This post comes from Maegan Gatlin of BUA Communications.
SAN ANTONIO, TX – The Latina Leadership Institute (LLI) in San Antonio has gone coastal.
The program, which receives funding from CBF of Texas, recently held it’s first session in Sophia, N.C.
“This is first time we have offered training outside Texas so we are really excited,” LLI Director Nora Lozano said. “The program has been growing steadily at Baptist University of the Américas and it is a challenge and a blessing to partner with North Carolina Latinas.”
LLI is a certificate-granting institute dedicated to the “discovery, development, nurturance and empowerment of women leaders from a Latina perspective to be transformational agents in the church and community.”
The concept is one of a kind so putting on a conference halfway across the country was not an easy task; it required much support in every area. That is exactly what God provided for Verónica Martínez-Gallegos when she dreamed of bringing the LLI program to North Carolina.
“I was amazed by the empowerment I received through the lives of the many Godly women there. Each session was a divine appointment between me and God,” expressed Martínez-Gallegos about her Latina Leadership experience at BUA. “I wanted that for North Carolina too.”
Martínez-Gallegos, a BUA aluma who returned to North Carolina after graduating with a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies and a certificate in Latina Leadership Studies, met with Ruby Fulbright, then Executive Director of the Women’s Missionary Union of North Carolina, who was very interested in helping make the dream of a NC–LLI program a reality.
“Veronica worked in our office for a couple of years,” said Fulbright. “I know Veronica’s heart for missions and for Latinas. As she began to share with me her involvement in the institute at BUA, I could just see the ‘light’ in her eyes. We met several times and I had telephone conferences with several in San Antonio – especially Dr. Lozano. And, I prayed and prayed. It just seemed so right – both the program and the timing. So I said, ‘Let’s do it.’” expressed Fulbright.
This is the first of a four-year partnership with LLI to lead towards a certificate in Latina Leadership. Typical of the anonymous evaluations provided by the initial North Carolina participants was the Latina leader who artriculated, “LLI-NC helped me see the ability that is within me and discover my talents and spiritual gifts and to understand that I have much fruit to bear for God’s Kingdom. Thank you for having the vision and for making this happen.”
Logistics and funding support of the NC-LLI program is a combination of funding from NC WMU, Global Women, LLI and First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina. Directors Lozano, Associate Professor of Biblical/Theological Studies, and Patty Villarreal, Adjunct Lecturer of Social Work, at BUA began planning and nurturing the idea of a place where Latina women can grow into strong spiritual leaders in the community in the spring of 2005. In the winter of 2007 the first LLI conference took place at Camp Buckner in Burnet, Texas.
“The training is a five-day intensive course. The women are divided according to number of years with the program and each lecturer brings a fresh topic per session dealing with issues facing Latina women in the church, in society and in culture. The sessions are taught from a biblical perspective, aimed at teaching Latina women how to flourish in their not-so-sensitive-to-women-in-leadership environment,” Lozano explained. “This program is unique in the sense that it provides a biblical, cultural and gender sensitive training. There is a need for the Hispanic population here in the U.S. and in Latin America. As the institute keeps growing, we hope and dream to provide training in different areas of the Spanish speaking world.”
The Latina Leadership Institute advisory board includes: Teresa Martínez, Dr. Belinda Reyes, Alicia Zorzoli, Zoricelis Davila, Rebecca Klein, Raquel Contreras and Nora Silva. In addition to BUA and Buckner Children & Family Services, the Institute receives significant support from, the Texas WMU Mary Hill Davis Missions Offering, Global Women, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-Texas, Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham Ala., and private donors.
If you would like more information about or to become a supporter of the North Carolina or Texas LLI programs, please contact Dr. Nora Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bua.edu/latina-leadership-institute/.