Mohawk Industries is empowering future Latin American leaders and advocates for the Latin American community in Northwest Georgia through The Dalton/Whitfield Latino Leadership Institute.

Founded in 1972 to serve Atlanta’s emerging Latino population, the Latin American Association (LAA) has grown to become the region’s leading agency representing Latino issues. LAA opened the Dalton Outreach Center in 2019 to improve access to critically needed services and resources for the rapidly-growing Latino community in northwest Georgia.

The expansion into Dalton was made possible thanks to the partnership and commitment of Mohawk Industries. Four years later, the LAA is celebrating the launch of the Dalton/Whitfield Latino Leadership Institute.

“One of the biggest needs in our community right now is leadership, and in particular, Latino leadership," said Dalton Mayor David Pennington.

According to the 2022 Census data, Dalton’s population is 52.5% Hispanic or Latino, yet there is no representation at the state government level or local governments like the city council or county commissioner level, according to LAA. 

This is why the Dalton/Whitfield Latino Leadership Institute, in partnership with the UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, was established. The Fanning Institute was founded in 1982, the Institute is named for UGA’s first Vice President for Services Dr. J.W. Fanning. His legacy of leadership development is embodied in the Institute’s dedication to developing leaders of all ages, in every community, from all walks of life.

“Communities that invest in leadership are more vibrant and more prosperous as a result," said Associate Director of the J.W. Fanning Institute at UGA Maritza Soto, who led most of the sessions. 

The Dalton/Whitfield Latino Leadership Institute is funded by Mohawk Industries, with programming built and delivered by the University of Georgia through the support and insight of the Latin American Association.

At the graduation event on June 9, 2023, held at the Junior Achievement Discovery Center of Dalton, the 23 participants were recognized for their completion of the program and their commitment to the process and to the betterment of the Northwest Georgia community. The participants were selected based on their passion for and commitment to their communities. They participated in a series of sessions designed to enhance their leadership capabilities, community knowledge, influence and strategic skillsets.

“All of you here today, completing this program, are the next leaders, influencers and motivators in our community to drive engagement on important topics and efforts to positively impact the communities in which we all live and work," said Mohawk Commercial HR Director Jaime Colon in his comments to the group.

The 2023 Dalton/Whitfield Latino Leadership Institute graduates are Adan Amaro, Norma Barragan, Leticia Casas, Ricardo Castro, Sara Caycho, Maria V. Estrada, Juan Manuel Ferreira Zamora, Luis Flores-Vega, Celina Gomez, Rafael Guzman, Nashely Hernandez, Luis Herrera, Kristhel Marcia, Michelle Martinez, Erika Moreno, Lisleni Pace, Britthany Ponce, Luis Prieto, Kiko Rodriguez, Nubia Ruiz, Sergio Santos, Maria Vazquez and Daniel Villalobos.

Plans for 2024 are currently underway, and application opportunities will be announced in the fall.

Learn more about the LAA here