Hispanic Heritage: Girl Scouts of Central Indiana help empower through ‘Latinas Taking the Lead’

Hispanic Heritage Month

The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana are empowering Hispanic women and connecting them to others with an initiative called Latinas Taking the Lead.

“[I’m] just feeling very empowered and proud to be Latina,” said participant Brenda Salazar.

Latinas Taking the Lead is an 8 month long program teaching Hispanic women about leadership tactics, personal development skills, and community resources.

“[It’s about] creating a stronger community where we are learning from each other and opening up our minds to other people’s experience and also their lifestyles and learning to respect each other and learning to grow,” explained Maria Preston.

Preston was a Girl Scout 20 years ago in Mexico and is now participating in Latinas Taking the Lead.

“I wasn’t sure how much I was going to learn from it but I decided to give it a try and see what it was all about, and it turned out I learned a lot. There’s always room to grow.”

There’s a big focus on connecting Latinas to other Latinas in the community.

“[It connets] Latinas like me and also other Latinas with a different age than me. I get to hear stories of older women or younger women,” said Salazar.

This program was created when Girl Scout leaders noticed a concerning trend .

“What we noticed was a lot of our Latina girls were not participating in our programs, and then we realized the need was for the women , for Latina women to have that leadership experience,” said Marisa Zambrano, the director of ENL at Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

For Zambrano, this mission takes on a special meaning for her.

“I was born in Central America, Guatemala City. I grew up with a mom who couldn’t speak English so having this program is just such a passion for me personally, because I wish there had been a program like this for my mom.”

There’s monthly trainings and meetings encouraging the women to unite and to discover their strengths and apply those valuable skills to the real world. 

“Just having that sisterhood, other women in the community [know] that you’re not alone here,” said Zambrano. “We have such a diverse Latin community here in Indy, and I think bringing them together to share and to see that they are not by themselves and to see that there is a huge community that cares about them.”

Bank of America is partnering and providing funding for Latinas Taking The Lead.

“Because this program is focused on economic mobility, workforce development and its focus of people and communities of color, so it is a good fit for Bank of America’s foundation,” said Lucia Mar, the senior vice president and market executive for Global Commercial Bank at Bank of America.

This program has been going on for 15 years and has graduated 280 Latina women from central Indiana –showing the younger generation how to embrace their heritage and become one of the many Latinas that are taking the lead.

This year’s graduation is October 23rd.

You can learn more about Latinas Taking the Lead here.

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