In an effort to support and advocate for more inclusive processes for Latinx faculty and staff at the University of Maryland (UMD), the Latinx Employee Association (LEA) launched this fall. The group’s short-term objectives include working with university officials to make employee communication and services available in Spanish, create policies in more culturally sensitive ways and build awareness about the unique obstacles – such as language barriers and work hours – facing many Latinx employees.

“Whenever there is the implementation of a policy at UMD that has the potential to impact the members of our community, we will have a seat at the table,” family science Professor Mariana Falconier told Maryland Today. “We can be that bridge.”

The LEA will also focus on nurturing and mentoring first-generation students at UMD, while also providing opportunities like scholarships and financial assistance. “For students who are first-generation college students, there is a real struggle to balance keeping their employment and also finding time to study,” Falconier said. “Supporting them is critical to their success, but we want to be able to show them successful faculty and staff who look like them, who have similar backgrounds. It’s an important model.”

Read more about the organization here.