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Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Robert Asseo
Celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 annually, National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.”

Celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 annually, National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.” First observed in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, National Hispanic Heritage Month was expanded to 30 days of recognition by President Ronald Reagan before being signed into law on Aug. 17, 1988. National Hispanic Heritage Month’s start date of Sept. 15 carries significance as the independence anniversary for several Latin American countries, and it is close to the dates of independence for Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18).


The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce invites you to join us in recognizing local Hispanic leaders, business owners and citizens of prominence making history in our region. Today, we are honored to highlight Robert Asseo. 


Moving to the United States from his native Puerto Rico in 1986, Asseo retired from Delta Air Lines after 41 years with the company, his last role that of overseeing Field Service Operations at CVG. Operating under the mantra that “the impossible is possible,” Asseo is a firm believer in serving others, which is why he served three terms as Commissioner for the Kentucky Commission of Human Rights. 


A winner of multiple work and community awards, the married father of three is a Florence resident and active with local law enforcement on several levels. In addition to serving as a State Trustee for the Florence F.O.P. Lodge 33A, he is also the Chair of the Florence Fire and EMS Tax District Board. He recently added another honor to his resume after being invited to serve as a keynote speaker for the FBI.


Learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month by visiting https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/


What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 

 

This is a time we all should pause, take a break, reflect, honor, recognize and celebrate the many contributions of a diverse culture and the history of the American Hispanic community. We also should recognize and support the many Hispanics that are doing an incredible job in this country, such as doctors, nurses, first responders and other frontline employees in restaurants and retail; and essential employees like teachers who are all facing a difficult opponent. A big shout-out should go to all of them because they are real heroes.

 

 

The NKY Chamber recently announced three strategic imperatives that will guide its actions moving forward, one of which is building an inclusive business community. As a BIPOC member of the Northern Kentucky community, what are your thoughts on this initiative and how it can benefit local Hispanic residents?  

 

In this fast-paced, ever-changing work environment, I strongly believe it’s very important for the NKY Chamber to be visible and engaged in the community. By doing this, we can learn a lot and we can prevent many future challenges. For example, I strongly believe that it’s important to continue to reach and engage with local small businesses to support and offer professional and personal development opportunities, mentoring programs and family outreach.

 

I believe having an inclusive workforce will create a diverse city with options available. It will help the local economy by recognizing small businesses (such as) Hispanic restaurants. It will help the bottom line, which is the economy. If you help the small businesses, once again, you’ll be helping a family (as well as) also the local economy. It’s a win-win. It’s a good thing because you’re enriching the community and you’ll see the growth.

 

Those are also the reasons why I would like to thank a couple of individuals for their work to make Florence and Boone Co. a welcoming place for the Hispanic community to live. Florence Mayor Diane Whalen and Boone Co. Judge Executive Gary Moore have not only been great mentors to me, but also have worked to make things better for the Hispanic community we have here. 

 

I also want to thank Florence Chief of Police Tom Grau and Boone Co. Sheriff Mike Helmig for showing the same caring spirit with the Hispanic community. Lastly, I would like to thank Leisa Mulcahy and the entire NKY Chamber for the work they are also doing to better the lives of the Hispanic community locally.

 

A 2018 report from the Pew Research Center noted that among Hispanic voters surveyed, immigration and the economy were the most pressing problems in America at the time. What issue do you see as the most pressing in the Hispanic community in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region? 

 

For me, I believe one of the biggest concerns is culture. That’s the biggest difference here. There’s always opportunity for development and opportunities for the Hispanic community. I think it’s important that we continue to recognize the workplace talent and experience, which I will explain.

 

One of the challenges Hispanics face when moving to this country is the culture and then the language. But development opportunities are another. It’s important that businesses and companies take time and recognize the talent and the skills that those individuals will bring to the company. By doing that, they can be promoted in the future. Companies must realize this group brings talent and skills to the workplace. Everyone should have the opportunity to grow, learn and eventually be promoted in the workplace.

 

When I came here, it was not fun. It was hard work, a lot of hard work, but I always maintained a positive, ‘can do’ attitude. I wanted to be part of the solution. I don’t want to be part of the problem, so I encouraged myself to do better every day. I want to make a difference.

What would you say to a fellow Hispanic considering moving to the Northern Kentucky region? 

 

I would try to use my experience to encourage them. I moved here in 1986 with very, very little English. My wife, Millie, she did not speak English at all. But here’s what we did: We trained our minds to keep calm and to stay positive in every situation. That’s the key. You must train your mind to stay calm and positive. Networking was so important. Find a mentor. Find someone who will provide you with honest feedback. Surround yourself with the right group of positive people – and this is so important – keep being good to people. Treat people right. Get up every day expecting great things. “Something good is going to happen today.” That should be a daily quote for everyone. 

 

It's so important to surround yourself with the right people and stay positive. Leading by example is very important to earn the respect of others. Be a role model for your children, be a role model in the community and you will earn the respect of others. 

 

Another piece of advice I would give to any Hispanic person wanting to move here is never give up. That is so powerful. You need to keep going whether it’s hard or easy … In trying times, people start to think differently, and we must continue to come together to support each other.