Baltazar De Anda-Santana is joining United Way as Director of Community and Volunteer Engagement. For the past five years, he has headed up the Latino Academy of Workforce Development (LAWD), a culturally competent, bilingual adult education, training and employment program for Madison-area Latinos.

Baltazar De Anda-Santana, longtime director at the Latino Academy of Workforce Development and a Madison-area Latino community leader, has announced today that he is moving on in search of new career opportunities.

His last day of employment will be June 30.

“I am grateful to the Vera Court Neighborhood Center for the opportunity I was given to be part of the creation of the Latino Academy,” De Anda-Santana said in a statement. “I have seen the Latino Academy grow and I have faith it will continue growing. It has been five years since the creation of the Latino Academy and it is time now to let it go. It is time to let my baby go.

“The Latino Academy has a very special place in my heart,” he added. “I am always humbled by how dedicated our students are. Our students have demonstrated that obstacles are not important when you work hard. Since we founded the Latino Academy, our main purpose has been to be of service to our students. And this legacy of service will continue.”

De Anda-Santana heads up the Latino Academy of Workforce Development (LAWD), a culturally competent, bilingual adult education, training and employment program whose primary goal is to create a safe, culturally competent space that empowers Latino adults to succeed and integrate into the economic and educational systems of Dane County.

“The Latino Academy was created five years ago as a response to the need of culturally and linguistically competent programming in Dane County. When the Latino Academy was created, we had a couple of Spanish computer classes and one or two trainings,” De Anda-Santana said. “Currently, the Latino Academy offers 35 classes and training opportunities. The Latino Academy’s budget has grown from $10,000 to almost $450,000. In addition, the Latino Academy has established itself as a leader in education, employment and training in Dane County.”

The Latino Academy’s unique ‘education through community’ approach works closely with students, responds to the community’s education and employment needs quickly, and creates pathways to improved education and employment for the Latino community. LAWD started small, originally offering language and job skills classes, but has grown to a community of over 800 learners participating in job skills training, GED and pre-GED classes, language courses, computer classes, business and employment development, and more.

The Latino Academy will begin the process of searching for a new director. De Anda-Santana will hold the position of the director of the Latino Academy until his last day of employment.

“I want to thank all of the students, volunteers, staff, partners, collaborators, funders and the Vera Court Neighborhood Center,” said De Anda-Santana. “Thank you for all the support you have given me during these five years. Thank you for trusting me with the direction of the Latino Academy. Thank you for believing in this great program. Thank you for believing in our students which are the heart and soul of the Latino Academy.”