SOU’s Latino Youth Leadership Conference addresses equity, racism, barriers

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(Ashland, Ore.) — More than 350 Latino youth from Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lane county high schools will meet on the Southern Oregon University campus on Friday, March 9, for the seventh annual César E. Chávez Leadership Conference.

The event – which this year will feature Hispanic civil rights advocate Luis Avila as keynote speaker – celebrates the heritage of César E. Chávez and teaches young people to carry on Chávez’ legacy of leadership.

This year’s conference will include 22 workshops in the areas of leadership, college and career, culture, identity and arts, and life skills. The workshops are intended to inspire Latino youth to become leaders and work for social justice, and to empower them to pursue higher education.

The event is particularly relevant in a year when immigration and racial issues are at the forefront of national conversations. Students at the conference will learn how to ensure that their voices are heard.

Avila, an advisor with 270 Strategies, most recently served as the national program director at Stand for Children – a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to improving public school education.

While at Stand for Children, Avila worked with immigrant parents to mobilize thousands of voters and protect funding for their children’s schools. He was awarded the agency’s National Leadership Award for his work supporting, coaching and developing organizers around the country.

Avila serves on the executive board at the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., and is on the board of TNTP – an organization focused on ending educational inequality.

A record number of high schools and participants are expected at this year’s event. Students are nominated to attend by teachers and counselors at their high schools.