The Latino Consortium for Action
United We Stand!
|Sitting: Karen Menendez Coller (l-r), Gloria Reyes, Abril Moreno Casa, Fabiola
Hamdan, Patricia Tellez-Gíron Standing: Juan José López, Salvador Carranza,
Norma Gallegos Valles, Oscar ireles, Jessica Cavazos, Christian Abhouras, Nicole
Sandoval, Veronica Figueroa, Shiva Bidar, Mayra Medrano, Alex Ysquierdo
“With the wide-ranging diversity that we as a state are seeing and the implications for the education sector and how insufficiently prepared even MMSD is in
consideration with the fact that they are doing largely a lot more than a lot of other districts statewide, it is important that we deal with this. It’s interesting to see how
under-resourced multilingual education is. MMSD is largely the exception. Support for students and really like pathways and mentorships, existing insufficient
programs are some of the issues.”
And the LCA can act as a point of contact that can forge new levels of understanding in other groups that exist in Dane County.
“Karen Coller and I serve on the NAACP-United Way Law Enforcement-Leaders of Color Collaborative,” Orrantia said. “And over the past years, there has been the
development of an immigrant-refugee task force. With the creation of that body, there has been this transition of knowledge. There is a lot of complexity that people
don’t understand. There is a lot of nuance and specific family circumstances. There are visa issues. And a lot of that gets lost in translation. There are a lot of
assumptions to fill in the gaps. So even across the law enforcement-leaders of color collaborative group, we’ve seen this phenomenal growth of understanding in
the complexities. I don’t know if there is a shared understanding that a refugee versus an immigrant. An immigrant ‘chooses’ to come here. A refugee doesn’t. A
refugee is fleeing certain circumstances. But there is some overlap between them that people weren’t necessarily aware of. I feel strongly — and this is one of the
reasons I am engaged in LCA — it’s really about cultural shift, people having a better understanding of the diversity of needs and opportunities and resources and
assets that exist over the Latino demographic and part of that is in order to inform cultural and social change.”
And with that understanding comes a higher level of knowing support.
“One of the things that were asked for is a driver’s card,” Orrantia said. “We need a driver’s card. And the fact that body — leaders with a lot of political capital —
stood up and said, ‘We collectively feel this should happen,’ is significant. To me from a basic psychology standpoint, it isn’t the Latino demographic saying, ‘We
need this.’ Someone else is finally saying that on our behalf. I think having that greater understanding and genuine investment in learning, all of us growing together,
is great. I’m an American citizen. I grew up with pieces of this impacting my life. But I haven’t navigated this personally. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have privilege
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling
Several years ago, Latino leaders in Dane County began to realize that they needed
to be more proactive in their communications and coordination and so the Latino
Consortium for Action was born. The LCA is an informal group that meets one
Saturday per month to discuss and share.
LCA serves as a conduit of information and advocacy on issues impacting the
Latino and larger community. The collaboration cuts down on conflicts,
misunderstandings and duplication of efforts. And it assists in creating a unified
response on issues impacting the community.
In some cases, the LCA helps the members get ahead of the curve on emerging
“I would say that some of the things that we are seeing, an example would be what
is informed, collaborative work on multilingualism, the growing diversity that
exists within and across our schools, our county, our state, with first gens of
color,” Said Leslie Orrantia, the director of community relations for UW-Madison.
and a position to leverage change in this arena. And I think the same applies to
the NAACP, United Way and all of these others. The reality is we are stronger
together. LCA has afforded us that opportunity, leveraging what happens across
spaces and bringing that back together to say, ‘How do we move this forward?
And what is the foundational root of what is needed here to say this organization,
this one and this one are solving these distinct needs and challenges, grieving
families?’ But this is at the core of what this community needs. And we were able
to data synthesize in a way that we wouldn’t if we weren’t in communication with
And perhaps due to the success of this collaboration, Orrantia wonders what the
impact could be of a wider circle of collaboration.
“LCA has been who has shown up at the table and it has become a little bit
exclusive because of the trust,” Orrantia noted. “There has been trust and rapport
that has been developed in that space. If and where you air your dirty laundry, you
don’t want to do that in public. That has been afforded. But as we grow as a
community and diversify in terms of having representation across sectors, what
does our membership look like in the future? And how do we retain good people
in our community? That is coupled with, how do we intersect with Black leaders
and Hmong leaders? How do we do that in a very intentional relationship
collaborative effort where we can collective advance all of us? I think there is
great opportunity there.”
And perhaps these collaborations can evolve where in an almost osmosis kind of
way, the people who are helping to guide the future of the whole community
becomes more diverse with different perspectives coming into play.
“What is our collective responsibility to work in stride to retain people period:
students, faculty, staff and area residents,” Orrantia asked. “We both have to
work on climate issues, so this two-way communication affords leadership on
both sides to build relationships that are more substantive. That has been very
significant and that is something that I appreciate deeply. I think that is an
example of having this intersectional forum for leaders of color and building a
relationship with one another as well. I just think that is something that I want to
see grow and become a priority of LCA.”
The possibilities of growth are astounding.