A Latinx Woman’s Journey: I Did Not Get Here Alone

Posted by María López De León, Nov 02, 2018 0 comments

When I was asked to write about my leadership, I thought of writing about my path as one of the leaders of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC); however, I did not want to write this from the perspective of a linear trajectory as the figurehead of the nation’s only Latinx arts service organization. My life is not defined by a position I hold but rather by how I choose to live my life in service to others.

My strong sense of love and commitment to family, humanity and community is what drives me. I believe all peoples possess innate knowledge and a generous spirit that guides each of us to find our purpose and place in the world. I am because of those that came before me, who left a DNA inheritance full of memories and dreams that unfold as I listen to stories shared by others.

Part of my work with NALAC over the last twenty years has been focused on working with colleagues to imagine and create opportunities to bring artists, administrators, and culture bearers together to hone their leadership skills and create networks of support and solidarity among them. I have witnessed 19 years of NALAC’s Leadership Institute with Latinx women representing sixty five percent of the alumni; eight years of the Advocacy Leadership Institute; and the second year of the newly launched Intercultural Leadership Institute, a collaborative program with Alternate ROOTS, First Peoples Fund, and PA’I Foundation. I have worked alongside many colleagues to gather arts leaders to provide skill building, professional development and networking to advance arts and social justice in diverse communities.

As a Latinx woman, I have faced many challenges and obstacles but have refused to let them deter me. I have had missteps and learned from my mistakes. I have learned how to navigate the nonprofit arts sector while at the same time challenging existing policies and practices and creating new frameworks for leadership development.

My parents were organizers and activists who pushed back against racial injustice, and resisted when asked to remove their dignity. They modeled compassion and showed me not to fear standing up for what was just. Find your voice and let your strength, vision, and spirit guide you.

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