For 25 years, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) has produced conferences and programs that champion the spirit of Latinas. Through these conferences and programs, HOPE has trained over 15,000 Latinas in leadership and advocacy skills. In May, HOPE held their 21st Annual Latina Action Day and convened hundreds of Latina professionals and elected officials, as well as emerging and future Latina leaders from across California at the State Capitol. This year, the conference focused on top Latino issues including the importance of civic engagement by Latinas across the U.S. for the 2016 elections, as well as the environment, access to quality healthcare and higher education opportunities.
“The issues impacting the Latino community in California are no longer exclusive to Latinos, but to all Californians. They reflect the wonderful complexity and diversity of our State,” Helen Torres, Executive Director of HOPE tells Giving Back Magazine. “Latinas are influential members of our society, and this annual conference gives us a forum and an opportunity to come together and learn from each other, engage with our elected officials and educate our young Latinas on the importance of civic engagement, leadership and participation.” According to the U.S. Census, currently, 38% of Californians are Latinos, and it is the fastest growing demographic in the State. This means that one in three is Latina. In addition, for the 2012 elections, 23.5% of California voters were Latino.
Throughout the years, HOPE has served the Latina community with innovative programming that provides leadership development, statewide networking opportunities, experiential learning and one-on-one interaction with local, state and federal officials and agencies. Some of their programs include, HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI), established to train Latina leaders in advocacy skills enabling them to foster healthy communities statewide the HOPE Youth Leadership Program (HYLP) established to provide Latina teens with skills necessary for self-empowerment and as well as their conferences, Latina Action Day and Latina History Day.
Since Latina Action Day’s inception in 1994, it has provided a platform for women of all ages and backgrounds to advocate for the advancement of Latinas in California. Thanks to Sponsors such as Southwest Airlines and Wells Fargo, Latinas throughout California come together in our State Capitol to advocate for the advancement of Latinas in all aspects of civic life and acknowledge the impact Latinas are having on California.
“We have to make sure that we are engaging our leaders from the young high school student to the seasoned professional, so that they can understand and influence the political process, and the issues that most impact their families, schools and communities,” added Torres.
For the past 25 years, HOPE has been walking hand in hand with Latinas who are pushing the limits, breaking barriers and defining what it means to be a leader.