Lair Marin-Marcum

Lair Marin-Marcum
Lair Marin-Marcum

The Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA) is one of longest-standing Latino serving organizations in the state. Founded in 1977, OCHLA seeks to advise, to connect, and to build the Latino community throughout Ohio. As OCHLA’s Community Liaison, Lair Marin-Marcum is making lasting connections between entrepreneurs, community, and institutions to improve Latino lives locally and state-wide.

Marin-Marcum grew up, as she put it, “thinking I was just like any other kid.” As a child in the USA, the thought of identifying as Latino never crossed her mind. When her family moved to Minnesota, Marin-Marcum remembers a welcoming community void of outright acts of discrimination. It wasn’t until she moved to Columbus, Ohio, that she began to identify as Hispanic. While working at Nationwide Insurance, she became more and more involved in organizing events for the Latino community. Now, she works creating resources for the community full-time with OCHLA.

OCHLA connects Latinos through educational resources and hosting community events. Marin-Marcum and the organization assemble the “OLAnet” or Ohio Latino Affairs Directory naming Latino Serving Organizations throughout the state, submit annual reports on the status of Latinos in Ohio, and compile a directory of government services available to Latinos known as CLOI, the Catalogue of Latino Outreach Initiatives. In addition to these resources, Marin-Marcum and OCHLA host a series of annual events: The Ohio Latino Education Summit, Ohio Latino Health Summit, The Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Awards Gala, and Agenda Latina. Listen to Marin-Marcum speak more to these events and her work in the Columbus Latino community:

 A woman from three countries:

🎧 Listen (1:13)
“I am originally from Spain and from Mexico. I say I’m from Mexico too, because I was born in Mexico, but I grew up in the United States and Spain… I consider myself from three countries… Very American, very Spanish, and lately I’ve been rediscovering many of my roots from Mexico.”

Moving to Columbus as coincidence:

🎧 Listen (2:24)
“Moving to Columbus was an eye-opener, because I never really considered myself Latina or Hispanic. Living in Spain you don’t really think of yourself as Latina or Hispanic. And when I lived in Minnesota, I didn’t really either, because maybe I was too young or too little and there were not very many minorities in that time.”
OCHLA’s three mandates.

Connecting Latinos through OCHLA:

🎧 Listen (3:41)
“The Commission was created with three mandates: to build, to advise, and to connect… As the Community Liaison, I am the one in charge of connecting the community with the state services, with the grassroots organizations, with the nonprofits… Therefore one of the best things to connect the communities is not only by attending their meetings [and] finding out what their needs are, but by creating resources for them.”
“LMA brings together Latinas in a variety of career stages for a unique professional development experience, combining professional mentorship with culturally relevant workshops.”

Inspiring women through the Latina Mentoring Academy:

🎧 Listen (1:48)
“We’ve graduated almost 100 women in the past 7 years and some of them have even come back to be mentors… It is a two-way program with all the training and with the mentoring part – as well as building that hermandad, that sisterhood between them that is amazing.”

A thread in America’s tapestry:

🎧 Listen (1:01)
“I consider myself more than anything a New American… More than ever being brought up here in the American way, I consider myself American and of course Hispanic… your roots are important… This nation is made up of a tapestry of immigrants of different nationalities and cultures. This is what makes America great.”


Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text are copyrighted to Leticia Wiggins. Music for introduction & interlude by The Original Soundtrack (thanks, guys!).

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