Wendell Bass: Equity Champion

Growing up, Wendell Bass was often told by his parents, “You’re on this earth to serve other people so find you something that you can do that will allow you to serve others.” Coming from a long line of educators, he naturally found that thing in teaching and school administration.

A lifelong learner and educator, he finds joy in seeing the light come on for children when you tell them they are brilliant. His goals of helping children understand their value, their place in the world, and their capabilities to achieve are echoed in the stories he shares with Gabriela Delgado and Lisa Bass in this wide-ranging interview. Hear his unique perspective on building family centered schools, creating an environment where students are understood and appreciated, and how we create equitable and inclusive education.

The Creative Conversations series invites experts across a variety of disciplines to share their perspectives and how they hope to see our world evolve.

Watch Building Equitable Learning Environments with Wendell Bass – Creative Conversations.

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SoCal Mexican Roots Rock and Soul Band

Grammy Award-winning group La Santa Cecilia, named for the patron saint of music, is composed of accordionist and requinto player Jose ‘Pepe’ Carlos, bassist Alex Bendaña, percussionist Miguel ‘Oso’ Ramirez, and vocalist ‘La Marisoul.’ They were raised here fully bilingual and bicultural.

They are dedicated to voicing the experience of a new bicultural generation in the United States, fully immersed in modern music, but still close to its Latin American influences and Mexican heritage.

Their music is rooted in their Mexican heritage, but also inspired by traditions of bossa nova, rumba, bolero, tango, jazz, rock, and klezmer.

They have made seven albums, and their 2013 release Treinta Días won the Grammy for Best Latin Rock Album (Alternative or Urban). They have also been nominated for two Latin Grammies, and their album El Valor was named one of the best of the year by NPR’s Alt Latino.

Watch La Santa Cecilia in Concert.

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US-Ecuador Bilateral Relations Post COVID: Build Back Better Together

Earlier this year, Guillermo Lasso won the presidency of Ecuador with the promise to revive the economy battered by COVID-19, pledging to eliminate the country’s fiscal deficit, promote job creation and expand in-bound trade and investment including in the oil sector where doubling production and reduced state ownership are key objectives.

Since his inauguration, President Lasso has set forth additional priorities, notably forging free trade agreements with both the United States and China. A recent visit by a delegation of United States senators underscored the desire for closer US-Ecuadorian trade ties.

The Institute of the Americas hosted the two-day “US-Ecuador Bilateral Relations Post COVID: Build Back Better Together” forum to help catalyze expanded private sector engagement and investment between the United States and Ecuador.

On the first day of the forum, U.S. Ambassador Michael Fitzpatrick and Ecuadorian Ambassador to the US Ivonne Baki delivered keynote addresses followed by a Q&A session.

President Lasso’s ambitious political and economic agenda is not without hurdles. With his administration having just completed its first 100 days, President Lasso faces political challenges in implementing his plans. In particular, there is opposition in the Ecuadorian Congress on a variety of issues including approval of strategic energy projects located in environmentally sensitive tropical rainforests.

Day Two of the forum included keynote addresses by senior officials from the Lasso Administration with presentations on Ecuador’s trade and economic agenda, US-Ecuador bilateral relations on energy and climate change, and the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s education system. It also included a panel discussion on COVID-19 Impacts and Ecuador’s Economic Outlook under President Lasso.

Watch US-Ecuador Bilateral Relations Post COVID: Build Back Better Together.

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When Women Have a Seat at the Table

“I have always understood women to be leaders, to be creative, to be committed, to be problem-solvers, to be diplomats and to be fierce advocates for the well-being of entire communities …. I trust that things are better when women are at the table, and quite frankly, if there are no women at your table, I’m not coming,” says feminist scholar and author Brittney Cooper.

At this year’s Women in Leadership event, the virtual table was full of extraordinary women. Seated with Cooper were astronaut and scientist Kathy Sullivan, news anchor and reporter Maria Hinojosa, and author and journalist Lynn Sherr. Sharing stories of childhood dreams, career challenges, social justice and more, the panel gave insight not just into their own journeys but what they hope for the future of women and girls everywhere. Their messages are inspiring and urge all of us to look at the world through a new lens.

Pull up a chair and watch “Women in Leadership 2021” and be part of the conversation.

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Mariachi Over the Rainbow

Mariachi is a music genre steeped in machismo, by straight men in glitzy charro suits and sombreros singing songs of love and lust about women. Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles (Rainbow Mariachi) challenges that.

The group prides itself on being the world’s first LGBTQ mariachi band. Their tight, energetic, and intricate sound has been honed by the work they’ve had to do to navigate the typically hypermasculine and heteronormative world of mariachi as gay and trans musicians.

Of course, the group’s social power would be nothing if their music-making were not at a high level. Their dual mission of being a respected musical group and advocating for social equality for the LGBTQ community has won the hearts and minds of many mariachi enthusiasts.

The band has performed at numerous gay and transgender pride events as well as the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour for the California Endowment. They have been featured multiple times on Univision morning shows, and highlighted many times in the press.

Watch Mariachi Arcoiris.

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