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Loren has been a dedicated member of the HOLA staff for more than 11 years and for the past year and a half, he has taken on the role of Director of Leadership and Summer Programs. In this unique position, he has worked tirelessly to provide quality summer programming and to develop meaningful leadership programs at every grade level. As the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to battle significant budget short falls, most summer programs have been eliminated. Under Loren’s leadership, HOLA has stepped in to fill this void by providing summer programs for hundreds of our students. Last summer, we provided camps for our elementary, middle school, music and art students. Several high school students and alumni volunteered their time to make these programs a huge success.

Here’s a little bit from a conversation with Loren about the development of leadership programs at HOLA:

“What’s your vision for the Leadership Program?”

I am working on developing programs at every grade level that help students understand what leadership means to them and then to help them develop creative, critical thinking, people and organizational skills. We are creating a unified approach that helps give our kids a clear sense of how they fit in today’s world. Due in part to their economic status and the education system, our students struggle to figure out how they can make an impact. The world is changing and we are hoping to help them move the world forward in the direction they want to go.

“How are you doing that?”

There are three components to each program – classroom learning, peer mentoring and service learning. In the classroom portion, we focus on building leadership skills by studying leaders the students are familiar with, exploring an issue the leader(s) addressed, apply creative problem solving and at the end of the project, time for reflection.

I strongly believe in the peer mentoring piece, both the mentors and mentees benefit from this activity. In our Transitions Program, graduating 8th grade students are paired with high school students to ensure a successful transition from middle school to high school. The relationships that are developed are meaningful and often long lasting.

The service learning component is where everything comes together. As a group, we assess a need, come up with ideas to address the need, evaluate available resources, act and finally evaluate our efforts. For example, this past summer, a group of middle school students visited City Hall and had a meeting with City Councilmember Herb Wesson. The trip was the culmination of a summer-long research project that focused on hunger relief as a global and local issue. The students prepared a thoughtful and exhaustive presentation that thoroughly impressed Councilmember Wesson.

“What’s up for the year ahead?”

We have two new projects in the works. We are just in the process of implementing a program developed by Dr. Jane Goodall called “Roots and Shoots”. The service learning program has an emphasis on the environment and will be implemented into the Bridges curriculum. The second program, “Peace First”, will focus on conflict resolution.


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