new_DPM_site_banner_revised
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Today is Delaware Day! Donations today of $17.87 or more matched 3:1!

Coalition of nonprofits launch Latino business leadership development program

Members of Delaware's Hispanic Commission and workers at Perdue Farms' Milford plant join Lieutenant Gov. Bethany Hall-Long in inaugurating the new training program.
Paul Kiefer
/
Delaware Public Media
Members of Delaware's Hispanic Commission and workers at Perdue Farms' Milford plant join Lieutenant Gov. Bethany Hall-Long in inaugurating the new training program.

The Latino business-oriented nonprofit La Plaza is launching a business leadership training program to spur increased civic and political representation for Delaware’s Latino communities.

The program is geared towards early-career Latino professionals statewide and backed financially by the Delaware Hispanic Commission and the poultry giant Perdue Farms, among others.

Edwin Hernandez-Vargas, Community Relations Director for Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, helped develop the program. He says leadership development for Latino professionals can help their communities attain greater influence in the private sector and state and local government.

“You have people who are at the executive level in boardrooms, and people listen to you," he said. "Why do they listen to you? Because you’re there, because of your position. The Latino community in Delaware doesn’t necessarily have that.”

He adds additional Latino voices – either as lawmakers or influential business leaders – could be crucial to the passage of immigrant rights legislation, for instance.

He points to a recent Delaware bill that would have extended Medicaid coverage to undocumented children; the bill stalled in committee, but Hernandez-Vargas argues with greater influence in business and political circles, Latino voices could have helped push the bill over the finish line.

Delaware Hispanic Commission Vice Chair Rony Baltazar-Lopez says preparing more young Latino professionals for leadership roles can potentially create a pipeline into political offices.

“When we are looking for future leaders, we look to the business community first, because they’re innovative - those are the people taking the lead," he said.

The program will serve an estimated 50 early career Latino professionals in its first year.

Organizers also see the program as a chance to bridge the gap between fast-growing Latino communities in New Castle and Sussex Counties.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.