Timbers partner with the César E. Chávez Leadership Conference

Jewsbury and Chara send a message about the importance of education

Chavez Conferenc 2012

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Carlos Silva

Last week hundreds of Hispanic high school students, from all over northwestern Oregon, trekked onto Western Oregon University’s campus on March 9 for the 22nd Annual César E. Chávez Leadership Conference (CECLC), all with a singular purpose: to get connected. The Portland Timbers partnered with the conference to provide a scholarship, a special video message from captain Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara, and bilingual booklets on health, nutrition and soccer.

The CECLC is the largest high school student college fair specifically designed for Latino students in Oregon. The students are allowed to attend the college/university fair, leadership workshops and listen to distinguished keynote speakers, such as 2010’s guest speaker, actor Edward James Olmos (Selena, Battlestar Galactica). This year’s keynote speaker was Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, a 22 year veteran of the U.S. Army.

“Every year we brainstorm keynote possibilities that will inspire and motivate students,” explained David Martinez, César E. Chávez Leadership Conference Chair. “Priorities for us include that they be bilingual and their life story/background are relatable to the students.”

This year, 71 schools and over 1,500 students, presenters, exhibitors, school staff, volunteers and invited guests from Northwest Oregon attended the annual César E. Chávez Student Leadership conference.

Since the establishment of the Somos Timbers program in 2011, the Portland Timbers’ community goal is to provide outreach throughout Portland and the surrounding areas including focusing on the advancement of the local Latino community.

“We are very proud to partner with the CECLC,” said Kristel Wissel, Hispanic Business Development Manager for the Timbers. “The organizing committee does a tremendous job every year.  We want to support local youth in leadership and education, two very important qualities.”


For this year’s conference, Jewsbury and Chara recorded a video for the students on the importance of education, leadership qualities, and the role of sports in their lives.

“The Portland Timbers are a great example of the discipline, leadership skills, and team work that is needed to be successful, whether it’s on the field or in life,” said Martinez.

“Students are not just excited about attending a game, but [students] could see the support and investment the Timbers made to the conference and to them. The Timbers’ participation in the exhibit area, the video-taped message from players and announcement of the selected Bilingual Reporters made a big impact on the students.”

This year, the Timbers collaborated with the schools participating in the conference.  The bilingual reporters submitted written essays and were nominated by their teachers. The four students, who will have the opportunity to interview their favorite Timbers player, were announced at the conclusion of the conference.  They are Edwin Trejo Lemus of Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, Rolando Valdovinos of Madison High School, Arturo Perez of Woodburn Academy of Art, Science and Technology and Patricia Lopez Medina of Sunset High School.

The CECLC hopes to attract a lot more students in the upcoming years, as they hope to reach and encourage as many young Latinos as possible to attend the conference. Positive collateral that Martinez believes the Timbers have brought to the conference.

“The majority of our conference exhibitors have been colleges and universities,” said Martinez. “Motivating and inspiring students to succeed is what CECLC strives to do; the partnership with Portland Timbers helps reach even more students.”

It’s certainly not just about showing up and providing some free souvenirs when the Timbers are involved. They aim to invoke positive connections with community leaders in order to establish long and lasting relationships that span soccer, health and education.

“I just want to express my appreciation for the partnership,” said Martinez. “It was more than writing a check or providing free tickets.  I believe we have developed a partnership based on inspiring and motivating students to succeed.”