Southwest Airlines Latino Leaders Network


At Southwest Airlines, we believe in partnering with nonprofit community organizations that are as diverse as the communities we serve. Our purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives and one of the ways we do this is through our community partnerships. By providing resources to nonprofit organizations, we’re able to help them fulfill their mission.

This month we highlight Latino Leaders Network’s dedication to honoring leaders who have demonstrated a strong record of impact and influence on the lives of Latinos living throughout San Diego and the United States.

Latino Leaders Network

The Latino Leaders Network (LLN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Bringing Leaders Together,” will convene the 64th Latino Leaders Luncheon Series on Friday, September 17, 2021 at The US Grant to honor Dr. Adela de la Torre, President of San Diego State University, with the Eagle Leadership Award. Lidia S. Martinez, former corporate Community Affairs and Grassroots Manager for Southwest Airlines, will be presented the Champion Award for her outstanding support of the Latino community.

After being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event marks the first time the luncheon will convene in San Diego.

The Latino community was disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, making it more important than ever to share the personal story of leaders who are creating positive change in their communities and across the country. As a result, LLN pivoted from in-person to virtual events, broadening their national reach exponentially. The organization’s growing online audience was introduced to the Cafecito Series, a new bi-annual virtual initiative aimed to educate, inspire and prepare the next generation of leaders through the stories of iconic Latino leaders. Honorees presented with the Rising Star Award at the Cafecito Series include activists Dolores Huerta and Monica Ramirez, actor Xolo Maridueña, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.

LLN’s longtime signature events also moved online. Launched in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the Latino Leaders Luncheon Series provides a platform for prominent Latino leaders to share their personal stories of obstacles overcome to inspire the next generation. The Tribute to Mayors convenes during the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). The event honors a mayor from a city with a significant Latino population who has exhibited an outstanding commitment to bringing diverse communities together.

In addition, LLN partnered with the California Global Education Project in 2019 to develop a free curriculum guide shaped around the individual stories of 14 Latino leaders in Latino Leaders Speak: Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph, a book featuring keynote addresses delivered at the Latino Leaders Luncheon Series by leaders from a wide variety of occupations including government, sports, entertainment, education, journalism and more. Each segment seeks to engage students and is designed to fit easily with topics of discussion in courses including Ethnic Studies, U.S. History and Geography, English Language Arts, Health, Science, and any other discipline where the stories of Latino leaders can foster a sense of belonging. Edited by Mickey Ibarra, LLN chairman, and Maria Perez Brown, the curriculum guide provides literacy and civic action extension activities that better serve Latino students.

The curriculum guide includes activist Dolores Huerta, NASA astronaut José Hernández, journalist Soledad O’Brien, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, Mayor of Denver and U.S. Secretary of the Department of Transportation Federico Peña, and others.

author avatar
Esteban Villanueva