NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities

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Desireé is the Director of Legal Services for the Safe Passage Project, a nonprofit created to meet the legal needs for immigrant youth in New York. Her work ensures that immigrant youth in New York City do not have to navigate the legal system alone. She does everything from finding lawyers that are willing to volunteer to represent the children in court, to interviewing kids who have a chance for special immigrant juvenile status.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Desireé Hernández

Desireé is the Director of Legal Services for the Safe Passage Project, a nonprofit created to meet the legal needs for immigrant youth in New York. Her work ensures that immigrant youth in New York City do not have to navigate the legal system alone. She does everything from finding lawyers that are willing to volunteer to represent the children in court, to interviewing kids who have a chance for special immigrant juvenile status.

Joan has walked the runway for brands such as Chanel and Tom Ford, and in 2015 earned a spot as number six on Forbes highest- paid supermodels. Hailing from Puerto Rico, she came to America because she was losing local beauty pageants for being “too tall, too dark and too skinny.” As an Afro- Latina model, she wants to show be a representative not only for the designers that she is wearing, but for her culture.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Joan Smalls

Joan has walked the runway for brands such as Chanel and Tom Ford, and in 2015 earned a spot as number six on Forbes highest- paid supermodels. Hailing from Puerto Rico, she came to America because she was losing local beauty pageants for being “too tall, too dark and too skinny.” As an Afro- Latina model, she wants to show be a representative not only for the designers that she is wearing, but for her culture.

Stephanie is a 17 year old newspaper reporter for, Boyle Heights Beat, a local newspaper in a predominately Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. The high school graduate and the other young reporters take on issues that affect their community and are not talked about in major publications such as gentrification and the human costs of deportation. Stephanie and her team produce content that brings about change in their community.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Stephanie Medina

Stephanie is a 17 year old newspaper reporter for, Boyle Heights Beat, a local newspaper in a predominately Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. The high school graduate and the other young reporters take on issues that affect their community and are not talked about in major publications such as gentrification and the human costs of deportation. Stephanie and her team produce content that brings about change in their community.

Since 2014, Villarruel has been the Dean of Penn Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She was also a part of creating a widely used curriculum that teaches Latinos about sexual health, called Cuídate, which means, “take care of yourself.” The program teaches how to the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. Then she went on to create a similar program to teach parents how to talk to their kids about sexual health. Her work does not stop there. While working at Children’s Hospital, she and a colleague created a tool to help children describe their pain level. At the University of Pennsylvania she directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery, which works to reduce the rate of mothers that die in childbirth. As dean, she led initiatives to improve health access in Latin America and the Caribbean. One of her most notable achievements is being the only Latina nurse to be inducted in the National Academy of Medicine.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Antonia Villarruel

Since 2014, Villarruel has been the Dean of Penn Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She was also a part of creating a widely used curriculum that teaches Latinos about sexual health, called Cuídate, which means, “take care of yourself.” The program teaches how to the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. Then she went on to create a similar program to teach parents how to talk to their kids about sexual health. Her work does not stop there. While working at Children’s Hospital, she and a colleague created a tool to help children describe their pain level. At the University of Pennsylvania she directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery, which works to reduce the rate of mothers that die in childbirth. As dean, she led initiatives to improve health access in Latin America and the Caribbean. One of her most notable achievements is being the only Latina nurse to be inducted in the National Academy of Medicine.

Denise Sandoval is a professor of Chicano and Chicana studies at California State University, Northridge, and who works to highlight the cultural aspect of lowriders. In Los Angeles, lowrider cars represented a sense of freedom and culture for minorities. She curated several museum exhibits on lowrider  culture, and one is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles titled,  "The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración." As a proud Chicana, her work is dedicated to being voice for her community.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Denise Sandoval

Denise Sandoval is a professor of Chicano and Chicana studies at California State University, Northridge, and who works to highlight the cultural aspect of lowriders. In Los Angeles, lowrider cars represented a sense of freedom and culture for minorities. She curated several museum exhibits on lowrider culture, and one is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles titled, "The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración." As a proud Chicana, her work is dedicated to being voice for her community.

