Preparing Leaders to Lead
Building on the theme of “Inspiring engaged, responsible leaders statewide,” Valle del Sol raises the bar for excellence in its six Hispanic leadership development programs. Recruiting emerging leaders from within our communities and throughout Arizona, the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) continues to build the next generation of Latino and diverse leaders. Continuing a proud tradition of promoting the individual development of Hispanics for increased participation in civic, community and professional leadership roles, HLI provides a safe, nurturing environment for participants to gain core leadership skills.
Across all HLI programs, Valle del Sol brought some new additions to the curriculum, for example, by incorporating data from ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy in discussions related to education disparities for Latino students, identifying cultural competency at a corporate level, and learning how previous graduates have leveraged cultural points of pride into business opportunities. HLI continues to be an incubator for a new generation of leaders who graduate with improved critical thinking, networking and advocacy skills.
Participants of HLI programs come from all types of industries, corporations, nonprofits, and governmental entities. Take Lieutenant Tony Lopez, in the Phoenix Police Department Employment Services Bureau. He knew first-hand how important it was for him and his fellow officers to truly understand the local community they serve. When two of his co-workers told Tony about their positive experiences with the Hispanic Leadership Institute and suggested he give it a try, he decided to apply to the program. Tony attended HLI and graduated this year. He said his classmates, along with the people from Valle del Sol, were truly “some of the nicest and most genuine people” he ever met. “Many of the participants were first or second generation Latinos,” he said. “It was humbling to hear the stories of how they, their parents or their grandparents arrived in the United States. Yet, despite these challenges, we were all there to learn and understand how we can further improve ourselves, our communities and to embrace our roles to that end.”
Tony said the HLI program also did a great job of reinforcing the importance of mutual respect and understanding. “You will hear that a police force should be reflective of the community that it serves,” he said. “My experience with HLI has improved my community connectedness.”
Just as his co-workers encouraged him to attend HLI, Tony said he is now sharing his experience with his colleagues, hoping that they too will participate in future sessions. “It is my feeling that HLI is the premiere leadership development experience for Hispanic law enforcement leaders, supervisors and other personnel,” said Tony.
Promoting leadership in the community is paramount to Valle del Sol. Five years ago, the African-American Leadership Institute (AALI), was created to cultivate emerging leaders for increased community participation throughout the Valley of the Sun. AALI is a partnership between Valle del Sol, South Mountain Community College, and Arizona OIC. Participants are exposed to civic engagement, board responsibilities and other issues through a lens of cultural understanding. AALI emphasizes the valuable role culture plays in leadership development.
AALI participants are exposed to topics such as healthcare, philanthropy and education. In addition to discussing community topics, each participant has an opportunity to learn public speaking and presentation skills. Rounding out the curriculum are activities to enhance critical thinking, evaluation and community engagement skills.
93 percent of HLI and AALI graduates agreed their participation in the program contributed to their personal leadership development. We train individuals, foster civic engagement, and assist participants to realize their fullest potential as community leaders. They are ready to lead, ready to serve.
Mr. Kurt Sheppard is president and chief executive officer of Valle del Sol, a healthcare nonprofit organization that provides healthcare, human services and leadership development programs.