Milagros Peña, dean of UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, or CHASS, has been selected as one of 24 civic leaders to take part in Leadership Riverside, a program developed by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce to inspire the next generation of active leaders in the region.
Rounding out the program’s 2019 class are representatives of local businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, and universities, all of whom will participate in the 10-month series of workshops with the expectation of contributing to the region’s economic and cultural vitality.
“I’m excited to have been selected,” said Peña, who oversees the administrative aspects of CHASS and serves as a professor of sociology and ethnic studies. “I’m looking forward to learning a lot.”
The program’s 10 full-day sessions focus on a broad variety of topics, such as the roles of Riverside’s judicial and correctional systems, current initiatives undertaken by the city’s arts and culture community, the region’s economic forecast and plans to foster a sustainable long-term economy. At the end of their term, this year’s leaders will collaborate to produce a class project that aims to encapsulate the knowledge they’ve gained through the program and leave a lasting imprint on the community.
Of particular interest to Peña, she said, is a session designed to highlight the successes and challenges involved in creating and maintaining an effective regional education system.
“The presence of a university like UCR in the community — particularly now with UCR ARTS downtown — allows Riverside K-12 and college students to see the possibilities offered by a variety of disciplines in ways that really appeal to the imagination,” Peña said. Her experience on the steering committee for Riverside’s Long Night of Arts & Innovation, held in 2017, served as an earlier example of the importance of a “city, its educational base, and community interests” coming together to shine light on regional offerings in the arts and STEM fields, she noted.
“I see Riverside continuing to blossom in its goal of being a city of arts and innovation,” Peña added. “My vision is that partnerships between local schools, colleges, and universities can be strengthened, so that Riverside continues to be a site of innovation that excites across generations and communities.”