Southwest Key takes on Leadership in LULAC

August 3, 2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Southwest Key is proud to sponsor two Austin-area District 12 LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) councils.  LULAC’s mission is to “advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health, and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.”  In recent years, several Southwest Key staff members have taken the step up to becoming leading members of these councils, under the guidance of past District 12 director, Mr. Marcelo Tafoya.

LULAC officers are sworn in at a district meeting

Valerie Joiner, a long-time Southwest Key veteran, became president of one of the Southwest Key-sponsored LULAC councils in 2009.  Joiner viewed her leadership role as an opportunity to serve residents of East Austin, a neighborhood that she has come to care deeply about after many years of working and attending church in the area.  As president, she had the responsibility of communicating to her fellow council members about meetings and important events; in addition, she became proactively involved and knowledgeable of civic and political issues that affect East Austin.  Despite the fact that LULAC exists to improve the welfare of Hispanic citizens, councils can be very diverse in membership: the roster of Joiner’s council is filled with a number of Latinos, African Americans, and Caucasians who are united under a common commitment to improve the quality of life for families in East Austin.  Valerie handed over the council presidency to Southwest Key’s Marcus Gonzalez this year.  Though she no longer serves as president of the council, Joiner remains actively involved to this day.  Currently, her council is working on holding a membership drive to encourage East Austin residents to join LULAC and become advocates for their community.

Valerie Joiner (second from right) and Kristan Silva (rightmost) are sworn in

The other Southwest Key-sponsored LULAC council is comprised of teachers from the East Austin College Prep Academy.  In the spring of 2011, Kristan Silva, the College Coordinator at East Austin Prep, took up the position of president for this council.  Silva got involved with LULAC to stay informed about the issues facing the East Austin community, especially those affecting education, a topic that her council is especially focused on.  Since becoming president, Silva has embraced her role in LULAC by making sure her council’s members and others involved at the school are aware of the relevant issues and of how they can help.  Silva appreciates the new insight the position has given her about obstacles faced by the East Austin community, such as getting registered voters out to vote.  Leading is not without its challenges however; in the future, Silva aims to increase her council’s involvement at district meetings.

Since 1929, LULAC has been serving Hispanic populations all over the U.S.  Key to the strength of the organization has always been volunteer involvement at the community level; this allows more voices to be heard and more issues to be addressed.  By stepping up to leadership roles within local LULAC councils, Southwest Key staff members have shown their dedication to the improved welfare of East Austin families.

– Kelle Kampa
Communications Intern
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Entry filed under: Community Empowerment, Community Resource, Community Support, East Austin, EAustin College Prep Academy, Education, Govalle/Johnston Terrace Neighborhood, Southwest Key Programs, Volunteering.

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