Latinas who Empower, Uplift and Inspire UsMonday, July 16th, 2012
Latinas are becoming more powerful. We hold high positions in politics, business and entertainment. We are mothers, daughters and sisters. There are so many Latinas who inspire us, showing that if you want something you can achieve it and that ‘the sky’s the limit’.
Here is an inspiring video of Marisa Rivera, president of Mpowerment Works, who received the ‘Esa Soy Yo Soy Latina’ award at a breakfast on September 15, 2011 in Washington D.C.
Women represent 51% of the global population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, among 30.1 million U.S. Hispanic adults over 18 years of age, 14.4 million are Latinas. We are a large, influential and growing part of the U.S., and we are starting and growing businesses at a rapid rate, as evidenced by the statistics below.
- 8%: Percentage of privately held firms owned by women had Latina owners in 2002.
- 39%: Percentage of privately held firms owned by minority women that had Latina owners in 2002.
- 553,618: Number of privately held firms owned by Latinas in 2002.
- 121.3%: Percentage increase in Latina-owned businesses between 1997 and 2006.
- $44.4 billion: Amount in sales that Latina-owned, privately held firms generate, an increase of 64 percent between 1997 and 2004.
- 61%: Expected percentage of Latinas in the U.S. workforce by 2020.
I wanted to share a list of successful Latinas who inspire me the most. They are real examples that hard work pays off.
Politics: Sonia Maria Sotomayor – the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history
Sonia Sotomayor has been a Supreme Court Justice since 2009. She is the third woman to serve in a Supreme Court (previously Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg).
Sotomayor (of Puerto Rican descent) had a difficult childhood. She was born and grew up in Bronx, New York City. Her father passed away when she was 9. Her family didn’t have a lot of money. Sonia Sotomayor overcame all the life difficulties and fulfilled her childhood dream – she graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School and became a lawyer.
In 2009 she reached the very top of her profession, breaking a glass ceiling by becoming the first Latina U.S. Supreme Court Justice when President Obama nominated her and the U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination.
Business: Leticia Vélez-Hudson – President and CEO of Chicago Mini Bus Travel, Inc.
Leticia “Letty” Vélez is in the top 1% of Latina women-owned businesses nationally. She launched Chicago Mini Bus Travel, Inc. in 2004 and in that year alone increased sales of her company to more than $2 million while doubling her fleet. Her company is now the largest mini bus transportation company in the Chicago area, with 15 buses and 35 employees.
Letty started her entrepreneurship career from working in a retail store when she was a teenager. She was promoted to manager thanks to her excellent customer service.
Besides being a successful businesswoman, Letty is also a very active philanthropist, as she donates vehicles to charitable organizations and is a board member of many leading Latino non-profit organizations, including Mujeres Latinas en Acción, The Latino Coalition, National Latina Business Women Association, and the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.
Letty was recently named “LATINA Style Entrepreneur of the Year” by the LATINA Style Business Series.
Entertainment: Gloria Estefan – “Queen of Latin Pop”
Cuban-born Gloria Estefan, besides being one of the best known Latina singers, is also a writer, actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Gloria Estefan received the “Ultimate Latina Award” from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC).
Gloria also founded the Gloria Estefan Foundation, which focuses on helping people with spinal cord injuries.
Gloria Estefan appears on the cover of the latest issue of Latina Magazine. In her interview, Estefan said: “Inspiring Latinas is the most beautiful side product of my career…It’s a beautiful thing to inspire somebody in some way and make them feel, ‘I can do this.’”
Let’s be inspired and inspire one another!
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