Latino Network’s Class of 2022 adds 13 more strong local leaders to its ranks
Voces Unidas de las Montañas would like to recognize and celebrate the success of 13 community leaders who recently graduated as the Latino Network class of 2022.
Graduates of the class of 2022 are Renata Araujo and Evelyn Corral, of Avon; Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza, Brianda Cervantes, Monica Perez-Rhodes, Ana Vega Terrazas, Patty Torreblanca and Luis Yllanes, of Carbondale; Maribel Obreque, of Glenwood Springs; Cinthia Nevarez Ruiz, of New Castle; Steven Arauza, of Rifle; Gerardo Gomez, of Silt; and Olivia Martinez, of Snowmass Village.
The Latino Network is a year-long leadership program for Latinas and Latinos already practicing leadership in their communities in the central mountain region. This year, program participants met once per month and participated in several full-day retreats to share, learn and grow as leaders. The curriculum included discussion topics about self-care, mental health, systemic and structural racism, equity vs. equality, white fragility, power- and community-building, and more. Participants also received individualized coaching sessions throughout the year to further support their own leadership goals.
This year’s Latino Network leaders brought expertise and insights from banking and finance, education, business, the arts, non-profits, and civil service to the program, leaving with expanded leadership skills and a broadened peer-to-peer support network designed to help them thrive and continue to create long-lasting impact in their communities.
“The Latino Network has enabled me to understand the importance of community,” said Evelyn Corral, a recent graduate who works as a Banking Officer at FirstBank of Avon. “It has allowed me to connect with other Latino leaders and learn from their perspectives. We can achieve more when we are united and able to share our knowledge with one another.”
Several others echoed the sentiment, remarking that the program gave them the tools to grow as leaders in their communities to create systemic change.
“Participating in the Latino Network is one of the most important and rewarding things I've ever done,” commented Steven Arauza, a career public servant, union leader and member of the CDPHE Environmental Justice Advisory Board from Garfield County. “It's been so gratifying to be able to connect with other Latino leaders in my community and share our stories, ambitions, hardships, and triumphs as we learn more about ourselves and one another together. The curriculum is impactful and covers very important topics that empower us to go into the world and continue to affect change as we advocate for ourselves and our community.”
“Latino Network was a transformational experience helping me identify and solidify my identity as a leader and my core strengths,” added Maribel Obreque of Glenwood Springs, Director of Family Services for The Arc of the Central Mountains. “The bonds I forged with my fellow peers were invaluable. The value of having other leaders who have similar lived experiences who can give you feedback and insight from that lens cannot be overstated.”
The 13 graduates of the 2022 Latino Network join six other leaders from the inaugural class of 2021, at least four of whom have been promoted or started new careers and opportunities since completing the program. According to program facilitator Jasmin Ramirez, a known community leader with extensive experience as an educator, elected official and mentor to other leaders, the bonds forged between past, present and future program participants will both build and broaden the peer-to-peer support network for leaders of color in the region. And they don’t end at graduation.
“The goal is to provide a safe space to share lived experiences and create the opportunity to continue to grow as leaders of color,” Ramirez said. “We maintain a strong emphasis on self-care and follow up with our leaders throughout the year to support their leadership goals.”
Voces Unidas is excited to contribute to the continued success of this growing group of strong local leaders and looks forward to watching them thrive.
For more information about the Latino Network and how to participate, visit www.vocesunidas.org/leadership.