Annie Segarra is advocating for marginalized communities and body positivity through her social media presence. After creating a her Tumblr page called, Stop Hating Your Body, she was invited to speak at events about body image and self- love. After that, she launched a Youtube vlog channel as Annie Elainey to continue advocating for those issues. When she was diagnosed with Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, a genetic mutation disease, she used her channel voice her experiences and opinions about accessibility for disabled people. When she noticed the lack of diversity at the 2017 Women’s March, she created a shirt that said “The Future is Accessible,” modeled after the popular shirt sported at the Women’s March that read “The Future is Female.” Annie Segarra continues to advocate women, the queer community, and the disabled community on her platform.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Annie Segarra

Annie Segarra is advocating for marginalized communities and body positivity through her social media presence. After creating a her Tumblr page called, Stop Hating Your Body, she was invited to speak at events about body image and self- love. After that, she launched a Youtube vlog channel as Annie Elainey to continue advocating for those issues. When she was diagnosed with Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, a genetic mutation disease, she used her channel voice her experiences and opinions about accessibility for disabled people. When she noticed the lack of diversity at the 2017 Women’s March, she created a shirt that said “The Future is Accessible,” modeled after the popular shirt sported at the Women’s March that read “The Future is Female.” Annie Segarra continues to advocate women, the queer community, and the disabled community on her platform.

Lola Salazar, along with her husband Rob Salazar, founded the Salazar Family Foundation in Denver, Colorado to support foundations that provide educational opportunities to students through scholarships, literacy programs and classroom grants. The foundation supports the Latin American Educational Foundation, the Denver Public Schools Foundation and the Jefferson Foundation, which assists Jefferson County Schools.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Lola Salazar

Lola Salazar, along with her husband Rob Salazar, founded the Salazar Family Foundation in Denver, Colorado to support foundations that provide educational opportunities to students through scholarships, literacy programs and classroom grants. The foundation supports the Latin American Educational Foundation, the Denver Public Schools Foundation and the Jefferson Foundation, which assists Jefferson County Schools.

Lourdes Lopez the artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, one of the few women to hold a top position in a national ballet company. After she left Cuba and came to Miami in 1959 with her family, she began her ballet training. At 14, she earned a scholarship to study at the School of American Ballet under the training of George Balanchine. As artistic director, she used her creative vision to increase donations and ticket sales, turning around the company’s financial issues.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Lourdes Lopez

Lourdes Lopez the artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, one of the few women to hold a top position in a national ballet company. After she left Cuba and came to Miami in 1959 with her family, she began her ballet training. At 14, she earned a scholarship to study at the School of American Ballet under the training of George Balanchine. As artistic director, she used her creative vision to increase donations and ticket sales, turning around the company’s financial issues.

Reyna Montoya created a space to help people cope with the impacts and stress of the immigration policy, which has been a hot topic under the current government administration. Aliento, a community space that allows people to create art to reflect the humanity of undocumented immigrants, holds political education workshops, community building spaces, leadership development and art creation. She is an activist for immigrant rights and has engaged in local and national demonstrations against unfair immigrant policies. In 2013, she was the lead organizer in preventing a bus of undocumented immigrants from being deported in her home state of Arizona, and in that same year stopped her own father’s deportation.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Reyna Montoya

Reyna Montoya created a space to help people cope with the impacts and stress of the immigration policy, which has been a hot topic under the current government administration. Aliento, a community space that allows people to create art to reflect the humanity of undocumented immigrants, holds political education workshops, community building spaces, leadership development and art creation. She is an activist for immigrant rights and has engaged in local and national demonstrations against unfair immigrant policies. In 2013, she was the lead organizer in preventing a bus of undocumented immigrants from being deported in her home state of Arizona, and in that same year stopped her own father’s deportation.

Gloria Calderon- Kellett, the executive producer, co- created a bicultural reboot of the 70s sitcom “One Day at a Time.” She pulled from her own experiences as a Cuban American to give the show a distinct Latino perspective. She included many cultural references in the show, because growing up, she saw many white American references that she did not understand and set out to create characters that represented Latino culture.
NBC Latino 20 Highlights 10 Hispanic Women Mobilizing Their Communities
Gloria Calderon-Kellett

Gloria Calderon- Kellett, the executive producer, co- created a bicultural reboot of the 70s sitcom “One Day at a Time.” She pulled from her own experiences as a Cuban American to give the show a distinct Latino perspective. She included many cultural references in the show, because growing up, she saw many white American references that she did not understand and set out to create characters that represented Latino culture.

The NBC Latino 20 highlights 20 game changers who dedicate their work to bettering their communities. The list, which is released every October to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrates the pride and heritage that drives their work. Learn more about the 10 Hispanic women who are mobilizing their community in the gallery.

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