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Leadership program seeks to support Latinx young professionals in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A class of Latinx professionals are positioned to take civic and community leadership to a new level. Despite a pandemic, the Axis Leadership Program will see its largest class yet.

The Latino population continues to be one of the fastest-growing in the state. But Axis leadership program organizers said when it comes to positions of leadership, there’s not a comparable amount of Latino representation. This program has been around for three years and organizers say the mission to change that is stronger than ever.

Each year, Indiana becomes more diverse. And Latinos are leading the way. But when you look at positions of power, the picture hasn’t changed as much.

“They are lacking in representation. And one of the goals of this program is really to create a pipeline for these professionals to grow,” said Axis Leadership Team member Yecenia Tostado.

The Axis Leadership Program is taking steps to change that. Three years ago, the Indiana Latino Expo partnered with the city of Indianapolis International Latino Affairs.

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The eight-month program groups young Latinos together to provide leadership, professional and personal development.

“We know that this work of creating a pipeline of developed Latinx adults that will go ahead and transition into leadership and be trained to be on boards and commissions. It is something that’s important for our city,” said Jordan Rodriguez. He works with the city of Indianapolis International Latino Affairs.

Many young professional minorities often struggle to find financial support to grow businesses and other leadership opportunities. The idea is to give participants the tools they need to reach leadership positions, and to be able to share how they did it with others in their community.

“We want to make sure that they are connected, whether it’s financial support, or one of the components of our program is mentorship,” said Tostado.

With conversations around equity and inclusion leading discussions across the country, organizers said it’s important to build on that momentum. And seeing more Latino representation across all industries is a step.

“At the heart of who we are as a city. This is critical to our health and our future as a city,” said Rodriguez.

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