Developing a New Generation of Latino Leaders

/Foto: Internet/Foto: Internet

Mano a Mano launches its inaugural Lake County Liderazgo Initiative Conference
By Mano a Mano

Round Lake, IL. – Between 2010 and 2017, consistent with national trends, Latinos are the fastest growing demographic group in Lake County. Despite the significant role that Latinos/as play in Lake County communities, a driving force in the local economy, and with the potential to sway elections as voters- there is still limited participation and representation of Latino/as in local government and other leadership positions. Mano a Mano’s newest initiative- the Lake County Liderazgo Initiative seeks to change that.
According to data from the American Community Survey, there are now five communities in Lake County in which close to or more than half of their residents are Latinos/as- Waukegan (56%), Highwood (48%), Round Lake Beach (48%), Round Lake Park (44%), and Park City (58%). There are another five communities where around one third of the total population is made up of Latinos/as- Mundelein (28%), North Chicago (31%), Round Lake (29%), Zion (30%), and Beach Park (28%). Overall, Latinos/as make up 21% of Lake County’s total population. As the largest ethnic minority community- Latinos/as have carried Lake County’s overall population growth, amid population declines in the White/non-Hispanic population. Between 2000 and 2016, Lake County’s overall population has grown by 9%, with the Latino population changing by 58% over time.
While Latinos/as live and work throughout all communities in the County, their presence in community leadership positions is less common. Lake County does not currently a Latino/a mayor, village president, county board member, or county-wide elected office holder. Latinos/as currently do hold other popularly elected positions such as city council person, school board member, village secretary/clerk, township clerk, park districts, and township trustee, but are usually in the minority on those governing bodies and often times the only person of color.
Lake County has also seen Latinos/as leaders appointed to other high-ranking positions such as Chief Judge, chief of police, library board trustee, and other commission members. We applaud the courage, dedication, and contributions of these trailblazing leaders in our community.
As a 501c3, Mano a Mano does not endorse or support any one candidate or party. We do, however, support the increasing diversification of leadership roles within our community. We believe that those with the privilege and responsibility to make decisions on behalf of entire communities should reflect and be responsive to those who live in their community. Better decisions are made when those leaders understand and are connected to the community that they serve. In an effort to build capacity and to support emerging leaders within our community, Mano a Mano is launching a first of its kind leadership conference- Lake County Liderazgo Initiative. To be held in late October in Highland Park, Mano a Mano will convene thought leaders in the Latino community from across the state of Illinois to share their knowledge, expertise, and insights with 20 emerging leaders in Lake County Latino communities. The conference will focus on community engagement and public policy issues facing Latinos/as. Mano a Mano is currently accepting applications for those emerging leaders who are seeking to gain knowledge and develop their leadership styles and networks.
Interested applicants can download an application from our website: Applications are due by Friday, September 21 at 4pm to Megan McKenna (