The goal: More Latino leaders
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 23, 2004

Yvonne Wingett

Phoenix's non-profit Valle del Sol has landed a $500,000 grant to help
cultivate leaders in the Valley's barrios and increase Latino representation
on city councils and in other positions of power.

The grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help launch a grass-roots
leadership program targeting 25- to 30-year-old residents in heavily
Hispanic neighborhoods across the county.

Through the Community Power project, current Latino leaders on school boards
and in county and city governments will mentor others through training and
town halls, Valle del Sol officials said.

"The ultimate goal is to end up with Latinos having a voice in a government
which governs us all," said Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez, president and CEO of the
Hispanic-based non-profit. "Many Latinos at the grass-roots level tend to be
invisible to their elected officials. This is a way of ensuring that elected
officials will be able to know that there is a voice, and (they) will be
able to hear that voice."

Despite explosive growth in the Valley's Latino population, the county's
largest minority continues to be underrepresented in government.

"The number of minorities that live in a community should be represented by
equal amounts of minority representation in elected or appointed positions,"
said political scientist Lisa Magaña, associate professor with Arizona State
University's Chicana and Chicano Studies Program. "Research indicates that
when you have minorities in key positions, it helps influence and generate
support for other minorities, with resource allocation and even appointments
and hiring of other minorities."

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-4712.