic church that is influential in his ward, helping it to be a non-issue.”(January 6:Plain Dealer, Joe Santiago takes the helm in Cleveland's Ward 14)
Sister Alicia has received numerous awards for her work in social justice and her ministry among the Hispanic population. Among them are the recipient of the Individual Award for Justice and Peace by the Cleveland Commission on Catholic Community Action in 2003, Community Relations Award from the Hispanic Business Association(Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Ohio) in 2003 and 2004's Madrina Award(Godmother of the Community).
She also belonged to professional societies and memberships including being the First Hispanic woman on the Board of Trustees of Cuyahoga Community College in 2001, was elected to be Ohio Representative on the Midwest Catholic Association of Hispanic Ministry and chairperson and treasurer of the five member leadership team of the Association and has served on the National Farm Workers Ministry Board.
She has traveled to Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua. Sister has stated that People is her passion.
Presently, Sister Alicia resides at Our Lady of the Elms Motherhouse in Akron and remains quite active with various social justice organizations.
Dr. Maria Pujana
Dr. Maria Pujana, a physician, a clinical neurologist and neurophysiologist, is a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University's Global Health in the School of Medicine.
Her fields of concentrations are Economic Development, Public Health, Education Arts and Culture and International Affairs.
Dr. Pujana was a member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Foundation from 2002 to 2012 (Chair of Advisory and Selection Committee for Scholarships), Founder and Chair of the International Committee, Invest on Children Partner Member. She is a member of the MetroHealth Foundation Board, The Cleveland Red Cross (Chair of the International Affairs and Services Committee), The Advisory Board of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Helen Moss Cancer Research Foundation, Member of the Cleveland Office of Minority Health Advisory Committee.
She is also president and designer of Marise Designs a fine and fashion jewelry line. Her collection has accessorized Gala of Hispanic Designers, "Pasarela Cibeles Fashion Week" in Madrid Spain, New York Fashion Week and she has been featured in Vogue, Hola/Hello Magazine, Latina Style, The Plain Dealer, Sun Newspapers, Currents, Selecta, etc. and her jewelry was also shown in Cadena Magazine.
She received the 2011 Distinguish Ohioan Award; the 2010 TiE Ohio Community Catalyst Award; the 2009 YWCA Women of Achievement Award; the 2008 Visionary Award from the Hispanic Business Association; 2003 Business Woman of the Year from Score Magazine (USA); the 1997 Titan of Style from The Sun Newspapers and Nordstrom
She is a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2005.”Read