Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines honors grads

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The 2018-2019 Latina Leadership Initiative graduating class includes, from left, Teresa Aguilar, Norma Dorado-Robles, Vanessa Espinoza, Jessica Mena, Evelin Orellana, Assua Phongsavanh and Berenice Real.


The 2018-2019 Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines will hold its annual graduation ceremony Friday evening at Grand View University.

The seven-person graduating class will be recognized for their nine-month effort in the leadership program and for completing a community service project that empowers Latina women and the community in the greater Des Moines area.

Graduating with the 2018-2019 Latina Leadership Initiative class are Teresa Aguilar, Norma Dorado-Robles, Vanessa Espinoza, Jessica Mena, Evelin Orellana, Assua Phongsavanh and Berenice Real.

The Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines offers a unique curriculum, infusing traditional leadership training with three unique areas of focus: gender, culture and local community impact.

Various non-profit agencies were invited to present community project proposals to the class, which resulted in the LLI participants choosing the following projects:

  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The 4-H Juntos Community Project: The objective of the project is to engage the Latinx community, specifically developing a recruitment plan that would aid in volunteer and youth recruitment for our upcoming 4-H Connect retreat to be held April 26-28.
  • American Friends Service Committee. The Iowa Families Belong Together Support Network Community Project: Build a model to support individuals and families who are currently living in Iowa by providing case management assistance as well as identifying and connecting resources in the community.
  • Polk County Health Department. The Breast Cancer Awareness Community Project: Promote breast cancer awareness among young Latina women with a focus on breast self-examination and the importance of reporting breast changes.
  • Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Latinx Women Rise: This project’s objective is to explore Latinx women’s experiences and perspectives of civic engagement. Focus group discussions are a proven way to get rich texture, nuance, and internal understanding of an issue. These focus groups are a great opportunity to hear what Latinx women of various socioeconomic backgrounds, levels of educations and ages think about an array of issues in their own words; to elicit their opinions on the barriers and opportunities associated with civic engagement; and to unveil suggestions on strategies to support these women.

The featured keynote speaker at this year’s graduation event will be Local 5 Reporter Angelina Salcedo. A Massachusetts native and Emerson College graduate, Salcedo will describe her experience as an anchor, reporter and news director and share her excitement as a reporter in the Iowa heartland.

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