L.A. groundbreakers: a group of young Latinos gathered for a memorable night of brainstorming and discussion during Club Leaders of the Future.

Author:Arredondo, Cesar
Position:EVENTS: CREATING LEADERS OF THE FUTURE L.A.
 
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Fabiola Ceja-Cervantes works with youths in underserved communities.

Felipe Gonzalez leads a key global BMW unit in the West Coast. Saray Deiseil just directed a film about DREAMERs And Rick Ronquillo teaches a body language to succeed in business.

From seemingly different paths and interests, they represent the hard-working, professional Latinos of today who have a great potential to lead the world tomorrow. Ceja-Cervantes, Gonzalez, Deiseil and Ronquillo are among 19 individuais from Southern California whose qualities, personal success, aspirations, ambition and promise earned them a membership at Club Leaders of the Future 2015.

A project of Latino Leaders magazine whose motto is "Connecting leaders. Inspiring the future," CLF brings together its new inductees every year in different American cities. This summer, CLF 2015 gathered to network and talk about challenges facing the Latino community at a posh nightclub Beverly Hills 424, an exchange dubbed as a "candid discussion" by Yol-Itzma Aguirre, director of Communications and special events for Latino Leaders.

And candid it was. Not surprisingly in an ever-increasingly controversial pre-presidential election season, the first topic of discussion was immigration, or better said, Donald Trump's statements about Mexican undocumented immigrants bringing drugs and crime into the U.S.

"They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people," Trump said early in the summer Agustin Cervantes poked fun at the wealthy Republican presidential aspirant and (former) celebrity of so-called reality TV.

"He's as comical as his hair," said the director of Student Services for the Charter College of Education of Cal State Los Angeles. But he also sharply criticized community leaders for not responding to Trump in what he considered soon enough.

"We don't have the spine to do it right away," he said at the launch of her presidential campaign.

For his part, Marquez, the executive of BMW, said Latinos can respond to Trump and other politicians at the ballot box.

"Voting makes a difference," he said. After the meeting he added, "It's very hard for any candidate to win the White House without the Latino vote."

Elections experts claim that no Republican candidate can win the presidency with less than 40 percent of the Latino suffrage.

Personal privilege was another important topic at the gathering.

Successful Latinos must not forget where they come from, said Norma Vega, director of government and community relations for the American Red Cross, Los Angeles Region. The children of Hispanic families have succeeded thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of their parents, many of them immigrants, she stated.

"We have to acknowledge our own privilege" and help those who have less, Vega said. "We have to remind people how powerful they really are" to achieve their dreams and affect change. She turned to her Leaders of the Future colleagues to effusively tell them, "You guys are amazing people."

The lack of enough Latino talent and the usually negative portrayal of Latinos in the media, particularly in film and TV, was also a great concern. Filmmaker Dieseil found that "disturbing." Her solution: make you own movies.

After working in the production team of successful TV series like "Castle," Deiseil put on the director's hat to make her first feature film. "American DREAMers," about a group of undocumented youth trekking 3,000 miles from San Francisco to Washington, DC, screened at the LA Film Festival this summer. "We have to tell our own stories," she said.

Producer Jorge Garcia Castro echoed Deiseu's sentiment.

"We have to get rid of stereotypes," says the department head of films and TV at Altered.la, a production company. Pushing Latino projects with universal appeal, Garcia Castro believes that "we can become more mainstream."

Some Latino businesspeople are also opening businesses to respond to the need of their communities and others'. Liliana Aide Monge founded www.Sabio.LA for Latinos to "learn to code and change the world."

With Latinos...

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