15 Latinas Who I Would LOVE to Call Madame President

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As we get closer and closer to the 2020 Presidential Elections — only about a year and a half to go, but who’s counting? — our newsfeed is flooded with announcements of impending presidential campaigns and promises for change. And while several of these candidates and their political platforms are giving us hope for a better future and making us think (and re-think) what it will take to bring about real change in this country, we’re also thinking about who we would want to see sitting in the oval office in just a couple of years. Spoiler alert: we’re ready to call a strong, inspirational Latina woman Madame President.

Perhaps it’s because the last presidential election whet our appetite for a woman running the White House, or maybe it’s because the 2018 midterm elections made history with more Latinos than ever elected to US government positions, but we think it’s time to see a Latina Madame President in office.

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From left: House of Representatives members-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar, and Sharice Davids
Photograph by Martin Schoeller

The 2018 midterm elections brought about a lot of change in Congress and a major influx of females sworn into office both in the House of Representatives and Senate. A record 102 women are currently serving in the House of Representatives and 25 in the Senate, which is roughly 24 percent of all the seats and is the highest number of women in Congress ever. Just before being sworn in as the Speaker of the House for the second time, Nancy Pelosi said, “when our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed and our democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class. Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community.”

And as far as Hispanic representation is concerned, there are also a record number of Latino members sworn into Congress, with 42 Latinos currently serving in Congress, according to The Associated Press.

And while these numbers are certainly something to be celebrated and we are witnessing history, the representation on Capitol Hill still falls short in terms of accurately reflecting the population of this country and the nearly 58 million Hispanics living in the United States. Latinos make up almost 18 percent of the population, and yet, they do not make up nearly that much of Congress. According to NBC News, “If the share of Latinos in the 435-member House matched the share in the population, about 77 House members would be Hispanic. In the 100-member Senate, there would be about 18 Latino senators.”

Which is why we are proud of the progress that is being made and the unprecedented level of representation of Latinos in Congress, but we are ready for more. We are ready to call a Latina woman Madame President. And we even picked some ideal candidates to apply for the job. Some of them are a bit of a pipe dream and some you will be hearing a lot more about as we get closer to the 2020 elections, but they are all inspiring, empowering and strong Latina women who are making the world a better place just by being who they are.

America Ferrera

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Photo Credit Twitter Feed @americaferrera

We all know and love America Ferrera for her roles on Ugly Betty, The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants and the How to Train Your Dragon films, just to name a few of her famous acting gigs. Back in 2007 Ferrera was the first Latina to win an outstanding lead actress Emmy for her role in Ugly Betty, and more recently she has won our hearts and respect all over again as a feminist, an activist and an outspoken supporter of equal rights and social justice. In an interview for the NY Times she proudly said, “The midterm elections were an incredible ray of hope in what it means to have women in positions of leadership in all the pillars of our society. And what excites me is that we aren’t backing down from the many layers that these conversations contain.” She sees the state of the country and the political landscape of our nation today and how far we have come since 2015, and she is willing to speak out, to march, to take a stand and take action to make change happen.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, Ocasio-Cortez is taking the political world by storm. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t just talk the talk, but she also walks the walk and she’s been in the shoes of the people she represents. Though Ocasio-Cortez was raised in the Bronx and Yorktown Heights, New York, she was born to a Puerto Rican family, and her mother cleaned houses while she worked long shifts as a bartender to help make ends meet. She has generated a lot of attention for her platform, which she describes as democratic socialism. She supports Medicare for All, an end to ICE, a $15 minimum wage and housing as a human right, as well as free education among other things. You can expect to hear a lot more about Ocasio-Cortez, both as one of the faces of the Democratic party and also because her film Knock Down The House — a documentary that follows her congressional campaign and her journey from an unknown Hispanic bartender to a U.S. Representative.

Sonya Sotomayor

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As the first Hispanic woman to serve in the Supreme Court of the United States, Sotomayor has made history and continues to inspire generations of Latina women and Latin youth with her accomplishments and her dedication to upholding justice. Her parents — her father was a factory worker and her mother a nurse — moved to New York from Puerto Rico in the 1940s, and after a successful academic career at Princeton and Yale, Sotomayor was the first Hispanic person to be appointed to the federal bench in New York and ultimately was appointed as a US Supreme Court justice under President Barack Obama.  While we don’t expect her to retire from the bench and run for office any time soon, we do love having her a successful Latina role model and a public figure for good.

