POSTED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 4:35pm
UPDATED: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 1:31pm
(CNN) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent part of her Saturday reaching out to the Latino community, delivering a speech in Los Angeles to a major gathering of Mexican-Americans.
The former first lady and U.S. senator was the keynote speaker at the second annual Mexican American Leadership Initiative Awards Brunch, where she received an award for her work creating partnerships between the United States and Mexico.
Clinton used the speech to highlight her connections with the powerful and growing voter demographic, connections the 2008 presidential contender traced back through her work as secretary of state and her experience as first lady all the way to volunteer work in high school.
The experiences, Clinton said, introduced her to ethnic cuisine and the power of community. But "the friendships are what really stood the test of time," she said.
While making a series of high-profile speeches in recent weeks, Clinton has said she won't start considering a 2016 presidential run until next year. But that did not stop her from making a clear political appeal Saturday on support of an ever-diversifying America.
"We are so lucky as a nation that we have the talents of people from everywhere. Our diversity is one of our great strengths," Clinton said.
"Part of the obvious argument of immigration reform is, we are a nation of immigrants, and we ought to be celebrating that rather than fearing it."
Clinton identified some of the minority communities in the United States that have helped connect and strengthen international partnerships, speaking of Irish-American efforts at finding peace in Northern Ireland, Indian-American connections to the subcontinent and the constant support of American Jews for Israel.
But those communities can be leveraged more, Clinton said.
"One of our great assets that we were undervaluing" in the United States, Clinton said, is the multitude of ethnic communities living in the country.
Clinton also called for greater trade and energy partnerships with Mexico and into Central and South America.
"I personally believe we need more connectivity in North America. We need more connectivity throughout our hemisphere," she said.