2012 Cleveland International Hall of Fame
Overview (from Program Book)

It doesn't take the presence of keynote speaker Terry Stewart of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to convince us that 'Cleveland Rocks.' We've known it for years.

To many people outside the region, Cleveland is known because of the Rock Hall, our sports teams or Orchestra, Betty White and her Hot in Cleveland pals or that guy who used to play basketball here.

Those of us who live here know it is much more and we are making steady progress in educating the rest of the world. The 2012 Class of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame has drawn interest from Austria, China, Korea and Saudi Arabia. We have heard from people in the jungles of Peru and Inner Mongolia. Really.

We still have a lot of work to do - both with fellow Clevelanders and with the rest of the world.

For example, out-of-town visitors to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, including the President of Hungary on his visit last summer, rave about this world-class attribute. If the Cultural Gardens were in New York, Paris or Rome they would be on every Top Ten list for must-see travel destinations. Have you visited lately?

Half a million of us attended the St Patrick's Day Parade in March and that's terrific. A fraction of that show up for the Polish Constitution Day Parade, Puerto Rican Parade, the Juneteenth celebration and so on. We know because ClevelandPeople.Com attends and covers over 100 cultural and ethnic events each year.

The Rock Hall got it right. They made sure that everyone got a chance to take part in their 2012 Inductions with a week of events, many of them free, for all musical palates. Likewise if you browse through the Calendar at ClevelandPeople.Com you will see hundreds of upcoming events for all tastes and budgets. From small meetings of a particular nationality group to visits from Ambassadors, international business events, parades, holiday celebrations and cultural festivals our region is bursting with activities with cultural flair.

Of the thousands of daily visitors to ClevelandPeople.Com, about half come from NE Ohio, a quarter from the US but outside the region and the last quarter from outside the country. We work to reach each of those groups by capturing and promoting the ethnic and cultural diversity that makes our city and region so unique and rich.

We love reading the daily e-mails sent to ClevelandPeople.Com from people outside our region or country who say "I didn't know Cleveland had…" Maybe better still is when a native Clevelander sends us the same message. That really rocks.

Sure we want to attract and retain talented immigrant engineers. Every city does. But, as we learned from Albert Ratner in his 2010 keynote address, Cleveland needs lots of people and all kinds of people. Fortunately we have passionate and visionary Clevelanders stepping up to the plate to make this happen.

For example, Gia Hoa Ryan and her Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese have brought dozens of people from Vietnam to live and work in Cleveland. And Global Cleveland opened its doors in February and we have great hope for their success.

At ClevelandPeople.Com we are proud of the dozens of people who have visited Cleveland or moved here because they found us on the web and started a dialogue. It will take the efforts of all of us to bring Cleveland back to where it once was and take it even further.

The inductees into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame have done, and are still doing, more than their share. The 2012 Class was selected from a list of 90 worthy nominees by an advisory committee with input from previous inductees. You can read more of the inductee's impressive bios but here is a snippet on each.

José C. Feliciano was, and continues to be, a pioneer. He made history as the first Hispanic public official in the City of Cleveland by serving as the city's chief prosecuting attorney. His commitment to advancing the Hispanic, and broader, community in Northeast Ohio is unwavering.

Ken Kovach was 'international before it was cool'. He has served over 40 years as Choirmaster and Ecclesiarch at St. Theodosius Cathedral, co-founded the International Community Council and is Board Chair of International Services Center.

Milton Maltz is eminently worthy of the Hall of Fame based solely on his founding, with his wife Tamar, of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. But his contributions go far beyond that. The Museum is an important and vibrant place not only for the Jewish community but for the community at large. To have it in our backyard is priceless.

Mary Rose Oakar has a long list of accomplishments from her service in three legislative branches of government: City, State and Federal. She has championed the causes of seniors, women, cancer patients, immigrants and more. She is internationally known for her work on Middle Eastern and Arab issues and served as National President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for over six years.

Father Jim O'Donnell has been called Cleveland's own Mother Teresa. Fr. Jim lives and works in the inner-city Central neighborhood. He, along with Sister Maggie Walsh-Conrad, formed the Community of the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Eucharist, to provide a ministry of presence to the poor of the neighborhood. Want to talk with a living saint? Go visit Fr. Jim.

Vladimir Rus is a learner and a teacher. He has taken his extensive experience and knowledge about Eastern European history, culture and languages and shared them with students and members of the community of all ages. Ask him to tell you the story of what happened to him in Trieste when he refused to give the Fascist salute.

Dr. Jaya Shah could be relaxing after retiring from 30+ years as a pediatrician. Instead she and her husband Ramesh travel with other physicians and volunteers to the disaster areas of the world (Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, Gujarat Earthquake, etc.) They just returned from another visit to India where over 600 cataract surgeries were performed for the poor. Locally she helps the Indian community with issues such as domestic violence.

Anthony Yen is a tireless proponent of international business and trade. His efforts have led to a long list of recognitions and awards. Trade has always been the first step in dealing with and understanding other cultures and nobody does it better than Dr. Yen.

We hope these snippets have whet your appetite to learn more about the rock stars in the 2012 Class. Share their stories to inspire new leaders who will continue the efforts to make Cleveland prosper by celebrating our cultural diversity. Rock on.

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