Q&A with Gloria Jimenez on Indiana Latino Expo Leadership Program
Gloria Jimenez, 37, is from Peru and came to the United States when she was 17. “I came here,” she said, “like a lot of immigrants, just to work”.
But finding your way has not always been easy. She started out in manufacturing in Los Angeles, then moved to Indianapolis, where she said she found a community ready to help her meet people and establish life and purpose.
Now Jimenez is executive director of Indiana Latino Expo, an organization that tries to provide the same help and connections to other immigrants and people of Latin descent.
Four years ago, the group created Axis Leadership, an eight-month program to help train and mentor Latino professionals aged 21 to 28. The group has just announced its fourth cohort, a class of 25 that includes participants from, among others, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Jimenez, who is also a multicultural contributor to WISH-TV Channel 8 and a host on Telemundo, spoke about the program to IBJ.
Why is this program important?
We have approximately 120,000 Hispanics in Indianapolis. And, as you know, the population keeps growing. And we know that there are language barriers and that a lot of Hispanics and Latinos don’t understand the system here in the United States – the education system, the health care system, how it works when you move to a place. new country.
And there are many leadership programs out there, but there weren’t for Latinos. We can go through other programs, but we have different challenges. … So we created the program.
How do you choose people? What are you looking for in choosing the class?
We open nominations or nominations for Axis during Hispanic Heritage Month… and we normally receive between 50 and 60 nominations. We go through their resumes and they write an essay explaining why they want to participate in Axis and how they will engage with the community.
So we have a steering committee which is me and [Ruth Morales, Yecenia Tostado, Guadalupe Pimentel Solano, Angela Brito de Rodriguez, Fabio Yataco and Jordan Rodriguez] who choose.
What kinds of things do they learn during the eight months of class?
They learn community engagement, networking, finance, leadership and civic engagement. We connect them to many events happening in the community.
On December 3rd, we’re hosting our Indiana Latino Awards Gala, and it’s where we celebrate the contributions of Latinos and Hispanics in education, health, and entrepreneurship. We therefore invite the class to these events so that they can learn about other organizations, other entrepreneurs.
Do they get a mentor during the program?
Yes. Each person is assigned a mentor to work with them throughout this period. We want them to maintain the relationship they have with their mentors. And then, eventually, they can become the mentor of another young professional or they can inspire others to learn from them.
What do you want participants to take away from the program after they finish?
Be intentional to serve the Latino community. To find where their passions lie and use them to sit – on boards, running for government, to fill a void where they see a void that is not being filled by another organization . Get involved in the community and create networks and be a better representative of the Latino community. •