Staff profiles: Juan Flores
In 1994, when an MSU undergraduate student named María Zavala decided to organize a conference dedicated to Latina women, no one could have known that nearly two decades later, it would draw in hundreds of people from across the region every year and stand as the only conference of its kind in the Midwest.
More than 700 people attended last year’s Día de la Mujer Conference, or "Day of the Women" Conference.
"It evolved from a couple-workshop, half-a-day conference to a full-blown professional conference where people from across the state and the Midwest attend, as well as a lot of different students, faculty and staff and community members from Lansing," said Juan Flores, coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions who organizes the DDLM Conference.
The conference is planned by OCAT and Culturas de las Razas Unidas, the Latino student organization. Zavala was a member of CRU when she founded the conference.
This year's conference is the 19th annual, and will be held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 17. The conference includes a keynote speaker, guest speakers and a number of workshops for conference participants to attend.
"We have 33 different workshops scheduled in three different workshop sessions," Flores said. "They're going to be in the areas of politics, self-empowerment, culture, history, education and health."
For the second time, this year’s conference will also feature a Latina summit. Last year, a group of women from Hispanic Women in the Network came together to identify problems that affect Latina women — and solutions to those problems — and generated a report that is now available to the state of Michigan to anyone who requests it.
"This conference has many goals," Flores said. "One of them is to provide MSU students with an opportunity to come and learn about the Latina community, a different culture than perhaps their own. We also encourage men to attend, and it is heavily-represented by men."
A number of high school students attend the conference as well.
"These high school students who come from throughout the state, they're able to experience a formal conference in a professional setting," Flores said. "A lot of times in the Latino community, that's something that we don’t really get to experience. So the conference is providing students and different people from across the state of Michigan a great experience that’s going to definitely enhance their perspective and the way they view the world."
The 2012 DDLM Planning Committee is currently seeking volunteers to help the day of the conference, as well as donated items to give away as prizes to encourage participants to fill out the evaluations. Interested donors are asked to contact Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General admission to the DDLM Conference is $20. The conference is free to MSU students and $10 for other non-MSU students. Pre-registration closes March 9, but those who miss the deadline may also register on-site. Lunch is provided to all participants.
For more information, go to the DDLM Conference website.