Celebrating Latina Leadership
By Marisa Rivera
I look forward to Hispanic Heritage Month every year, because it gives us the opportunity to showcase the beauty, richness, traditions, accomplishments and legacy of our Hispanic brothers and sisters. It is the time of the year we pause to reflect, revel, and honor the major contributions of Hispanic Americans in this country. I personally don’t wait for September to celebrate my “Latinaness” – I celebrate it 365 days a year.
In this article, I would like to celebrate “Las Jefas”. These are the Latina bosses, who have broken the glass ceilings, who continue to break barriers and who with their leadership, courage, determination and cultural strengths, are changing the world by becoming the firsts. A few Latina first are: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) the first Latina elected to Congress, The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, first Latina U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Dr. Antonia Coello Novello, the first women and first Latina to be appointed as U.S. Surgeon General, Hilda Solis, the first Latina named U.S. Secretary of Labor, Romana Acosta Bañuelos, the first Latina U.S. Treasurer, Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut, Rita Moreno, the first Latina to win an Oscar, Grammy, a Tony and an Emmy.
These are some of the women who have chosen to be part of the resolution to our communities’ problems and have stepped into leadership positions and in doing so, have represented us with distinction. Hispanics have always been a major part of the growth, development and success of this country and have served in every capacity and in all realms of life.
Latinas are currently leading a significant and powerful trend in America. We are the fastest growing business segment in America today and we are entering the workforce in record numbers. Latinas are making a statement as they run for political office, membership on corporate boards, entrepreneurship and becoming prominent lawyers, engineers, stockbrokers, astronauts, surgeons, publishers, government executives, Secretaries of State, U.S. Secretaries of Labor, U.S. Treasurers, educators, presidents and CEO’s and last, but not least – Latinas are serving with great pride in the U.S. armed forces. Today, Latinas/os account for over 53 million in this country. That’s 17% of the total US population (Per Hispanic Center.) The Hispanic purchasing power is currently over 1.3 trillion dollars and growing. It’s a great time to be a Latina.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without “Las Jefas de la Casa” or the ‘bosses of the home’. I’m talking about our great- great-grandmothers, our “abuelitas”, our grandmothers, nuestras madres, our mothers, aunts, neighbors, teachers, friends, and sisters. We must recognize all of those unsung “sheroes” who generation after generation has built the foundation for us today. We must pay it forward – Our success belongs to them for having a vision – and giving us the opportunity to be who we are today.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year, and as we celebrate the many undertakings and accomplishments, we must remember that we are one – One America, regardless of our ethnic background, gender, political affiliations regardless of the color of our skin. We all want to be a part of the American Dream. We are all Americanos. We are Americans of Hispanic descent and we will continue to lead, contribute and fight for this country. As “La Jefa” will say:El Futuro es nuestro – si queremos” The future is ours, if we want it.
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