LEAD Will Strengthen the Latino Voice in Catholic Schools

NCEA and Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education’s Catholic School Advantage announce a partnership called Latino Educator and Administrator Development – LEAD.

Arlington, VA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Catholic School Advantage (CSA) are proud to announce a partnership to offer the Latino Educator and Administrator Development (LEAD) program, intended to strengthen the Latino voice in the classroom and at the school level nationally. This initiative is designed to invite, advance and retain Latino educators in Catholic schools, as well as develop a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in this landscape.

"This is one more important way NCEA and the Catholic community can continue to encourage diversity in Catholic schools. The University of Notre Dame’s LEAD program is intentional and designed to take participants through every aspect of leadership to best inspire and encourage Latino educators in Catholic education," said Kathy Mears, NCEA Interim President/CEO.

LEAD is an idea born from a University of Notre Dame-convened national task force. The Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children in Catholic Schools published a report – To Nurture the Soul of a Nation – that articulated the cultural, ecclesial, and institutional dimensions implicated in the under-representation of Latinos in Catholic schools. A clear message in the report was the need to build Latino leadership in Catholic schools, and this new program is aimed at meeting this goal.

LEAD is a year-long fellowship in which participants engage in a curriculum designed to help them think critically about how Latino leadership and representation is rooted in three ideas: embracing, educating and empowering Latino students, families and communities through representative leadership. The participants will engage with the curriculum through small learning communities led by experienced Latino mentors, including two superintendents. Participants also will design and implement leadership projects in the spring to empower their own school communities. Finally, LEADers will come to Notre Dame's campus in summer 2021 for a culminating experience.

The first cohort of 17 LEADers kicked off their experience with a virtual welcome and orientation on July 24, which included introductions to the LEAD team, mentors, and remarks from John Staud, executive director of ACE and acting director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, and NCEA’s Kathy Mears. Itzxul Moreno, coordinator for LEAD, welcomed the keynote speaker, Dr. Luis Fraga, director of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies and Father Joe Corpora, CSC, director of ACE's University School Partnerships.

The LEADers come from 11 (arch)dioceses across the country—with 75 percent serving in urban Catholic schools—and have over 230 years of combined experience in education. Itzxul and Katy Lichon, the director of the CSA, are thrilled to be beginning a new program in the middle of a pandemic. “LEAD is a sign of hope during a challenging time for education and Latino communities. We are inspired by this first cohort of vibrant, energetic, and passionate LEADers.” Learn more about LEAD and the Catholic School Advantage at ace.nd.edu/catholic-school-advantage/lead.

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.