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LEDA Joins 'Welcoming' Network to Keep Ottawa County Inclusive

LEDA Joins 'Welcoming' Network to Keep Ottawa County Inclusive

HOLLAND — A Holland-area nonprofit is working to make Ottawa County a more welcoming community. 

Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA) has joined the Welcoming Network, a global network of local governments and nonprofits committed to making communities more welcoming, to create Welcoming Ottawa! 

LEDA will have access to research, technical assistance, webinars and collaborative programs with other Welcoming Network organizations. The network includes more than 300 local governments and nonprofits, according to the release.  

“We are excited to create a Welcoming Plan for all people in Ottawa County,” said Gloria Lara, executive director of LEDA. “We look forward to partnering with the many organizations and businesses that have reached out to us — to ensure that Ottawa County remains a welcoming place for all. We are looking forward to launching the Welcoming Ottawa! initiative in June.” 

Lara told The Sentinel the initiative originally was part of the Ottawa County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office, which the Ottawa Impact-led board of commissioners closed in January. The initiative was then transferred to the Office of Strategic Planning and a steering committee was created, Lara said.  

“After it became clear as to what the composition of the commissioners was going to be, it was decided for the steering committee to transfer everything over to LEDA,” Lara said. “That's really our mission there. We build a bridge between formal and informal leaders and individuals throughout our community." 

LEDA is finalizing a survey for immigrants and new people that will be open throughout the summer, Lara said. It will focus on three different pillars: education, culture and economy. 

Members of the Welcoming Ottawa! steering committee are Chamber of Commerce of Grand Haven Spring Lake in Ferrysburg, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, Lakeshore Advantage, Ottawa Area ISD, Michigan West Coast Chamber, LAUP, city of Holland and Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates — with potentially more on the way, Lara said. 

"We have some major businesses that have already provided funding, but we're looking for additional funding,” Lara said. 

LEDA will also host its 18th Summit on Race and Inclusion: “The Power of Belonging!” The summit takes place 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at Hope College, according to a news release. Registration is available at Participants can attend in-person or virtually. 

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