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Issue Date: January 2014 Issue


Most Interesting People 2014: Jose Feliciano Jr.

Jose C. Feliciano Jr.

YOUNG LATINO NETWORK PRESIDENT EMERITUS, 35

Why he's interesting: Feliciano Jr. carries a well-known name around Cleveland — his father is a former Cleveland city prosecutor and founder of the Hispanic Roundtable. But Feliciano has forged his own civic path, re-energizing the Young Latino Network as its president and helping organize the hugely successful Convencion Hispana 2013. Last November, Gov. John Kasich appointed him to the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission, where he's the youngest of its nine board members.

Job Search: Feliciano was out of a job when Bank of America shuttered its Beachwood location last summer. But to the civic-minded young professional, banking was not where his passions lie. He now sees an opportunity to give more time to his community and find a job that utilizes his skills as a networker committed to Northeast Ohio. "I'm in transition now. I think that's what's amazing."

Community Organizer: He hasn't taken unemployment sitting down. Feliciano helped organize Convencion Hispana, which was originally started in 1984 by his father and a nun, Sister Alicia Alverado, to identify and fix areas of need in the Latino community. The event's organizing committee decided it needed a big name draw, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was chosen. "This dude just gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Regardless of [politics], that's remarkable." Three thousand people came to the event.

Narrative Control: Feliciano's Puerto Rican community took what he felt was an unwarranted hit last May with the discovery of three kidnapped women in Ariel Castro's Seymour Avenue home. He saw people on social media and in the news beginning to disparage the Castro name. He took to Facebook to point out the rich history of the Castros in Cleveland. "I felt the need to put this out there. This is a good family that has worked here and has deep roots here. They care about Cleveland, and you aren't going to rope them all in together."

Stomping Grounds: Feliciano and his wife, Kelly, are active foodies. Most of the trendy places to eat and drink near Ohio City are mere blocks from where his family settled in Cleveland and close to where he grew up. Favorites include Momocho and the new Porco Lounge on West 25th Street. "It's funny to being going out to bars there. There used to be a bodega [on] Whitman, and my grandfather would send us to go buy chips or pop or whatever."


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