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Release:April 22, 2002

UI conference focuses on Latino communities in Iowa

The University of Iowa, along with a number of local and state organizations, is hosting the fourth annual "Strengthening and Valuing Latino/a Communities in Iowa" conference Saturday, April 27 from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union.

Organizers say the conference is an opportunity to explore the changing demographics and dynamics of the Latina/o community in Iowa and the responsiveness of policy makers, business leaders and community-based organizations, to the fastest growing population in Iowa.

According to the 2000 census, Iowa's Latino/a population has grown 153 percent in the last decade. However, this new population is still untapped and under-served, says John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas, one of the conference organizers from the UI School of Social Work.

"The conference will emphasize culture as a strength that can be used to improve services to the Latino/a community," he said. "It will also provide networking opportunities for Latino and Latina leaders who live and work in Iowa."

The conference includes keynote addresses from Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the first Latino to lead the organization, and Lorraine Gutierrez, a social work and psychology professor at the University of Michigan.

In addition, conference participants can chose from among more than 20 workshops (many in Spanish) on topics such as economic development, racial profiling, accessing legislators, civil rights, Latino/a identity development, culturally and language appropriate assessment and services, immigration, reaching Latino/a communities, gender issues and education. The conference also includes a Youth Development Track designed for high school students with special artists and workshops targeted towards youth.

Gutierrez's keynote lecture, "Empowering Latino Families and Communities," at 3:45 p.m. April 27 is free and open to the public, but all other conference events require registration. For more information, contact Kate Kemp at the UI School of Social Work, (319) 335-1254 or

UI sponsors of this event include the School of Social Work and its National Resource Center on Family Centered Practice, the Center for Disabilities and Development, the College of Education Diversity Committee, the Institute for the Support of Latino Families and Communities, the Office of Admissions, Opportunity at Iowa, the Museum of Art, and the UI Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Staff and Faculty Association. Other sponsors include the State of Iowa Commission on Latino Affairs, the City of Iowa City, the Diocese of Davenport, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, the Iowa City Press Citizen,, and Coralville Convention & Visitors Bureau.