We’re halfway through Women’s History Month, so it’s the perfect time to shine a bright spotlight on the inspiring, go-getting Hispanic and Latina women who are raising their voices, sharing their stories, overcoming barriers, and changing the world.
Julia Alvarez, an Domican-American poet, essayist and novelist, gained national acclaim after her 1991 novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, illuminated what it’s like to be a Latina immigrant in the U.S. Her second novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, detailed the death of the Mirabal sisters during the Trujillo dictatorship in the DR. Her contribution to Latin American literature brought on future Dominican-American writers like Angie Cruz and Junot Diaz.
Recently appointed to serve as vice chairwoman of the Financial Services and Government Oversight Appropriations Subcommittee, Herrera Beutler, 36, is one of the youngest and most visible women serving in Congress. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee earlier this year approved her legislative directive instructing Veterans Affairs to address why the agency is experiencing such a high rate of medical providers who leave the system. She is the first Hispanic in history to represent Washington State in the U.S. House of Representatives. TIME Magazine placed her on its 40 Under 40 list of top national leaders.
Claribel Alegria: With over 25 published works, this Nigerian novelist is a powerful voice in contemporary literature in Central America. She has published volumes of poetry, novels, and children’s books. The George Washington University graduate focused on the people’s movement, which helped overthrow dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. She was awarded the 2006 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Rita Morena is a legend. Known as a singer, dancer and actress, she has had an amazing career. She won acclaim for her role as Anita in the film adaptation of West Side Story, had a successful Broadway career and even performed at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. She was only the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award and is still the only Latino who has earned the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). Most recently she presented an award at the 2018 Oscars… in the same dress she wore when she accepted her Oscar for Best Actress 50 years ago.
And of course, as the Starfish Foundation is in Ecuador, we will end our list of amazing women with Noralma Vera Arrata. As Former Ecuadorian Prima Ballerina, choreographer, and Director of the National Dance Institute (Instituto Nacional de Danza) she danced in London, Paris, Ecuador, and Cuba – excelling in both Ballet and Modern. In 1978, Vera founded her own ballet company and academy in her home city. After retiring from active dancing, Vera worked as a diplomat in Mexico and Cuba.
We hope these outstanding women will inspire all of you (yes! All of you! Not just the ladies) to put forth your best. It takes kindness, teamwork, communication, and hard work to make the world a better place – and today’s a great day to get started.