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Building Our Legacy conference seeks to close gap between talent and opportunity

Hosted by the Latino Professionals Association of Greater Madison, the two-day event features three award-winning authors of Latinx culture.

The Building Our Legacy conference, now it its second year, will feature three award-winning authors of Latinx culture when it kicks off next week, Sept. 30–Oct. 1, at Madison College, but organizers note it’s truly an event for everyone.

The Latino Professionals Association of Greater Madison (LPA), which has a mission to recognize and enhance the lives of Latino professionals, hosts and organizes the annual conference. “We are committed to providing both experienced and budding professionals alike with the educational opportunities they need to reach the next levels of their careers,” says LPA President Nicole Sandoval, “and the Building Our Legacy conference is a key component to our mission.”

Building Our Legacy is rooted in the idea that we all rise together, notes Faustina Bohling, Building Our Legacy conference chair for LPA and the diversity and inclusion program advisor for American Family Insurance.

Faustina Bohling

“The goal of the conference is to close the skills gap and ready members in the community for leadership roles and furthering their careers; essentially, closing the gap between talent and opportunity,” explains Bohling. “Talent may be equally distributed around the world, but opportunity is not. Knowing that access to professional development isn’t always easily accessible, it’s part of the LPA’s mission to ensure that it is.”

According to Bohling, the conference is intended for anyone of any demographic. “It’s an opportunity for participants to learn in areas that cut across all experiences, as well as areas specific to the multidimensional Latino experiences. We need to hear and learn from each other across communities, including the Latino community. When you look for us in history books, media, literature, etc., you see representation is lacking. We know representation matters. Our youth are strong leaders, and we owe it to them and ourselves to demonstrate community with leadership.”

Last year when Bohling attended Building Our Legacy, she says it was the first time she had been a room where she could let her Latina identity take a back seat. “That was freeing for me for my personal learning and experience. I could just be me. That lifts the weight we carry, at least for a little while.”

Focused on providing attendees with an enriching learning experience, the LPA is bringing in three authors to share their unique perspectives on the Latinx experience:

  • Keynote speaker Andrea-Teresa Arenas, author, Somos Latinas: Voices of Wisconsin Latina Activists, will share her work of bringing 25 powerful narratives to light, as part of the Somos Latinas Digital History Project, and provide insight on the inspirational lives and works of Latinas who have changed their world and history.
  • Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez, will give a timely look into detention centers and immigration courts infringing on the book’s characters and a revealing view into “the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border.”
  • Armando Ibarra, author, The Latino Question: Politics, Laboring Classes, and the Next Left, will give an introduction to his book — a compelling critique of the political economy — and explain how Latinos in pursuit of the American dream get trapped in a cycle of debt and labor.

“Attendees will be emboldened by the profound stories of Latinx struggle and achievement,” says Bohling. “Combined with the professional growth, leadership development, and personal enrichment sessions at the conference, they will leave fully prepared to take the next advancement steps in their careers.”

Bohling notes that the LPA recently completed an extensive survey to better understand its members in the Greater Madison area and the overall local Latinx experience, and those results will be shared at the conference and in future community conversations.

For a limited time, professionals can become an LPA member, attend the Building Our Legacy conference, and enjoy the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce dinner for $299. To learn more, visit www.lpamadison.org/BOLC.

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