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Latino Leaders Talk Education, Civic Engagement at Hispanic Heritage Celebration (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

Latino leaders in the county, whose work on social justice issues have helped shape the community, talked about inclusion, diversity in the workforce, the use minority-owned contractors, civic engagement for Latino families, parental engagement, and more at the “The Current State of the Latino Community in Montgomery County” event in Rockville.

The meeting was hosted by the Montgomery County Council. Councilmember Nancy Navarro proposed the special event to honor Hispanic Heritage Month.

Leaders at this meeting were Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; Alberto Avendaño, executive editor of El Tiempo Latino; Angela Franco, president and CEO of Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Jonathan Jayes-Green, community activist and former administrator for the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

“What we heard [today] I think was very consistent with what we are hearing nationally I think there’s clear understanding and clear message that the Latino community is very diverse … but it’s a community that is stepping up every day to make contributions,” Navarro said.

“Montgomery County is certainly one of the leaders when it comes to immigrant integration, but there’s always more room for growth and I want to talk about civic engagement … You can take me as an example, for all intents and purposes, I’m not someone who would be civic or politically engaged. I came from a low-income family, immigrant, learning English; there were so many other paths in which I could have gone. … and then I learned that my voice mattered and that’s when things started to shift for me,” Jayes-Green said.

Others said it is important to have a representative of the Latino community in different groups around the county.

“The importance of having a Latino in the room … is critical. … In every board that I’m on, in most groups, I’m the only Latino in the room. And I think it’s important that everyone here understands that … by being the only Latino in the room you are representing the entire community,” Tijerino said.

Tijerino also added there is a need for engaging Latino parents in their children’s education.

“We did a national survey of ten thousand Latino youth and wanted their perspective. Latinos are most likely to want parents more involved in their education, and those are teenagers who usually don’t want their parents involved in their lives. It was very telling in terms of that great need,” Tijerino told county councilmembers.

A video presentation featuring Latino residents sharing their life experiences and views on community issues was also shared during this meeting.

The event ended with an awards presentation to panelists and to those featured in the video Somos Montgomery– We are Montgomery.

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Aline Barros

About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at Abarros@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.

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