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How Many Latina and Latino Leaders Do We Need in the Future?

It actually takes very few individuals labeled as leaders to influence and change the life of millions

By Armando F Sanchez
Published on LatinoLA: June 25, 2013


How Many Latina and Latino Leaders Do We Need in the Future?


How many leaders do we need to bring about major changes in our Latino communities? How many need to be prepared and groomed to be the guide for the groups?

I get asked these questions quite regularly from my clients. Organizations that are planning both on a short and long term basis must ask these questions and insure that they are attracting the next generation of individuals that will decide and define where resources and time will go to in order to succeed. This issue is faced by both private and public agencies.

To begin responding to these important questions I need to ask one more question. How long have you been studying about leadership and leaders? Take a moment to answer the question before reading further. How long?

The only answer possible for everyone is "my whole life". Take any subject taught in school at any grade level and we are constantly informed about leaders. We learn about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Richard Nixon (I never said they had to be good leaders), or perhaps Helen Keller.

Those that attend college read about the work of "the" leaders/masters in multiple subject areas. Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, etc. I attended practically all of my elementary and secondary years in Catholic school so I received an added dosage of background of religious and political leaders; the apostles, Ceaser, Herod (another leader on the dark side), and Constantine. I majored in political science and economics so I am not going to attempt to put up a who's who list in these areas.

Not attending school? No problem, turn on the television (dating myself, sorry), iPad, digital news, and magazines and we informed of what leaders are doing. We are constantly reminded of who is in charge in the political, social, entertainment, or economic realms.

What all this means is that we must remember that it actually takes very few individuals labeled as leaders to influence and change the life of millions.

Some leaders died a long time ago and we are still feeling the effects of their actions. Certain special individuals gave us atomic energy, penicillin, computers, books, the cotton gin (why this stands out from my elementary school years is still a mystery to me), or airplanes. The point I am making that it takes very few individuals in position of leadership to change the world. We read and hear about them 24/7. We are constantly being bombarded by their stories-the good, the bad and the ugly-and many times not even aware of it.

I learned a great deal about leaderships through my education and exposure to Mexican media. I am grateful that I was raised in a border town and had to also attend elementary school in Mexico in the evenings. I got to hear and learn that Mexico had great leaders: Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Los Ni??os Heroes, Francisco Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Frida Calo, Mario Moreno, "Cantiflas" and many more. I learned from stories of Mexican leaders in law, science, literature, philosophy, culture, art, theater and cinema. I found that the stories were written in Spanish and that it had the same positive impact in me and society. I also gained self-confidence and insights from the positive human stories I was exposed to and that the lessons learned on leadership apply anywhere.

Latina and Latino students must also be exposed to outstanding stories of leaders that they can identify with. They must get the opportunity to learn the lessons from the experiences of outstanding historic and living leaders. Students in economic classes were surprised to learn that a Mexican is one of the richest persons in the world (Carlos Slim Hel??). Now there is a story to share with Latinos about leadership and entrepreneurship!

I gained a greater appreciation of the leadership of Lincoln when I learned that he met with Benito Juarez, president of Mexico while in exile in New Orleans. The story of Benito Juarez is one of my personal favorites leadership stories. A humble indigenous orphan working the fields who did not learn to read until his teens and became President. He lead the nation to gain its independence from France. After reading about President Juarez, the story of a US president born and raised in a log cabin never quite caught my sense of awe-inspiring.

It takes very few individuals to be leaders and and bring about worldwide changes. Our Latino youth must also be exposed to the stories and lessons of leaders that they can personally identify with. Stories about Dolores Huerta and Victor Villase??or are critical. Lets share and talk about astronauts Ellen Ochoa and Jose Hernandez (I had the honor of interviewing both of them!).

Let our youth be influenced by our leaders in music (Gustavo Dudamel), acting (Rita Moreno), theater (Luis Valdez), film directing (JesusTrevi??o), sports (Olympian Brenda Villa) and many more. Now we need to add the story of Sebastian De La Cruz to the leadership list.

What we must always be aware of that our future leaders also have a choice to go to the dark side. ("Evil you may become!"- Yoda to future Darth Vader).

About Armando F Sanchez:
Armando F. Sanchez is a New Digital Media executive producer
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