David Castillo’s Latino Leadership OKC class attended the Oklahoma City Council meeting Tuesday. The well-dressed, alert young adults took notes and watch intently.
“Now more than ever it’s important for people to understand that there are professional Latinos and Latinas out there,” Castillo told Free Press.
He is the president/CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Castillo’s concern was for people to gain a perspective of Hispanic culture that is different from what is currently at the top of the news.
“We have all this talk about immigrants and immigration…, but there’s many professional Latinos and Latinas who have been here for years. I think it’s very important for people to see the professional side,” Castillo said.
Directly following the council meeting, they met in a room just off the council chamber to discuss what they had learned. Some of them were at City Hall for the first time ever.
As they started digging into Roberts Rules of Order they used the proceedings they just observed as raw material for discussion.
It was the second session of six they will experience together. And this is the fourth such leadership class to be formed.
The focus for this session was about how to function on commissions and boards, an important first step for young leaders to gain influence in Oklahoma City.
Before their session started he pointed out “everybody here are already professionals.” He said they were employed and starting to learn about community leadership, especially city government because “it impacts economic development.”
Free Press visited with two of the young community leaders in the making.
Anahi Figueroa said that she was born in Oklahoma City and grew up on the south side. Since then, she graduated from University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Science.
Currently, she is the community outreach coordinator for Variety Care.
“Leadership class is great because I’m able to do many things and take the learning back to my organization,” she said.
She thought the council session was “very interesting” and “exciting.”
What is the most important thing that she is learning in the class? She pointed out that there were some direct benefits for the community work she does right now.
“Being a good public speaker is very important to get your point across,” Figueroa said. “Every time you speak to a crowd they want to walk away with something.”
Rudy Vargas is a supervisor in Collections and Adjustments for Tinker Federal Credit Union. He was “expecting very little” at the beginning of the process, but now “it’s amazing.”
Vargas mirrored what Castillo said about the value of the class.
“The thing that I’ve learned is that a lot of times, as Latinos, we don’t use our leadership to create a good influence on the way people see us or our economic power.”
We asked what he hoped to get out of the class.
He said he wants “to network and get to know a lot of people, get the good connections, and learn how to be a better leader.”
Castillo said that the next session will be at the Capitol where they will visit with several legislators about political leadership and learn how a bill becomes law.