The mission statement of the VALE Leadership conference is to provide and serve as a resource to students' awareness of diversity among Latinos/as. At the same time to encourage and foster networking and leadership skills needed to participate in today’s educational, political, cultural and socio-economic demands.
The VALE Leadership Conference is a two-day event that deals with real issues important to all communities as well as sets a new standard for excellence for NIU in terms of both local and national visibility and participation. The conferences that traditionally take place during the first weekend of April here at NIU are one of the largest Latino events ever held within the United States with usually more than 350 participants from as many as 100 different high schools, community colleges, universities, and young leadership programs from throughout the Midwest region. NIU Students of all cultural backgrounds benefit form the opportunity to hear first-hand about issues affecting many students, especially those of color.
VALE leadership conferences provide a forum for broadening the horizons of Latina/o youth’s future leadership styles. Providing opportunities for educating and developing various aspects of their intellect, social skills, and soul is critical for the intellectual, social, and moral endeavors that our leaders will face in the century to come.
At VALE leadership conferences, many of today’s Latina/o leaders, as well as future ones can be found. In the past, the conferences have featured a most distinguished lineup of speakers. Famous Latinas/os have presented keynote addresses such as Elvia Alvarado (human rights activists from Honduras), Daniel Nane Alejandrez (veteran activist from California), Maria Hinojosa (host of Latino USA), Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (human rights activist group based in Argentina), Regina Montoya (political advisor from Washington, D.C.), Gregory Nava (director and screenwriter), Edward James Olmos (producer and actor), and Roberto Rebelloso (educator from Mexico).
Cultural Night is one of the highlights of the conference, in the past we've featured dance troupes, Aztec dancers, Latino poetry reading, Latino music, and a Latino improvisational theatrical group. This year the cultural night will be featuring the Ms. Latina NIU beauty pageant. The conference also features several workshops confronting issues important to the Latina/o community including welfare reform, the lack of Latina/o representation in higher education, crime, violence, and health care.