From 15 September to 15 October, the US celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month – a month to recognise and celebrate the influence of Hispanic American citizens on the history, culture and achievements of the United States. Hispanic Heritage month also coincides with independence days for several Latin countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on 15th September , Mexico on 16th September, and Chile on 18th September.
To celebrate, we are once again acknowledging standout Latino leaders, influencers, and changemakers across various fields and communities. This year, we are focusing particularly on Houston, Texas, home to the nation's fourth-largest Hispanic/Latino community
As per the 2020 Census data, Houston is one of the country’s fastest-growing major metros with Hispanics representing a substantial percentage of the growth. These leaders and their contributions represent the influence and impact within the fourth largest city in the United States.
The connection between US-based Latinos and their home areas has remained strong throughout the pandemic. Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean grew an estimated 6.5 percent to $103 billion during 2020 and are expected to continue their upward, record-breaking trajectory for the remainder of 2021!
Jorge Godínez, our head of LATAM here at WorldRemit said:
"The past 18 months have been filled with uncertainty fueled by the pandemic and the subsequent economic concerns for many families. During this time, we saw Latino workers uphold their connections to their home countries and provide an economic lifeline to friends and family there. By recognizing this group of powerful Latino leaders, our goal is to highlight their positive impact on the Latino community and the greater impact Latinos have on society as a whole.”
In full, here is the 2021 WorldRemit list of influential Latinos in the United States:
Ingrid Barrera is a news anchor for Telemundo Houston and the winner of three Emmy awards. Prior to joining Telemundo Houston KTMD, Barrera worked as a news correspondent for Telemundo Network's national news program.
Andy Canales is the Texas Executive Director of Latinos for Education, a national organization with the mission of creating leadership pathways for Latinos in the education sector. An influential voice and sought-after media commentator on education and civic issues important to Latino students and families, Canales is dedicated to ensuring that Houston’s diversity translates into opportunities for students of all backgrounds.
Cesar Espinosa is the executive director of FIEL Houston (Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha - Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle), a student and family-based organization which seeks to gain equality for all people regardless of their immigration status. A local and national advocate for immigrants and students’ rights, Espinosa is a prominent leader in Houston's DREAMer movement.
Gonzo247 (Mario E. Figueroa)
Mario E. Figueroa, artistically known as GONZO247, is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist who seeks to educate communities through civic art engagement. His work, including the iconic “Houston Inspired” mural, is well-known throughout the Houston community. He has played an integral role in the Houston street art movement, including the creation of The Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas.
Yvonne Guidry is the creator of women’s empowerment-focused lifestyle blog Spoiled Latina. Through her advocacy, she encourages Latinas to take time for self-care in a culture that prioritizes caring for others at the expense of individual physical and mental wellbeing. Guidry is an entrepreneur, a marketing professional, and an alumna of the University of Texas-Pan American.
Connie Leon is the founder of Houston Latina Bloggers, as well as an entrepreneur and creative professional. Through her work with Houston Latina Bloggers, Leon has raised the visibility of hundreds of Houston-based Latinx professionals, influencers, content creators, and entrepreneurs. Leon is an active community volunteer and a graduate of the University of Houston.
Dr. Laura G. Murillo
Dr. Laura G. Murillo is the President and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Under Dr. Murillo’s leadership, the organization has become the largest Hispanic Chamber in the country with membership growing from 400 to 4000 members. She has received many state, national and international honors including being named among the “Most Powerful & Influential Women in Texas” and the “Top Latino Leader Award” by the National Diversity Council.
Grace Olivares is the Director of Community Empowerment at Univision Houston. She works both on-air and behind the scenes to develop systems that enhance the well-being of the Latino community. Olivares is the host of local public affairs program “Contigo en la Comunidad” and has led numerous public service programs and educational campaigns. Currently, Olivares serves on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board, Houston Hispanic Forum, the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies, and the Miller Theatre Advisory Board.
Marcela Pérez Barros
Marcela Pérez Barros is an evening news anchor for Univision Houston. Barros has received four EMMY awards for her journalistic work and was voted Best Female Anchor by the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals (2018). Barros was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and attended Universidad del Norte.
Angelica Razo is the Texas State Director of Mi Familia Vota, a national civic engagement organization empowering Latino, immigrant and allied communities. In her role, Razo has developed meaningful partnerships with local schools and community organizations to raise awareness and to develop up-and-coming Latino leaders.
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