KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KSHB 41 News has highlighted the contributions of the Hispanic community in the Kansas City area throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.
Included below are nominations we received of people who celebrate and uplift the Hispanic community.
Edgar Palacios and Susana Elizarraraz
Nominated by Imani Malaika-Mehta
"Edgar Palacios is the founder and CEO of the Latinx Education Collaborative. Susana Elizarraraz is the deputy director of LEC. Together, they do the hard work of supporting LatinX teachers in the Kansas City area. One of the ways they do this is by increasing the number of LatinX teachers hired and retained by KCPS. About 9% of teachers were Hispanic (of any race), and 7% were Black and non-Hispanic. KCPS District's minority student enrollment is 90%. Representation matters to Hispanic students. LEC recently hosted the amazing Latinx Leadership Equity Series at their HQ location. I wish every Kansas Citian could have attended."
Nominated by Erica Ostroski
"Anna is the Director of Community Outreach at Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City, where she works tirelessly to engage with diverse communities to ensure they feel informed of and included in the BBBS program. Anna has also served as a volunteer Big to two different Latinx Littles in the BBBS program over the years. Anna also co-leads the BBBS Diversity Equity and Inclusion Board. Anna has worked to develop stronger ties in the Hispanic community and has initiated an ongoing partnership between BBBS and Mattie Rhodes. Aside from her work at BBBS, she serves on the board of the International Relations Council, El Centro and The Folly Theater. She has also served as the vice president of memberships for the Young Latino Professionals and as an Avanzando Mentor at the University of Kansas City-Missouri. She's a Kansas City gem who cares deeply about the Hispanic community. These are just a couple of ways she's made an impact, but there's so much more to share."
Nominated by Tresza Hutcheson
"Mariana Ramirez is the director for JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health. I know her personally and she works tirelessly all day long, every day (weekends included) to improve the health of Hispanic communities in the Kansas City area. She runs a team that is involved in so many outreach and research projects I could not name them all. But this group is out in the community every week. They have been running vaccination clinics for COVID vaccinations and boosters. They have been providing blood pressure screenings. They work to put out accurate health information on many different topics and help promote research (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease, etc.). They also help staff a free cancer genetic services clinic that brings free genetic counseling (for cancer) and testing. These groups do a lot under her direction, but it is her vision, passion and leadership which helps this center accomplish so many things."
Nominated by Chrissy Nance
"Solange is simply amazing. She teaches Spanish at Notre Dame de Sion High School. She inspires her students daily. She has created a Hispanic heritage celebration at Sion incorporating food, dance, culture and learning so that students can further their understanding and appreciation of Latin culture. She works tirelessly with her club and in all of her classes to make sure all cultures and voices are recognized. Solange truly is passionate about the work she does."
Nominated by Renee Schultz
"Bibiana is the administrative assistant at Cristo Rey Kansas City. She is loved by both students and staff. She is essential to our school in countless ways. Bibi is an incredible example to our students. She is my go-to person for translating for our Spanish-speaking parents. She taught herself English and is absolutely brilliant! I am relatively new to the school, so I know there are many things about her I don't even know . But I can say for certain that this woman stands out as a leader in our school."
Capt. Osvaldo "Waltz" Navarro
Nominated by Iliana Navarro and Monica Navarro
"He has been on the force with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department for 23 years. He started his new position as the community liaison with special consideration toward the Hispanic community. Since starting his new position as the community liaison, he has created the following projects to build the bridge between the police department and the Hispanic community: Facebook live show — every first Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. He created a social media platform with the target audience being Spanish-speaking citizens. La Hora con el Capitán! They can participate and ask questions directly to them and their guests. This was created to let those who normally did not have a voice communicate with their KCKPD that represents them. They also cover many topics relating to the department, Wyandotte County and the Latino community. This also includes special guests they can communicate with such as the Mexican Consulate, chief of police and the mayor of Kansas City, Kansas. To date, each video session that normally lasts less than an hour has generated over 7,000 views. He also helps with Survival Spanish for LEO. This program was geared toward law enforcement officers. He teaches the basics of Spanish for specific calls for service that officers would be exposed to such as domestic violence, traffic stops and arrests. The officers learn enough Spanish to hold conversations and control the scene meanwhile an interpreter arrives. To date, there have been four classes with a high rate of completion. He also helps with the Spanish Citizens Academy. He created a Spanish version of the citizen's academy for Spanish-speaking citizens. This was created to bridge the gap between the police department and those who may avoid them or are intimidated to interact with them. This Spanish academy consists of eight weekly classes that are two hours to cover topics such as SWAT, gun range, gang awareness and police museum tour, amongst other topics. To date, he has completed the second version of the academy class. He is an excellent role model to everyone around him within the community, family and friends."
