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ElevArte Studio

Cultivating Latino Leadership In Pilsen

 Photo by Kyle LaMere Photography

Photo by Kyle LaMere Photography

ElevArte Community Studio will join 19 other organizations in a fifth cohort of the Illinois Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy, an intensive program designed to empower leaders that serve the Latino community, coordinated through the Latino Policy Forum. With 34 participants, the Year 5 cohort is the largest in the program’s history.

Giselle Mercier, Executive Director and Irasema Gonzalez, Education Programs Manager will participate in the intensive nine-month academy, building personal and organizational leadership skills while exploring their role as leaders in both the Latino community and larger society. Giselle Mercier and Irasema Gonzalez will collaborate with executive-level and emerging leaders from other Academy participants in a series of three retreat sessions, scheduled in August, November and March and will receive one-on-one consulting between sessions. The Academy will culminate with a graduation ceremony in May 2014.

“We are thrilled to be able to participate in the Illinois Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy because it will strengthen our community leadership skills and provide new insights of best practices in community building. With the growing Latino population in Chicago we want to make sure we also have the creative problem solving skills to address issues within our community and be able to work with other Latino leaders in Illinois,” says Giselle Mercier, Executive Director of ElevArte Community Studio.

The Academy invests in leadership to remedy two conflicting trends: The growth in the Latino population and the decrease in resources available to the organizations that serve them.  Even as the Latino population remains one of the fastest-growing segments in the country, just 1 percent of total foundation funding in the US has been dedicated to serving Latinos over the past decade, according to a collaborative report from the Foundation Center and Hispanics in Philanthropy. And at the state level, even as Illinois’ Latino community has grown 33 percent since 2000, funding to Latino organizations (via the Department of Human Services) dipped nearly 30 percent between FY 2009 and 2012.

“Today’s nonprofit leaders are continuously asked to do more with less,” said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum. “The Academy fills an urgent void in leadership development here in the Midwest, engaging organizations across a spectrum of size, budget and mission. We are delighted to add these 34 new participants to our alumni network of 90-plus Latino leaders.”

Along with ElevArte Community Studio, participating organizations represent a diverse, interdisciplinary group of organizations from across Northern Illinois: Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Cambiando Vidas/Access Living,  Centro Romero, Chicago Commons, Corazon Community Services, El Hogar del Niño, Enlace Chicago, Family Focus, Inc., Father Gary Graff Center/Most Blessed Trinity, La Casa Norte, La Voz Latina, Latino Policy Forum, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, Morton College, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Northern Alliance for Immigrants, Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project, and The Resurrection Project.


Illinois Latino Nonprofit
Leadership Academy Graduates Photo by Olga Lopez   

Recent Illinois Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy Graduates
Photo by Olga Lopez


The Latino Policy Forum thanks The Center for Leadership Innovation (TCLI) for developing the model for the Illinois Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy. The Forum is also grateful for funding support from The Boeing Company, The Chicago Community Trust, the Allstate Foundation, and American Express.

About the Latino Policy Forum:
The Latino Policy Forum is the only organization in the Chicago area that facilitates the involvement of Latinos at all levels of public decision-making. For more information on the Latino Policy Forum visit www.latinopolicyforum.org.

Questions about ElevArte’s participation in this initiative? Call us at 312-226-7767