LEAD Summit IX Keynote Speakers Highlight Leadership of Women

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Four women who are making an impact in their respective areas — Mia St. John, her daughter Paris Nicole St. John, Maya I. Arce and Hermila “Mily” Treviño-Sauceda — will highlight LEAD Summit IX’s theme, ¡Viva la Mujer! as keynote speakers when the annual event convenes on Thursday, March 29, at Cal State San Bernardino.

The 2018 Latino Education Advocacy Days Summit will take place at the university’s Santos Manuel Student Union beginning at 8 a.m. The free conference brings together teaching professionals and educators, researchers, academics, scholars, administrators, independent writers and artists, policy and program specialists, students, parents, civic leaders, activists and advocates.

For more information, go to the LEAD Summit IX website at leadsummit.csusb.edu.

Mia St. John, a five-time world and international boxing champion, and Paris St. John, are scheduled to speak at 10:50 a.m.

Mia St. John, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge, is a first-generation Mexican-American born in San Francisco. She made her pro-debut in boxing on Valentine’s Day in 1997, knocking out her opponent in 54 seconds into the first round. At age 40, St. John became the World Boxing Council (WBC) International Boxing Champion and then captured the WBC Super Welterweight Championship of the World at age 45.

She also founded the El Saber Es Poder (Knowledge Is Power) Foundation to empower individuals suffering from mental illness, homelessness, addiction and poverty by providing programs to better educate, inform and improve physical and mental health.

In 2014, Mia St. John’s son Julian lost his life at the age of 24 after battling schizophrenia and addiction. “He was the light of my life and I will continue to fight for mental health until I take my very last breath,” she said of her son.

Along with eight others, Mia St. John was named a “Mental Health Warrior” by CNN in 2015.

Paris Nicole St. John is a singer, songwriter and model, who graduated in 2014 from Santa Monica College. From a young age, she felt that her differences in culture, ethnicity, appearance, socioeconomic status, interests, personality and mental health conditions made her inadequate, unworthy, unlovable and “crazy.” Yet after years of seeking outside approval, failing to follow her dreams, and being a victim to depression and anxiety, she came to learn that worthiness, love and acceptance cannot be earned or granted, only realized from within as one’s own birthright.

After the death of her brother, Julian, Paris St. John became even more determined to see through the eyes of unconditional self-love, self-worth and self-acceptance while helping others to see themselves in the same light. Her conclusion: if everybody feels too different to be loved, we’re not so different after all.

Paris St. John has now spent more than three years advocating for mental health, success in teens and young adults, and creative self-expression. She has studied at world-renowned schools such as Berklee College of Music and Fresco Arts Academy.

Following at 11:35 a.m., Maya I. Arce, a sophomore majoring in computer science at the University of Arizona and a mariachi performer since she was 7 years old, will talk about being a plaintiff in the federal court case Arce v. Huppenthal/Douglas, which helped lead the successful constitutional challenge to Arizona’s anti-Mexican American Studies law.

When denied the opportunity to take Mexican American Studies courses while in high school because of the state of Arizona’s elimination of the program, Arce chose to be a plaintiff in the precedent-setting case. Intimately involved in the court battle since 2010, Arce had remained steadfast in her convictions that studying Chicana/o history and culture is a basic human right, testifying in U.S. District Court in June 2017, “I believe in standing up for what I think is right, and I believe that I am a voice for those who otherwise may not be heard, for my ancestors, for my community members and for generations to come.”

The Arizona law was found to be unconstitutional in August 2017 and in violation of Mexican Americans’ First Amendment and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by Judge Wallace A. Tashima in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tashima noted that the state of Arizona acted with “discriminatory racial animus.” The U.S. District Court of Northern California recently cited Arce v. Huppenthal/Douglas to allow students to move forward in their equal protection challenge to the current administration’s attempts to end the federal DACA program.

Hermila “Mily” Treviño-Sauceda, co-founder and vice president of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc., a national farmworker women’s alliance representing 15 farmworker organizations and groups, will address the summit at 12:35 p.m.

The third of 10 children who was born in Bellingham, Wash., Treviño-Sauceda began working in the agricultural fields alongside her family beginning when she was 8 years old until she was a young adult. As a teen, she organized youth groups through her church, and gained experience as a union farmworker and organizer with the United Farm Workers in the 1970s and early ‘80s, and is credited with co-founding the women’s farmworker movement in California. She was also a community worker with the California Rural Legal Assistance.

Treviño-Sauceda raised her son, Humberto, as a single mother. Humberto is affectionately referred to as “El Hijo de la Comunidad” (Son of the Community) because he would attend meetings as adults   with his mother throughout his childhood.

She co-founded “Mujeres Mexicanas” (Mexican Women), in the Coachella Valley. With support of the CRLA Foundation, she co-founded Líderes Campesinas in 1992, the first state-based farmworker women’s unique grass roots organization that became a statewide movement of campesina leaders advocating on behalf of campesinas. Treviño-Sauceda served as the executive director of Lideres Campesinas for more than 12 years, and was later named its president of emeritus and a board member. In 2011, she helped to co-found Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the first national farmworker women’s organization.

Treviño-Sauceda has won numerous awards for her tireless efforts, including “100 Heroines of the World” in 1998 and the Cesar Chavez Legacy Award. In 2016, the World Women Summit Foundation recognized her as one of nine laureates given the Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies with a minor in women studies, at Cal State Fullerton, and a master’s degree in social sciences: rural development and capacity building, women’s leadership and oral history from Antioch University.

Treviño-Sauceda currently works as the head of programs for Lideres Campesinas and as a consultant, and this year she became a member of the fourth cohort of the Move to End Violence under the NoVo Foundation. She will be part of a group of women who are working to end violence against all girls and women in the U.S.

In addition to the March 29 summit, there will be four related events that will make up LEAD Week:

  • March 26: Binational Parent Leadership Institute (BPLI) Colloquium, at the offices of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools;
  • March 27: Catholic School Expo and Career Day III, at the CSUSB Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center;
  • March 28: Puente Student Leadership Forum III, at the Doubletree Hilton in San Bernardino; and
  • March 31: Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Breakfast VII, at the CSUSB Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center.

Now in its ninth year, LEAD serves as a primary site for a set of innovative and productive programs, publications and events for Latinos and education. These projects involve significant participation of faculty, students and administrators, as well as partnerships in the region and nationally.

The projects also create strong interactive connections with Latino networks in the U.S., as well as Latin Americans and Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas and the world, many whom are already in contact with LEAD personnel and the university.

For more information, visit the LEAD Summit website at leadsummit.csusb.edu, or call (909) 537-7632.

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