Casa de Esperanza’s Institute Brings Attention to Issues Impacting Latina Communities

Over 140 participants, including advocates, survivors, researchers and practitioners, representing 23 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and a delegation from Mexico convened at the 2012 National Latin@ Institute, held June 18-20, 2012, in Austin, TX. 

“My heart and soul are singing today,” said Patti Tototzintle, Casa de Esperanza’s CEO, in her welcome remarks at this event.

Photographs of Latina people around the words National Latina NetworkThe institute, whose theme was Somos Una, Somos Muchas, drew attention to the uniqueness and diversity that characterize Latina communities and provided a forum for expertise sharing and critical conversations.

“Listening to the other panelists reminded me of the central role that meetings like this have played in my life,” said Dr. Etiony Aldarondo, executive director of the Council on Contemporary Families, who sat on the Latin@ Diversity Panel. 

Topics addressed through panels, workshops and small groups included social media and communication strategies, safety planning and advocacy for immigrant survivors, men’s and boys’ engagement to end violence against women, abuse within the LGBTQQ community, among several other traditional and emerging topics impacting Latina communities. Over 40 speakers from a variety of fields, including staff from Casa de Esperanza, spoke about their work in the U.S. and/or abroad to enhance advocacy, safety options and services for abuse survivors.

The event also provided participants with opportunities for networking and dialogue, including an optional Networking Reception sponsored by Verizon. FYSB's Family Violence Prevention & Services Program sponsored a panel on the Promotoras model, an approach for working directly with communities from within. Shawndell Dawson, a FVPSA Program Specialist, attended the event to express FYSB's commitment to highlighting the extraordinary work being done by Latina Promotoras in different settings across the country.

Throughout the event, staff quoted the late Lupe Serrano, Casa de Esperanza’s founder, to remind participants of the organization’s strengths-based approach and guiding principle of shaping domestic violence responses by the lived realities of Latinas. “When you start with problems, you get programs. When you start with strengths, you get opportunities.” Led by experienced advocates, this MN-based organization engages in training, technical assistance, resource development, research and policy efforts.

Casa de Esperanza is a member organization of the Domestic Violence Resource Network (DVRN), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to inform and strengthen domestic violence intervention and prevention efforts on a national level. The organization is currently developing a new website to be released this coming August. More information can be found at www.casadeesperanza.org.