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AEP celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

by on October 3, 2012
AEP CEO Nick Akins (second from left) joins in the National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in the AEP Headquarters lobby. (Photo by Sarah Hunyadi

According to Joe Cisneros, AEP director of diversity and culture, “¡Este es el Mes de la Herencia Hispana! ¡Ahora es un buen momento para que todos los empleados de AEP exploren la rica cultura hispana!”

Now before you rush to your smart phone or computer to find the translation, Cisneros simply said: “It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month! Now is a great time for all AEP employees to explore the rich Hispanic culture.”

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept.16 and Sept.18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within this 30-day period.

Employees Carlos Casablanca (left) and Jimmy Lopez check out a display of artifacts during the National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in Gahanna. (Photo by Eddie Blau)

“In this period of time, we celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America,” said Barbara Radous, AEP senior vice president, Shared Services, and one of three executive sponsors of the company’s Hispanic Origin Latin American (HOLA) employee resource group. Mike Heyeck, senior vice president, Transmission, and Bill Sigmon, senior vice president, Engineering, Projects and Field Services, also serve as HOLA sponsors.

According to the 2010 Census, 50.5 million people — or 16 percent — of the U.S. population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase from the 2000 Census, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million — or 13 percent — of the total U.S. population.

“Hispanics are the fastest growing population in our country. However, only five percent of our employees are of Hispanic origin, with the majority of these employees living in our western service territory,” said Radous. “We have work to do to attract more Hispanics, as well as other diverse cultures in our work force.”

Radous was on hand Sept. 26 in the AEP Headquarters lobby in Columbus to kick off a lunchtime celebration marking National Hispanic Heritage Month. The celebration included a sampling of Hispanic food, special live music performances and a display of Hispanic artifacts. A similar celebration, hosted by Heyeck, took place in the lobby of AEP’s 700 Morrison Road building in Gahanna, Ohio, Sept. 18.

Professional dancers Stacey Coil (left) and his partner, Olga, perform in the AEP Headquarters lobby. (Photo by Sarah Hunyadi)

“HOLA employees here and in Gahanna are happy that AEP encourages us to share the things we love — music, food and our heritage,” said Carmen Ortega, senior audit consultant in Environment, Safety and Health and co-chair of the HOLA group.

Celebrations are also in the works at a number of other AEP operating companies, including AEP Texas and Indiana Michigan Power Company. I&M was a sponsor of the National Hispanic Heritage Month breakfast on the campus of IVY Tech Sept. 15. The event was hosted by United Hispanic Americans, Inc., of Fort Wayne, Ind.

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