Bert Jara, outgoing LAUP Executive Director

LAUP announces that their current Executive Director, Bert Jara, has been named as the Chief Executive Officer of Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Jara will oversee the Cook Library and the Cook Arts Center.

Jara will be leaving LAUP after having served as its Executive Director from 2007 to 2013 and from November of 2016 to the present. During his time there, he pioneered several programs to develop youth and created and implemented a financial stability plan for the organization.

In January, LAUP had begun dialogue with Ernesto Villarreal, Assistant Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Hope College, about joining LAUP as Youth Program Director. Ed Amaya, LAUP Board President, said, ”We felt Ernesto was the one to lead LAUP’s youth development programs to the next level and saw him as a prime candidate to take the Executive Directorship when the time came.”

Ernesto Villarreal, incoming LAUP Executive Director

When Jara announced his upcoming transition to the LAUP Board of Directors, they asked Villarreal to assume the position as LAUP’s Executive Director. Villarreal accepted the position. Outgoing Executive Director, Bert Jara, says: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ernesto who has co-chaired our youth conference committee for two years. He has what it takes to lead this organization, and I couldn’t be happier knowing LAUP is in good hands with Ernesto and the LAUP Staff and Board of Directors.”

Incoming LAUP Executive Director, Ernesto Villarreal, says, “Coming from an educational background that focused on working with marginalized populations, I recognize the importance that an organization like LAUP plays in the Holland/Zeeland community. I’m excited to be stepping into this role and helping LAUP continue to be an organization focused on being a resource and voice for the Latino community of West Michigan.”

Jara’s last day with LAUP will be February 28, 2018, and Villarreal will start full-time with LAUP on Monday, February 26, 2018. Already, the pair has begun meeting, and Villarreal is attending key planning meetings.

Board President, Ed Amaya says, “We are pleased with the work Bert has done to make LAUP stronger than ever, and our board really believes that Ernesto is the person to build on the momentum we’ve created and take LAUP into its next chapter.”