Nominated by Dan Cogan
"Luis is the pastor of Northland en Español in Kansas City's Northland. He organized the Hispanic Heritage Fest in North Kansas City on Sept 24. and has a passion to bring peoples of all cultures together to celebrate the multitudes of Latin and Hispanic cultures represented here in our city."
Nominated by Kelli Parker
"Areli is a bilingual social worker at Children's Mercy Hospital, working primarily with patients diagnosed with cancer and sickle cell Disease. She advocates for and is a resource for Spanish-speaking families being treated at CM. Areli also leads cancer support groups at Gilda's Club and is active in the community. Hispanic heritage is important to her, and she educates others on using appropriate language and understanding different cultures and religious beliefs. She is passionate about equity and inclusion for all, but especially the Black and brown population in our area. Areli is an amazing, caring person who puts the needs of others before her own."
Nominated by Sarah Hansel
"I went to high school with Eligio and only keep up with him via Facebook. But when I heard your call for nominations, I immediately thought of him! He's a wonderful representative of someone who celebrates his Hispanic heritage regularly, while also supporting his local community with pride and commitment on all fronts. He's been an Overland Park police officer for decades and is now an SRO at Shawnee Mission South. He is an adoring husband, father and son; a reliable friend to all. He always supports local Hispanic businesses. He makes an effort to celebrate them by taking time to post regular reviews and recommendations for local Hispanic-owned businesses. He proudly and beautifully, with humor and humility, celebrates his Mexican culture and family."
Mario Moore Ramirez
Nominated by Emmy Berry
"Mario is an attorney and owns his own practice: Moore Ramirez Law Firm. Mario has been a wonderful supporter of the Park Hill School District Professional Studies Program. He has worked with our Spanish-speaking students who are interested in becoming attorneys. Mario provides them with a semester-long internship experience where they come to his practice eight hours a week. He is such a great mentor for these teens and truly cares about them. He also takes the time to let them know that he is available to mentor and support them beyond their internship experience as well. He is making a tremendous impact on their lives, and we are truly grateful for his support."
Nominated by Nabil Abas
"Lauren currently oversees our flagship Latinx Student Union Initiatives here at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. LSU is a student-led organization on campus that focuses on serving our Latinx students through cultural, social and academic events. They have been the four-time champs in the annual Cambio para Cambio campaign through the Hispanic Development Fund. Many of our students are inspired by their work, and a big reason why they choose UMKC as a community advocate in our Hispanic community."
Nominated by Don Shapley
"Claudia has spent untold high-energy hours with kids. She seems to never wear down or even slow down. She is involved in nearly every program with scouting in the Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America as a troop leader, a girl's troop leader and a religious emblems coordinator in her district encouraging young people to seek and strengthen their faith. She is a model employee who is loved by her co-workers. You will find her working in her community of Belton-Raymore, in her beloved parish and at any number of concerts in Kansas City. She is the mother (truly) of four wonderful children. You can find all of this only once you have broken through an amazing non-stop smile and a cloud of bubbles that just seem to be coming out of her."
Nominated by Orville Atkinson
"Ms. Hernandez is an orchestra teacher at Nowlin Middle School and Van Horn High School in Independence. She organizes many projects and school trips for her students, sometimes funding less fortunate students out of her own salary. I've known her for the last five years and have helped her with many fundraisers for her music projects."
Nominated Brenda Bush
"Martin has organized in Kansas City community a large food drive and supplies for families before the pandemic. But during the pandemic, needs increased and so did he. He continues to have His Wyandotte Angel supply many needs in our community. He works with youth in community to help guide them and support them from life of crime. He is just a fabulous community activist for our community."