In the last century, visionary leaders such as Bernie Valdez, Richard Castro, Corky Gonzales, and Federico Peña laid the groundwork for Hispanic advancement. The 21st century will see the rise of a new kind of leader in our community. It will be Latinas – Hispanic women – who will bring our community into their power and ensure that we realize our full potential. This is the vision of the Circle of Latina Leadership – a program that prepares emerging Latinas to guide our community forward in the 21st Century.
On April 23rd, at a reception held at Mi Casa Resource Center, community leaders welcomed and congratulated the 7th class of the Circle of Latina Leadership. The 2009 class joins 112 alumnae who have completed the intense one-year program. Circle alumnae are already on the move in Denver. A few graduates include: Erika Reyes, marketing director for the Hispanic Chamber Foundation, Dusti Gurule, director of Latina Initiative, Cynthia Gallegos, director of Focus Points, Suzan Moore Bustos, appointments for Denver boards and commissions, Monique Lobato, Director of the Xcel Energy Foundation, Marlene Delarosa, founder of the Mile High Parent Campaign, and Julie Rodriquez, who served as the Director of Public Programs for the 2008 Democratic Convention.
The Circle of Latina Leadership was started by some of Denver’s most prominent Hispanic women – Lena Archuleta, Sister Alicia Cuaron, Honorable Ramona Martinez, and Marcela Paiz. Juana Bordas, the program’s founder, explained the urgency of the Circle of Latina Leadership mission, “Latina leadership by its nature is community and people oriented. We believe that to advance, our community needs many leaders on many fronts. Latinos need leaders in schools, government, nonprofits, and business. The Circle of Latina Leadership is preparing this new generation of leaders.”
The April 23rd reception commended the seventeen young women who have stepped up to leadership. Their training includes leadership development, mentoring, and completing a Community Action Project. The women range in age from the early twenties to the late forties. They are mothers, wives, daughters, friends, supporters, activists, engineers, scholars, small business owners, technology geniuses, realtors, educators, community workers, and legal minds. Above all they are the new face of Latina leadership.
Congratulations to the 2009 class of the Circle of Latina Leadership: Cristina Aguilar, Margo Marie Alvillar, Carla G. Castillo, Esther Castillo, Liliana Flores, Vanessa Guzman, Tatihana Helguero, Camila Lara, Naomi Lopez, Sonrisa Lucero, Terrie Martinez, Annamarie Valdez, Claudia Moran Pichardo,Veronica Rios,Melissa Rosas, Isabel Pallares, and Vanessa Vargas.
The Circle of Latina Leadership is establishing a powerful network of leaders who share a common vision – the collective advancement of the Hispanic community. Bordas noted the urgency for this network, “The critical need for educating Latina leaders is evident when noting the 60 percent growth of the Hispanic community in the last decade. However, without committed and skilled leadership, these numbers only herald a burgeoning underclass, the continued under education of Hispanic youth, and lower economic status. We must prepare the next generation of leaders for Latinos to harness the power of our growing numbers.”