Slowly but surely Hispanics are remaking America and Latinas have a powerful influence in this change. From Latinas in film and media to Latinas in politics there are plenty of women that have put their stamp on our society. There have also been some truly remarkable Latina leaders and activists who have changed the world for the better. Below is a list of four Latinas who changed their world for the better while also impacting their communities and beyond.
- Joan Baez began to make her mark in the world in the 1960’s composing, recording, and performing songs of peace and spirituality. While doing this she fell in love with political activism and used her talents during marches for student rights, civil liberties, and peace. She is now supporting humanitarian causes and has a school in California focused on non-violence.
- Nydia Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1953. From a young age she was an activist and spent her teenage years fighting for causes like school sanitation and the health care. During her school days Nydia skipped grades and went on to graduate from college as Magna Cum Laude from the University of Puerto Rico. She went on to receive her a masters degree from N.Y.U. Her expertise lead her to teach Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY’s Hunter college. By 1984 she was the first Latina ever to serve on the New York City Council. A few years later in 1992 she became the first Puerto Rican women to be elected to serve in the US Congress. In 2006 she became the first Latina to become the chair of a congressional committee for the House of Small Business Committee. In January 2011 Nydia became the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Through this position the congresswoman advocates for issues important to the Hispanic community. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also educates and empowers young Latinos to succeed in the political and business realms.
- Susana Martinez is New Mexico’s first female governor and the first Latina woman to become governor in U.S. history. She was elected in 2011 and reelected in 2014 with a total of three re-elections. Before running for office Susana was district attorney in New Mexico and was named New Mexico’s Prosecutor of the year two times. Causes such as education reforms and budget cutbacks are her focal points as governor. In 2013 she was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people in the world. She has also earned one of the highest approval ratings in the country, never dropping below 60 percent and was mentioned as possible competition for Chris Christie in 2016. She was also considered for Mitt Romney’s running mate during the 2012 presidential election.
- Carmin Yulin Cruz Soto is the current mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. From a young age she excelled in school and took an interest in being a representative for others. In high school she represented her peers in the Presidential Room for American Youth. Carmin graduated from Boston University at the top of her class as Cum Laude. She went on to get her masters degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Philadelphia. Her pre-political career includes managerial and Human Resources positions for companies such as Colgate-Palmolive and more. Carmen shifted her career into politics when she moved back to Puerto Rico in 1992. Her first step in her political future on the island was being the advisor for the San Juan City Mayor. Soon she was also the advisor to the President of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives. Throughout the following years she worked her way up the ranks and in 2012 was elected Mayor of San Juan.
These are just a few of the leaders and activists that have paved the way for future powerful Latinas. Whether it’s fighting for equality, healthcare, education and more these women have made an impact in our communities and on the world. We will continue to follow their careers as they are bound to make more influential movements for years to come.
Who is your favorite powerful Latina woman?