Update: Since the publishing of this piece, Natalie Montelongo has taken a new job as Campaign Director for presidential hopeful, Julian Castro.
Leaders that break barriers are few and far between — a fact that isn’t lost on the indomitable Natalie Montelongo, who pursues work that emboldens nuestra comunidad. As national campaign strategist for immigrant rights at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Natalie knows all too well how important it is to use one’s voice in service of the greater good. Currently, she plays a key role in building multi-issue campaigns in partnership with ACLU’s policy advocates, litigators, organizers, and activists from 53 state offices.
She’s done groundbreaking work focused on President Trump’s executive orders on issues regarding immigration — including his move to block refugees, the Muslim Ban, his decision to rescind the DACA program, and family separation.
— Natalie Montelongo (@natimontelongo) January 3, 2019
The activist is also no stranger to volunteering. Last year, she flew from Washington D.C. to an asylum-seeker rest center in the border town of McAllen, Texas, where she helped by setting up a wishlist on Amazon with items needed by the shelter and then promoting the link to her social media following.
In many ways, Natalie’s activism can be rooted in her upbringing, as she was raised as a first generation American in the border city of Brownsville. But it was her past experience on the Hillary for America Campaign, that deepened the drive behind her work. There, she created and implemented national programs like “Mujeres in Politics,” a bilingual program geared towards increasing Latina voter participation.
Her devotion for the Latinx community extends far beyond her important work at the ACLU. The Texas native balances her time between her lifestyle and clothing line, The Future is Latina, created to empower and embolden — and her dedication toward mentoring younger Latinas with political aspirations.
“I had no clue where to start, who to talk to, what to do. It could be so incredibly lonely, and sometimes you are shy to ask for help,” Natalie tells Teen Vogue, where she expresses her personal experience as motivation behind fostering the Latinx community. “I used to always think that if I worked really hard and I put my head down, people would recognize my hard work. I feel like it’s a cultural thing, but that is not the way the world works. You have to learn to be bold on so many levels. You have to let people know what you want.”
Indeed, we can all take a lesson from this fiery activist with a promising future.