Robert X. Barron, a 2002 Grinnell College graduate who co-founded the Latino Political Network, recently received the college's Joseph F. Wall '41 Alumni Service Award. Barron plans to hire a full-time staff member for LPN with the $30,000 award.
A non-partisan organization, LPN strives to educate and empower Latinos to serve at all levels of elected office throughout Iowa. Iowa continues to become more diverse, but the elected leadership does not yet reflect this diversity. LPN is the only group in Iowa committed to the organization and civic empowerment of Latinos, Barron says. He brings extensive political expertise and experience to LPN after working for many years for former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.
The Des Moines Register describes LPN as a "refreshingly grassroots political interlude, focused on the most basic leadership roles that touch our everyday lives. … Instead of the big-picture bluster of the Iowa caucuses presidential horse race, this was a close-up view of its undercurrents: This effort hopes to generate enough momentum for a larger wave that eventually sweeps more Latinos into the Legislature and other higher offices."
"I am honored by Grinnell College's faith in me and support of the work of the Latino Political Network," Barron said. "This award gives the LPN a transformational boost for our work to educate and empower new leaders in Iowa. As a proud alumnus, I am thankful to the faculty, staff and my fellow students for providing me with a learning environment that was both challenging and nurturing. My work since graduation is a testament to their impact on me."
Barron has arranged a public event on Saturday, Dec. 2, to celebrate his selection as Grinnell College's Wall Service Award recipient and to share information about LPN. The event will start at 1 p.m. at El Fogon, a Mexican restaurant at 1250 Eighth St., West Des Moines.
In addition to co-founding LPN, Barron is special assistant for government and community relations to Grand View University President Kent Henning. In this role, Barron represents Grand View before elected officials and works to build relationships with the community on behalf of students, faculty and staff. A native and resident of Des Moines, Barron has served on the Des Moines School Board since 2013 and recently was elected to a new four-year term.
As part of its sesquicentennial celebration in 1996, Grinnell College established the Wall Service Award as a tribute to the college’s 150-year tradition of social commitment. The award was named in honor of Joseph Wall '41, who inspired his students to embrace the ideal of service through his work as a professor of history and longtime dean of the college.
About Grinnell College
Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,700 students from all 50 states and from as many countries. Grinnell's rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at www.grinnell.edu.