Welcome and Bienvenidos, Friends, Family, Honorees, Scholarship Recipients, Distinguished Guests, and Colleagues to the 18th Annual Scholarship and Induction Gala.  We are thrilled to have you join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. This year we are pleased to honor Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C., and Nassau County District Attorney, Madeline Singas, for their outstanding dedication to diversity and inclusion, as well as their service and friendship with the Latino Community.  It is also our distinct honor to have the New York State Attorney General, Letitia James as our Guest Speaker. We are especially thrilled to have the opportunity to award scholarships to three very inspiring and well-deserving Law Students to assist them on their journey to becoming upstanding attorneys here on Long Island.  

It is my honor and privilege to serve as the next President of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association. I look forward to working with the talented Officers, Directors and Law Student to continue the course excellence that our Past Presidents have set out for the LIHBA. I would like to especially recognize the wonderful leadership and achievement of Immediate Past President, Hon. Helen Voutsinas, and the entire Board. Judge Voutsinas’ vision, along with the hard work of the rest of the Board, has brought the LIHBA’s presence in the legal community, as well as Latino Community at-large to higher levels than ever before. Her legacy is one of excellence, and I pray that I can lead our Board and membership to even higher heights. 

Before I delve into my vision for my term as President, I must, first and foremost, thank the Lord my God for his blessings and mercies. It is my prayer that I may serve with wisdom, patience, knowledge and discernment.  

My vision for the upcoming year is to continue the valuable community outreach that we have developed. I also intend to continue to build partnerships with bar associations, as well as local organizations and agencies so as to serve our Latino Community in a multi-faceted way, which will affect the greatest change for its betterment. We have been active in the local high schools through our prom dress drive, and in other local schools through our school supply drive. I would like to make our impact on the Latino youth even greater by partnering with the local bar associations to mentor elementary and middle school children. These children are the future of the Latino Community, and we must invest in their development by providing positive role models and warm guidance.  I am also committed to continuing our relationships with the local law schools and law students to assist these law students in navigating the sometimes rough waters of the legal profession. I wish to expand our presence among Latino law students by offering them opportunities for networking, for developing professional skills, and for increasing their ability to attain gainful employment in the profession after graduation. 

While community outreach is an absolute priority of the LIHBA as an organization, I am mindful that our organization is comprised of individuals as well.  It is my desire to develop and incorporate work-life balance and wellness programs into our yearly programming. Work-life balance has been identified as lacking though essential for those of us in our profession.  Though I am committed to providing our members with informative programs to enhance their professional practices and hone their specialities, it is my intention to offer opportunities to focus on their health and wellness. Striving for work-life balance has been proven to significantly and positively affect attorneys’ professional practice, and I am sure that our membership would enjoy more fruitful practices and more enjoyable personal lives.

 

In addition to our presence in the Latino Community, I am committed to increasing our presence and representation in the legal community, in local government, and in the judiciary.  Diversity has become a priority in these areas and Latinos must be represented in each and all. To achieve this, we will work with judges, elected officials and leaders from other local bar associations to develop programs which will provide our members with practical guidance for working toward achieving elected office, becoming members of the judiciary or bringing the Latino voice to other professional organizations.  

To be able to achieve all these goals, however, we not only need members, but we need members who are willing to participate, create and cultivate programs and initiatives. So, this year, we are not only going to continue to work to grow our membership, but we will also strive to involve our membership in programming, outreach and leadership development. 

This is all a lot to tackle, but I know that I am not working alone. I am confident that our Board, and our membership will each do their part to make these visions and goals a reality for the betterment of our community.  But, you are probably sitting there reading this and thinking, “Yes, I am sure they will do a great job!” I want to be clear that “they” includes YOU! I would love to hear from each one of you and get you to work! Together we can achieve great things!

I look forward to continuing the wonderful programs we have in place, and I am excited to begin working with the Board and the Membership on new and innovative programs. 

Juntos, si podemos!!

May you enjoy an evening filled with inspiration and merriment!

Hon. Linda K. Mejias

President