Latino Leadership Academy

Latino Leadership Academy Fellows of Class of 2017.
This video is about the Latino Leadership Academy.

Director’s Message

Dr. Néstor Montilla

The Leadership Academy’s fellows have been blessed with a rewarding and unforgettable experience: A full year of demanding leadership training. I am pleased they stayed the course and endured until the end. Today, Saturday, May 20, 2017, they graduate as excellent holistic leaders, determined to continue advocating for the common good of the people. Join me, please, in congratulating them: The Class of 2017! 

Most fellows were on time, never missed a class, completed their assignments, and strictly complied with rigorous academy requirements. They came from different walks of life and levels of education and represented various professions, ideologies, and religious beliefs. Despite their differences, they realized having one thing in common: a keen commitment to advocacy for socio-economic and political advancement.

This seminar included in-depth discussions on principles that affect and permeate all areas of society and leadership in public service. Of the several forums and topics discussed, they paid close attention to the seminar on government and politics. Given the significance of this seminar and its impact on the Class of 2017, I thought it essential to take advantage of this opportunity to say that fellows realized and re-confirmed that politics influences everything: Where and how we live; the quality of the food we eat; our health; lifestyle; what medicine we consume; what we believe; what kind of education we get; and how we are treated based on our ascribed and achieved status in society. Politics influences our opinions about happenings, our very own behavior, choices, aspirations, and how we pursue happiness. 

Sadly, in addition to influencing everything, politics has become an unfortunate dirty word per se. Moreover, we all MUST play politics unless we decide to be inconsequential and forced into preposterous oblivion. Politics is no longer the noble, idealistic, quintessential universal process used to govern the people, regulate state affairs, redistribute resources, or achieve greater social equality. Instead, the practice of politics as a process seems rigged to the advantage of career politicians, the elitists, and the two private organizations known as the Republican and Democratic parties. These organizations have become arrogantly overbearing toward the people as both have become de facto government gatekeepers. They appear to be vindictive hurtful mafias posing as bona fide institutions advocating for the common good. Some think of them as well-funded and oiled mechanisms power elites use to preserve the status quo and determine who gets elected to public office.

We, the people, should realize that the purpose of these entities has perennially been the seizing of power to oppress, undermine civil rights, human rights, and our constitutional rights. They aim to validate and advance the interests of the elitists. Thank God that those who invest in cajoling to perpetuate the status quo and the monopolization of policy formulation and implementation have not been able to corrupt the administration of justice in the USA. 

These contradictions and imperfections afflict our country and seem un-American. I argue that partisan political membership and ideology seem irrelevant. What matters is to learn how to play the game of politics as practiced today. It is used to influence decision-making and successfully advocate for our diverse communities. It is time to begin playing this game by capitalizing on the imperfection of our political system. It is time to play politics by treating our party affiliation like our underwear — changing them daily or when they turn unbearable. It’s perfectly legal to change party affiliation as many times as we want. Learning this is necessary to become knowledgeable voters who will not be taken for granted any longer. I am glad that Leadership Academy fellows did learn this and will talk about it for years to come.

Consider that politicians redirect taxpayers’ monies to pay for private primary elections. The two private parties have the monopoly of determining who will get vetted to run for office. In many states, only those registered in these parties can vote in Democratic and Republican primary elections. Regular citizens who wish to run independently or via a third or other minor party are excluded. Currently, independent or unaffiliated voters account for 39 percent of registered voters in the USA; Democrats are 32 percent, while Republicans are 23%. However, independent or unaffiliated candidates are only allowed to run in the general elections. They are subjected to an arbitrary political process, nitpicking, intimidation, and perennial deception practices, such as undesirable ballot placement. 

It is ok for voters to register as Democrats or Republicans before any primary election if they deem it necessary to elect a worthy candidate, regardless of party affiliation. The most crucial consideration in voting for such a candidate should be the promise to represent the people as it should be. After voting in any of these private primary elections, voters can easily change back their party affiliation. It’s legal, folks; it is, ideally, amazingly legal. Keep in mind that politicians flip flop and change their positions without much repercussion. Therefore, please don’t get fooled again with partisan loyalty; trash it! Don’t be deceived by that thing called “permanent party affiliation.” Partisan membership is exchangeable. 

Now, let us pause a minute to commend the fellows of the Latino Leadership Academy Class of 2017. Let us thank them for their graduation today and their commitment to mentor the Class of 2018. Congratulations, mi gente, for your leadership and memorable graduation — indeed, an outstanding, rewarding achievement.



Néstor Montilla, Ph.D.

Director, Latino Leadership Academy