Reflection on Service to Mark Hispanic Heritage Month
A message from Executive Director, Rob Barron:
In three days, we will mark the beginning of the 2023 Hispanic Heritage Month, an opportunity to share culture and celebrate the achievements of Latinos in our community. I am proud of my Latino heritage and these thirty days are always special for me. They represent an opportunity to connect with friends and family, celebrate our elders, and remind my children of their heritage. It is also an opportunity to reflect on how our network builds the human infrastructure needed to “create conditions for all people to thrive, experience a sense of belonging, and engage meaningfully in their institutions and communities,” as the Iowa and Minnesota Campus Compact board stated in the Equity Commitment they adopted in 2020.
I’ve always been moved by the idea of a ladder of opportunity that we climb as we progress through life. As individuals, institutions of higher learning, and our coalition, our work needs to be focused on adding rungs to the ladder so that others can climb and exceed us. We heard in the Future-Focused Listening Tour how important learning from your colleagues is to you. In the months to come I plan to use this blog space to share more stories of how our network of institutions is adding rungs to the ladder. Today, and in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I will share two examples of my work in adding rungs to the ladder of opportunity.
In 2015, I was proud to launch the Latino Political Network with a close friend. In the eight years since its founding we have trained, mentored, and connected dozens of Latinx candidates throughout the State of Iowa. The result has been tripling the number of Latino and Latina elected officials in Iowa, with more likely to be elected this fall. Earlier this year I used the mentoring and guidance I honed in the LPN to launch Yes, You Can Run, IAMNCC’s initiative to train students, staff, and faculty to run for local office, and we look forward to launching our second cohort of the program this winter.
Four years ago I teamed up with two other activists in our community to launch the Latinx Project. The Latinx Project began as an effort to pull together data and narratives to tell the story of Iowa’s Latinx community. We built a team of advisors from a diverse cross section of the Central Iowa Latino community to guide the data gathering and priority-setting. This communitywide investment yielded reports on the state of the Iowa Latino community in Central Iowa and statewide, as well as an interactive dashboard that is an evergreen asset for activists, policymakers, and funders as they consider the impact of policy choices and funding decisions on the Latino community.
Hispanic Heritage Month was a timely opportunity to share the stories of the LPN and the Latinx Project and how they added rungs to the ladder for the Latinx community. In the months to come I look forward to using this blog to share stories from member campus community partnerships that are adding rungs to the ladder of opportunity. Stay tuned for more and reach out to me if you have good work on your campus you would like us to highlight.