The Latina Leadership Initiative is the only leadership development program for emerging Latina leaders in Iowa, filling a gap in culturally appropriate leadership training for promising women, ages 20 to 30. This is the initiative's second class. Its inaugural class members presented their final community service projects April 19.


This year's participants are:

  • Lizette Aguero of Marshalltown, an intermediary network specialist with Iowa Valley Community College District.
  • Jessica Aguirre of Perry, a teller at Raccoon Valley Bank.
  • Maria Alcivar of Ames, a diversity outreach advocate for ACCESS.
  • Brenda Almanzar of Des Moines, a mediation coordinator at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
  • Kenia Calderon of Des Moines, a secretary at the American Friends Service Committee.

  • Vivian De La Cruz of Des Moines, a sales and service specialist at Bank of America Corp.
  • Nora Hernandez of Des Moines, a customer service representative for WellPoint.
  • Aida Johnson of Des Moines, Wells Fargo & Co.
  • Ana Mancebo of Des Moines, executive director of SOLIDARITY.
  • Alma Marquez, Iowa State University's Science Bound program.
  • Melissa Pacheco of Altoona, radio personality for La Reina 1260 AM.
  • Stacey Robles of Des Moines, a domestic violence advocate for Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer (LUNA).
  • Alejandra Sandoval of Des Moines, a student at the University of Iowa.
  • Mari Valencia of Johnston, Wells Fargo & Co.
  • Juanita Zavala of Ottumwa, a research coordinator for the University of Iowa.

The institute's curriculum infuses traditional leadership development training with three unique areas of focus: gender, culture and local impact. It also addresses several other areas, including empowerment, teamwork and community building, career development and advancement, and Latino history and migration patterns in Iowa.


This, along with the help of the program's mentors, creates an experience that allows participants to see how each topic affects them, and how their talents can, in turn, effect change in those areas.


To learn more about this year's class, click here.