Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the County's Annual Latino Heritage Celebration on Monday, October 4th, in the Essex County Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Building.
DiVincenzo led a spirited celebration to pay homage to the rich culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to the Spanish-speaking nations of Europe, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
During the program, DiVincenzo presented the County's 2021 Estrella del Condado de Essex Awards (Stars of Essex County) to Dr. Hortensia Kelly, Newark Board of Education Physician, Medical Consultant for the State of New Jersey and President of Dr. Hortensia Kelly Medical Services LLC, and Raul Malave, Assistant Director of Public Safety with the City of Newark, for their commitment to improving the lives of all residents, their leadership, and dedication to public service.
Rev. Pablo Pizarro, Pastor of Temple Rock Church in Newark, delivered the program's invocation. The Arts High School Latin Band provided entertainment under the direction of Kennis Fairfax.
"We are honored to recognize Dr. Hortensia Kelly and Raul Malave for their commitment to improving the lives of all residents, their leadership, and their dedication to public service," said DiVincenzo.
"Our cultural celebrations allow us to honor and recognize the diversity of Essex County and learn about the heritage of our constituents," he noted.
Raul Malave, a native of Newark's North Ward, knew he was destined to become a public safety servant when, at age 7, his family's Summer Avenue home caught on fire.
He was astonished by the well-coordinated efforts and dedication of responding police and fire personnel.
When the Fire Department didn't immediately call him, Malave applied for the position of the police officer. But in 1995, his dream became a reality when he received the call to serve as one of "Newark's Bravest."
Over the years, he rose through the ranks from serving as an entry-level Firefighter to Fire Captain. In November 2010, he became the first Hispanic Newark Fire Division Battalion Chief.
He also served as the executive officer for both the Fire Director and Fire Chief's Offices.
There, he became adept in managing the administrative affairs of the agency, encompassing budget preparation, recruitment and training and discipline, short- and long-term strategic planning, apparatus and equipment acquisition, and community outreach programming.
In September 2016, Malave was promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief, again becoming the first Hispanic to hold this rank in the department’s history.
In January 2016, Malave was assigned as Assistant Director of the Newark Department of Public Safety. In this role, he assists in providing executive oversight to the Police Division, Fire Division and Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security.
Under the then leadership of Director Anthony F. Ambrose, and now the leadership of Public Safety Director Brian A. O'Hara, Malave has applied his experience and vision toward implementing shared services throughout the department by harnessing the best practices of all three disciplines, thereby creating greater efficiencies, and enhancing the ongoing success of the department.
In late April 2020, Mayor Ras J. Baraka entrusted Malave with developing and overseeing all City of
Newark Covid-19 testing sites. Malave and his team quickly contracted with more than five testing companies to expand the City's Covid-19 locations to over 20 sites, encompassing all five wards in the City.
He also set up a City identification card remote station to assist the City's undocumented residents with gaining access to testing.
To date, over 3,500 Newark residents have obtained a City identification card via this remote station, and over 350,000 tests have been administered through the City's Covid-19 testing sites.
When the number of residents seeking vaccines began to dwindle, Malave, with the assistant of his partners, created a pop-up vaccination program that rotated vaccination site locations throughout all five wards.
The City Health Department simultaneously doubled its vaccination efforts utilizing the same pop-up strategy.
To date, the City has administered over 30,000 vaccines to Newark residents.
Dr. Hortensia Kelly was born in Cuba, where she began her journey into the field of medicine before immigrating to the United States.
Her family settled in Newark, where she worked as a pharmacist assistant while attending Barringer High School.
Dr. Kelly pursued her passion for medicine and its impact on culture and societal development by completing a double major in Anthropology and Biology from Rutgers University while simultaneously interning as a Medical Research Assistant for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
She earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree in 2002 from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, N.Y.
Her experiences as a resident physician of Internal and Family medicine have been at various hospitals throughout Essex County, including Newark Beth Israel, Hackensack Meridian-Mountainside, UMDNJ, and St. Barnabas Medical Center Livingston; Barnet Hospital in Paterson and St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, New York.
In 2008, Dr. Kelly completed her educational journey and began practicing as a Family Medicine Physician for her Alma Mater, Rutgers University.
She became Medical Director for Bergen County's Department of Corrections Health Services, where she developed and implemented policies and procedures and oversaw all training and continuing education for the county's correctional health care staff.
Dr. Kelly has worked as one of the few bilingual Medical Consultants for the State of New Jersey Office of Disability Benefits while balancing the responsibilities of her private practice located in Newark.
Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka allowed her to serve the residents of Newark as Medical Director of the Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Center during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In that role, she implemented Covid-19 vaccination and testing protocols for the City of Newark and coordinated the continuous delivery of medical services to the city's pediatric population, pregnant women, homebound patients, low-income individuals, those with no income and/or no addresses.
Throughout t the years, she has taken her passion for holistic approaches to medicine internationally by participating in various medical missions to South America, the Caribbean, India and Africa, including the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Ghana.
She has received recognition for her work and service to Newark by numerous Essex County Hispanic organizations. She has been named International Doctor of the Year, The Hispanic Women Society Professional of the Year and is an active member of the NAACP.
She is one of the few doctors in Essex County who practice Addiction Medicine Recovery from a private office setting. Dr. Kelly strives to encourage her patients to achieve optimal wellness through nutritional means and lifestyle modifications.
The Latino Heritage Month Celebration is part of a year-long cultural series created by County Executive DiVincenzo to highlight Essex County's diversity.
Other cultural heritage celebrations include African American History Month, Irish Heritage Month, Women's History Month, Italian Heritage Month, Jewish Heritage and Portuguese Heritage.