National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 20 Years of Latina Leadership Search
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Class of 1988

Message from NHLI President Cristina Lopez

Cristina Lopez

Dear NHLI Friends,

This holiday season, the National Hispana Leadership Institute would like to thank you for your continuous support in 2008 and we invite you to remain a part of the NHLI familia in 2009 and years to come.

At NHLI we have had a very successful year: more than 800 Latinas participated in our five regional empowerment conferences and Annual Executive Training Conference this year, the Executive Leadership Institute graduated another 22 talented Latina leaders and 22 additional young leaders completed the Latinas Learning to Lead Summer Youth Institute, nearly 100 more Latinas were added to our mentoring efforts, we completed a successful leadership transition in the organization, and have taken bold steps to enhance our technology and communications capacity.

Another piece of good news is that the opportunity gap has been closing for Latina leaders through the vision and efforts of Latinas, and the investment of our community in developing leadership. But we still have a long way to go. While Latinas comprise 7% of the U.S. population, they are significantly underrepresented in positions of leadership. Of the more than 10,000 seats on Fortune 1,000 boards only 21 are held by Latinas (2/10th of 1%). In the political arena, there are just seven Latinas out of 435 serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (less than 2%). Latinas are grossly underrepresented in the legal and medical professions and many others. This lack of parity and opportunity not only demonstrates loss for Latinas who are kept from reaching their personal and professional dreams, but also to our society that loses the benefit of their leadership and full contribution.

Thanks to generous financial contributions from supporters like you, NHLI has made great strides to increase both the number of Latinas in leadership positions and their impact. Since 1987, NHLI has developed effective Latina leaders, created a dynamic national network of Latina professionals, and supported and nurtured mentors and role models for young Latinas across the country. Our 20-year impact study demonstrates that NHLI:

Fosters self confidence and self-esteem and broadens ambitions and vision for educational advancement.

Helps with career advancement – one third (33%) of executive graduates report holding executive-level positions compared to 17% before the NHLI experience, more than 20% have run for public office or been appointed to a political position.

Has had a significant impact on communities across the country through its alumnae. NHLI has improved/expanded community services through more than 500 alumnae Leadership Projects, directly reaching more than 31,000 Latinas and touching hundreds of thousands of lives. More than half of these projects have grown into major initiatives/organizations; and alumnae have directly provided one-on-one mentorship to more than 5,000 Latinas.

Has a multiplier effect – just through mentoring leadership projects and networking, NHLI has measurably affected the lives of more than 56,000 Hispanics nationwide.

Our 21-year track record places NHLI in a unique position to advance Latinas as key players in the national stage and ensure that Latinas in leadership positions have access and power to influence policy. But we need your help to extend our reach and leverage our impact. A gift of $5,000, $1,000, $500, $200—or of another amount—will help NHLI to:

Create and launch the Emerging Latina Professionals Institute—our newest leadership program for Latinas 24-34 years with less than 10 years work experience.

Leverage the power of the NHLI network to support alumnae success through topical regional mini-institutes, raising awareness in the media of the contributions of Latina leaders, and increasing NHLI and alumnae visibility through a speakers’ bureau.

Increase community leadership development by offering training for Latina community leaders working on social justice issues such as immigration, educational access and workplace fairness.

Launch webinars on professional development topics, financial management and/or small-business development—to significantly extend the reach of NHLI programs and bring empowerment trainings to more Latinas.

Provide scholarships to young Latinas to attend Latinas Learning to Lead and other trainings, ensuring that family income is not a barrier to participating in NHLI programs, and contributing to increased diversity among participants.

Join us in supporting the work of NHLI. Your investment provides emerging leaders with the learning, support and inspiration that results in personal transformation and in turn, improves the lives of others.

NHLI has been credited by alumnae with helping them to take career risks, changing how they viewed the world, inspiring them to become advocates for their community, and starting new nonprofit organizations or small businesses.

As Esmeralda Santiago was going through the NHLI executive training, she found inspiration to begin her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She pledged to her classmates that she would dedicate her life to telling the stories of Latinos in the US. And went on to publish several books Her second book, “Almost a Woman,” was featured on Masterpiece Theater’s American Collection—the first ever film of the series with a Latino theme. “NHLI helped me define myself, pursue my passion and gave me the skills to earn a living as a writer. The program was life changing for me. It has paid back a thousand-fold,” says Esmeralda.

What started as an NHLI project became a two-year life-changing journey for Amy Serrano. Since participating in the Class of 2004, Amy has produced, written and directed the feature-length documentary film The Sugar Babies: The Plight of the Children of Agricultural Workers. The film explores the history of the sugar industry of the Dominican Republic and current issues of human trafficking. Amy has received many awards for her activism, filmmaking, and writing.

When Marisa Demeo entered the NHLI program, she served as lead attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Washington, D.C. office. Six years after graduating from the Executive Leadership Program, Marisa became Magistrate Judge for the Washington, D.C. Superior Court—the second Hispanic ever selected to the position.

The success and community impact of Esmeralda, Amy, Marisa, and hundreds of other NHLI graduates illustrate how NHLI transforms the lives of Latinas and their communities, and how the momentum to close the opportunity gap for Latinas is growing.

Your tax-deductible contribution will help NHLI close the opportunity gap by supporting talented leaders in our communities who can offer solutions to the growing multicultural challenges facing America and capitalize on the opportunities this country offers. Join us in making a personal gift — $50, $100, or more. Become a Madrina/Padrino. This year we’ve set a goal to increase the number of donors giving at the Madrina/Padrino ($1,000) level. A gift of $84 per month for a year will place you in our circle of leadership advocates who invest $1,000 or more. Together, let’s invest in Latinas and their power to create positive change!


Cristina Lopez

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