Latinos in the Deep South, a program by the Latino Commission on AIDS

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About the Dennis de Leon Sustainable Leadership Institute

Named after Dennis de Leon, former president of the Commission and a tireless advocate on behalf of Latinos, people of color, LGBT and other marginalized populations, The Dennis de Leon Sustainable Leadership Institute is a space for emerging community leaders to enhance and develop leadership skills in order to impact HIV/AIDS local, state and federal health policy affecting Latinos in the Deep South. 

The institute is a platform to promote participatory and honest dialogue about how to address the pressing social and structural issues affecting Latinos in the Deep South. 

In its fifth year, this institute aims to become an ongoing initiative in the Deep South, happening yearly with a different set of emerging leaders each year. The 2017 Dennis de Leon Sustainable Leadership Institute will take place:


And will focus on emerging Latino leaders in the Deep South states: Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. Participants receive ongoing and personalized coaching and tutoring on leadership, advocacy and policy analysis by the Latino Commission on AIDS staff throughout the three (3) month period institute.


Schedule & Important Dates:

Applications Open: April 24, 2017

Applications Due: May 16, 2017

Acceptance Announcements: May 30, 2017

Institute dates: 

June 15, 29

July 13, 27

August 10, 24

September 7, 21*

*Final presentation date


To learn about eligibility requirement click here and to apply click here.  


Goals of the Institute & Curriculum


•    Engage local emerging leaders in the Deep South who are advocates for the Latino community, and assist them in a leadership growth process.

•    Assist local emerging leaders in discussing and understanding the LUKA Principles (Leadership, Unity, Knowledge and Action) as a method of engaging target communities.

•    Engage participants in understanding what community mobilization is and how this strategy can assist them in planning successful community organizing efforts for effecting local health policy.

•    Assist emerging leaders in examining how health policies for Latinos in their respective regions are being impacted by the following issues: a) health disparities and lack of access to HIV/AIDS services, b) anti-immigration laws c) fighting discrimination and systematic racism d) HIV criminalization laws

•    Assist emerging leaders in identifying local resources and key players for coalition building, in order to collaboratively impact current local health policies that are detrimental to Latinos in the Deep South.

•    Enhance emerging leaders’ current abilities to identify local cross-strategy policy areas, create policy-oriented community organizing goals, and develop action steps to proactively address their projected local actions.  

•    Provide technical support for emerging leaders in the carrying out of their anti-immigration, repeal of HIV criminalization, fight systematic racism and health policy advocacy actions through active coaching, tutoring and linking with other local advocates and civic organizations.

Ultimately, the leadership institute serves as an instrument to bring the local voice to national platforms regarding the local pressing social issues and health policies impacting Latinos in the Deep South.



This institute takes place over a 3-month period and employs a leadership development curriculum implemented through face-to-face and distance learning mechanisms. A comprehensive 3-module curriculum will be implemented covering the following topics:

•    Grassroots advocacy

•    Engaging in Black-Brown collaborative grassroots partnerships

•    Using traditional media for social change

•    Social media messaging and advocacy

•    Development of advocacy campaigns


These five modules will be implemented throughout the course of 3 months via bi-weekly webinars. Each webinar involves an informational session blending discussion and didactic styles. Institute participants will be part of various activities during and after webinars, for example but not limited to: group assignments to analyze local health policy-oriented issues, teach backs to process webinars discussions such as leadership styles, or the internal and external factors impacting leadership efforts in the South (Locus of Control), small town halls to discuss collaboration efforts among communities of color and non-traditional partners such as faith based communities, coaching calls to enhance the planning stage of local actions for impacting health issues affecting Latinos in the Deep South. 

During the institute series, participants will be tasked with developing policy-oriented goals and action steps that will be conducted in their communities during the last months of the institute. Coaching and tutoring will be available for participants throughout the institute (but not limited to) including staff of the Latino Commission on AIDS and members of the Latinos in the Deep South Leadership Council.