In Your Community

Changemakers Summit: Equipping Leaders for Advocacy

UnidosUS joyfully reconvened, in person, the 2022 Changemakers Summit: “Redefine the Moment: Leading on Our Shared Future,” in Washington, DC, this past March, where we welcomed 56 Affiliate organizations. It was the first Summit for Latino U College Access (LUCA), which affiliated with UnidosUS in 2021, and, according to Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, LUCA’s founder, it was the perfect timing, too. As LUCA’s recent past executive director turned strategic growth officer, Shirley wanted to focus on strategic partnerships and address critical advocacy issues. “When I saw that the Summit provided training and preparation around advocacy, I knew it was a great opportunity to learn and be a part of it,” she said.

The Summit brought together aspiring and seasoned community leaders alike, committed to advocating for Latinos. After hearing from policy experts on issues important to our community—like health, education, and immigration—along with advocacy training and tools, Affiliates were empowered to meet with their members of Congress at the close of the Summit.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, LUCA’s mission is to empower students on their journeys to and through college so they can fulfill their remarkable potential. According to Shirley, this goes beyond helping them get through their education. It includes helping them understand what they can do to advocate for change and serve as voices for their community at future seats of power, which is why it was deeply important to LUCA that three of their students also participate in the Changemakers Summit.

“Bringing our students [Andrés Castillo, Katya Juarez, and Kate Hidalgo] to this Summit, having the opportunity to introduce them to Latino leaders, was inspiring and motivated them to see they can make a difference. They need to see what’s possible before they can dream what’s possible. This was a life-changing experience for them,” Shirley explained.

The LUCA team also met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía to advocate for Latino inclusion in our nation’s recovery. “I’m hoping to take this experience and move [LUCA] forward,” Shirley said, adding that she sees UnidosUS as a true partner and collaborator, often showcasing Affiliate work in addition to being a strong advocate for the network.

Support from donors like you made it possible for LUCA to participate in the Summit. “We couldn’t have done it without the UnidosUS stipends; that generosity made it possible for us to attend,” said Shirley.

Affiliates like LUCA who were part of the Changemakers Summit are also taking back skills and tools to their communities. The next opportunity for UnidosUS to be in your community is the national conference in San Antonio, July 9 to 11. See you there!