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Morton College to participate in program

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:52 p.m. CDT

CICERO – Morton College will join 19 organizations in a fifth cohort of the Illinois Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy, an intensive program designed to empower leaders that serve the Latino community, coordinated through the Latino Policy Forum.

With 34 participants, the Year 5 cohort is the largest in the program’s history.  Morton College is the first institution of higher education to participate in the Leadership Academy.

Yesenia Avalos, Morton College’s dean of Student Development and Ombuds Services; Director of Student Development Marlena Avalos-Thompson; and Dean of Arts and Sciences Derek Shouba were selected by the Latino Policy Forum through a competitive nominating process to participate in the intensive nine-month academy, building personal and organizational leadership skills while exploring their role as leaders in both the Latino community and larger society. 

Avalos, Thompson and Shouba will collaborate with executive-level and emerging leaders from other academy participants in a series of three retreat sessions, scheduled in August and November this year, and in March 2014, and will receive one-on-one consulting between sessions. The academy will culminate with a graduation ceremony in May.

Morton College’s student body is 76.6 percent Hispanic, making it the nation’s seventh largest two-year federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution and the largest HSI east of the Mississippi River.

The academy invests in leadership to remedy two conflicting trends: the growth in the Latino population and the decrease in resources available to the organizations that serve them. Even as the Latino population remains one of the fastest-growing segments in the country, 1 percent of total foundation funding in the U.S. has been dedicated to serving Latinos over the past decade, according to a collaborative report from the Foundation Center and Hispanics in Philanthropy.

At the state level, even as Illinois’ Latino community has grown 33 percent since 2000, funding to Latino organizations via the Department of Human Services dipped nearly 30 percent between 2009 and 2012.

The Latino Policy Forum is the only organization in the Chicago area that facilitates the involvement of Latinos at all levels of public decision-making. The forum conducts analysis to inform, influence and lead. Its goals are to improve education outcomes, advocate for affordable housing, promote just immigration policies and engage diverse sectors of the community, with an understanding that advancing Latinos advances a shared future, according to the forum.

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