18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference Focuses on the Power of Voice

Scholarship winner Angie Isabel Leon and family
with Don Francisco and Dean Grossman (middle).


On April 2 AUWCL hosted the 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference which brought together distinguished lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, and activists who have significantly contributed to the progress of the Latino community. This year’s conference, entitled “Nuestra Voz: Addressing Key Issues for the Hispanic Community” focused on the power of voice.

Throughout the day, personal stories served to unify, empower and highlight the achievements of the Hispanic community at AUWCL and beyond. With the understanding that shared stories can serve to unite communities and ignite change, the conference provided a unique platform to engage people around key issues including immigration, education, the economy, and employment.

The conference included a career fair, panel discussion and awards dinner, which gave attendees the opportunity to network and hear from a wide range of speakers who shared stories of triumph over adversity. Through these powerful moments of reflection, attendees connected and learned from the experiences of others. 

During the career fair, over 200 students met with government and private sector employers. Employers in attendance — including Arnold & Porter LLP, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Proskauer Rose LLP, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission — were interested specifically in law student and lateral attorney applicants. Attendees were encouraged to submit their resumes for a resume book for employers.

The panel entitled “The Role of the Hispanic Community in Legal, Economic, Educational and Social Issues” was comprised of distinguished individuals from a variety of professions. Each shared their story and provided key insights to overcoming past and current challenges to ensure future success for Latinos in the 21st century. Marcela Salazar of The Raben Group served as moderator of the panel that included:

  • Jose Aristimuño, Founder, “Latino Giant”
  • The Honorable Yolanda Curtin, Judge, Harford County Circuit Court
  • Angela Franco, President and CEO, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber Commerce
  • Sandra Grossman, Managing Partner and Founder of Grossman Law, LLC
  • Allison Kokkoros, President and CEO, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
  • Abel Nuñez, Executive Director, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
  • Claudio Sanchez, Correspondent, Education, National Desk, National Public Radio (NPR)

There was unanimous agreement among panelists that students must carve out their own path and create opportunities for themselves. In addition to emphasizing the importance of higher education, members of the panel discussed ways to ensure that it is not a barrier to success. They described how alternative models of education, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), bootcamps, trade certifications and adult learner schools like Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, help to create different pathways for career advancement.

This year’s conference concluded with an awards dinner attended by over 200 people. The awards dinner celebrated attorneys and students, and featured a special keynote address by Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld (better known as Don Francisco), host of “Sabado Gigante” (Univision). Awards were presented to the following WCL students and alumni:

  • Bertha Astorga ’15 and Paula Avila Guillen ’10, Annual Diversity Award
  • Leila Jade Levi ‘10, Edward Bou Alumni Award
  • Daniela Carrión ’15, Premio Inspiración Award
  • Matías Matilda González Gil ’15, Goldman-Grossman Award
  • Paula Cortes ’15, Jesus Saenz ’15, and Karyna Valdes ’15, LAAW Bar Review Award

As part of the awards presentation, AUWCL’s Latino/a Law Students Association (LaLSA) awarded scholarships to two high school students who have demonstrated the desire to continue their education and a commitment to community service — Angie Isabel Leon of Washington Lee High School and Lisette Obando Pardo of Fairfax High School.

During his remarks at the awards dinner, Kreutzberger, who hosts the world’s longest running TV variety show, shared stories of his upbringing and imparted life lessons. In detailing some of the highs and lows that he has experienced over his 50 year career in television, he provided an uplifting message about the power of hard work, tenacity, lifelong learning, and love.  He shared, “I am here because of one word – perseverance.” After his remarks, he answered questions from attendees in English and Spanish and posed for pictures.

Dean Claudio Grossman shared, “Many of our students are first generation college graduates with very compelling stories of immigrating to the U.S. and overcoming hardship.  In Don Francisco, they see hope, joy, and perseverance.  His presentation was impressive and touched all of us.”

The 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference was co-sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Associations of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, the Latino/a Alumni Association of American University Washington College of Law, and American University Washington College of Law’s Latino/a Law Students’ Association, with special thanks to Nossaman LLP and Sutherland LLP for their continued support.

Click here to view a webcast of the panel discussion, “The Role of the Hispanic Community in Legal Economic, Educational and Social Issues”.

Click here to view a webcast of the Annual Awards Dinner. 

View photos from the daylong conference.

UPDATE: On April 25, Don Francisco featured his visit to the 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference on "Sabado Gigante." Watch the video.