In 1977, The Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs was established with three primary purposes laid out in statue: to Advise, Connect and Build. The Commission advises the Governor, members of the General Assembly, and state goverment about the issues facing the Latino community throughout Ohio by proposing new programs, legislation, publishing reports, and ensuring access to policy makers for the community. The Commission connects the diverse Latino communities across Ohio by gathering information about and disseminating information to Hispanic Ohioans through workshops, public meetings, reports, conferences and town-hall meetings. Finally, through leadership workshops and grant funding, the Commission builds and enhances the capacity for private sector not-for profit community organizations and agencies to serve the Latino community across the state.
Originally the Hispanic Service Award, the Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Award was established in 1980 by the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission. This award was created to fulfill the Commission’s mandate to “secure appropriate recognition of the accomplishments of Hispanic/ Latino people of this state.” Each year, Latino community leaders, friends, family, legislators and other state government representatives gather to attend this event. As of 2005, the Commission encourages and welcomes public nominations of unique community members who serve and strive to improve Ohio. In 2010, the DHO started honoring Latino service members through the Latino Military Service of Distinction Award.