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New Statewide Latino Alliance To Form Outside Of Government

Hannah Busing
The Iowa Latino Alliance will be made up of nonprofits that serve Latino populations across the state. In June, members will decide a strategic plan and main goals.

The Iowa Latino Alliance will comprise nonprofit, Latino-serving organizations throughout the state to improve the lives of Iowa's Latinos.

The director of the Office of Latino Affairs Sonia Reyes said a statewide Latino advocacy group like this has never happened before.

“It came out of the need for us to work together and to have a united effort," Reyes said. "So it's really exciting. For the first time we're all working together and we're going to start going through a strategic planning process so the Alliance can come up with what their goals are going to be and what it is that they're going to focus on."

The Alliance is different from the Commission of Latino Affairs, which is through the Iowa Department of Human Rights. The new group will not need approval from the governor to add members, unlike the Commission.

Caleb Knutson, the chair of the Commission of Latino Affairs, emphasized the difference between the two groups. He said the commission is at a "stalemate" because Gov. Kim Reynolds has not yet appointed anyone to the two vacancies in the Commission. According to Iowa Code, these vacancies must be filled by Reynolds.

Since the Alliance can move forward without the governor's say in its members, Knutson said the Iowa Latino Alliance will likely be able to move forward more quickly in their endeavors.

“It boils down to representation again. And I think that that’s the drum that I will continue to beat day in and day out is representation," Knutson said.

He added there are "hoops to jump through," whereas the Iowa Latino Alliance "can get people regardless of if they're in one political party or another."

The Alliance started out as an idea that stemmed from the creation of la Línea de Ayuda, the Spanish helpline. Reyes said the helpline volunteers didn’t want to stop their work, so they decided to create a formal entity. She said the group will begin their work officially sometime in June.

Both Reyes and Knutson expressed gratitude for the volunteers willing to take on the extra duties that come with being a member of the new Alliance. The new group will receive funding through grants.