Being unique, dynamic and innovative demands courage. That is especially true when it comes to being a woman at the forefront of your industry and culture. For these influential Hispanic women, their journey to becoming a luminary was earned.
The journey to becoming one of the "15 Most Powerful Latinas" in the country is hardly a direct path. It comes with defining yourself in the arenas of education, politics, entertainment, philanthropy and science, just to name a few. This year has featured a number of women in the conversation for the office of President of the United States, a serious debate on if women finally deserve to join their male counterparts on the frontlines of military conflicts and doing away with an antiquated wage gap instituted in the days of a suffrage movement. In short, Hispanic women have come into their own in a way previous generations could only dream about.
LINDA G. ALVARADO
PRESIDENT AND CEO OF ALVARADO CONSTRUCTION. CO-OWNER OF COLORADO ROCKIES.
Linda G. Alvarado likes to mention that she has been mistaken for a banker, a secretary and an office cleaning lady.
But never as a construction contractor.
The first woman ever to own a professional baseball team, Alvarado is a true trailblazer. Born in New Mexico, with five brothers in a humble home with no indoor plumbing and heated by wood stoves, she grew up tough.
She credits her parents for instilling in her a passion for honesty and work and a never say die attitude. With a loan from them she started her own construction company (they had to refinance their home).
At first, she met with much resistance from both sexes when they found out that a woman was working in construction. The backlash almost made her quit.
"We have to be careful that their narrow vision doesn't cloud our perspective," she says.
Despite the opposition, Alvarado became a powerhouse in Colorado construction. She is now a part of the Fortune 500; she has national clients.
Then there's baseball. In 1992, Alvarado became the first woman and Latina or Latino to own a pro team when she became a partner of the Colorado Rockies.
An exemplary role model -no mater what gender- Alvarado likes to talk to young people. Her advice is simple, but powerful-- keep pressing forward and go after your dreams.
She says: "What is important is not how others see you, but how you see yourself."
FASHION DESIGNER/ ENTREPRENEUR
The embodiment of elegance, good taste, style and refinement, minus snobbery, Carolina Herrera Is one of the most Influential Latinas of the last 30 years.
Latinos have always made inroads In the world of fashion (think Oscar de La Renta in the modern haute couture or how Mexican vaqueros strongly influenced the dress style and profound character and lifestyle of the American cowboy). Herrera took things to a higher level.
Consider this: a talented Hispanic designer could have taken the easy road, designed a popular street style of gangsta clothing. But Herrera did the total opposite: she has dressed First Ladies (Jacqueline Kennedy adored her), royalty and class A divas.
With her elegant, gorgeous styles she reminds non-Latinos again and again that Hispanic can and often do have the best of tastes. Instead of letting her class and styles slum down, she exquisitely forces us to look higher--and that's a good thing.
Born in Venezuela in 1939, at the age of 40 Herrera, a socialite who had relocated to Manhattan and was a favorite of Mick Jagger and others, converted her passion for clothes Into a business, when in 1981 she took the world of fashion by storm with a line that Impressed the cream of the crop In the fashion world.
At 77, Herrera keeps turning out knockout styles, with her elegance and beauty still a staple of her fashions and herself. Few times have influence and power been so beautiful and sweet.
ACCLAIMED AUTHOR AND FOUNDER OF THE MACONDO FOUNDATION, THE ALFREDO CISNEROS DEL MORAL FOUNDATION AND THE LATINO MACARTHUR FELLOWS
The Chicago native was the third born to a family of seven children. As the only daughter, Cisneros learned early that she had a unique perspective on life. For 45 years, she has been a publishing dynamo, penning 12 books that explore themes such as border issues, feminism and sexuality, the Latino culture and her upbringing. The alumna of both Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Iowa holds a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Her efforts have garnered her a MacArthur Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and the Texas Medal for the Arts. As an ambassador of the Latino...