Jennifer Lopez

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Don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got — she’s still Jenny from the block. And call us crazy, but it might be pretty awesome to see her on the 1600 block in Washington D.C. Jennifer Lopez has achieved fame and fortune from her music and dance career and well as her acting roles, her clothing line and even her famous relationships. But what we love most about her is that she is proud of her roots, she’s proud of her body, she’s vocal about what she believes and she values family above all. Back in 2005 J Lo made it to Time’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America list, and at the time the Bronx-born daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants was commended for her success as an actress, musician and entrepreneur. Today she’s successfully worn even more hats — American Idol judge, New York Times best selling author, she’s released eight studio albums, appeared in over 30 movies, rocked a three-year Las Vegas residency and more. She’s juggled it all with grace and still stayed true to her roots, donating $1 million to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island and helping to raise awareness and funds for recovery efforts.

Eva Longoria

The actress, mother, producer and activist is constantly inspiring others and working hard to pave the way for young Latina women and to fight for equal rights and opportunities. Her Eva Longoria Foundation helps Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship. And she is dedicated to providing the next generation of Latina women with roles and opportunities in Hollywood while also ensuring there is appropriate Latinx representation in media. And if we’re being honest, we’d like to see some more of that representation in politics too, perhaps with Longoria herself taking on a more political role.

Angie Chirino

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Chirino isn’t new to politics or to the public eye. She is the daughter of Cuban singer Willy Chirino, who also worked to promote human rights in Cuba. Before she ventured into politics Chirino was an accomplished songwriter, having won a Latin Grammy and working with Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, and Marc Anthony to name a few. In 2018 she first ran to replace former U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, but she lost in the primaries. Now the Republican candidate has announced she will be running in 2020 to replace term-limited Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, who currently represents the district. Chirino approached her first congressional run with a mission: “I want to take that message I’ve been delivering on a small scale for 15 years to the big stage and tell the people of this country — you are not a product of your circumstances, you are a product of your decisions, and I am here to help.”

Jessica Alba

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The actress and successful entrepreneur seems to have her plate full, but you know what they say, if you want something done ask the busiest woman in the room. The founder of The Honest Company and Honest Beauty has made a name for herself as a businesswoman, parenting expert and best-selling author. She is driven and passionate about inspiring others and making the world a better place by creating a wellness brand that offers conscious, safe, effective products for families. And she is proud of her roots and where she comes from. In an interview for PopSugar Alba said “growing up in California in my grandmother’s house, surrounded by tías, tíos, and all my cousins, I always felt a deep connection to my Mexican-American roots. Every generation of my father’s family has had incredibly different experiences that reflect much about American history. It humbles me to think of how much change we have seen in such a short time.” Her great grandparents fought segregation and taught reading and writing in Spanish during a time when diversity was not so openly celebrated. And she’s on a mission to continue their work. “I want my girls to embrace their Latino roots, know how much we have contributed to this country, and understand that the road ahead is richer when we acknowledge and embrace our heritage.”

Geisha Williams

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Williams is the former CEO and President of PG&E (she stepped down this past January) and was the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She was born in Cuba, where her father was a political prisoner, and they moved to the United States for a better life once he was released. She graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in engineering and went on to work her way up in the energy field, ultimately serving as the first Latina CEO of a male-dominated industry. “I’m an immigrant who came to this country without being able to speak English and somehow — only in America, right? — I became the CEO of a Fortune 200 company,” she said in a Time interview. And while she certainly celebrated her accomplishment of being the first female Latina CEO, she was always more focused on future generations. “You always hear people talking about what it means to be the first. But I think it’s important that we focus on making sure there are others. While I may be the first, I certainly don’t want to be the last.”  

Sindy M. Benavides

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A Honduran-American immigrant, Benavides is truly living the American dream. She currently serves as the CEO for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), working as a public servant to protect the rights of young people, women, and immigrants and ensure they have the same opportunities she has since she immigrated to this country. LULAC is the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country. Previously she was the National Director of Community Outreach for the Democratic National Committee, and Latino Liaison and Director of Gubernatorial Appointments for Governor Timothy M. Kaine.

