Reference no: EM131372178
Whose Hispanic Center Is It?
River City is a rapidly growing city in the Midwest with a population of 200,000 people, growing at about 5% annually. It is a diverse community with a racial composition that is 65% white, 20% African American, 13% Hispanic, and 2% Native American. The Hispanic population in River City is one of the fastest growing of all segments, growing at about 10% annually. The Hispanic community is represented by the Hispanic Center, a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of the Hispanic community and broader River City community through a variety of programs and services. A board of directors and an executive director manage the Hispanic Center. Two newly appointed board members have led a transformation of the center, including renovating the physical facilities and shifting the focus of program services. The new members are Mary Davis, who has experience in neighborhood development, and José Reyna, who has experience in city government. The board of directors is made up of 15 people, 10 of whom identify themselves as Hispanic and 5 of whom identify themselves as non-Hispanic. The Hispanic Center owned an old building that was slated for renovation so the center could have more space for offices and community programs (e.g., educational programming, cultural competence and leadership training, and legal services). The need for the building was validated by what people expressed at a series of community forums. The building was an old fire station that had been mothballed for 15 years, and the Hispanic Center bought the building from River City for $ 1. Although the fire station needed a lot of renovation, it was located in a perfect place, at the center of the Hispanic community. However, a complete renovation of the building was needed. To raise funds for the renovation, the board of directors initiated a citywide capital campaign. The goal of the campaign was to raise $ 1.4 million, the estimated amount for a complete, first-class renovation of the building. Along with their regular jobs, Mary and José tackled the fund-raising campaign with a full head of steam. In just 6 months, using their wide array of skills, they successfully raised $ 1.3 million for the project (most of which came from private foundations and corporations). With just $ 100,000 still to be raised, the leaders and some board members were getting excited about the possibility of the new community center. This excitement was heightened because the renovated building was going to be constructed using the latest green building techniques. These techniques were environmentally sound and incorporated healthful and highly efficient models of construction. In order to raise the final $ 100,000, Mary and José proposed a new series of fund-raising to the Hispanic community, believing that Hispanic people tended to give to their churches rather than to public not-for-profit organizations. Others questioned the price of the tickets to fund-raising events that was being sought from small donors, $ 75. These members argued for a smaller admission fee (e.g., $ 20) that would allow more members of the community to attend. As the discussion proceeded, other board members expressed discontent with the fancy plans for the new green building. They argued that the renovation was becoming a special interest project and a pet project of a few ambitious visionaries. Board members also started to question the transformation of the Hispanic Center under Mary and José’s leadership. Board members expressed frustrations about the new goals of the center and about how things were proceeding. There was a sense that the request for community-based support was unreasonable and in conflict with cultural norms. In the past, the center moved slowly toward change, keeping the focus on one goal: to provide emergency services to the local community. When change came in the past, it was incremental. People were not aggressive, and they did not make trouble. Under the leadership of Mary and José, there was a perception that the new center and programs were too grand and refined for the community they were intended to serve. The vision for the new center seemed to take things to a new sophisticated level that was not grounded in the common work or the people-oriented values of the center.
1- How would you describe the strengths and weaknesses of Mary’s and José’s leadership on this project?
2- Do you see any problem in targeting part of the fund-raising campaign directly toward the Hispanic community?
3- The Latin America leadership profile stresses the importance of team-oriented leadership and deemphasizes individualistic leadership. How does the leadership of Mary and José compare with the Latin America profile?
4- How do Hispanic cultural dimensions help explain the resistance some people felt and expressed toward the renovation project?
5- If you were Mary or José, how would you temper your excitement about renovating the new fire station?