Estrella Mountain Community College received a great honor last month. On Dec. 18, Hispanic Leadership Institute-West (HLI-West) presented it with an appreciation award.
HLI-West, a leadership development program, was founded in 2004 as a partnership between Valle del Sol, the Hispanic Leadership Forum, and EMCC. Together, Valle del Sol and the Forum designed HLI-West and EMCC has been hosting it ever since.
“Valle del Sol was founded in 1970 to fill a gap in behavioral health and social services available to the Latino community and underserved population with nowhere else to turn,” according to its website. It provides counseling, substance abuse treatment, support services, and leadership development. The Hispanic Leadership Forum was formed by West Valley leaders in 1998 in response to low success rates of Hispanic students entering college and the lack of Hispanic teachers in West Valley classrooms. The Forum’s mission is to provide scholarships to students entering high school and college, and since its inception has awarded more than $500,000 in total.
“EMCC received the award because we’ve been hosting the program through the Center for Teaching and Learning since 2004,” said Jonathan Robles, EMCC Alumni, Corporate & Foundation Relations Director.
HLI-West “promotes the development of individuals for increased participation in leadership roles, and serves as a principal education and networking resource for expertise and advocacy on leadership issues affecting the Latino community,” according to Valle del Sol’s website.
HLI-West, which is open to anyone regardless of race, is a 10-week program with classes offered in the evenings at EMCC.
Robles, who is an HLI-West graduate himself, class of 2013, said the benefits of attending the program are numerous.
Graduates of the program understand the benefits of community-driven or community-inspired leadership, Robles said. They also gain a better understanding of the West Valley in general, learning about organizations, the area’s history, its leaders, cities, economy, and future. He said they also network with other West Valley leaders and learn about current issues in the Hispanic/Latino community.
“I gained a better perspective and greater appreciation for always keeping the community at the forefront of decision-making,” Robles said.
Several other EMCC employees, including Sandra Chavez, Administrative Specialist Senior, Angela Acuna, Assistant to the College President, Austin Shepard, Student Service Analyst Senior, and Juan Medrano, Ed.D. Title V Director, have also taken advantage of the program.
“To me, the HLI program centered around community, to be involved in your community and give back, Chavez said. “Our group became close and we learned so much from each other. I still keep in touch with a few of the members that I met through HLI.”
HLI-West classes begin in September and run from 6 to 9 p.m. once a week, along with one full day leadership retreat. The class size is typically 15-25. Sessions focus on ethics, cultural and personal identity, community issues, public/media relations skills, board/commission service, and meeting protocol, among other topics.
To participate in the program, individuals must apply, include a resume and reference letter, and answer a series of essay questions. Valle del Sol describes the application process as “competitive.”
The course fee is $550 and includes all materials; however, up to three EMCC employees can participate free of charge every year, Robles said, explaining that EMCC underwrites the employee program fees.
“Hosting it at EMCC was great for me, and I probably would not have had the opportunity otherwise,” Chavez said.
Robles, who accepted the appreciation award in lieu of EMCC President Dr. Ernest Lara on behalf of EMCC, said he feels very proud that EMCC partners with Valle del Sol to provide the leadership development opportunity to West Valley residents.
“It’s great that this community-based, educational effort has continued since 2004,” he said. “It shows that there is demand for such a program.”
HLI leadership programs can be found all over the state, and each one is unique to its specific community.
“EMCC is fortunate to be one of the designated host sites,” Robles said.
To learn more about HLI-West, visit http://www.valledelsol.com/hliwest/.