As much as we love that celebrities fight for important causes, we can’t forget the everyday heroes who are working to make their communities a better place. These Latinas are dedicated to their missions, and though they don’t look for recognition, they certainly deserve it. Here are 10 inspiring women working toward a cause:
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1. Aida Giachello
Growing up poor shaped Aida Giachello. It opened her eyes to all the problems Latinos, especially women, face. That’s why when she found herself in Chicago for a postgraduate research project at Northwestern University, she decided to settle in the city and bring awareness to health issues plaguing Hispanic communities. She created the Midwest Latino Health, Research, Training and Policy Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1993, and she has been working to help Latinos, who suffer more from diseases, injuries and disabilities than non-Hispanic whites. According to Time, one of her programs is diabetes self-care centers in low-income Chicago neighborhoods, where many undocumented and uninsured Latinos are served monthly.
2. Gloria Campos
Dallas newscaster Gloria Campos’ story recently went viral when a young boy she helped get adopted came on her show to thank her. Not only was the now-retired Campos the first Latina for WFAA-TV, she took over Wednesday’s Child, where foster children would be featured in hopes of getting them adopted. She started in 1989, and had a 70 percent success rate with adoptions. And she offered scholarships to aspiring journalists just getting started with their careers. It’s been important to her to give back to the Latino community, who embraced her when she started her job. She even kept a picture of a young Mexican boy asleep in a field, where he might work for the rest of his life. “I don’t ever want to forget people like that because, that could have been me,” she told WFAA.
3. Claudia De La Cruz
Claudia De La Cruz is the founder of Da Urban Butterflies, a New York-based program that works with immigrants and women ages 13 to 30. DUB offers workshops on women’s rights, how to build healthy relationships and practicing safe sex. “Here you find yourself in a space where they are telling you yes, you are worth something. We care about you and you can create the world you want. That is really empowering,” said Cruz about her organization.
4. Nilza Serrano
Nilza Serrano is a successful businesswoman and she works hard to make sure other Latinos have the same opportunity. She serves as the treasurer for HOPE-PAC, a political action committee that helps Latina women get elected into office in California. She also works with Latino communities through arts and education programs, and she co-founded the Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival.
5. Monique Barraza
Monique Barraza started the Abigail Barraza Foundation (named after her mother who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2005) to unite Latinas fighting breast cancer. She hosts support groups and informational sessions to help women. The foundation started in Los Angeles, but has also touched people in Santa Barbara and Ventura. “I remember the first time my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was 37-years-old,” Barraza told us. “Our local hospital had a support group and we encouraged her to join, but she only stayed about 15 minutes, came back home and said that she was not comfortable. She was the only Latina and most of the ladies were a lot older than she was.” Throughout the years, people have told her that she should make it more inclusive and include all women, but she feels it is important to target Latina women.
6. Eileen Z. Fuentes
Eileen Z. Fuentes, a Columbia University employee, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and though she felt confident about the treatment she would receive, she wanted to do more. With the help of the Clinical Breast Cancer Program, she started The Wellness Series. This weekly program teaches patients and survivors how to adapt the other parts of their life, such as diet, lifestyle, exercise and more, to help their cancer treatment. It’s also meant to empower them and help them be active with their recovery.
7. Marce Gutierrez
Marce Gutiérrez is the Bay Area director for Latism, whom started Project Azul, where she works with Latinos to protect California’s resources. Project Azul’s mission is to bring more Latinos into leadership roles within the conservation movement. Through the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, she built marine-protected areas from Santa Barbara to the border of Mexico.
8. Dr. Gabriela Salvador
As the director of health and human development at Pro Mujer, Dr. Gabriela Salvador has helped women on a global scale. Pro Mujer has given more than $1 million in small loans to provide women in Mexico, Argentina and Peru with health, financial and human rights services that they couldn’t otherwise afford.
9. Helen Hernandez
Helen Hernandez knew there were little roles that represented Latinos in a positive light, and it drove her to star the Imagen Awards competition, which encourages filmmakers, producers and the entertainment industry to portray Latinos more accurately. Imagen has grown into a prestigious award ceremony under her leadership.
10. Marielena Hincapie
Marielena Hincapié fights for the rights of immigrant workers through her position as the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. She is a Colombian immigrant, who has accomplished a lot in her career. She has worked on cases that deal with both immigration and labor law, and she serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration.