Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask the House of Representatives to join me in recognizing Vanessa Marcano-Kelly, owner of Caracas Language Solutions and passionate community activist, as our Iowan of the Week.
Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide from September 15th to October 15th. It is an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the culture, traditions, and contributions of both Hispanic and Latinx Americans and shine a light on how these contributions have and continue to build our country and society for the better. Today there are nearly 195,000 Hispanic and Latinx Americans residing in Iowa – more than six percent of the state’s population – and their families have enriched Iowa’s culture and communities for generations. I have no doubt Vanessa’s good work will leave its mark for generations to come.
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Vanessa is a certified court interpreter in the state of Iowa, owner and lead linguist at Caracas Language Solutions since 2015, and respected by many for her drive to improve the lives of others by breaking down the language barrier. She specializes in community, conference, and legal interpretation, as well as translation and subtitling. She began regularly interpreting and translating during her work as a community organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement in 2012, and a year after realizing her passion for this profession, she obtained the Iowa Spanish Court Interpreter Certification, which she has held since 2015.
In 2014 Vanessa was the recipient of the LULAC Iowa Latino Leadership award. She also graduated from the Latina Leadership Initiative in 2014 and earned a place on the New Leaders Council in Des Moines. She serves on the board of directors of the Des Moines Film Society and the inaugural board of the Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice.
Vanessa believes strongly in the importance of civic engagement and has utilized her skills and determination to make an impact. The pursuit of making her community a better place through positive action has led her to creating the first Spanish speaking caucus site in Iowa and becoming involved with organizations like the Latino Political Network and the Department of Latino Affairs. She’s worked with Grand View University on a multi-day program to ensure the parents of prospective first-year college students not only had support but felt included and welcomed as they learned about their young adults’ educational opportunities. Vanessa also spearheaded the effort to expand access to COVID-19 information through a live audio interpretation of the briefings in Spanish.
I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate the culture and contributions of our Hispanic and Latinx neighbors not only during Hispanic Heritage Month but also year-round. I am honored to be their voice in Congress, and I will never stop fighting for legislation that makes Iowa a better place for their families.
Providing better access to opportunities and success for all Iowans is one of my primary goals while serving in Congress, and I have tremendous respect for how Vanessa approaches the same goal. Her work is opening doors, creating connections, and fostering a stronger sense of community in our state. The Hispanic and Latinx population is the fastest growing group of individuals in Iowa, and advocates like Vanessa have been working every day to make sure they have the representation they deserve. I want to thank Vanessa for her amazing efforts in Iowa’s third congressional district, and it is my pleasure to recognize her as Iowan of the Week.