Mexico Consul Solana, Left, cuts the cake with Matt Wesaw, Director of Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Photo courtesy of Rene Rodriguez of Studio One Creative
By Rick Garcia
LANSING, MI -- On December 18th the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan (HLCOM) hosted an evening reception honoring two newly minted, distinctive leaders representing the State’s interest in racial equality and fairness: Matt Wesaw, Executive Director of Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Juan Manuel Solana Morales, Consul of Mexico in Detroit.
Along with members of HLCOM, notables from State Government, elected officials and community leaders throughout the state joined Director Wesaw and Consul Solana in celebrating a new era of community engagement among organizations like the Department of Civil Rights and the Consulate of Mexico, where both speakers underscore the need for collaboration and community education.
Consul Solana, who came on board September 6th, was formerly the Consul in The Consulate of Mexico in Indianapolis. His diplomatic career track brought him to Houston, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Solana has a solid background in the fields of marketing, finance, international commerce and diplomacy. Within a few months of his new role, he has already been engaged with many Business, Civic and community leaders both in Metro Detroit and throughout State including parts of Ohio.
Mr. Solana is passionate about his role in Detroit as he looks to expand his presence in communities that have a large Latino population. At the Consulate offices, three of his key priorities include: Educating clients and community on the streamlining the process of services provided, which predominately involves issuing visas, Green Cards and citizenship; Build communication partnerships with media and public communication sources; Ensuring safety for the clients served.
“Not all our clients are newly immigrants,” says Consul Solana. “When I asked a person if they are from Mexico, in some instances, it would be their grandparents who were actually born in Mexico. So we are dealing with generational immigrant families.”
Matt Wesaw, serving as the 11th Executive Director for the Department of Civil Rights, has held a number of different jobs throughout his career including: State Trooper for 26-years; Tribal Chairman of one of the state’s federally-recognized Indian tribes- Pokagon Band of Potawatomi; and an eight-year member of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. In every role served, he was responsible for protecting the fair of equal treatment of citizens.
“This job may be a new role, it’s really just another opportunity for me to do what I’ve always done…advocate for fairness and equality,” said Wesaw acknowledging state department members present.
“The MDCR may be small, but it is a team of talented, passionate and committed staff who fight every day to make our state a little safer, a little more welcoming and a little more fair for everyone.”
Wesaw admitted there’s much to learn on different aspects of the work the department as he continually meet with all staff and visit each office, including Marquette and Petoskey. Already, he is seeing the fruits of his labors from meeting with key partners and allies.
Wesaw believes a key part of the department’s success lie within the work of the commissions – including the Hispanic Latino Commission, as he explores new ways the department can work and better serve the needs of Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino community. He believes the department should be strong allies advocating for the issues important to all of us.
According to MaryLou Mason, Director of the Hispanic Latino Commission, the reception for the two distinguished gentlemen was timely due to their recent appointments and by hosting it before the holidays enabled key leaders and stakeholders throughout the state to “meet and greet.” Gil Guzman, President of HLCOM emceed the evening event. There was representation from the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Secretary of State, Michigan State University Julian Samora Research Institute, MSU Migrant Farm Program and State Senator Rick Jones.
“Having both gentlemen in one room demonstrated their commitment and true passion to advocate citizens, particularly the Latinos in Michigan, for their equality rights and fair treatment of acquiring the American Dream, which all working citizens and their children strive for,” says Guzman.
To learn more about the two organizations, visit https://www.michigan.gov/mdcr or the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit visit www.sre.gob.mx/detroit
This was published in the December 29, 2013 - January 11, 2014 edition.