Leadership Development for Latino Community Emancipation: An Integrative Approach in Social Work Education


  • Antonia Elizabeth Cordero University of Connecticut School of Social Work
  • Lirio K. Negroni University of Connecticut School of Social Work




Latinos/as, leadership development, community emancipation, social work education


A primary goal of the social work profession is social justice advocacy for disenfranchised and oppressed communities, such as the Latino community. In the context of this paper, leadership development for community emancipation relate to efforts that foster indigenous community leadership designed to procure political rights or equality for their disenfranchised or devalued populations. The paper reviews the literature on Latino/a leadership perspectives, leadership development trends, and best practices that serve as a compatible integrative Latino/a approach. The approach proposes that the process of Latino/a leadership development should be collective, culturally-attuned, transformative, and community emancipatory. The authors present a model for students, alumni, and faculty that incorporates the approach through the use of three components: (1) Sustained institutional commitment, support and resources; (2) Creation of leadership opportunities, mentoring and modeling; and (3) Leadership efforts that foster community emancipation. The approach has been successfully employed for over 30 years in a Latino Project at a New England school of social work. Discussion of the model’s components, a case scenario, considerations for replication of the approach, and future research will be offered.