Beyond the Summit

By Bernardette Pinetta, 2015 Líderes Summit Staffer

LideresLogoPeople often say that “necessity is the mother of invention.” It is also often the needs of our community that push us to go to places we have never ventured before.

The first time I heard of NCLR was through a Facebook link for the NCLR Líderes Summit Staff Application. I applied because I wanted more experience to better serve my community. As I boarded my return flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles, I realized that in addition to learning new ways to serve, I also made lasting connections with people who will support my professional and personal journey.

When I arrived in Kansas City, I looked forward to meeting everyone, but I was nervous about not having enough experience with NCLR. Indeed, being only five feet tall I felt small next to my larger-than-life colleagues, but our minds and hearts were so interconnected with the goal of giving back and inspiring others that I never felt out of place. Our theme for Líderes this year was Lead. Empower. Connect., which fit our team perfectly.

With only four days of planning time we immediately went to work. We had to learn the functions of each role, how to facilitate workshops, and discuss media engagement. Luckily, our discussions and group structure were organic. One idea would be planted and then branch off into several new ideas. If there was something that wasn’t working out, there was already another proposal on the table so we could move forward. Just being in such a dynamic group where people would step up and step down to respect and encourage an inclusive space for opinions was something to behold. Even though we usually had to carry an omelet box in one hand and orange juice in the other so we could eat breakfast and start planning early in the morning, everyone looked forward to these meetings, excited for what our participants were going to experience.

Whether in the role of a Lead, Supporter, or Floater, we always saw that the students who came to the Summit were engaged, and looked forward to the different workshops. Topics covered healthy relationships, peer advocacy, credit wealth, and many others. The opportunity for students—whether in high school or college—to not only listen to professionals, but also network and leave empowered from these workshops was what made the Líderes Summit so special. Our job as Summit Staff was more than just producing successful events; our goals were to make those that attended feel welcome and empowered to lead in their communities. With each workshop and event our goals began to materialize.

Students continue to post pictures of the event with staff and other new friends they met. They continue to let us know the difference Líderes made in their lives and they ask how they can be part of the staff in the future. Líderes allowed me and everyone else who attended to connect with people who shared similar experiences and goals to form solidarity within our growing Latino community. It provided a platform for empowerment and leadership through inclusion and knowledge.

While the 2015 NCLR Líderes Summit has ended, the connections made and the knowledge acquired continue to be passed on through our work, communities, and schools.

Student Challenges Peers to Combat Negative Views of Latinos

We were greatly inspired by the students and youth we met last month at the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference. Their stories and accomplishments are a testament to the hard work and perseverance that characterize Latino communities across the country.

One of the young future leaders we met is Fernando Rojas, 2015 graduate and co-valedictorian at Fullerton Union High School in California. He recently joined a select group by being accepted to all eight Ivy League universities and decided to attend Yale. But it is his sincere feelings on the power of his generation to make change that show he has even greater goals ahead.

Fernando, the youngest of four children, saw his brothers graduate from high school and undertake postsecondary education. But he is the first to leave home for college. His parents, Raúl and María, immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico, and were not able to complete secondary education, so Fernando’s accomplishment “was a success for all of us, not just for me,” he says. “It was for my family—my aunts, uncles, cousins who helped me along the way. Recognizing their struggles was the motivation I needed.”

Familia First

The importance of familia is something Fernando finds to be an important shared experience among Latinos. “There are ups and downs, struggles, and hardships, but you have that support at home—and you have the support of a larger community,” he says.

Even though Yale is a long way from Fullerton, it is the place where he felt most at home. “I knew that I was going to be leaving my family in Southern California, and I found that at Yale,” where he says he got the sense of being part of “an inclusive family.”

Combating Negative Perceptions

Rojas is interested in pursuing Latin American studies at Yale and hopes to combine that with further studies in international law. He believes students of his generation who are applying to or attending college need to take on the “challenge” to change negative perceptions about immigrants in this country.

“We’re people that want to get educated. Our parents didn’t have that opportunity but they did want us to have that opportunity,” he says. “Taking those resources and being able to make the best of it is one of the best ways to show that we are a strong community, we have a voice, and we have important things to say.”

Highlights from the Last Day of the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference

The final day of our 2015 NCLR Annual Conference started was capped by NCLR by the Annual President’s Message from our President and CEO, Janet Murguia. It was preceded by the last of our workshops and followed by our final town hall, which was dedicated to technology and how we can bridge the digital divide.

See highlights below from our final day.

This morning, Politico published an exclusive preview of Murguia’s speech.

The day was started with off several workshops, including some final sessions for our STEM track.

Shortly after noon, it was time for the Tuesday Luncheon, which featured the annual President’s Message.


Become an NCLR Amigo and support this great American institution!

Finally, it was time for the annual President’s Message.

After those riveting remarks, guests made their way over to the last Town Hall of the conference, dedicated to bridging the digital divide.

Thanks to everyone who attended our 2015 gathering. Don’t forget to follow @NCLR for daily updates. We’ll see you next year in Orlando!

Highlights from Day One of the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference

Thousands of people have descended on Kansas City this weekend for the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference. The yearly gathering of Latinos is the largest of its kind and we are happy to be in the heart of the midwest, the hometown of our President and CEO, Janet Murguía. We’ve put together highlights of the first day

This year’s conference started with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the National Latino Family Expo.

Over at Advocacy Central in the Expo Hall, attendees showed their pride in voting and why they do so.

A little after noon, the Affiliate Luncheon got underway. We were joined by some remarkable speakers, including Gov. Jay Nixon, and our keynote speaker, Risa Lavizzo-Mourrey, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


After the Affiliate Luncheon, it was time for the first of several planned town halls. Today’s Education Town Hall was moderated by NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer. The town hall also featured Fernando Rojas, who was recently accepted to all eight Ivy League schools.

The Education Town Hall marked the last event of the conference for the day. Attendees were invited to the President’s Reception and a night of comedy featuring popular comedian Cristina Alonzo.

And, that was a wrap for day one. Look for more highlights from day two tomorrow evening! And, keep following #NCLR15 on Twitter for the latest updates from NCLR and our attendees!

Kansas City Welcomes NCLR and Affiliates on Road to 2015 Conference


The countdown to the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference kicked off yesterday in Kansas City, Mo., as community and city leaders gathered to reflect on the historic and continued positive impact of the Latino population in the region.

“It is our full intention to put the spotlight on so many who have made contributions in so many positive ways and highlight the strength of that diversity as we bring the Conference here,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía.

Watch highlights from her remarks:

The NCLR Annual Conference—the largest national yearly gathering of the Hispanic community in the United States—will be held July 11–14 at the Kansas City Convention Center. The Conference attracts thousands from throughout the country and features workshops, town halls, and nationally recognized speakers. In addition, tens of thousands take part in the yearly National Latino Family Expo®, which is set to include free workshops, health screenings, and activities for the whole family.

  • Get more information and register now here.

Also on hand yesterday were Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo and Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland. Attendees included members of local NCLR Affiliates as well as other government and civic leaders.

“Immigration has been the driving force behind the growth of Wyandotte County in every stage of its life,” said Holland. “We need to be sharing that message more vocally and clearly. Having NCLR here for its Conference gives us the opportunity to showcase the positive impact that immigration is having in our community.”

“The diversity that we have, and expanding that and opening up opportunities to the rest of the community, means economic development,” said Circo. “We’re looking forward for everyone to come to Kansas City to enjoy our vibrancy.”

Check out some of the social media highlights from the event.