Saturday September 5, 2009

Salsa, Soul and Spirit

Workplace sage Juana Bordas kicks off the Diversity Lecture Series Sept. 16 with a free motivational talk that's expected to touch the soul. It's part of Hispanic Heritage Month activities on campus.

Juana Bordas, inspirational speaker and author of Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age, kicks off the University of Dayton's 2009-2010 Diversity Lecture Series at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in the Kennedy Union Ballroom on campus.

Her talk is free and open to the public.  It's presented in partnership with the University of Dayton's office of multicultural affairs, which has planned a monthlong slate of events — from salsa dance lessons to intensive Spanish classes — for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Bordas is president of the Denver-based Mestiza Leadership International, a company that helps organizations and businesses manage cultural differences in the workforce, and vice president of the board of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.  She has worked for a number of Fortune 500 companies and assisted government agencies, airports and nonprofits enhance their leadership capacity and potential of their growing diverse workforces.

"She's a motivational speaker who will ask the audience to look into themselves and see what they can bring to the table. What are your gifts?" said Jessica Gonzalez, assistant director of the office of multicultural affairs at the University of Dayton. "Her message is regardless of cultural differences and ethnicity, you have leadership skills. Your ethnicity and spirituality influence your leadership style."

In Salsa, Soul and Spirit, Bordas shows how incorporating eight practices from Latino, African-American and American Indian approaches to leadership can strengthen the workplace. The book won the 2008 Latino International Leadership Award.

Bordas grew up in Tampa, Fla., after leaving Nicaragua "on a banana boat" when she was 3.  While a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile in the 1960s, she reconnected with her Latina roots. "It was like a flower being given water," she told the Denver Post after being named the 2009 Unique Woman of Colorado. "I'd never seen a person from my own culture in a position of authority."

During a two-day campus visit Sept. 15-16, she will meet with faculty, staff and student leaders and talk to classes about multicultural leadership techniques.

The University of Dayton's Diversity Lecture Series is part of a larger strategic plan to increase inclusion and diversity on campus and prepare students, faculty, staff and the Dayton community for success in a global society.  Past speakers have included Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, Spike Lee, Kirk Franklin, Clarence Page, Nikki Giovanni, Soledad O'Brien, Azar Nafisi and Johnnetta B. Cole.

The University's commitment to diversity is founded in its Catholic heritage of social justice and the Marianist tradition of equality and inclusion of people from all segments of society.

The Diversity Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the offices of the president and provost, with the generous support of such community partners as The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ); Dayton Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; United Way of the Greater Dayton Area; YWCA Dayton; Victoria Theatre Association; Markey's Audio Visual; Ross Buick-GMC-Hummer; RTA; Cannell Graphics; University of Dayton's Media Production Group; Dayton Daily News; WDTN-TV; WDAO-1210 AM; and 92.1 WROU.

Jessica Gonzalez, assistant director of the office of multicultural affairs, at 937-229-3689.