Last month, the leadership program Latina Leadership Initiative (LLI) premiered its fourth leadership class for Latinas. This year, the class has grown from 14 to 17 students, varying in ages and county of birth. For the fourth consecutive year, Christina Fernandez-Morrow, the director of the organization, has created a class of Iowan Latinas that participate in the program to develop their leadership abilities, while expanding their social and professional networks.

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Christina Fernandez-Morrow LLI’s Director
Christina Fernandez-Morrow LLI’s Director

“For many, this is a life-changing opportunity,” explains Fernandez-Morrow.

The director mentioned an alumna as an example of professional and personal development. Viviana de la Cruz ’15 started off as a shy gal, but now Chairs the organization’s Board of Directors; an exemplary woman; leader.

The Director explained in the interview that the Board of Directors has made changes to the leadership program. “This year, we are expanding some of the workshops with important themes to two sessions, instead of one.” One of these workshop themes is immigration, whose students in previous years have expressed more interest, due to their tangible connection with their own lives. For one of the women in the current class, it is part of her reality. “My parents were deported when I was younger,” explains one of the students from the class of 2017.

Besides expanding the workshops around certain themes, the director explained other changes that we can expect for this new class: “We will have 12 workshop sessions in total, instead of 10, due to the programmatic changes, according to alumnae evaluations. Moreover, the program’s alumnae LLIAA, are becoming more involved in fundraising efforts to ensure the program continues.” In fact, one of the students from the class of 2016 is enrolled in a graduate certificate program in Professional Fundraising.

What other new things can we expect for this new year of LLI?

“Well, we want to continue the collaborations between students and the community through the community projects. We are always looking for organizations and agencies that might have projects that can benefit women and/or Latinos. This is an opportunity for these women within the program to use the skills that they have built in order to improve their communities. In many cases, organizations and agencies throughout the state—that do not currently have the capacity to develop programs in the community—can collaborate with our students to create impact that extremely necessary.”

If you know an organization that would benefit from the help of Latina leaders, write to [email protected]

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