For almost a decade, Centro Hispano of Dane County has hosted its “Annual Strategic Update,” an invitation-only event that brings together Centro staff, board, stakeholders, and community partners for an intimate conversation and high-level update about everything going on with Centro.
This year, the event will take place Thursday, May 20, 9-10 a.m., and will be virtual and open to the public.
“We are so excited to reconnect with those who have stood with us over the last 10 years and those who have known Centro since its inception in 1983. I am proud of how far our organization has grown,” Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller tells Madison365. “We move forward together now, understanding more than ever the importance of the Latinx community in Dane County. We also understand the importance of Centro – as a space where we can heal and nurture our dreams even during the most challenging times, and always come together … with the mutual goal of protecting and ensuring the collective well-being of Latinx youth and families in Dane County.”
The decision to open the event to the public stemmed from the fact that Centro’s staff and leadership wanted to make sure the event is inclusive and accessible to anyone who wants to be part of Centro and its future.
“We’re excited that it will be open to the public and we want to really encourage people to attend,” Nina Gehan, director of advancement for Centro Hispano, tells Madison365. “We are going to talk about the 30-plus-year history of Centro and then focus on the last year and how Centro has pivoted. People will be able to hear testimonials from staff and also members of the community.”
Every one of Centro Hispano’s board members will participate in the Centro Hispano of Dane County Annual Strategic Update, Gehan says, and there will be a “special announcement” at the event, which the board will lead the way in talking about.
The event will be focused on Centro, its story, and an update on how they have continued to grow and stay resilient during the challenges of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has been tough for us but I have to say that we’ve really been resilient and even had some new programs that we started this year,” Gehan says. “We continue to move ahead and fill the gaps. We’ve started the Avanzando program which is focused on the transition from high school to college. We shifted all programs to a virtual setting but we still have people coming to Centro in a safe environment for things like immigration services.”
During the pandemic, Centro also helped raise money, in collaboration with the Latinx Consortium for Action (LCA), to benefit the LCA Relief Fund to help people in need during the pandemic.
“We’ve sprung into action to make it possible for the LCA fund to happen where millions of dollars were raised in a short period of time for direct relief,” Gehan says. “Our programs continue to grow and as we go online, and we ended up seeing people coming to us from outside of Dane County. The negative that we turned into a positive from the pandemic is that we were able to reach a little further than we had in the past.”
The Centro Hispano signature event, the annual Tres Reyes Celebration, went virtual in 2021 and didn’t miss a beat.
“We delivered the gifts all over the county with volunteers,” Gehan says. “We delivered twice as many gifts as we did last year.
“I’ve been surprised at how resilient everybody has been, but I think we just miss seeing each other. So much about what we do is about community and about who we are as people,” she adds.
There will be interpreting available at the Annual Strategic Update this year, so the event will be in both Spanish and English. The event is open to the public and will broadcast on the Centro Facebook page. The whole community is encouraged to join to learn more about Centro and its vision for the future in Dane County.
“It’s a chance to give the community an update on what we’ve been doing but also time to share some exciting plans about what lies ahead for Centro,” Gehan says. “It’s important to have these community conversations so we can find out: What is the Centro that you want to see five years from now? What do generations of families need now and what do they need in the future?
“We are really excited to have these conversations,” she adds. “Since it is online, we are hoping that makes it easier for many people to attend and that we have a nice attendance.”
The Centro Hispano Strategic Update will be a virtual event that will take place Thursday, May 20, 9-10 a.m. Registration is required for this event. To register for Centro’s Annual Strategic Update, visit the event website page.