Leadership Summit Addresses Growing Latino Community

The response was overwhelming for the inaugural Latino Leadership Summit at the Montgomery Community Media studios in Rockville.photo (26)

The sold out event featured local leaders who discussed issues and topics surrounding the growing Latino community in Montgomery County.

“We sometimes take in Montgomery County and other places around the country our diversity for granted and not look at and focus on the challenges and opportunities,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “So I’m here today to lend my support to this outreach effort and to learn more to be better informed so I can better serve our Hispanic and Latino community.”

Panel topics included education, immigration, Latino identity, and economic empowerment.

Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Fox News analyst Juan Williams, and State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez took part in a panel that discussed civic engagement among the Latino community.

“The Latino community has grown exponentially and we haven’t really seen that exact equivalency when it comes to civic participation,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro.

The Latino population includes more than 250,000 residents in Montgomery County, according to Census data – more than half of the Latino population in the State of Maryland.

And that number continues to grow.

“It is really important that we explore some of the issues that effect this community and also that we share all of the commonalities that we have. It’s a community that’s very loyal and very hardworking and made amazing contributions to this county and so it’s important to have opportunities to highlight that,” she said.

Fox News analyst Juan Williams said this conference was personal to him, bringing back memories of when he immigrated to the U.S. from Panama as a child.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., when I was a kid and I didn’t know anyone else named Juan,” Williams said. “Watching how we assimilated into American life, how we became an American family is very much a part of my life story and to see it now on the larger scale and to see how being Hispanic is now not sort of viewed as different but part of the American experience is just tremendous to me.”

During her presentation, State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-District 18), reminded the crowd of their duty to vote, urging them to get to know their political leaders and have their voice be heard.

“We are now the largest community in Montgomery County that was foreign born, many are U.S. born, our schools now have the largest number of kids coming into Kindergarten are Latinos,” said Del. Gutierrez during an interview after her presentation.

“I think it’s very important to get to know each other better and this is an excellent manner in which by sharing our own experiences and our own views that we can get a better understanding of this diaspora that now is part of Montgomery County,” she said.

Watch the presentations from the Latino Leadership Summit in their entirety here.

 
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