PICTURED ABOVE: Dr. Carlos Alemán, associate professor of communication studies at JMU and SLI program director and board member, speaks during the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement symposium “U.S. Democracy and the Latino/a/x Community.” Photo by JMU Marketing & Branding, Diego Alejandro Crespo Guido
HARRISONBURG, VA – The SLI community was well represented among the presenters and participants at the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement symposium “U.S. Democracy and the Latino/a/x Community.”
A program of the Woodson Martin Immigration and Democracy Initiative, the event focused on the political complexities of the Latino/a/x community. The keynote address, “Political Engagement and Hospitality on the Margins,” was presented by Dr. Sergio González, assistant professor of Latinx studies at Marquette University.
Symposium panelists included Dr. Carlos Alemán, associate professor of communication studies at JMU and SLI program director and board member, and Lyons Sanchezconcha, chair of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board and member of the SLI advisory council. Moderated by Dr. Robert Aguirre, professor of English and dean of the JMU College of Arts and Letters, the panel also included Dr. Verónica Dávila Ellis, JMU assistant professor in foreign languages, literatures, and cultures, and González.
Opening remarks for the evening were provided by Gabriela Leija-Hernandez, the 2022-23 Woodson Martin Democracy Fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement. Over the past year, Leila-Hernandez worked with SLI program directors in Harrisonburg to organize and host two university campus events centering Latinx leadership and social justice.
Among attending students was Karla Hernandez, a peer mentor and an executive officer for SLI@JMU. Members of the student organization coordinate with SLI’s program directors to support leadership programming held on the university campus and social activities in Harrisonburg.
Featured artwork was by SLI managing director Stephania Cervantes, who serves on the Center for Civic Engagement external advisory board and attended along with SLI board chair Dr. Fawn-Amber Montoya, associate dean for diversity, inclusion and external engagement at the JMU Honors College, and SLI director of development Christopher Clymer Kurtz.
SLI program directors in Harrisonburg have partnered with the Center for Civic Engagement since 2018 to innovate leadership development and community building events on and off the university campus for SLI’s high school scholars. These events include voter registration campaigns, city council candidate panels, and immigrant storytelling workshops.