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March Fellow Spotlight: Avanzando Líderazgo Program

Updated: Apr 17

As we delve into the heart of the Avanzando Liderazgo Program (ALP) '24, we are excited to unveil a monthly blog series that casts a spotlight on the remarkable members of our 2024 Cohort.

These individuals have embarked on a transformative journey, dedicating themselves to personal development, leadership growth, and community upliftment. Join us each month as we introduce you to three outstanding members who are making waves within the ALP '24 community.

Through shared experiences, a Latinx-centered curriculum, and a commitment to cross-ethnic solidarity, these leaders are shaping their narratives, overcoming hurdles, and realizing their ambitions.

In this series, we invite you to be inspired by their stories and discover the power of leveraging cultura.Together, let's celebrate the achievements of these remarkable leaders and amplify the impact of ALP in shaping the future of Latinx leadership in Minnesota!


Meet Luisana Mendez

Luisana, hailing from Venezuela, is a passionate Civil Engineer and Urban Planner. Her entrepreneurial spirit and boundless enthusiasm drive her commitment to empower women, cultivate emerging leaders, and promote sustainable community development.

Her love for sensory experiences leads her to immerse herself in nature, relishing activities such as hiking, camping, and paddleboarding. She's also a creative soul who finds joy in reading, writing, photography, and various crafts.

At the heart of her endeavors lies the organization she founded, Huellas Latinas. As the Executive Director of Huellas Latinas, Luisana envisions and propels the creation of a vibrant, engaged, and empowered outdoor community. Her leadership stands as a testament to her unwavering dedication to fostering connections, inspiring change, and leaving a lasting mark on the world.

Meet Kimberly Marquez

My name is Kimberly Marquez. I am a community engagement specialist with Hennepin county. I have been in the county since 2015! I have my bachelors and master’s degree in social work. I completed a project management certificate in 03/2023. I am a communication and public speaker with several years of experience in various industries including community, social work, county, non-profit, and educational. I enjoy being within the community, creating programs, events, and connecting residents with resources. I am a strong advocate and I love my culture. 

Meet Cristina Archila

Cristina Archila is a proud, multiracial Guatemalan-American who embraces the term 'No Sabo Kid' as a testament to her cultural roots and unique identity. This perspective enriches her commitment to advancing inner-city youth, emphasizing the importance of cultural inclusivity and representation in her advocacy efforts. Her journey, deeply rooted in her own cultural identity, underscores the significance of representation and inclusivity in the impactful work she passionately pursues. Cristina's dynamic journey in leadership and community service is marked by her dedication to youth empowerment and transformative justice. 

Originally from Los Angeles, CA, and raised in Las Vegas, NV, Cristina embarked on her Minnesota journey in 2011. Her impactful career began as an AmeriCorps Preschool Literacy Tutor, sparking a profound commitment to youth work. Cristina later transitioned to the role of a Kindergarten Paraprofessional in Saint Paul Public Schools, specializing in behavioral support, de-escalation, and championing restorative justice practices. Witnessing the detrimental effects of the school-to-prison pipeline fueled her determination to advocate for change within her community. Cristina expanded her influence as a Curriculum Coordinator at Project SPIRIT for Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul and Program Event Coordinator for Bolder Options, contributing to the development of comprehensive curricular initiatives and impactful community events.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Cristina's civic engagement shines through her volunteer work. Having served on the Safe Routes to School Steering Committee with the City of Saint Paul, she actively contributed to driving infrastructure improvements around Maxfield Elementary. As the Secretary of Nettie & Friends, Inc, Cristina plays a pivotal role in overseeing grant approvals and organizing key events. Her commitment extends to board service with Domestic Abuse Project, where she currently serves and will assume the position of Advancement Committee Chair starting January 2024. These roles highlight Cristina's dedication to advancing the mission of organizations committed to positive change for youth in her community.

In addition to her impactful career and community involvement, Cristina resets herself by immersing herself in nature on the weekends. As an avid year-round hiker, she embraces the opportunity to reset in natural surroundings. This connection to the outdoors reflects her holistic approach, fostering a balance between her passionate advocacy work and personal well-being.

Cristina's diverse experiences, from youth work to community leadership and board service, showcase her as a multifaceted leader deeply invested in fostering resilience and empowerment in youth, individuals, and communities. Achieving her Certification in Professional Project Management (CPPM) from the University of St. Thomas further underscores her commitment to excellence in leadership. This unique blend of personal and professional experiences positions Cristina as a champion in creating positive impact and transformation. Cristina plans to utilize her experiences and professional growth from LatinoLEAD's Avanzando Líderazgo Program (ALP) to inspire youth, dismantle oppressive systems, and ultimately support the Latinx community.



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