Yalitza Aparicio

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Yalitza Aparicio is the star of Netflix’s Academy Award winning film Roma, a film that has catapulted her into the spotlight and earned her praise and fame from critics and fans alike. Originally from Mexico, Aparicio was recently named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and the article honoring her award was written by none other than Alfonso Cuarón, the Oscar-winning director from Roma. He explains that despite having zero acting experience, Aparicio earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Roma. “Yalitza can take any task that’s put in front of her and excel in ways no one thought possible,” he said. “She focuses on being a force of change and empowerment for indigenous women, embracing the symbolic value of what she has done and carrying that responsibility with dignity and grace.” Because of those qualities, in addition to her dedication, her honesty and her ability to inspire others even in the face of adversity, we’d love to see more of Aparicio in a position of power with the ability to be a force for good.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Mucarsel-Powell is an Ecuadorian-born American politician who recently defeated the Republican (and also Latino) incumbent, Carlos Curbelo in the race for the 26th Congressional District in Florida. According to her website, when she was sworn into office as the first Ecuadorian-American and first South American immigrant member of Congress, Debbie promised to protect and uphold the values that helped her succeed in America. She is an advocate for gun safety legislation, healthcare, immigration reform, human rights and protecting our planet and fighting climate change.

Michelle Luján Grisham

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From left, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, greets New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as Assistant Sergeant at Arms Frank Montoya rescorts her out after she delivering her State of the State address, Tuesday January 15, 2019. The Legislative Session started at noon at the State Capitol. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

In the 2018 midterm elections Luján Grisham won to become the first Latina Democratic governor of New Mexico. This is her third term in Congress, after first being elected in 2013 and also serving as the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus since 2017. As governor she plans to focus on reforming public education, fight climate change and refocus Trump’s hardline immigration policy, among other missions. She’s dedicated to transform New Mexico into a “national example of what a clean energy revolution looks like,” and she is focused on combating New Mexico’s high poverty rates by raising the minimum wage and increasing pay for teachers.

Sylvia García

Democrat Sylvia Garcia made history to become one of the first two Texas Latinas to be elected to serve in Congress during the recent 2018 midterm elections. She defeated her Republican opponent, Phillip Aronoff, with 75 percent of the vote. Garcia, a former social worker and lawyer, has held a number of local positions in Texas and was elected to the state legislature in 2013. A native of Palito Blanco, a South Texas farming community, Garcia worked hard to succeed academically and then dedicated her life to her community and to public service. “It’s very exciting to be elected and to have the opportunity to serve the working people of my district and Houston,” Garcia said. “I never focus on being the first, but on being the best for my people.”

Veronica Escobar

In addition to Garcia, Veronica Escobar also made history as the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress in Texas. Escobar, who first served as county commissioner and then as county judge for seven years, is focused on using her position and her campaign on pushing back against dark times. “We want to send a very powerful message to Washington, D.C. that the border [community] will not sit on the sidelines during an era of unprecedented racism.” One of her greatest and most personal missions is immigration reform and fighting Trump’s immigration policy and proposal to build a border wall. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, the border city on Texas’ westernmost tip, Escobar knows firsthand how this border can serve as an international gateway for commerce, family and unity. “It is one of the greatest communities in all of America. The border is such a magical, complex place,” Escobar told MSNBC and NBC News. “You know, it’s this place where two worlds are juxtaposed.”

Ana Navarro

She’s the brazen, tell-it-like-it-is, no nonsense voice of reason who isn’t afraid to make waves in her own party, even (and especially!) when she stands in vehement disagreement with it. The Nicaraguan-born American Republican strategist and political commentator for the likes of CNN, CNN en Español, ABC News, Telemundo, and The View has never shied  away from speaking truth and spreading the gospel of decency, despite her political views and stance. She has proven that she is always willing to stand for human rights, justice, fairness, equality and puts herself on the line at every opportunity to be the voice for what actually matters. For all these reasons and more, we say: yes, we cAna!

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