“I mulled it over when it was first announced, then I decided
with the relationships I have from being a Congressional aide
and a legislative aide and having been born and raised in Toledo
that I could be the right person to make this organization a
catalyst for connecting the Latino community to business and the
educational community and vice versa,” said Ms.
“I’m an educator and an advocate—one of my missions in my
professional life to the Latino community,” said Ms. Annoni.
“Also in my personal life, I am a Latina.”
“This is something we really need. Our community needs
advocates,” said Ms. DeLeon. “We need to come together. Our
organizations need to leverage each other so we have a voice.
There’s a lot of things going on in our community on a national
level, on a state level, on a local level. We need to really
Both Latina candidates represent the next generation of
community leaders. Older Latinos have tried to pass the mantle
for several years with limited success. But Ms. Barrera-Richards
cited the fact that there are more Latino elected officials than
in recent years, including Toledo City Council member Adam
Martínez and her boss Lucas County Auditor Anita López, believed
to be close to launching a political campaign for Toledo mayor.
“I would agree it’s time for my generation to step up. We have
some amazing leaders that have really created a solid
foundation,” said Ms. Barrera-Richards.
“This generation has been reared by those who are in leadership
now. I made it a choice to come back here and raise my family
here. Now I think it’s time for me to give back to those who
reared me and mentored me. I do think it’s time. We have a lot
of people who are change agents in Toledo.”
“We bring new ideas,” agreed Ms. Annoni. “But I’m also an
immigrant. So when we are talking that we want to represent,
when we want to know what is going on in the Latino
community—trust me, being an immigrant, I know exactly what the
Ms. Barrera-Richards out polled Ms. Annoni for Latino Alliance
president in a close vote.
The new president faces a tough task getting all segments of the
Latino population—Mexican, Puerto Rican, and others—moving
forward in the same direction and from all parts of the Toledo
Toledo lacked a cohesive, organized group during OCHLA’s Latino
Legislative Day in Columbus earlier this month [Feb. 5, 2013]
but Ms. Annoni was there along with Gary Johnston from Toledo.
Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati have organized
Latino-oriented coalitions and were represented during meet and
greet sessions at the State Capitol rotunda.
“There was not that many people from Toledo,” said Ms. Annoni,
who attended the event. “It is time. We have a large Latino
community here. We need to have a voice. But I also think we
need to be a little bit more inclusive and bring in more of the
Latinos we say we represent every day. This is political and I
understand that—but let’s give it a little more of a social
“You know what, next time we’re organizing car pools, because
being connected to legislators and the executive branch and the
agencies is vital.” declared Ms. Barrera-Richards. “We need to
have a centralized voice that capitalizes on the strengths we
have in the community. We have strong business leaders, we have
strong immigration advocates. We have strong education
advocates. We need to get those people before the
decision-makers. It is absolutely vital. I think we do it the
old-fashioned way—we talk, we car-pool, and we have our say.”
Ms. Barrera-Richards grew up in South Toledo near the site of
the former Southwyck Mall, but now resides in West Toledo in the
Westgate area. She is married with an infant daughter and a
stepson. She works for the Lucas County Auditor’s office as a
human resources professional, responsible for labor relations
and union contract negotiations.
Ms. Barrera-Richards previously served as an aide to
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and then State Senator Teresa Fedor
[now an Ohio Representative for the 47th District].
Before returning to Toledo from Columbus, she was the public
policy director at the Ohio Commission on Hispanic-Latino
While Ms. Annoni was born and raised in Buenos Aires and earned
a 5-year social work degree there, most of her career has been
spent working with the Latino community in Toledo. She spoke
little English when she arrived in the U.S. in 1990 but is now
very fluent in both languages.
Ms. Annoni opened El Centro de la Mujer (The Center for
Women) about 18 months ago in North Toledo to help
Spanish-speaking women to assimilate into the community
successfully. She also is associate editor of La Prensa
and editor of the quarterly magazine La Revista. Ms.
Annoni is coordinating mental health services for minorities on
behalf of NAMI-Toledo.
a casework aide at Lucas County Job and Family Services, was
elected as vice president of the Alliance. Members selected
Guiselle Mendoza, program director at Adelante, Inc., as
secretary, and retired Waite High School math teacher Mary
Morales as treasurer.
Editor’s Note: As of January 31, 2013, individual members of the
revived alliance are:
Nicholas Abalos, Claudia Annoni, Ursula Barrera-Richards,
Adrianne Chasteen, María Contreras, Rosalinda González-Harris,
Raúl Hinojosa Jr., Nanette Kniffen-Nieto, Frank
Sarabia, Lucy Perales, José Luna, Ramón Pérez,
Rev. Carolyn Eyre, Erica Portillo, Lina Barrera, Keila Cosme,
Margarita De León, Louis Escobar, Mark Heller, Rico Neller,
Martha Delgado, Lourdes Santiago, María Ruiz Meyer, Roberto
Torres, Cynthia Gerónimo, Betty Anzaldúa, Francisco Espinoza,
Carolina Phillips, Michele Martínez, and Anita López.