We embrace and affirm our diverse cultures and identities.
Courageous leadership and action rooted in community.
We support bringing our whole selves unapologetically in all spaces.
We believe in promoting Latina leadership for systemic change.
We work to eliminate bias and the marginalization of vulnerable communities.
In the spring of 2014 four women, Rebeca Velazquez-Publes, Stacy Stout, Allison Lugo Knapp and Milinda Ysasi, came together at a Latinx-owned coffee shop to share their unique yet familiar experiences as women of color living and working in the Grand Rapids areas. Over the spring and summer, the four met frequently, built trust and became a circle of support for each other. It was in those conversations that the seed was planted to convene a larger group of Latinas to experience a circle of support and to explore what they might need to be successful in work and life. In September 2014, the four women hosted about 40 local Latinas in a dynamic conversation and design activity to identify their needs as Latina professionals, their definition of what being a Latina leader includes and means to them, and to inquire what type of support they need.
Their answers to these inquiries became the foundation for future Network program offerings. There was not any prescribed vision for what would later become the Latina Network of West Michigan, but rather the founders simply described the possibility as an organic collective of Latina support based in building deeper and stronger relationships. The founders only knew they wanted to be true to the values of focusing on the greater group needs/wants, honor the diverse Latina experience, create a space specifically for Latinas, and advance racial equity. The founders hope that through the Network, Latinas in West Michigan continue to feel the power they have stepped into, that they are valued, and they are vital to the success of our community.
The Colibrí is a symbol of empowerment, strength, adaptation, and resilience. These words are synonymous with the words that describe the women of the Latina Network.
The Latina Network of West Michigan colibrí has four main lines, with four main elements reflecting its four founders. Each element of the Colibrí carries a unique purpose.
The vision needed to see the big picture.
Beak & Belly
The consistent guts and keen sense to construct a foundation.
Head & Back
The brains and backbone needed to build.
To take all actions into flight.