A Trailblazer Whose Legacy Continues
to Inspire Others
January 1, 2014 | Ingrid Duran for Latina Style Magazine
I had the privilege of meeting Anna Maria Arias when I was President & CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). CHCI held an important place in her heart, as it was the place she began her career. Anna Maria was a passionate and energetic advocate for Latinas.
Twenty years ago that young passionate, tenacious Latina had a vision to empower Latinas by bringing them to the forefront. She was frustrated by the invisibility of Latinas and she understood then what many are just beginning to understand today: the strong impact of Latinas on the economy; a driving force where economic decisions are made; and the fastest growing segment of business owners. She understood the importance of showcasing the stories of Latina success, achievement, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Anna Maria was light years ahead of her time; she instinctively understood the impact of harnessing Latina power and influence and she used hers to create a legacy that continues to live on, honoring her memory. As I reflect on the last 20 years of LATINA Style I am reminded of Anna Maria and her dedication and commitment to give voice to Latinas through a national publication. The success of LATINA Style Magazine is a testament to Anna Maria and her vision to create a space where Latinas could see themselves in the success stories highlighted by the magazine. As I reflect on the number of Latinas who have been featured over the years for their work and achievement, I am reminded of the covers with all the Latina Members of Congress, with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Marine Corps Major General Angie Salinas among many others.
Prior to starting D&P, Ingrid was President & CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, where she expanded on an already extensive professional network that included members of Congress, elected officials and Fortune 500 executives.
LATINA Style has been a mainstay of information for and about Latinas. It’s a resource for Latina Business owners. Under Robert Bard’s leadership, they have engaged their readers through face-to-face contact through their LATINA Style Business Series, which was one of Anna Maria’s signature initiatives and have carried forward their founder’s vision. LATINA Style is synonymous with Latina entrepreneurship. Anna Maria provided the inspiration and courage for me and my fiancé, Catherine, and so many other Latinas, to have the audacity to take a leap of faith, just as she did 20 years ago, and follow in her footsteps as Latina entrepreneurs. 2014 is not only a milestone year for LATINA Style but also for our business, D&P Creative Strategies, as we celebrate 10 years in business. I see the next 20 years of LATINA Style continuing to recognize the achievements of Latina leadership and innovation and bringing to light the stories that often go untold.
The image that has stayed with me over the years is the cover with the first group of Latinas in Congress. Latinas still continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in Congress where important decisions are made that impact our daily lives and our livelihood. In 2008, we (Catherine Pino, Grace Garcia and I) founded PODER PAC, the first-ever national political action committee to increase the number of Latinas in elected office. In the last election cycle we saw the number of Latinas in Congress grow to nine, which represents 1.6 percent of the total Members of the House of Representatives and Senate: a gross under-representation. My hope for the future is to see the numbers of Latinas serving on corporate boards, in Congress and as entrepreneurs increase dramatically and to see LATINA Style continue to be at the forefront giving voice to future generations of Latina leaders. I know that Anna Maria’s spirit and legacy will continue to live through the work of LATINA Style and she would be incredibly proud of the work that Robert Bard and the team at LATINA Style have accomplished to ensure that her vision lives on.