In August, Elsie Guerrero ’20 published Latinas Poderosas!, a book celebrating Latinas who are “making a difference in the community by redefining the meaning of leadership and changing lives,” according to the official description. UDC Law alumnae Liana Montecinos ’18, Samantha Rowe ’20 and Flor De Maria Garay ’20 are featured in the book.
Guerrero told The Advocate the book came from a research project conducted by students in Advancing Latinas Into Leadership, a mentoring program Guerrero founded during her 1L community service project at UDC Law.
The students researched “famous and non-famous leaders who illustrate what leadership means to them,” said Guerrero, and the book is the culmination of what they discovered. The women featured in the pages include individuals Guerrero described as “leaders who often go unnoticed like nurses, business owners, lawyers and librarians,” and their stories are told in English and Spanish.
Montecinos, an attorney and immigration activist, was included for her work with asylum seekers as well as her dedication to social justice and empowering youth through soccer. Guerrero said her story resonated with many of the students who compiled material for the book, as she worked with young people much like them. Montecinos came to the United States from Honduras.
Rowe, who emigrated from Mexico, was chosen for her dedication while serving in the U.S. Navy, which ultimately led to the U.S. granting her citizenship. “She sacrificed her life for the United States,” said Guerrero. “Her leadership comes from integrity and willingness to fight for our country and to build a career after gaining her citizenship.”
Rowe, an immigration attorney in New York, told The Advocate she hopes readers are inspired by the book, “by seeing women who they know and do not know, with backgrounds similar or just as unique as them, who are paving their own paths and paths for other women of color in every field.”
Garay’s feature focuses on her work organizing immigrant workers in Frederick, Maryland, and her role in founding the RISE Coalition of Western Maryland. In addition, Garay is from El Salvador, and the Salvadoran students working on the project were excited to see someone from their country doing such impactful work.
Guerrero said all the students were particularly interested in showing leaders from a range of countries and wanted to see leaders who came from the same nations as they did.
Rowe reflected on the impact of the book, “I did not have many examples to look up to when I grew up, so it’s great that there are many today whom I can look up to now, as well as –hopefully – be the person making those changes and creating spaces for the future of minorities and all women.”
Guerrero added, “Being a leader is not about being a politician, famous singer or actor. It is about making a change in our community. Girls all around the world will learn from this book that leadership comes in different forms, and they too can become leaders.”
Proceeds from the book will go to scholarships that help pay for first-year college textbooks for students in Advancing Latinas Into Leadership.