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    AGUILAS Launches a Leadership Training Program

    By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.–

    AGUILAS launched its pilot of a workshop series of leadership capacity trainings for Latinx LGBTIs in San Francisco entitled La Academia AGUILAS on Monday, November 8, 2021. Funding for this leadership training program was previously provided by Levi Strauss Foundation for a two-year period in 2011 and 2012. The ViiV Healthcare Foundation funded AGUILAS to relaunch its leadership training program through their grant initiative entitled “Positive Action for Latinx Men: An initiative for gay, bisexual and trans men.”

    ViiV Healthcare Foundation executed a needs assessment throughout the U.S. to identify how to develop resources to impact and reduce HIV/AIDS transmission in the Latinx LGBTI+ communities. In their report released in June of 2020 and entitled Here As I Am: A listening initiative with Latinx gay and bisexual men affected by HIV, they discovered that the greatest need identified was that of developing leadership capacities in communities throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This report is available on the internet and mentions that “Latinx community leaders and advocates are sounding the alarm, calling for more community-led solutions that prioritize the specific needs and concerns of Latinx men.” On October 13, 2020, ViiV Healthcare Foundation released a request for proposals to address the leadership development needs for local communities to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis faced among Latinx gay, bisexual, and trans men.

    AGUILAS is the only agency in San Francisco County to secure funding for a three-year period. AGUILAS received funding during the month of May 2021 for this leadership training program. La Academia AGUILAS offers a certificate program that contains two Levels of leadership development training: basic (Level I) and advanced (Level II). Each Level has four components that offer training in the form of four three-hour workshops. The topics covered in each of the four workshops are: 1) personal and corporate knowledge of finances – basic and advanced, 2) effective strategies for advocacy – basic and advanced, 3) legal and civil rights for Latinx LGBTI+ entitled Legal Awareness for Latinx, and 4) communicating effectively with the mass media via television, radio, and print press entitled Efficient Communication Tools.

    The certificate program was developed initially in 2011 through a collaboration with GLAAD, AGUILAS, Alliant International University, and the Rockway Institute of Alliant. A team representing the collaborative developed and identified the competencies for the certificate Levels and the training program sequence for obtaining the skill sets reflected in the competencies. The re-engagement of this training effort funded by ViiV Healthcare Foundation granted to AGUILAS will provide certificates to persons who completed the Level I curriculum or who attended one or more of the specific workshops offered by La Academia AGUILAS.

    The certificate training program provides legitimacy to being a specialist and working in Spanish and English as a leader and advocate. La Academia AGUILAS provides training sessions to develop a skill set that can augment a person’s career as well as to motivate participants to complete other types of educational programs and encourage them to graduate with degrees and increase the much-needed workforce pipeline. The dates for the initial pilot trainings were:

    Monday, November 8 – Basic Financial knowledge
    Wednesday, November 10 – Effective strategies for Advocacy
    Monday, November 15 – Legal awareness for Latinx
    Wednesday, November 17 – Efficient Communication Tools

    At AGUILAS’ Thanksgiving social event at the SF LGBT Center on Thursday November 18, 2021, from 6 pm to 8 pm, participants of this training program will receive either a certificate for attending the specific workshops, or a certificate for completing Level I of the training series. The certificates verify participants completion of the trainings provided.

    This initial pilot effort will help inform AGUILAS staff to further develop the curriculum with the intention of continuing offering the trainings in Spanish and English. In addition, La Academia AGUILAS plans to have the trainings offered in Portuguese for the very large numbers of Portuguese speaking LGBTI+ persons living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    A similar process of curriculum development process will be done for the advanced Level. More information and required registration for the upcoming trainings are available on AGUILAS’ Facebook page and AGUILAS’ website at

    In terms of future workshops, all will be in person and will require participants to register. Since each of the four areas trainings are three-hours in duration, food and drinks will be provided. COVID-19 vaccinations are required and, as of this writing, the recommended social distancing and use of masks are also required. Pictures of the first pilot trainings are available on the AGUILAS El Ambiente Facebook page as well as more information about La Academia AGUILAS.

    Eduardo Morales, PhD, is a founder of AGUILAS, where he serves as Executive Director. He is also a retired Distinguished Professor at Alliant International University and is the 2021 President of the National Latinx Psychological Association.

    Published on November 18, 2021