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University Set to Launch Latino Talent Development Program

Carlos SanchezAn effort to fuel professional development among young Latinos in West Michigan will begin this fall under a new program offered by Ferris State University’s Latino Business and Economic Development Center.

The Latino Talent Development Program is designed as an opportunity to develop the skills, resources and confidence needed to become leaders at work and in the community while leveraging the advantages of being bicultural individuals, said director Carlos Sanchez.

“We are planning to form a cohort of young professionals who are ready to lead but are in need of culturally relevant instruction,” Sanchez said.

An informational open house will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 at Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design, 17 Fountain St. NW, in Grand Rapids. It will be attended by local subject-matter experts who will deliver instruction during the program: leadership and talent development specialist Kristin Ekkens of C3 Consulting, philanthropy professional Allison Lugo Knapp, communications specialist Raul Alvarez of GTSD Group and health equity leader David Luna, vice president of Multicultural Affairs for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

The pilot program, scheduled to run about once a month from September through March, will provide participants with a unique networking opportunity, valuable insight into cultural differences that impact workplace behaviors, the chance to test newly developed cross-cultural skills in a safe learning environment and insight from experts. The pilot program is free to participants.

In addition to providing individuals the opportunity to advance their careers and better engage in the community at large, the program is ideal for organizations or companies with emerging Latino leaders, Sanchez said.

“Graduates of the program will be better equipped to represent their community, make an impact and further their professional careers,” Sanchez said. “Better professionals benefit the communities they live in.”

The program is an initiative of the fairly new Latino Business and Economic Development Center, itself an initiative of Ferris State University to connect with the growing Latino population in West Michigan and to spur economic development. The center is housed at Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.